Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
March 29, 2023
MODERATOR: (In Spanish.)
AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Good evening, everyone. Let me start by thanking Foreign Minister Holguín and the people of Ecuador for welcoming me here today.
And I want to start by expressing my deep condolences for the loss of lives following the earthquake, the mudslides, and the flooding that you have experienced over the course of the past weeks.
Moments ago, I sat down with President Lasso to reaffirm the strong partnership between our two countries. A partnership built on fundamental shared values – including democratic governance and human rights. A partnership that allows us to advance a host of shared priorities – from environmental stewardship to economic development to security, migration, and narcotics issues. And it’s a partnership that extends to the multilateral realm.
This year, we welcomed Ecuador to the UN Security Council. Ecuador’s role on the Council provides a voice for the Ecuadorian people, and regional Latin American representation on global decisions.
We deeply appreciate Ecuador’s commitment to keeping Ukraine on the Council’s agenda. And we must do everything in our power to end Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine – a war that flies in the face of the UN Charter and has grave implications for global peace and security.
Ecuador has also put forward key priorities for its time on the Council, like the protection of civilians, Women, Peace, and Security issues.
I also want to take a moment to share some highlights from my productive day in this beautiful city.
This morning, I met with Sonia Viveros, the founder of AZUCAR. AZUCAR provides Afro-Ecuadorian culture and history classes to Afro-Ecuadorian youth, and it helps young people build self-esteem and life skills. Some of the young people showed off their incredible dance and music talents. They were so gifted.
From there, I visited the San Juan de Dios shelter and served hot meals to Venezuelan migrants and vulnerable Ecuadorian persons with disabilities, and elderly and homeless individuals. The United States is proud to support this shelter through the World Food Program.
As the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, it’s important for me to see UN initiatives in action when I travel. And it’s important for me to meet with humanitarian teams on the ground – and to hear from UNHCR and WFP, as well as the families who rely on the shelter’s critical services.
Many of these people are among the seven – more than seven million people that have been forced to flee Venezuela. I made clear that the United States will continue to provide critical assistance to Venezuelan refugees and migrants, their host communities, and those still in Venezuela.
Just the other week, I announced more than $171 million in new humanitarian assistance and development funding to respond to the crisis. And I called on the international community to join us in this vital work.
This afternoon, the Foreign Minister and I fielded questions about the importance of multilateralism from academics, international relations students, and foreign service graduates. And I have to say, I think we knocked it out of the park.
Foreign Minister Holguín – thank you again for your warm welcome. But I also want to take this moment to thank all Ecuadorians. I want to thank you for your hospitality, but I want to thank you for what you have done in this region to raise your voice as leaders on a whole number of issues in this region. I look forward to our continued partnership, our continued friendship, as we work together to address the critical issues that we face around the world.
Thank you very much.
MODERATOR: (In Spanish.)
FOREIGN MINISTER JUAN CARLOS HOLGUÍN: (Via interpreter) (Inaudible) meeting with Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the Permanent Representative of the United States, (inaudible) and also discussed about the participation this morning of President Lasso, by invitation of President Biden, at the Summit of Democracy, where President Lasso provided declarations on the advancements we have made regarding the first summit a little bit more than a year ago and the challenges that the country, the region, and the world are facing at a difficult moment after the attack of Russia on Ukraine.
We have covered together aspects of the security agenda, including the implementation of the women agenda – peace and security – as well as the protection of civilians in our conflicts. We also pointed out the importance of working deeper on a proposal dealing on the deteriorating situation in Haiti. This is a request by the American President to President Lasso and also the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries that Ecuador is representing as non-permanent member of the Security Council to take the voice but also find immediate solutions for a country that has a huge problem that represents a grave security challenge and a problem with fighting criminal organizations in Central America and affecting the whole region.
I would like to also tell you that during the conversation that Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield (inaudible) about, we reaffirmed the decision of the Ecuadorian (inaudible) multilateralism and the belief on the peaceful conflict resolution, and also ratified the firm position that our country has condemning Russia’s attack. And it’s unfortunate that peace has not been reached. It’s important for the world, but also thinking about the Latin American context, for this war to be over soon due to the great effects that it is producing not only on the citizens living around, but also on our region, and I am mainly talking about inflation problems. We also discussed this with Latin American presidents in the last Ibero-American Summit.
President Lasso and Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield coincided in the importance and goodwill of both countries of continuing working together at the Security Council on other topics that join us together. During our meeting, we covered relevant topics such as conflict prevention, food insecurity, humanitarian aspects in Ukraine, the launching of missiles by the (inaudible) North Korean republic, the situation in Syria, regional matters, and also the urgent situation of Haiti that requires an immediate response from our countries.
I would also like to point out that we have proposed as a topic to be analyzed, and it has been worked on at the Security Council, the fight against transnational organized structures regarding crime that are affecting the region in problems such as cocaine trafficking, synthetic drug trafficking, migrant trafficking, and illegal mining. This is generating a huge effect in the weakening of democracies. This was covered this morning as well by President Lasso in his conversation and participation with President Biden.
We would like to thank Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield for visiting today some of the projects that are supported and funded by the U.S. operation, among them projects that help the migration situation in our countries, mainly of those who have been legalized within the legalization process of Venezuelan siblings, which has become a role model of public policy internationally.
Finally, we want to reaffirm our bond of friendship that guides us together with the U.S. We have had some high-level visits over the last weeks, over the last months, and this confirms that we are together in this sharing of principles – democracy, freedom, and peace – that in the end are the principles that all of our citizens have.
Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, be welcomed to our country. We always talk as a (inaudible) that Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield was here on May 25, and we heard from the president of the republic the proposal of vaccinating the population in a hundred days. It seemed impossible, but we have assessed these 23 months in office and the advancements that we’ve had not only in actually being able to overcome the pandemic, but the advancements regarding public finances, social development, and also the challenges that we have ahead.
So, thank you very much.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Thank you, Mr. Minister. We have questions by the media. Francisco Garcés, Ecuavisa.
QUESTION: (In Spanish.)
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you so much for that question. Let me apologize for my voice not projecting. I’ve been talking too much over the past two days.
So, my visit to Ecuador is about reaffirming the strong relationship we have, and particularly because Ecuador is a member of the Security Council. And as a part of my own agenda, I travel to the elected Security Council countries on a regular basis. I’m not here to address any domestic issues that are happening at the moment. And we will allow the Ecuadorian institutions and courts to address those issues in the way that they have been asked to do.
But I will say that democracy is not a straight-line, solid, easy process. Democracy is always a process which requires recalibration. It requires some setbacks and moving forward. And like every democracy, Ecuador is experiencing that kind of problem, and I wish the people of Ecuador well.
MODERATOR: (In Spanish.)
QUESTION: (In Spanish.)
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I think I understood your question, and what you’re asking is what the Security Council – how the Security Council is addressing issues in this region.
So narcotrafficking is a global issue and it affects the United States just as it affects other parts of the world, and I know it’s a major priority for this government, and we’re working very closely with this government as well as other governments in the region to address this issue. It has not come up as a Security Council issue, but it is an issue that we deal with domestically, in our bilateral relationships with countries in the region.
MODERATOR: (In Spanish.)
FOREIGN MINISTER HOLGUÍN: Muchas gracias a todos.