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IRI President Testifies on the State of Democracy in Latin America

March 9, 2005

Washington, DC – Lorne Craner, President of the International Republican Institute (IRI), testified today before the House Subcommittee on The Western Hemisphere, chaired by Dan Burton (IN-5). Craner's testimony focused on the progress of democracy in Latin America.

"The spread of democracy in the region has fostered improved relations with the United States and increased opportunities for regional cooperation on critical issues like trade, security, immigration, and human rights.  Despite these accomplishments, Latin Americans are disappointed because their expectations of democracy have not been met.  According to the Chilean polling firm Latinobarametro, only 29 percent of Latin Americans are satisfied with the ability of democratic governments to solve economic, political, and social problems.  Today's challenge is to tap into the opportunities unleashed by the region's democratic opening in order to improve the human condition of its citizens," Craner testified.

Later in his testimony Craner said, "IRI is active throughout the region working with political parties and civil society groups.  Our message to political parties is that the best marketing strategy for a party is not just good message but good governance.  IRI is retooling its Latin America program – evolving it from a focus on developing capacity within parties to compete in elections to programs designed to develop leaders and organizations capable of translating the promise of an effective campaign into effective governance."

IRI has been assisting the peoples of Latin American transition to democracy since its founding in 1983.  Currently, IRI has programs in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Venezuela.  Programs have focused on fostering more representative democracies through intensive political party training, government capacity building and civil society strengthening. In the coming year, party strengthening work will evolve to include an emphasis on good governance and the development of alternative policies promoting economic development.