H. E. Mr. Álvaro Colon Caballeros, President
24 September 2008
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ALVARO COLON CABALLEROS, President of the Guatemala, spoke of international terrorism and organized crime, including narcotics activity, and of Guatemala’s contribution to the global fight against organized crime in the framework of the rule of law and justice. He expressed gratitude for United Nations’ assistance in those efforts through the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala. He also said that social inequality, hunger, the high price of food, its use to produce biofuels and global warming all threatened security, stability, governance and, in the case of climate change, the future of the planet.
He reiterated his commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, and noted that the current international economic crisis threatened to reverse recent achievements in the fight against poverty. The world had believed that the main thrust of public policy should be economic management. Guatemala was now giving social policy the scope and strength it deserved, he said, moving forward with a programme that served the poorest regions of the country, especially those inhabited by the 23 indigenous communities that constituted the majority of Guatemala’s population. The programme aimed to establish a system of wealth redistribution and social justice.
Those policies required strengthening the State and letting it recover part of its space given over to more traditional market-oriented paradigms. “Overseeing the banking and financial system, managing public finance […] social expenditures and criminal prosecution, and taking charge of security forces are beginning to take hold as expressions of a State that functions for the common good,” he said, adding that this would provide long-term benefits. He also highlighted plans for fiscal reform and modernization to ensure transparency, combat corruption and establish accountability for public expenditures among other measures. He also said that energy sources needed to be diversified without damaging the environment.
He said that just as globalization of trade and information was accepted, so should the right to labour and the free flow of labour migrants. He suggested that the Secretary-General create a panel of former Presidents from origin and recipient migrant countries to examine the nature, scope and consequences of labour migration and report its findings during the Assembly’s next session. “Let’s dare to begin a human movement to eliminate the suffering of millions of human beings that simply seek opportunities of work and welfare, [who] are […] achieving a redistribution of wealth that was produced at the expense of their poverty, marginalization and discrimination.”