Press Release Chile Latin America and the Caribbean US Foreign Policy World

US Congressional Delegation Led by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Arrives in Santiago

August 16, 2023

Contact: Dan Beeton, Mail_Outline

Washington, DC — A delegation of US Members of Congress and staff arrives in Santiago today for a series of high-level meetings with President Gabriel Boric, government ministers, congressional representatives, and civil society organizations to learn about Chile’s efforts to defend and deepen its democracy on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the coup against President Salvador Allende.

The delegation, which includes Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Greg Casar (D-TX), and Maxwell Frost (D-FL), as well as Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) Chief of Staff Misty Rebik, is traveling to Chile as part of a region-wide delegation sponsored by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

“US foreign policy has too often contributed to instability in Latin America: we should be protecting democracy rather than supporting coups, and we should be creating peace and prosperity across the Western Hemisphere rather than replaying the Cold War,” Representative Greg Casar said. “Now is the time to talk about our history, jointly fight the climate crisis, and invest in lasting peace. That is why I’m joining this delegation to Brazil, Colombia, and Chile — to meet, listen, and learn from our counterparts and chart a new way forward.”

The itinerary will kick off with a reception by Santiago Mayor Irací Hassler to welcome the delegation to Chile and learn about the mayor’s projects to address food insecurity and discrimination against migrants in Santiago. The itinerary will close with a reception by President Gabriel Boric and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alberto Van Klaveren to learn about the administration’s vision for Chile and its leading efforts to address the environmental crisis, expand social rights, and defend its institutions in the face of rising antidemocratic forces.

In between these meetings, the delegation will attend a series of meetings with high-level Chilean government and civil society representatives committed to strengthening Chilean democracy and preserving historical memory of the 1973 US-backed coup against President Salvador Allende. These include a meeting with congressional leaders, a visit to the Museum of Memory and Human Rights with the Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Luis Cordero Vega, and a meeting with the former President Michelle Bachelet.

The delegation continues with a dialogue across Chilean government and civil society about the country’s approach to the management of natural resources and the response to the climate crisis. Delegates will meet with Tomás Vodanovic, Mayor of Maipú, to learn about the city’s efforts to develop a local water strategy to protect the ecosystem and defend the right to clear water; Macarena Ripamonti, Mayor of Viña del Mar, to learn about her efforts to regulate construction on protected areas; and congressional leaders to discuss the challenges of economic development and green transition. 

Finally, the itinerary will include a series of high-level meetings to learn about Chile’s approach to the expansion of economic and social rights. Delegates will meet with Minister of Women and Gender Equality Antonia Orellana to discuss how the government is implementing networks of social care, mental health, and legal mediation with a gender, inclusion and intercultural approach; with congressional leaders that fought and won the 40-Hour Law to strengthen worker rights; and Foreign Ministry Undersecretaries Gloria de la Fuente and Claudia Sanhueza to learn about Chile’s novel paradigm of “Feminist Foreign Policy”.

Representative Castro has said: “More than with any other region of the world, the future of the United States is intimately linked with that of our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere. As we grapple with transnational challenges – from managing migration to climate resilience – the time has come for a reimagined regional approach that prioritizes multilateralism, effective engagement, and mutual respect.

“For much of the last seven decades, the United States has approached the Western Hemisphere with a Cold War mentality that prioritizes ideological alignment over shared commitments to democracy and freedom. This counterproductive approach has hampered our diplomacy, left many of our neighbors wary of U.S. engagement, and undermined potential progress on development, good governance, human rights, and more. At the same time, our reputation has been damaged by cruel migration policies that hurt vulnerable people and contradict our foundational values. As we move deeper into the 21st century and confront unprecedented challenges, I hope that members of Congress will work with our colleagues in neighboring countries and make policy that is informed by the diverse experiences of our own diaspora communities.

“My family’s American story began when my grandmother, Victoria Castro, came to Texas as a young orphan in the wake of the Mexican Revolution. Her San Antonio relatives raised her in a city defined by Mexican culture, where recent migrants and long-established Hispanic families could chase their American dreams despite the prejudices of the time. Today, the vast and diverse Latino diaspora forms the backbone of communities from San Antonio to Springfield, Massachusetts, and newly arrived immigrants are breathing new life into cities across the industrial Midwest. Congress must learn how to harness America’s immigrant communities as a source of strength.

“My priorities as Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere are to advance inclusive and sustainable development, expand regional economic cooperation to create good-paying jobs at home and abroad, promote a more humane approach to migration, strengthen our bilateral and multilateral relationships, and curb firearms trafficking from the United States into Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. These goals build on the progress I accomplished as chairman of the Subcommittee on International Development, International Organizations, and Global Corporate Social Impact, and I’m pleased to be able to continue many of the important conversations that began last Congress.”

Delegation coordinator David Adler said: “Fifty years ago, the United States supported a bloody coup against the democratically elected government of President Salvador Allende. The scars from this tragic event are still visible today — in the lasting memory of those who died and disappeared under General Augusto Pinochet, and in the institutional legacy of the neoliberal government that he left behind. This delegation arrives to help usher in a new chapter of US-Chile relations based on mutual understanding and the common pursuit of social justice. All too often, visitors from Washington come to the region to deliver lectures and unsolicited advice. This delegation has come to Chile to listen, learn, and forge lasting alliances for hemispheric cooperation.”


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