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PERMANENT COUNCIL OF THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON INTER-AMERICAN SUMMITS MANAGEMENT

OEA/Ser.G   CE/GCI-7/95
28 September 1995
Original: English

REPORT OF THE PAN AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY (PAIGH) TO THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON INTER-AMERICAN SUMMITS MANAGEMENT

 

INSTITUTO PANAMERICANO DE GEOGRAFIA E HISTORIA
Organismo Especializado de la Organización de los Estados Americanos

S E C R E T A R I A G E N E R A L

SG/DA/OEA-12/240/95

September 22, 1995

H.E. Amb. Mrs. Harriet C. Babbitt
Ambassador of U.S. to OAS
Department of State, Room 6494
Washington, D.C. 20520
U.S.A.

Dear Madam Ambassador:

I have been pleased to receive your note dated August 25, 1995 relating to the resolution on the Permanent Council's report on the Summit of the Americas adopted at the 25th regular session of the General Assembly, held in Haiti in June 1995 (AG/RES 1349).

I have closely analyzed the mentioned report, particularly the chart listing the Items from the Summit Plan of Action. I have noted that among the assignations to Organs, Agencies or Entities of the Inter-American System, the Pan American Institute of Geography and History is not mentioned at all.

However, I consider that not only among the objectives that have been assigned to PAIGH, but also in the work that PAIGH has been developing since its foundation, there are aspects closely linked to the Initiatives approved at the Summit of Miami, besides new actions that could be adopted in the future in order to make these Initiatives a reality.

For example I would like to quote the following cases:

Initiative No. 1: "The Strengthening of Democracy". We consider that besides the improvement in the election processes in the different countries of the Continent, that trend to respecting the popular will, it is necessary to start an educational task in the diffusion and strengthening of civic-mindedness, on which the democratic system lies. For this it is necessary to teach at schools of American countries, aspects relating to individual and political rights, what leads to the preparation of manuals and text books, aimed at that objective, in Social Sciences subjects. The Commission on History of the Pan American Institute of Geography and History (PAIGH). has a Committee on the Teaching of History, which could play an important role, acting jointly with the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy of the General Secretariat, in achieving this objective

Initiative No. 4: "The Promotion of Cultural Values". The Commission on History of PAIGH, through its Committee on Folklore, and its semestral Journal "Folklore Americano" (created in 1953; last issue published No. 56), has been carrying out an important research and diffusion task relating to popular culture and traditions in the countries of the Continent, for several years. On another matter, PAIGH publishes three specialized additional Journals, in the field of Historical Sciences: Revista de Historia de América, (created in 1938; last issue published No. 116); Boletín de Antropología Americana (new era created in 1980; last issue published No. 26); and Revista de Arqueología Americana (created in 1990: last issue published No. 7). These publications continuously include Articles which, try to promote cultural values in and among our countries, Also, there are editions of works on subjects of Economical, Social, Political and Cultural History. These publications, the periodical and the occasional ones, could in the future be a valuable instrument for the fulfillment of this Initiative No. 4.

Besides, PAIGH has implemented an ambitious quadrennial project entitled "The Present Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean" whose coordinator is the Mexican well-known specialist, Dr. Leopoldo Zea. The objective of this project is to publish a collection of 10 volumes on the history, political, economic, social and cultural problems of the people of Latin America and the Caribbean. Also to establish ties which permit the exchange of ideas among the investigators and experts in the regional areas being studied."

Initiative No. 8: "Fostering Mutual Confidence". It is well known that one of the aspects that has traditionally awoke greater distrust and generated conflicts among the American countries, which have even lead to armed confrontations, is that of frontier borders. It was exactly this, one of the aspects of more weight among the delegates to the Sixth International American Conference, held in Havana, Cuba in 1928, to approve the project for the creation of the Pan American Institute of Geography and History. Indeed, the approved project, in its Article V read: "(The Institute) It will carry out studies tending to the clarification of aspects regarding frontiers, provided that aft the countries directly Interested In the matters make the request".

In the 22 Member Countries the counterpart of PAIGH are the institutions in charge of preparing the cartography of their respective countries. Throughout the years this has permitted to carry out a work of coordination and cooperation among those institutions, besides programs for training of human resources and teaching. We feel great pride when we see, that no matter what conflicts may be prevailing at a certain time. Among one or more countries, harmony, understanding and mutual respect have prevailed in the meetings and activities of PAIGH where those same countries have been represented.

This is why we consider that these fraternal ties that PAIGH ties achieved to develop among the representatives of the Member Countries, can be used favorably for the fulfillment of the objectives of this Initiative.

Initiative No. 9: "Free Trade in the Americas". PAIGH, through o working group In the Commission on History, is carrying out a quadrennial project on the subject "Regional History and Integration in the Southern Cone of America". This research work shall analyze the inter-economic relations, the policies and legislations related to the integration demographic formation and migratory limits. Historical studies will be presented which will provide a better knowledge of the relations between the countries of the region and the integration plans in the economic, social, cultural and political aspects. The results will be publicized through documents. symposia, publications and courses.

Last year PAIGH published the book entitled "The Origins of the Latin American Integration", by Caroline Roubik end Marcela Schmidt, which, as the title indicates, intends to dive into the historical origins of the integrationist process in Latin America.

Initiative No. 13: "Telecommunications and the Infrastructure of Information". Regarding this Initiative, in the wording of the commitment of the Governments for its Implementation, it seems that more importance was given to the telecommunications than to the infrastructure of information. The latter is a very extensive field and of large importance for the development planning of our countries, The Geographical Information System Is closely linked to it. As it is known, it has to do with physical and logical elements, people end methodologies that interact in a well-organized manner to acquire, store and process geo-referenced data and produce decision-taking useful information. Results obtained through GIS can help to efficiently carry out a large amount of productive activities in the official and private sectors.

PAIGH, through its Commissions on Cartography and Geography, has been carrying out technical meetings, training courses, and publications, aimed at the diffusion of the characteristics, advantages and limitations of this now technological methodology. Most of the Geographical Institutes of the Continent have invested large resources in the acquisition of equipment and software that will permit to implement the GIS. However, it is necessary to establish the pertinent mechanisms to attain an effective coordination of the efforts that are being carried out, at the national and continental levels. PAIGH is in the best disposition of interacting with other Regional Agencies in these aspects.

On another hand, our Institute has prepared a project entitled "Electronic Atlases and Geographic Information Processing for Sustainable Development in Latin America", whose main objective is to increase the capacity for information processing required for environmental and social sustainable development in Latin America. Unfortunately, PAIGH does not have the necessary resources to implement this project which reaches the amount of US$ 569,580, However, actions are being taken in this sense with the Inter-American Development Bank, the OAS and other Agencies.

Initiative No. 14: "Cooperation In Science and Technology". PAIGH is an Organization created and dedicated to the scientific and technological cooperation. During 67 years, through its programs of Technical Assistance, Research and Scholarships, and Publications, PAIGH has been carrying out a meritorious work in this regard. This, in spite of its small budget which for 1995 reached the amount of US$ 736,000, of which 63% is dedicated to the substantive programs and only 37% to administration expenses.

In this extensive field of cooperation in science and technology, we see that there is lack of coordination among the actions carried out by the Organizations and Agencies of the Inter-American System; not to mention among those carried out by Specialized Agencies of the United Nations or the private initiatives, as well as the international scientific Associations. Therefore, we consider that what is needed is a coordination job that will permit a better use of the existing resources and a better planning for the request and utilization of new resources.

As you can see, Madam Ambassador, in spite of the fact that, as I mentioned before, PAIGH was not taken in consideration in the chart listing, we consider that we can modestly make a contribution to the achievement of the very important goals set by the Governors of America gathered in Miami in December 1994.

I shall be glad to provide you with any further information on the above-mentioned subjects that you should require.

Please accept the assurances of my highest esteem and consideration.

Dr. Chester J. Zelaya-Goodman
Secretary General


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