HC Deb 16 January 1991 vol 183 cc844-5
10. Mr. Jacques Arnold

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress towards democracy in Latin America.

Mr. Garel-Jones

Within the past year, democracy has been restored in Chile and Nicaragua and consolidated in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Peru by peaceful transfer of power following free elections. Except in Cuba, democracy is now the norm in Latin America.

Mr. Arnold

Is not it encouraging that, at a time of considerable turbulence around the world, Latin America has quietly got on with the job of reintroducing democracy and coping with its economic problems? Is not it a shame that we are not to see a clean sweep? It is high time that Fidel Castro and his socialist regime in Cuba stood down in favour of elections there.

Mr. Garel-Jones

My hon. Friend is right. It is encouraging to see democracy taking root in that way in Latin America and to see liberal, social market economic policies being introduced alongside that. My hon. Friend is right. Perhaps the reason why the Cuban people still tragically labour under a communist/socialist regime is that those regimes, as we saw in Nicaragua, are rejected by the people when subjected to the democratic process.

Mr. Corbyn

Does the Minister recall that just over a year ago a large number of American forces invaded Panama, have since occupied that country installing their own puppet Government and subsequently vetoed United Nations action to condemn that invasion? What pressure is the Minister putting on the United States to withdraw all its forces from Panama, to guarantee the 1977 treaty signed by President Carter and to ensure that the people of Panama can elect a Government of their wishes not that of the United States army?

Mr. Garel-Jones

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman might care to recall that the Government in Panama were elected and the United States action, which was warmly supported at least on the Government Benches, was an action to restore a democratically elected Government to Panama.

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