A Message from Our President

Michael Shifter

This post is also available in: Spanish

Washington’s Day of Horror

On January 6, all of us watched in utter disbelief, and with a profound sense of sadness and outrage, the armed insurrection that unfolded in the capital city of the United States. Such a violent, mob attack – until now considered unthinkable– on the Capitol, the greatest symbol of US democracy, was reprehensible and antithetical to the Dialogue’s core values and principles, sustained since our founding nearly four decades ago.

The assault represented yet another trauma that has shaken us. We have been unsettled over the past year by Covid-19, which has caused severe disruptions in all of our lives. We also recall the brutal murder by Minneapolis police of George Floyd last May, which sparked protests against racial injustice in the United States and throughout the world. We need to distinguish between those legitimate protests and the lawless, violent attack on the Capitol.

The Dialogue remains steadfast in its commitment to civility, tolerance, decency, and respect for the laws and institutions that underpin democracy in the United States and throughout the Americas. We are keenly aware that the task of nurturing and defending democracy – whether in the United States or anywhere else – is never complete. In this hemisphere, we are fortunate and proud to have the Inter-American Democratic Charter, a unique and historic legal instrument adopted nearly two decades ago, to help uphold the principles we share.

The tragedy that took place on January 6 is also a stark reminder of how important it is to have responsible leadership to protect the rule of law. We have learned all too painfully, in the United States and many other countries, that words matter and can fuel hatred, incite violence, and undermine accountability. The Dialogue, together with all of our partners, need to reaffirm and vigorously defend our basic values and build on the gains that have been made towards constructing more just, peaceful, and democratic societies in the Americas, including the United States.

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