Remarks by a Senior U.S. Official During a Telephonic Background Briefing on Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s Travel to Costa Rica and Ecuador

Senior Administration Official
March 27, 2023


MODERATOR: Hey, everyone. Thanks for joining. As mentioned, the focus of today’s call is Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s upcoming travel this week to Ecuador and Costa Rica. Just some ground rules: This call is on background, and you can attribute what you hear to a Senior U.S. Official. Not for reporting but so you know, we have on the line [Senior U.S. Official]. Again, you can attribute what [Senior U.S. Official] says to a Senior U.S. Official. One more ground rule is just this call is embargoed until its conclusion. 

And with that, [Senior U.S. Official], you have the floor.  

SENIOR U.S. OFFICIAL: Okay, [Moderator], thanks very much. Good morning, everyone. As we announced last week, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield departs on Wednesday for a three-day trip to Ecuador and Costa Rica. She has three main objectives for this trip.  

First, she will focus on democracy. The United States, as you probably know, is co-hosting the second Summit for Democracy with the Governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, and Republic of Zambia. As head of the U.S. Delegation to Costa Rica for the second Summit for Democracy, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield will highlight the importance of strengthening democratic resilience around the world and increasing the participation of young people in the democratic process. She will also discuss how we can expand democracy at a time we see democratic backsliding in the region and around the world.  

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield will attend summit events hosted by the President of Costa Rica Rodrigo Chaves Robles, focused on encouraging youth participation in the democratic process. In her keynote address on March 30, she will discuss the inherent challenges with democracy and how those challenges couple with democracy’s limitless potential in delivering for citizens. She will call on young people to get involved and on governments to put young people at the head of the table so that together we can build a more inclusive, more free, and more democratic world. 

Second, as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, she will affirm our close partnerships with Ecuador and Costa Rica in taking on shared priorities. Costa Rica has demonstrated consistent leadership in multilateral organizations, to finding diplomatic solutions to countering authoritarianism, and has shown strong leadership in promoting respect for human rights and democratic governance across the region.  

And Ecuador has been a solid partner in South America. As Ecuador embarks on a two-year term on the Security Council, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield will highlight the work we’re doing together. Multilateralism is essential to achieving regional peace and security goals, and Ecuador’s role on the Council provides a voice for the Ecuadorian people and Latin America on the important global decisions taken at the UN Security Council. I can say in the few months since it began its Council term, Ecuador has been a strong partner on efforts to address the security situation in Haiti and to keep the humanitarian impacts of Russia’s war against Ukraine on the Council’s agenda.  

Specifically in Quito, the Ambassador will participate in a public conversation with Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Holguín on shared U.S. and Ecuadorian multilateral priorities. You can expect them to discuss Ecuador’s priorities for its time on the Council, including women, peace, and security, protection of civilians in armed conflicts, combating illicit arms trafficking, as well as our shared bilateral priorities of strengthening democratic institutions, promoting inclusive economic growth, supporting environmental conservation, and combating corruption and crime.  

Finally, in both Ecuador and Costa Rica, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield will shine a light on humanitarian challenges, specifically in regard to meeting the humanitarian and protection needs of refugees and asylum seekers. Forced displacement in the Western Hemisphere has reached historic highs, accounting for one-fifth of the world’s 100 million forcibly displaced persons. Beyond the objective humanitarian need, this impacts every country in the region.  

Ecuador hosts more than half a million refugees and migrants, including a large Venezuelan population, and Costa Rica is the largest recipient of Nicaraguans fleeing the repressive Ortega-Murillo regime. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield will meet UN agencies and NGOs supporting refugee resettlement in Ecuador, and she’ll speak with migrant families and other forcibly displaced people, including Nicaraguans seeking asylum in Costa Rica. In both Ecuador and Costa Rica, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield will meet with senior government officials as well as members of civil society and youth activists and leaders. 

And with that, I’m happy to take any questions you might have.  

MODERATOR: Great, thanks, [Senior U.S. Official]. People can hear me, right? Sorry. Hey there, can folks hear me? 

OPERATOR: This is AT&T. Everyone should be able to hear you, sir.  

MODERATOR: Great. Sorry, I had a mute problem. Thanks, [Senior U.S. Official]. And again, I saw a few folks join in the middle, so I just wanted to reconfirm that this call is on background and anything you hear, you can attribute to a Senior U.S. Ffficial. And now I’ll ask our AT&T moderator to review the instructions for asking a question, and then we’ll proceed with any questions folks have. So, we’re good to – we’re good to start with questions. 

OPERATOR: Pardon me, my phone was muted as well. And ladies and gentlemen, if you do have a question, please press 1 then 0 on your telephone keypad. You’ll hear an indication that you’ve been placed into the queue, and you may remove yourself from the queue by repeating the 1 then 0 keypad – or pardon me, command. If you’re using a speaker phone, please pick up your handset before pressing any buttons. Again, for questions, press 1 then 0 at this time. We will first go to the line of Margaret Besheer with Voice of America. Go ahead, please.  

QUESTION: Hi, good morning. Thanks for doing the briefing. [Senior U.S. Official], since this is a Summit on Democracy, do you have any reactions, comments to what’s going on in Israel at the moment? And will that come up at the summit?  

SENIOR U.S. OFFICIAL: I don’t have any comment on that. We’re focused this morning on Ecuador, Costa Rica, and the Summit for Democracy.  

QUESTION: But you said in your opening remarks that it would focus on both the region and everywhere, so –  

SENIOR U.S. OFFICIAL: Yes, but I don’t – I don’t have anything to share on that particular point.  

MODERATOR: Yeah. Hey, Maggie, it’s [Moderator]. We can follow up on that. This – we really want to focus on our – the Ambassador’s travel to Ecuador and Costa Rica for this call, but happy to follow up with you on the Israel question.  

OPERATOR: And if there are any additional questions, please take this opportunity now to press 1 then 0 on your telephone keypad.  

We have a follow-up question from Margaret Besheer. Go ahead, please.  

QUESTION: I’ll ask on the Summit: Do you anticipate any new announcements, any financial assistance for democracy projects and that stuff?  

SENIOR U.S. OFFICIAL: Sure. I think that the U.S. government will announce significant funding and policy updates to the presidential initiative for democratic renewal. This will include a particular focus on initiatives that advance technology for democracy. And I think in general, the Summit is an opportunity for leaders to sort of showcase progress made on commitments announced at the first summit, announce new commitments on initiatives, and speak to their countries’ experiences with and challenges to strengthen democracy. 

OPERATOR: Okay. At this time, we have no further questions in queue.  

MODERATOR: Great. Well, thanks for joining, everyone, and we will be in touch and talk soon. You know how to reach us if you have anything else. Thanks.