"It's a new year, with a new budget hearing, and things look worse for the United States today than they did last year. We spent, approximately $1.8 billion on programs in the Western Hemisphere last year and we find that the region has less economic freedom, an increased homicide rate, and reduced press freedom.
"If it was a private company generating this data, instead of the U.S. Government, it would be made clear that the product is failing to provide desired results and the contract would not be extended. Unfortunately, these figures represent the outcome of U.S. Government programs and this backsliding is compounded by an increased lack of respect for the United States. The headlines emanating from the Summit of the Americas widely reported that the United States is isolated within the region.
"You have been in a senior position on issues relating to the Hemisphere for over ten years. During this time we have not held the Organization of American States accountable for their inability, or lack of desire, to act on behalf of democracy in the hemisphere. Now we see the discussion of re-defining democracy gaining steam in the region. While it may be a complex system of governing and is difficult to attain and maintain, democracy has only one definition: government by the people.
"It is clear that Cuba does not have "government by the people'. Other nations in the region have mutilated "government by the people' by utilizing executive power to alter constitutions and by daily assaults on free speech. Democratic principles act as a standard for protecting freedom; if these principles slip within our region the impact to security and the economy will be lasting.
"Over the past ten years, U.S. assistance supporting democratic efforts has been cut while the OAS has received yearly increases. Nicaragua and Ecuador have worked counter to freedom and receive a boost in U.S. funding. And new Global Climate Change programs have maintained a healthy stipend. Meanwhile, our allies were dragged through a negative campaign on the free trade agreements and frustrated on the Keystone XL pipeline. Are we to understand that the $78 million spent on climate change programs outside of our country took priority over enhancing business partnerships and the principle of freedom for the citizens of our region?
"Backsliding in the Hemisphere is extensive, with attacks on press and business from Argentina to Ecuador; Ortega's stealing the election in Nicaragua; Chavez's involvement in all the above while ceding Venezuela to drug traffickers and terrorists. Billions of dollars are going to fight the drug trade with countries who are taking a public stand against U.S. policies. All while the region bands together to demand the world's longest dictatorship in Cuba a seat at a democratic gathering of nations.
"Assistant Secretary, I look forward to hearing how you will improve the markers on this declining state in which we find ourselves.
"As I have said, and I'm sure you agree, the strengthening of our economy and the durability of our national security starts right here, with the powerful economies in our region and at our borders. Unfortunately, our policies have come down to promoting the lowest common denominator in an attempt to maintain friends. In the end, we have lost our friends and our values.
"I hope that you will explain how you will use your new position, and a requested 1.5 billion dollars, to set the United States on a more prosperous path forward, standing with our allies and setting our principles before our adversaries."