Connecting Communities and Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Inter-American Democratic Charter in Chile

All Ministers that attended the OAS Conference
All Ministers that attended the OAS Conference.

Children dancing a typical Chilean dance
Children dancing a typical Chilean dance.

Bilateral meeting with Chile's Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Fernando Schmidt
Bilateral meeting with Chile's Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Fernando Schmidt.

Minister Ablonczy and the Santiago wardens
Minister Ablonczy and the Santiago wardens.

Group photo
Ambassador of Canada, Sarah Fountain Smith; Ms. Olga Díaz, Director of the afterschool center, receiving the Canada Fund contribution; Minister of State for the Americas and Consular Affairs, Diane Ablonczy.

Group photo
Minister Ablonczy with Canadian investors in Chile and the Ambassador of Canada, Sarah Fountain Smit.

The Inter-American Democratic Charter seeks to strengthen and sustain democratic institutions in the Americas. Adopted on September 11, 2001, at a special session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States, the Charter passes its tenth anniversary this year.

On a recent visit to Chile, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Diane Ablonczy, commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Inter-American Democratic Charter in Valparaíso, and went on to participate in discussions focussed on Canada-Chile relations the following day.

 “A decade after its signature in Lima, Peru, the Inter-American Democratic Charter continues to stand as one of the hemisphere’s most remarkable collective achievements,” said Minister of State Ablonczy. “Our commitment to the Charter and its principles is as strong today as it was 10 years ago.”

Following the conference, the Minister participated in a one-day program in Santiago that included a meeting with Chile’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fernando Schmidt, and also met with local communities and the private sector.

The Minister visited an afterschool centre in a low income community called La Granja, which was funded by the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives in Chile (CFLI). Through the establishment of a computer club in the centre, this project helps vulnerable children to become functional digital citizens, improving their ability to access employment and academic opportunities. The afterschool centre not only makes learning fun, but also helps foster the growth of engaged and informed young people.

“Canada welcomes the efforts of local communities to further their own development and is glad to support dynamic development projects, particularly those that seek to reduce inequalities, and that reaffirms Canada’s ongoing engagement with Chile in the priority area of education”, said Minister Ablonczy.

Canada is the third-largest investor in Chile, and Canadian companies have distinguished themselves by implementing corporate social responsibility practices that not only grant Canadian companies a certain competitive advantage, but help ensure that the Canadian presence in Chile is a positive one, focussing on education, sustainable development and social responsibility. While in Santiago, Minister Ablonczy participated in a round-table discussion with leading Canadian investors active in Chile, in order to gain insights on challenges and opportunities for Canadian businesses moving forward. She also discussed the Government of Canada’s commercial priorities in the Americas, including expanding Canadian direct investment and diversifying trade relations.

One of the ways Canadians living abroad can stay connected with each other is through the network of consular wardens. During her visit, Minister Ablonczy also took the opportunity to meet with wardens from the Santiago area and express her appreciation for their efforts. These volunteers provide an important service to Canadians living in Chile, assisting in sharing information and guidance from the Embassy with Canadians in their districts. Their efforts are especially valuable in the event of an emergency such as the devastating earthquake and tsunami of February 2010.

The Minister’s visit to Chile was an excellent opportunity to strengthen Canada’s relationship with Chile through her meetings with local authorities, communities and businesspeople, and also to reaffirm Canada’s commitment to the OAS and the Inter-American Democratic Charter (IDAC).