Luis Guillermo Solís, President of Costa Rica
May 19, 2016
First of all, allow me to express my gratitude to this great university for inviting me to share with you some thoughts on state governance and security in Central America. It is indeed a great pleasure for me but it is also a true honor for the Costa Rican president to be here. Having been preceded by 171 orators is something that I do treasure very much. The fact that you're here even this afternoon — a rainy afternoon in Manhattan, having the pleasure of seeing Sen. Kassebaum among the audience and knowing that all of you took your time to come and hear what I can share with you this afternoon is something that I treasure very much. I want to appreciate greatly all the efforts that it took to bring me here, to keep me well, and to come and share with me these thoughts.
Actually, I think what I'm going to say is shared by most. I'm not going to say too many new things for you all. You know, some of the principles and values that we treasure very much — principles that we treasure because they are intrinsic to democratic development. I refer primarily to the defense of human rights, the preservation and promotion of the rule of law, the construction of societies that put in front of anything else the needs and the well-being of people at the central of public policy. Disarmament and demilitarization as superior objectives in the search for peace among nations. And the respect for the environment and its sustainable use as factors that are determinate for the survival for our species. In that sense, I really — I'm very pleased to be able to talk about some of the problems we're facing in a small region of the world, Central America. So small that all together these seven nations of Central America form a continental mass no larger than Texas. But it's still very important in terms of the place where it's located and as a bridge between the Northern Hemisphere, the Southern Hemisphere, between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
You've heard I've been a professor for over 35 years. I'm a historian originally and then I studied political science. When one's a professor for so long at a lecture like this, I necessarily have to talk about theory a little bit. I'm not going to go on for too long, but allow me to say a couple of things about the theory of the state that I used to talk about with my students.
Every time we talked about security and how important it is for societies these days — it's a common question we face all the time — we forget we have to put that in a broader context and that broader context has to do with the notion of security and the role the state plays in society and its significance, especially the relationship among states and their relationship with globalization and the challenges of security that they confront. These challenges we know well. Among others, the displacement of human populations — largely migrations, the growth of organized crime, particularly narcotrafficking but not only narcotrafficking — we're also talking about the smuggling of people. We're talking about cultural goods, we're talking about our environmental goods that are being trafficked everywhere. We're talking about climate change, pandemics and other similar phenomena, which require cooperation among states. These are all problems that we cannot solve by ourselves individually. There's a whole new meaning to the word cooperation in this world of ours. In all societies this is the case. This is not a question of the East or the West, it's something that we have to face everywhere in the world.
But allow me to talk a little bit about the state and the role it has played in the structuring of power relations in the Western societies. Not that it didn't happen elsewhere, but I find that it is important to at least refer to the experience of the Atlantic West, those relations as portrayed in the development of the state in Europe and in Latin America, the United States and this side of the world.
If you'll recall, in 1651 Thomas Hobbes talked about the state and he called it a leviathan, a mythological monster. And among the most important characteristics of that leviathan he talked about its role — its fundamental role in guaranteeing the social pact by ensuring that the state was going to be able to exercise monopolistically — in other words by, in and on itself — the use of force as the basis of security — security for the state in itself and the security of the people that lived under the rule of that state. That notion that the state was the only one who could control the use of power to ensure security very soon became the raison d'être — the reason of the existence of the state. This brought about a certain notion that we could summarize by saying that the leitmotif of this leviathan was that we were going to give that leviathan absolute power so that it could give us back absolute security. And this was a notion that prevailed in the West for at least 200 years.
In 1795, Emmanuel Kant published his famous book, "Perpetual Peace," and in doing so, he started talking about the need to control the leviathan. He felt that we had to put some limits to the leviathan that we couldn't simply agree that this leviathan was going to rule us and impose on us its will. He said, and this both in the internal sense and in an international sense, he is the originator of what is going to be later considered to be contemporary multilateralism. And he basically said, "OK, there are few things we can do to prevent the leviathan eating us all up." He talked about the elimination of war and the threat of use of force among nations. He talked about the adoption of rules that had to be admitted by all states and that should be enforced by a superior organization on all states. And he also talked about the control of armies and the elimination of secret alliances, among other things. And in doing so he proposed the basis of what was going to become later an international order ruled by the Society of Nations at first and then the United Nations, of course.
But the appearance of Napoleon Bonaparte first and then his defeat in 1815 and the Conference of Vienna brought about the idea that the international community formed by states had to put limits to those states that didn't behave well — and fundamentally to prevent the appearance of a new Napoleon. So the Conference of Vienna, which actually created the first international system as we know it in the West, was a return to the old idea of the leviathan. Although in this case in talking about the Concert of Europe the leviathan was going to have several heads, all of which were going to try to contain the threatening presence of one superpower.
Now whatever we can think about Napoleon and the Concert of Nations and the Conference of Vienna and all of that, the truth of the matter is that up until World War I, that concept of a Concert of Nations — of an equilibrium amongst several countries to prevent the rise of one — was dominant in the West. And furthermore, it brought about the question of the state being the main actor in international affairs and in providing the security for its citizens.
Now this changed, and during World War II and after war we have the appearance of the United Nations after the failure of the League of Nations — The Society of Nations, as it was also called. What happened was that the appearance of nuclear power as a decisive new weapon with the capacity to destroy humanity made the world feel that somehow we had to go back to the old Kantian idea of an international control over individual states. Even when the international order, as ruled by the United Nations, remained controlled by the five permanent members of the Security Council — all of which had nuclear capacity — the truth of the matter is that from a legal point of view — from the development of instruments of international law — the world was able to bring forth this idea that there were certain principles that had to be imposed on all the world regardless of if the countries were big and small. One very important piece of that — generated by Eleanor Roosevelt, among others — was the Human Rights Charter, which was agreed upon by the nations of the world as the basis upon which the future of peace had to be built.
Fortunately, that concept has continued to develop. Obviously the end of the Cold War brought about a new situation in which it was clear that the idea of the emerging threats of the world again had to be put in a multilateral framework. It was not the issue of big powers dominating the world. Single powers dominating the world — even when we had that significant debate on the end of history, you know, in Fukuyama and all of that — that democracy was going to prevail everywhere. Even when that didn't happen, the growing sensation in the world and then the reality of international relations — particularly with the breaking about of Western Europe and the end of the Soviet reign in Eastern Europe, etc., meant that the multilateral vision prevailed. This latter modernity, as Habermas called it, became an idea that built upon this notion of an open multilateralism that was so different from that paradigm that Hobbes proposed in the mid-17th century.
Today this idea of multilateralism and globalization has even grown more, furthered by info-telecommunications, by the use of technology, and due to the fact that we are now challenged by threats that were unknown before. Not unknown in the sense that they were not present — we've had terrorism for thousands of years — but threats that are capable of destroying societies around the world in real time. And this is also the case with natural disasters.
So one of the principal characteristics that globalization brought about, in terms of its relations with the state, is the fact that now the peoples of the world — not only the states — are present in decision-making. And this has made some of the old notions that we used to use very complex. For many, many years it was easy to talk about borders as a definitive measure of national sovereignty. It was very easy to talk about sovereignty in and of itself — the capacity of a state to develop and to exert control over its own institutions, territory and peoples. Nowadays some of the challenges I face as a president every day are solved not within Costa Rican borders but in Brussels or in New York and in Washington, or in the World Trade Organization. So the concept of what I can do as a sovereign nation is limited. It's at least moderated by these new conditions of the global economy.
It is also more difficult to talk about a nation. Look at the difficulties Spain has had, a country formed by several nations. Or Italy, the North and the South divided by nationalistic issues. Or what happened in the former Yugoslavia or what we see in Iraq. So it's not easy to talk about a nation anymore. How national is a multinational nation formed by hundreds of different peoples coming from different places, particularly at this time of great human migrations? So that's not easy to deal with any more.
It is a case of nonintervention. We used to talk about nonintervention as a definitive principal of international law. It was very easy to say we are in favor of no intervention. And then the Canadians started talking about the right to intervene. What happens if the international community is faced with a massive violation of human rights and destruction of human rights? Does the international community — following Chapter Seven of the Charter of the United Nations — have the right (or some say the obligation) to intervene? Nowadays that isn't questioned.
So, the old concepts are difficult to deal with these days and they have become void. This complexity has made the challenges of war and peace to become more complex, more difficult to deal with, and obviously have brought up new tensions, new forms of conflict that are not the same as the ones we had in the old order of nation-states.
And so there's a very fundamental and even contradictory reality these days. The old nation-state has to live side-by-side with these new realities, with these new, complicating circumstances, with peoples that are not tolerating the behavior of these states any more. The Arab Spring is probably a very good example of what I mean — populations that say, "No more, we're not going to take it anymore." And that's an old concept, clearly. We see it in the French Revolution in 1789 — that's what that revolution was all about — inspired in your own War of Independence in 1776. But it now has a different meaning because of the conditions of the world, of the geopolitics of the world, and it also has a different meaning because of the use of technology and the spread of ideas again in real time. So it's now — we have to deal with these new circumstances. The capacity to decide has gone away from the leviathan. Some people talk about postmodernity to refer to all these changes that took place after the end of the Cold War. But it is clearly a situation that reflects a new attitude in people and also means the resurging of what some French historians like Renouvin call "les forces profondes" — the deeper forces of history: religion, nationalism, the language of nations, which are now taking precedence over some of those very clearly-defined concepts that I mentioned. And this is changing the face of the world.
Now, in terms of security, the old notion of the leviathan demanding total power to ensure total security has flunked — it's not applicable any more. In fact, one could argue that there is a fundamental contradiction between the new circumstances and the old state. Mainly the fact that even when we are now dealing with democratic leviathans, they are leviathans nevertheless. And in the ultimate analysis, they behave as such and therefore there is a tension between the tools that states have at hand to ensure security and the demands of the world. On the one hand, there's new threats that need to be faced multilaterally or with the cooperation of several states — not only one.
And also with respect to the demands of the populations that say, "Listen, remember I'm here and I'm a sovereign. So it doesn't matter if we voted for you. It doesn't matter if I gave you the capacity to represent me as leader of my nation, I'm still your boss. And whatever I gave you I can take away from you and I don't necessarily want to wait four years to do so in the next election." And that circumstance is not a theoretical problem anymore. Look what's going on in Brazil at this time. It's a very good example of that. And that can bring in a lot of problems dealing not with the nature of the state anymore, not even with the legality of the state, but with its legitimacy, which is even worse, because here we're dealing with an altogether different issue — the nature of power as it is exercised by this institution we call the state.
So in saying this — and I wanted to bring this about because I think we have to talk about public security and we have to talk about human security — which is not necessarily the same thing — and we have to talk about the threats that we face that are multidimensional in the exercise and the use of force. And in doing so we have to find ways in which to make the action of the state to ensure security more effective. I mean how do we do that? The old recipe was be tough. The new recipe seems to be different from that and I'm going to talk about that in a little while.
Threats being multidimensional — in other words, the fact that we cannot point at one single reason for a phenomena such as terrorism, organized crime, we have multiple factors in the origin of these maladies, of these tremendous of these horrible things — is one problem. But, also is the fact that in dealing with that, you need multidimensional instruments. It's not the question of only the use of force anymore. And so we're talking here of not only structural factors that deal with insecurity, the economy, for example. We are also talking of cultural factors like religion involved. And all of this does have an impact on security.
Even when we have to be very careful not to criminalize poverty and find a relationship between higher degrees of insecurity associated with bigger degrees of poverty. This is not necessarily the case. For example, take two Central American countries: Nicaragua and Honduras. They're both poor by U.N. standards, yet Honduras is much more violent than Nicaragua. So such correlation is not possible. Or you can take a society like Costa Rica that's considered to be high-middle income society, and we'd like to think of ourselves as a democratic model in all of that — I'm not going to get into the niceties of my country — but we are having a very serious problem with organized crime, even when our population is better off than some of the other populations of Central America. So it's very difficult to make correlations between poverty and criminal activities, illegal activities.
But there is one that I would like to point out because it's one of those that points at the core of some of the problems that we have and illustrates the multidimensional nature of some of these violent manifestations. If you take statistics relating to young men from 19 to 25 years of age and you correlate that to the use of weapons, the degree of unemployment, and them living in very poor — deprived of recreational and economic conditions — neighborhoods, then you will find that crime rates are heightened. So this is a very good case of the kinds of things that we have to deal with. And in understanding that issue, the other fact that has appeared is that whatever we used to consider legal factors of power are now being challenged by what some people call — myself included — factual power. It was always there. I mean, these are unduly powerful sectors of society, some of which are even armed — more armed than the legal ones. And this is clearly the case of terrorist organizations and this is clearly the case of some organized crime organizations. They have the monopoly on the use of force, which Hobbes talked so much about in the case of the states — and is no longer the sole duty of the state. The state is being challenged militarily by these forces.
So now let me turn to Central America, where all of this is concocting and what I want is to bring these reflections to the Central American case, which is something that I'm very concerned about and we all should be very concerned about because of how close it is to the United States. Because we have a relationship that's very open and because we're seeing new issues arising in the region that call for more attention, I'm glad that the U.S. and the Central American countries are cooperating in order to reduce these threats.
On the one hand, we've seen Central America evolve from internal war to a new circumstance. One of the things that I keep on saying is that it is very unfair to say that Central America is as violent as it was, or more violent than what it was in the 1980s. Sen. Kassebaum — who was so instrumental to bringing about the peace plan with her colleagues in the Senate and the House of Representatives of this country — knows that the nature of our violence today is very different from the nature of the violence in the past.
In the 1970s and '80s, the Central American leviathans — with the exception of Costa Rica, which was a democratic nation — were terrorist states that were attacking their own populations. It took the world and almost a decade of efforts and millions of Central Americans dead to put an end to that. Today the violence of Central America is associated with the organized crime. It's a completely different issue. Yes, the people are being killed, but the reason for the massacre of young people in Central America today is very different from the ones I saw in my own youth. So it's a different issue. But Central America has come out of that stage of its history into a more stable political situation in which all countries today have been elected. We have some doubts about this and that country, but they're elected governments.
But the social conditions are still adamant. And in a sense, we haven't been able to solve those structural issues that in many ways justify or explain the violence in the region. The geographical position I've mentioned is very important. Central America remains a very sensitive geopolitical region, and in the midst of that region we have seen organized crime thrive.
Now I'd like to mention three characteristics of organized crime as we see it and we face it in Central America. The first one is the use of force. It has become a challenge to nation-states in the region. The use of force is immense. Secondly, the capacity to corrupt democratic institutions. It's a very troubling issue because it attacks the legitimacy of the Central American governments. And thirdly, it's capacity to absorb other forms of regular crime — ordinary crime and turn that part of their operations.
Organized crime comes in alternate forms I've mentioned. Drug trafficking is probably the most common of it and it's the one we hear about all the time. But there are others: arms trafficking, human trafficking, cultural trafficking, etc. Obviously, it has a very serious effect on health issues, on political stability, economic growth. It's very expensive — corruption is very, very expensive — and hurts the capacity of states to improve the general conditions of its population.
Now we've been combatting organized crime for a quarter of a century now — 25 years at least, probably more. The first exercises took place in the 1970s. Massively we have been investing in this, and the United States has done its part for more than a quarter century, and we have not been successful in stopping that flow of drugs.
Now this flow doesn't originate in Central America. It passes through Central America basically from the Andean region and mainly Colombia in what pertains to cocaine and then some other drugs from other countries as well. But paradoxically, the outcome of peace in Colombia is increasing the amounts of drugs being produced in the country because the government is completely involved in the peace negotiations, which is great. We are very, very supportive of that process. But in having decided that this is the national priority, the way in which the Colombians were fighting the war on drugs — spraying the plantations of cocoa and the other things they did — have taken a back seat in public policy and this is bringing in more cocaine into Central America. We've been pretty successful in dealing with this, largely through joint operations on the sea line because of the way in which cocaine was being transferred. But in doing so we are now seeing that they are pushing the traffic inland. Not only that but the old way of paying with money — the cocaine that was being brought through Central America — has been substituted by paying with drugs. And in doing so, the violence in the streets of Central America has increased significantly because now we have smaller drug lords who are fighting against each other all the time.
So how to deal with this? I mean some people are talking about legalization, for example. I don't think that that's a very good idea myself. Not because we've being successful in dealing with the issue, because we have not. Clearly, the militarization of the fight against drugs has not worked. But simply because the problem is not marijuana, and everybody seems to be willing to legalize marijuana, but the problem is not there. The problem is cocaine — and not many people want to legalize cocaine. It's a different issue. Pot? OK. Cocaine? Not necessarily. So this is something that's needs to be - I consider that we have to deal with — and I'm going to close with some ideas. We have to deal with this in a different manner. But anyway, the situation has been serious in terms of narcotrafficking. It has consumed a lot of effort — financial, military, security, human — without real success.
Now there's a second manifestation of organized crime that I would like to call your attention to, and that's the situation of migrants. We are seeing Central America now become a bridge for migrants, largely two kinds of migrants. One group, which is still there — although we have been able to deal with it in a very humane and constructive way, but it is a significant population — is formed by Cubans who are now capable of leaving their country with a legal passport into Ecuador, which receives them. They are now asking for visas and things but there are over 40,000 Cubans out of Cuba that have been moving toward the United States because they are given special privileges — migration privilege — into the United States under certain laws that were enacted during the Cold War. They want to come here and if they are able to make it here — they cannot do it directly from Cuba, but they have to walk around 8,000 kilometers from Ecuador to the United States. If they are able to make it to the border and they touch American soil then they claim they're Cubans, they show their passport, and they are put into a program. After a year they're given residence in the United States and later on they will be admitted as citizens. We had 6,000 accumulated at once in Costa Rica just a few months ago. Panama had the same problem — they came from Ecuador, through Colombia, into Panama and Costa Rica, and then they were stopped there by the Nicaraguan government and it was very difficult to deal with that situation. But at least they had a passport. We know who they were, where they came from, and where they wanted to go.
The second group is what we call extra-continental migrants. These are people who come from Africa, from Asia and from the Middle East, and they're coming following routes of human traffickers. These individuals who are also part of a cohort of thousands are now traveling through Latin America because their way of passage of old is now closed, which was the European route. They wanted to get to Germany, to France, and then they wanted to come to the United States and Canada. This group is again massing up in the Costa Rican and Panamanian borders and they're being stopped by the Nicaraguan government. They're not being allowed to move north and they're coming by the hundreds every day — sometimes 100, 150, 50 — and they're coming up and they're massing up.
Differently from the Cuban migration, this is a migration that we don't know where it comes from, we don't know who they are. They're not identified, they don't bear a passport. And even when we know they're coming to the United States and this is where they want to come, we're not sure they're going to get here. And probably they're going to look for a place to stay along the way. This situation has brought up a whole new circumstance in the region. We have a situation that needs to be handled from a humanitarian point of view, but there's no way we can do that because the states in Central America are not capable of doing this. We don't have the resources necessary to hold populations of 5,000, 6,000, 7,000 people at once — this we have not seen since the 1980s. And secondly, there's no international framework — neither in Central America nor in Europe — to deal with that kind of new international problem. They're not refugees, these are migrants. And in many cases, these are economic migrants, more in the case of the Cuban crowd than the extra-continental crowd.
So in closing, I would have to say that these new circumstances are putting a lot of stress on regional security, particularly when you have these crowds of people who some of them are not even Christians in the sense that they have to receive a special treatment because they have different religious traditions, which in the case of Costa Rica we're trying to take care of. For example, we bring in the imams from the only mosque we have in San Jose to deal with 20 percent of that population that's Islamic but who do not have also the other traditions — shared the Latin traditions — that the Cuban crowd has. So the whole condition of this migration is very peculiar because unless we want to create a very serious social issue within the country, we have to let them go, and clearly we're doing that.
We're allowing them to come into the country. We process them in a detention center. The law says that we cannot hold them there for more than 30 days because they have committed no crime. They're not criminals, they just went away from their own home countries, following the need to survive — in some cases, survive from war, in other cases to survive from hunger — and they're in Costa Rica. They cannot be held there and so we free them, and what they do is find somebody who is willing to take them north. Then we transfer the problem to the next country. And so they go up, and eventually they're going to reach here, the United States. But we don't know who they are and we don't know where they come from. And this is a big concern for Homeland Security, because these are the new challenges. The leviathan is not capable of dealing with these issues.
So in trying to find new ways to eliminate these threats, what is the international community doing and what can we do about it? I'm going to close with this. First of all, we have to understand the new conditions of security threats and that these threats are growing. They're not being reduced, they're growing. Dealing with these new issues is not something that states can do successfully all the time. In other words, we need more than the state. The leviathan is not working. So this entails getting some other members of the community involved. And it is here where organized civil society — churches, the private sector — play such an important role. We're calling the attention of these groups so that they can become part of the solution. We are very concerned about community work so we have to get people involved so they understand the depth of the challenge we face from the states.
Secondly, we have to deal with the economic realities of these individuals. It is not possible to stop them if they have reasons to leave. In fact, there's a good case for considering migration a human right. What would you have said to your forefathers — the founding fathers of the republic — when they wanted to leave England because of religious persecution, for example? Was that a right? Should they have been considered illegals, as we call them, because they decided to move away? Or my own experience: my family on my mother's side came from Jamaica. My great-grandmother was a black woman with five children from three marriages — she was widowed three times — and she came to Costa Rica in the early 20th century. Should Mary Taylor have been held in Jamaica because she didn't bear a passport when she came to Costa Rica? It's very complicated. So ensuring that we do things like complying with the sustainable development objectives — which is something that the United Nations is now calling for in its last session, something that we ought to take very seriously, particularly in places like Africa and the Middle East — the whole question of war needs to be addressed. And probably we need to think about an organization that, just as the High Commissioner for Refugees, will deal with migrants. There's one organization that exists already, the International Migration Organization, the IOM, but it's not sufficient to deal with the current flows. They're very good at bringing migrants back to their own home countries, but if the home country is in trouble, they're not going back. They don't want to go back and we cannot force them to go back.
So we have to think about these things. Pope Francis has been concerned about this very much. He helped us quite a bit with the Cuban situation and I'm going to see him next week in Rome. I think that one of the things that I would like to talk to the Holy Father about is this: What can we do from an international point of view to deal with these migrant flows, which are a reality of our time and they're not going to go away?
Then the other thing is if the challenges are multilateral and if the reason for these challenges is not a single one — that they are multidimensional as well — how can we address that? Let's think beyond the military solution, which is not going to work. This again deals with community networks, it deals with recreational opportunities. It deals with municipal governments getting involved, which is something very difficult to handle in Central America where presidentialism in most countries is very, very strong. The deficits in human development and the quality of democracy need to be addressed.
Social integration and cohesiveness of social institutions needs to be put forth, sometimes even before the use of force — which is important, I grant you that. When you're dealing with a narco-organization you cannot deal with them only in very gentle terms. There has to be capacity of the police force to deal with that. Same thing with terrorism — I'm not calling for appeasement in the war against terrorism, but I'm saying that there are other things that need to be put in the debate and the whole question of justice: How do we deal with the administration of justice and the fact that all the jails in many countries are full with people while there are so many others that should be in jail and are not being jailed? This whole issue is something that I'm very concerned about as well. But I do believe that our role has to be more intense — all of ours, all of us — the role of all of us has to be more intense. When I come to the United States and I hear the experience that you have here with the involvement of people in community affairs, I'm very, very happy. And sometimes I like to think that we may get back to Latin America with more integrated communities. And I think that this is a very good idea to deal with crime, especially petty organized crime — the local crime that we're dealing with in Central America as a result of the new ways in which organized crime pay for the drugs and all of that. More integrated societies —yes, family values, of course that's very important, but beyond that the capacity that we have to join and take over our communities again.
Let me share with you in closing one exercise that we have just started. There's a barrio, there's a neighborhood, a very poor neighborhood in the very heart of San Jose called La Carpio. Carpio is the name of the guy who started this barrio — it's the last name of this guy. It's one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country. Fifty percent of it is formed by Nicaraguan migrants into Costa Rico, 50 percent is Costa Rican. We've had problems with La Carpio — property rights, problems with people, unemployment, etc. We decided we were going to change the approach to deal with the situation in the barrio. Instead of putting more policemen in, we decided we were going to get 26 families of the barrio — the middle of the barrio — we were going to get 26 families out of there, find places for them to be. They all live in houses that do not belong to them — the property is not theirs, the property is public, but they just have been there for years. So we gave them a new property somewhere else and we decided to build a school for La Carpio — a school and a high school in that property, in the middle of town. The impact that has had on the community is impressive. I'm not going to say that we are solving all the problems by building that, but the new community spirit, the new purpose that the people of La Carpio have found in having a new, wonderful, beautiful school is something to be analyzed.
I think that maybe some kinds of approaches like that — providing music to communities, giving them the possibility of their children to have safer places to play — is part of the solution as well. At any rate, it's going to take a while, but I think if we're devoted and committed to democracy, we will be able to solve some of these issues. And in thinking of how to close these reflections, I found a quote by Victor Hugo, the French writer. He was talking in this particular piece about the future. And he said, "What does the future mean?" And he said, "Well, it means different things to different people. For the weak, the future is the impossible; for the fainthearted, the future is the unknown; but for the valiant, the future is an opportunity."
I don't know if we are the future or not, but clearly we are responsible for trying to achieve a future of opportunity to all.
I thank you very much.