THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Santiago, Chile) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release April 18, 1998
PRESS BRIEFING BY SPECIAL ENVOY FOR THE AMERICAS MACK MCLARTY AND SECRETARY OF EDUCATION RICHARD RILEY
The Hyatt Santiago, Chile
1:25 P.M. (L)
MR. MCLARTY: Good afternoon. As you know, the Summit of the Americas began this morning, which reflected the President's third trip to the hemisphere within a year and I think reflected the priority that our administration places on our hemispheric partnership and the importance of sustained engagement. Not only the opening commentaries by President Clinton and President Frei, but certainly the opening session on education I think reflect the new realities in the region.
The President's principal theme in his opening comments, as you know, is that we have seen a quiet revolution in many ways as profound as the fall of the Berlin Wall, but that progress and reform, future growth and democracy are not guaranteed. And the real purpose of this summit, if you look at an architecture that was put in place, a foundation, in Miami at the first Summit of the Americas, is to really pour fresh cement reinforcing the foundation of freedom and to cement, to help democracy strengthen and take hold for good.
The agenda was clearly a consensus agenda, and it was obvious in the educational discussion that education is very much at the center in terms of the Latin American, Central American, and Caribbean leadership. They see that critical to responding to the needs and desires of their respective people, just as we do in the United States and the only real way to inclusive growth in this increasingly interconnected global economy.
There were a number of speakers at the educational session, and I'll let Secretary Riley talk about some of the specific issues. I think the President of El Salvador emphasized parental involvement in education, the fact that their illiteracy rate had dropped from 40 percent to below 20 percent. There was a common theme of the importance of teachers and the size of classrooms, and there was also a common theme of the importance of the environment and that being part of the educational reform.
The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago made one of the more stirring speeches or commentaries and actually received applause during the meeting when he basically talked about no one who is poor is in possession of assets, and education was a valuable asset. He talked about the cycle, the lack of education because countries are poor, and countries are poor because they lacked education.
I think, particularly in the smaller economies, although President Cordoso emphasized it as well in Brazil, is the distance learning and technology, which I think is at the heart of some of the educational reform and activities of this summit.
The President spoke specifically about having both equity in education and excellence, and one of the important shifts in education at this summit I think you will see is a strengthening of the resources at the primary and secondary level, and broader access for education for all. You will see, I think, increased funding not only on an individual country basis, but a dramatic increase in funding from the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank. The President also talked about distance learning technologies -- he spoke specifically of his experience at the Manguera School in Brazil, when we traveled there in October.
There was also a discussion in the educational period about it reinforcing human rights and building a civil society.
I think, you saw a couple of things that are important to note. First, when President Clinton spoke, I don't think, at least within the last decade, you would have seen a United States President that would have been greeted with the warmth and regard and respect after making a commentary at an opening session of this type. And that was apparent, I think, after his opening address.
Secondly, in the educational discussion, I think it reflected, again, an outward confident-looking leadership that was willing to acknowledge some of the concerns about education in the region. And that is particularly, I think, important in how these reforms are attacked, addressed, and undertaken -- and particularly when you consider that half of the population in Latin America is under 21 years of age.
I have noted, I think -- Secretary Riley and I met with the CODEL before we came to the press briefing center -- that the strengthening of education throughout the hemisphere clearly is in our U.S. interest. First, it creates a middle class in ownership and democracy -- a middle class to buy U.S. goods and services. It clearly is an anecdote to the temptation to enter the drug trade and encourages families to stay home, instead of illegally immigrate to the United States or other countries.
The democracy session is next to fill out the agenda that Barry noted -- poverty session, microenterprise, land titling, and of course, education will be discussed again in this afternoon session, regarding poverty alleviation. Trade and economics will begin today and will finish tomorrow.
The opening session clearly reflected I think a consensus agenda, a responsible agenda, that is promoting a stronger social contract as we pursue more business contracts through economic integration and trade. And to us, and I think in the hemisphere, those are two sides of the same coin: strengthening our respective democracies as well as moving forward in terms of economics and trade.
SECRETARY RILEY: I think it's noteworthy and exciting that virtually all of these countries have placed education as a top priority. Certainly our President has. And to have them all come together and make that kind of statement really is very, very interesting -- all in this hemisphere, a lot of these democracies are, in terms of, historical importance, relatively new, and the fact that the gap in education is often very wide, it's a problem in every country that is being worked on -- but to see them realize that to make democracy work they literally are going to have to resolve this idea of having all the people be able to improve their education.
And the fact is that, with telecommunications and with this global economy, transportation, all of the democratic changes that have taken place over the last decade or so, we are all linked closer than we've ever been. And again, this education link I think is very significant.
Our President, of course, is a leader in supporting the importance of education in this hemisphere. We are next week, by the way, in the U.S. Senate, going to be discussing some very significant education matters. The President's agenda, especially the construction issue, will be debated, so we're looking forward to that.
One thing the plan of action that is being talked about here involves like how do you get the disadvantaged better opportunities for education, higher standards in reading, writing, math, and science, the TIMSS study, which we've been very involved in in our country. Several countries indicated that they plan to get involved in TIMSS repeat to really become part of the assessing process. Better teacher preparation was of great interest. Greater parental and community involvement, as Mack mentioned. Technology is, of course, a very serious issue and one that all countries are interested in; democratic values, those issues that deal with making better democracies through education.
I talk, as some of you have heard, about educational diplomacy. When this linkage has taken place in these democracies, there is no more important kind of diplomacy, in my judgment, than that of working together for improvement of education.
And let me mention one thing specifically that I would hope you would be interested in and to follow up on -- one area is developing the quality of information on the Internet for use in the classrooms all across the Americas. The United States, of course, again dealing with this education gap -- so working together in each of our own countries, we can provide really engaging and high-quality instructional materials to benefit our students and teachers throughout the various countries, especially those poor students and especially in isolated communities.
And we have here in the next room I think a prototype example, here at the summit, to show this potential. It's called Americas.edu.org is the website, and it can afford teachers the access and opportunity of teaching resourses and materials in many countries of the Americas that were never thought possible. And a lot of American businesses have helped develop this prototype, and it shows the real potential benefits to American students and future American business opportunities of this joint effort.
So I urge all of you, when we're finished here, to take a quick look at it. Dr. Linda Roberts, in the yellow coat, is head of my education division in the department and can be available there or for questions if you have any. But I think it gives you a good idea of the kind of potential we are talking about. This is the first day of it, but imagine when we come back at the next summit where we'll be with this kind involving rich information coming in from all of these countries into this important website then that can be used by all countries.
Q The President said today that the United States may not yet have fast track legislation, but we will. I wonder what would you point to in Congress since fast track legislation was defeated that would lead you to believe that that's not just wishful thinking.
MR. MCLARTY: Well, I think I would begin with a very strong first term record on trade, where we had, I think, over 200 agreements signed -- not all took congressional approval, but two very important matters, the NAFTA and the GATT, did take congressional approval. Secondly, the debate on fast track was one, I think, where we had a majority, and a clear majority, in the Senate, an overwhelming majority of the governors across the country, and both of those majorities were on a bipartisan basis. Regrettably, we fell a few votes short in the House.
I think as the benefits become increasingly clear -- and I think we heard that yesterday in a very appropriate, thoughtful way at the Chilean Congress, and I think the members of Congress who are here are seeing and sensing that Latin America, for example, although fast track is much broader than that, is a natural market, but not a market that can be taken for granted.
And I would remind you, as the free trade area discussions are launched at this summit -- and that is a formidable accomplishment, to have a broad and deep consensus to launch negotiations with an agreed-upon goal of a hemispheric trade pact by the year 2005 -- I think that will add to the momentum and energy to reconsider this matter. And I believe it will be on a successful basis. I think the Congress will give the President the tools to complete this authority, to complete, therefore, the hemispheric trade pact.
Q Mack, if I could follow on that. Have you seen anything that would tell you that organized labor opposition or opposition from the environmental movement is dissipating? Are there any positive signs to point to that says we're making headway here?
MR. MCLARTY: David, we continue to work very carefully and assiduously on a bipartisan majority, and I think the dynamics are changing a bit. We met with a number of groups before we left, and I think again the essential need for the United States to have the ability to shape these agreements in our interest, I think is becoming increasingly apparent.
Now, when we can develop that consensus, I'm not going to make a prognosis on that. But I think the benefits are -- frankly, you can see them in these discussions, why it is in our interest in the United States, particularly in the areas of the environment and of worker rights, labor rights, which the President, of course, noted in his opening comments.
Q Mack, do you have a timetable? Do you have a time when you're going to go back to Congress and mount a campaign, which some say you didn't really do the last time, and say, okay, we're going to do this? Are you going to do it immediately following the congressional election?
MR. MCLARTY: Bill, I don't think we know or have a precise time. I think Ambassador Barshefsky said here the other day, we will continue to work with members of Congress to see when we can develop a consensus, and I don't know whether that will be this year, next year, but I think the benefits will become increasingly clear, and indeed are doing so. I just said I'm not going to predict a timetable.
Q Is the United States worried about being left behind now that so many other nations in Latin America have formed their own free trade agreements with each other?
MR. MCLARTY: I think the competition in this interconnected global economy is rather clear, but I think in terms of the launch of the FTAA, we are well-positioned for the launch. I think at the trade ministerial in Costa Rica, there was a very clear structure set out. I think much like in the Uruguay Round, we can begin these negotiations in a very good position. Ultimately, you will need negotiating authority, fast track authority, to complete that agreement.
Q On the special committees that deal with labor and environmental issues, how do you expect that to address the issues that opponents of fast track have? And what is the agenda in that special committee? What do you actually plan to do there?
MR. MCLARTY: Of course, tomorrow will -- this afternoon and tomorrow will be where trade and economics are discussed, so I think that is, frankly, the proper time and place to get into more level of detail. But I do think, as the President pointed out this morning, this consultative mechanism to make certain that all sectors, all constituencies have an opportunity for input in this process is absolutely critical, not only in this trade agreement, but in all other trade agreements as well.
Q But how does that address the concerns of fast track opponents?
MR. MCLARTY: Oh, I think an open process is certainly critical to work through any kind of legislative discussion or any matter of that type, so I think it doesn't completely reach a consensus, but it is certainly the right way, I think, to proceed.
Q Mr. Secretary, the Inter-American dialogue produced a set of recommendations about the education initiative. One of the key things that they pointed out is that expenditures per pupil in public schools throughout Latin America lagged way behind expenditures in private schools, and indeed behind public schools everywhere else on the globe. How does this initiative address that problem, if at all?
SECRETARY RILEY: Well, I think we had some very interesting statements by these chiefs of state this morning that they were indeed prioritizing, shifting of their emphasis to education, first of all, to the primary schools. As you know, that's part of the -- coming out of the Miami Summit and this summit, to complete that by the year 2005, and then 75 percent of the secondary education.
So I think to see that shift made -- and several of them mentioned numbers that they were definitely increasing the percentage of their investment in education, especially K through 12 -- that's very clear to me, and I think that's one of the things -- it's so important for these countries in this hemisphere to come together and have it kind of a hemispheric priority. I think that's very significant.
You're exactly right. In some countries that's a major problem, that kids in the public schools often were not the kids to go on to college. And that is recognized, I think, throughout the hemisphere that it has got to change. And we can provide some great leadership, I think, in that area.
Q Mr. McLarty, I was just looking over these resources available for the summit, $45 billion. Can you tell me how much is new money that's coming because of the summit and how much is just still in the pipeline -- how much real money are we talking about?
MR. MCLARTY: The substantial funding for education, which Secretary Riley can speak to or perhaps wants to comment on, will be a substantial increase in funding from both the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank. And I think we will have at least a doubling of those resources from the Inter-American Development Bank and at least a 50 percent increase from the World Bank. And I think those are substantial resources -- or to put in your terms, that is real money to support the efforts of individual educational reform. It does not take the place of it, but it certainly supports those efforts.
Q What role has the summit -- I mean, are they doing this on their own, would they have done it anyway, or are all the countries lobbying them to --
MR. MCLARTY: No, you would have not had this kind of consensus and emphasis on education and commitment to educational reform, I think, without some process to lift and highlight this issue much along the lines that Secretary Riley has talked about. And again, I would remind or underscore, this agenda has been a consensus agenda, and this clearly reflects the priorities of the leaders in the hemisphere, and it clearly reflects the people they represent. And they are willing to make substantial reform in order to change the educational system for the better, they believe, and I think they are correct.
SECRETARY RILEY: Let me add just one word, and again, tomorrow is when these issues will be discussed. But a lot of the funds that we hear referred to over the three-year period -- $8.5 billion, or whatever -- a lot of that is shifting of priorities. It's not necessarily new money, but it is, again, reflecting how these intergovernmental interests are shifting toward education.
Q Mr. McLarty, can you tell us what's going on at the summit on the press freedom issue, and also what the status is of the OAS mechanism that was being set up to handle press freedom complaints?
MR. MCLARTY: The democracy discussion is in session right now, and both the strengthening of the judiciary system, the establishment of a justice studies center, and strengthening of freedom of expression, freedom of the press are part of that democracy basket.
It was agreed upon unanimously to move forward with what is called a special rapporteur in the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, which is part of, but an independent body of, the OAS. That would advocate press freedoms, would serve as an early warning mechanism where freedoms were not being exhibited or were being suppressed. And also the crimes of impunity, as I think probably all of you are well aware of -- there have been over 200 journalists killed in the hemisphere, in all the countries in the hemisphere, including our own, in the last 10 years -- some of those crimes have not -- or criminals have not been brought to justice. So this will be a way to highlight the importance of freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and a mechanism -- a mechanism to strengthen the enforcement of that. Through an existing organization, I might add, not a new one.
Q I'd like to ask you, what is the administration's reaction to Prime Minister Jean Chretien's decision to visit Cuba in eight days? And will this be discussed in the bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Chretien and President Clinton?
MR. MCLARTY: The bilateral meeting has not taken place. I think in terms of Prime Minister Chretien's schedule, of course, that is his decision. I think we would very much hope and expect him to emphasize the importance of democracy, certainly of human rights, and a civil society in Cuba when he visits there. I think Mr. Berger can also comment perhaps not only on that issue, but also he will have a full report on the special rapporteur in the democracy session.
Q I have a question about the administration's position on education spending here, vis-a-vis the amount of money that these Latin American countries are spending on new armaments. Are there mixed signals here? On the one hand, the administration is willing to sell these advanced weapons to these Latin American countries. Chile is going to spend $1 billion this year on new airplanes. And 10 percent of Chile's budget is devoted to the military. But at the same time, you're encouraging them to spend more on education. Are there mixed signals here, or how do you square the two of those?
MR. MCLARTY: Well, I'll take the first part, Dick, and then you can comment on the second.
No, I don't think there are mixed signals. I think if you look at the expenditures within the region, you will see increasing expenditures on education, including Chile, which was the example you raised. And I think, in terms of defense spending, you will see increased openness and transparency. Here in Chile they have a full white paper, so to speak, on all of their military expenditures.
The real essence of the change in policy that the President adopted, with very careful thought, concerning the ban, if you will, or the negative presumption on arms sales, really grows out of the fundamental tenet of the summit, and that is the democracy, the civil control of the military that we now see in Latin America. We still have a policy of restraint; we will still look at this on a case-by-case basis. But rather than apotheosize about some potential, let's talk about realities.
And what we see in the region are an emphasis on education, to lift citizens' lives and to prepare them for the 21st century; an emphasis on trade and integration. But in the area of the military, we see cooperation becoming the norm, not the exception. And we see very responsible confidence-building peacekeeping measures not only in the region -- in Peru-Ecuador, in the Guatemala peace accord settlement, but also in Iraq, Bosnia, and around the world.
So I think those are the realities of the region. And, of course, that is a very, I think, healthy and constructive development.
SECRETARY RILEY: In terms of education, as Mack said, it's going to be very clear that the export of technology -- educational technology, education through technology -- from this country is going to be a tremendous source of revenue and of improvement to the hemisphere. So the education part, the answer has to be, yes, but it's going to be very good for businesses in this country because it's really, people are craving that kind of transfer of information and educational help.
Q I'm curious about the new drug policy that's being talked about here at the summit. Is that intended as a replacement for certification, or is that intended to work hand in hand with certification? And is it any kind of indication that that hasn't been working -- that certification as a process hasn't been working?
MR. MCLARTY: The answer is, no. I think, certification and multilateral cooperative efforts, which have been taking place for -- in recent years, have clearly the same goal, and that is to effectively address and make progress against drug traffickers and drug lords. The certification, of course, is a law on our congressional books. We'll continue to enforce it. I do think we say a significant increase in the cooperative efforts taking place and really a very aggressive posture in the hemisphere that recognizes this problem, first, as a threat to national security -- as President Zedillo said a number of years ago -- and a threat to their very fabric of society.
So I think we will see the full agreement on a multilateral drug alliance -- we already have bilateral arrangements with Mexico and Venezuela -- and I see that consistent with a strong, unified effort in the effort against drugs. The certification effort, again, has the same goal -- it is not meant as one or the other. And we see also the Organization of American States -- the CCAT program, as it's called -- being a very effective mechanism in that regard.
Q We've been given a table of resources available for Santiago Summit initiative, which totals about $45 billion through the World Bank and U.S. resources. Could you elaborate on that please, and could you tell us what the Inter-American Bank will do?
MR. MCLARTY: I don't have the exact -- I've seen, I believe, the information in the chart that you are referring to, and I think you will find a very careful coordination between the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. I think one is $45 billion over a period of years; the other is $55 billion. And I think much of the World Bank effort, if I recall correctly, is specifically targeted at some infrastructure projects as well broad educational reform.
The Inter-American Development Bank not only has funds for educational reform that Secretary Riley spoke of, but also has a specific targeting of microenterprise and land titling, which I think is very important because, despite strong macroeconomic growth in the region, as the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago talked about, this jobless growth, where you actually have the importation of labor -- and we've seen this in our own country; in fact, the President referred to it, where I believe there were some 40,000 job applications in the computer industry, where you actually have an importation of labor needed and still have some high unemployment rates, particularly within the region -- that's what those funds are targeted to do.
Q Can you tell us something about the First Lady's visit to an indigenous community this afternoon? Apparently, there's a protest over a land dispute because unions were taking over land. Can you comment on that at all?
MR. MCLARTY: I'm not familiar with the protest other than that's a very positive sign of a working democracy that people can express their opinions. The First Lady has been consistent, I think, as I noted in some comments earlier before we came here. She has traveled the region, I believe, four or five times; the Vice President has traveled the region, I believe, five times. She has been consistent in the strong emphasis she has placed on education, on health care issues -- including women and all aspects of society and indigenous people. And I think her trip to the southern lake region is consistent with other efforts that she has made. I don't know anything about the specific matter that you asked about.
Q Secretary Riley, specifically, what are the mechanisms for follow-up and implementation? There have been some studies of the Miami Summit, the education part of that, and it was found that the IDB's effort sort of lagged badly behind what was expected. Does any particular nation or entity have responsibility for making sure that what's in the initiative is actually carried out?
SECRETARY RILEY: Mack can speak more to the structure in terms of the next summit and preparing for that, in Canada I guess. Two parts of the involvement here for education -- one significant part is what happens nationally, what happens within the country, what are they doing to improve their own education, what are we doing. Those matters are really maybe hemispheric, coming together and making commitments among ourselves. But that is a very important part of education any way you look at it. Our schools and our education, of course, are the responsibility of our states and our local schools, the federal government having an important priority of support of that. So the national part is really a very important part of it.
What is happening in Ecuador, what's happening in Brazil, what's happening in Mexico and the U.S. -- we are looking more at things like the TIMSS study for math and science, which is a very big help, and as I indicated earlier, you're going to see more and more of that in South America, so you can really compare how progress is moving along. That's the national part.
The other part is partnership, and that can go in hundreds of directions, all of which are important. This idea of working together, this website that is available for you to take a look at is a concrete example of the kind of things working together that we can move forward in education.
The idea of the banking arrangements and financial investment in education -- again nationally, that's very important, but again, also, from the Americas' standpoint, through those agencies is also important. So there will be follow-through in all of the educational areas, but we're all looking at what we're doing nationally and then in ways that we can partner with each other.
MR. MCLARTY: Let me just -- I do think the Miami Summit put an architecture in place, and I think the implementation has been emphasized. I think we are getting better at that as this summit process moves forward, to have specific benchmarks, specific timelines, whether it be in education, in the multilateral drug alliance -- of course, the marketplace judges the economic side in a rather specific way. But I think there is a structure in place now, not only an architecture and a foundation, and specific mechanisms to move forward, not only country to country but in a multilateral way as well.
Q When President Clinton said this morning the United States may not have fast track, but we will -- is he saying that the free trade area of the Americas is going to be impossible for the U.S. if he doesn't get fast track?
MR. MCLARTY: I certainly felt his statement was cast in a positive tone, that he felt, as he stated in his State of the Union, that he was committed to open and fair trade, as he has been since day one, and he believed that would be achieved. And that, I think, will be reflected in the launch of the free trade area tomorrow, when our Presidents meet.
Q But if he doesn't get fast track, does he believe that American participation in a free trade agreement can still go ahead?
MR. MCLARTY: I didn't interpret his comment that way.
Q You essentially seem to be saying, we need this legislation and people will come to the realization that we need this legislation. But when it failed, President Clinton himself expressed frustration with his inability to sell the American people on the benefits of free trade. Do you see anything that's happened that gives you hope that people are coming to this realization? I mean, you make the case and he makes the case but is anyone buying the case?
MR. MCLARTY: Well, I think at this particular meeting, the emphasis on this authority, while not improper, should not deemphasize the importance of the launch of the free trade area negotiations. That is a very important achievement and agreement. And what we saw at least in the Uruguay Round was a launch of negotiations that kept an energy, a momentum, and progress in open and fair trade that did lead to the passage of negotiating authority.
I do think that the benefits will become increasingly clear, and I think the discussion of how we move forward in this inter-connected economy -- and I think they have a direct bearing on a lot of things we've talked about in this press briefing today on education. I think that is part of the overall discussion, and I think what is clear is that the President is committed to this goal.
Q Could you elaborate on the initiative to protect migrant workers, their rights throughout the hemisphere and also, perhaps, tell us a bit on the chances of the OAS commission actually being able to carry out such a mission?
MR. MCLARTY: The issue of immigration clearly is a complicated issue, and I think our policy has been consistent from the United States standpoint, and that is to respect human rights, but, at the same time, strictly enforce the laws of illegal immigration. So I think those two are not mutually inconsistent -- in fact, just the opposite. I think there are mechanisms through various bodies, including the OAS, that look into specific cases of abuse. But the press freedoms that we talked about earlier is an entirely separate matter from the migrant issue that you raise.
Q How soon will the multilateral antidrug system be up and running? And to what extent can you convince other countries that that's going to happen when congressmen are here in this meeting telling everybody that they are not going to support it?
MR. MCLARTY: Well, I think I'm not sure that that's quite the sentiment in terms of support or lack of support. I think the goals of certification and the multilateral drug effort are absolutely the same. As for the timing, there is already a framework I think that has been agreed upon.
I don't know about the specific timeline of implementation for the standards and the way this particular matter will be finally put in place. I think it will be well within the year -- General McCaffrey and others, General Reno, who is here, could speak to that in a more specific nature than I. But I think there is -- I have found no disagreement in my discussion about increasing our level of cooperation in the hemisphere regarding the effort against drugs and to reduce the demand for drugs as well as directly attack the supply of drugs. I've found no disagreement on that issue.
SECRETARY RILEY: As I mentioned, this web site prototype is back here in this next room, for any of you that are interested. Eventually, of course, we'll have very rich data entered into it from all of the different countries in the Americas, but it is really just today that it was introduced. So, please, take a look at it if you would.
END 2:05 P.M. (L)