“Ladies and gentleman,
This is, to say the least, an exciting moment to be meeting here in Latin America, here in Santiago de Chile.
It is a time of significant change and opportunity for the region. I am very pleased our IDU family is gathering here to deepen our relationships as we discuss the challenges that are defining the path ahead. I am particularly excited the IDU is meeting in Chile during the Presidency of His Excellency Mr. Sebastian Piñera, President of the Republic of Chile.
I was last in this country in 2012 on an official visit as Prime Minister of Canada. During that visit President Pinera and his government were extremely generous in their warmth and hospitality. On this visit the President is again being most generous with his time.
It is a tremendous honour and privilege for the IDU that the President will be attending and speaking at our dinner this evening. Under President Pinera’s leadership, Chile today is a model of stability and growth;
a leading example of successful democratic capitalism under strong, capable, centre-right leadership.
This is a trend we are also witnessing in other countries of South America, as we will discuss during our sessions today. I believe that IDU members globally have much to learn from this region. Sadly of course, not every country on the continent has chosen a similar path.
The tragic example of Maduro’s illegitimate socialist dictatorship in Venezuela is only the most recent example
of the unimaginable and unnecessary suffering that results when institutions are corrupted and freedom is denied. The IDU stands firmly with the broader international community in recognizing Juan Guaido as the legitimate interim President of Venezuela.
Moreover, those brave souls fighting for liberty in Venezuela remind us of the core values that bring us together. They inspire us to redouble our efforts to strengthen our global association and extend a supportive hand to like-minded parties in this region, and around the world.
To that end, I am very excited by the progress the IDU is making.
As we discussed when we gathered in California last September, there is a tremendous opportunity that lies before our global alliance of the centre-right. In a world of disruption and rapid change, we nonetheless have the opportunity to grow our organization, to increase our capacity and activity, to network with more conservatives around the world, and to more actively extend a hand to parties in emerging democracies.
It is up to us to seize this opportunity. To that end, I am very pleased to highlight the re-establishment of the Democrat Union of Africa at a meeting in Accra, Ghana this February. As the IDU’s official regional affiliate in Africa, the newly re-launched DUA is a key step towards ensuring our organization is growing its capacity to build new relationships on the continent and foster parties that share our values. This work would not happen without the support of the Wesminster Foundation for Democracy and the Konrad-Adenaur Foundation.
We are deeply grateful for their leadership in helping the IDU re-engage on the African continent.
There is lots of work for the IDU ahead, but we are making important progress. And this conference, here in Santiago, is an important step on that path. I want to thank our Chilean members at Renovación Nacional and
Unión Demócrata Independiente for supporting us in this event.
Please also allow me to thank our dear friends at the Union of Latin American Parties / Unión de Partidos Latinoamericanos for their invaluable support to make this gathering possible.
Thank you to UPLA Chairman Julian Obiglio, and in particular to Nico Figari, UPLA Executive Director and our MC today, and of course also to our dedicated IDU Secretary-General Christian Kattner, and our Deputy Secretary-General Tina Mercep.
Finally, allow me to extend my gratitude to the Hanns-Seidel-Foundation for their generous support that helps run UPLA as we know it today.”
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper
22nd Prime Minister of Canada