Brazil’s President Opens UN General Assembly Debate

Posted September 21st, 2011 at 5:08 pm (UTC-5)
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Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff opened the annual debate of the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday by saying fast-growing emerging economies can play a role in helping to stem the global economic crisis.

President Rousseff is the first woman to open the General Assembly. Ms. Rousseff, who also is Brazil's first woman president, told delegates that the economic crisis is too serious to be managed by a small number of countries. But she said their governments and central banks continue to bear greater responsibility in taking the process forward. Additionally, President Rousseff called for developed countries to put in place coordinated policies to help economies facing sovereign debt crises, while urging nations to fight protectionism and all forms of trade manipulation.

President Rousseff was one of several Latin American leaders who addressed the General Assembly Wednesday.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon, in his speech, said thousands of people, especially in Latin America, have died in violence linked to organized crime and drug trafficking. President Calderon called for drug-consuming countries to take action to reduce demand for illegal drugs. More than 40,000 people in Mexico have died in drug-related violence since President Calderon took office in late 2006 and began a crackdown on the cartels.

Colombia's president, Juan Manuel Santos, told the General Assembly his nation has had successes in the fight against drugs but that many challenges remain. He said drugs and terror threaten democracies and the rule of law, and that Colombia will continue to fight those scourges, which he described as a national security problem. Colombia has been fighting rebels from the FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, since the 1960s. The FARC has been designated as a terrorist organization by Colombia, the United States and the European Union.

Honduran President Porfirio Lobo said violence and transnational crime have a negative impact on economic development. He cited drug trafficking, kidnapping, murder, money laundering, human and arms trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women as examples. Separately, the Honduran leader spoke briefly about the June 2009 coup that ousted then-President Manuel Zelaya, and about human rights concerns in the Central American nation.

Mr. Zelaya was deposed in a military-backed coup after he allegedly tried to change the constitution to remain in power. He was replaced on an interim basis by Roberto Micheletti. The Organization of American States subsequently suspended Honduras, but has since readmitted the nation.

President Lobo took office in January of last year.