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Remarks
Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Los Angeles, California
June 9, 2022
MR GOVAN:  Good afternoon.  Welcome.  Welcome, everyone.  Thank you for being here.  I’m Michael Govan, CEO and director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  It’s a pleasure to welcome you here to LACMA.  We’re so deeply honored that there are so many distinguished guests representing so many countries who have come together for the Summit of the Americas, including representatives of our United States and local government, including the Second Gentleman of the United States Douglas Emhoff, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, and all the members of Congress who are here with us tonight, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken.  (Applause.)  Also with us is the Governor of California Gavin Newsom, our Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis – this is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art – and our mayor of Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti.  (Applause.)
Hosting the summit here is an honor for all of us in Los Angeles.  We built LACMA as a cultural center for the 10 million people and beyond, 10 million people of Los Angeles County who come from 140 countries and speak more than 220 languages, and many of whom have roots in the Americas, of course.  And we reflect the communities we serve.  It is normal course of business for LACMA that we would have the exhibitions on view for you to see tonight as you’re enjoying food and drink.  In the Resnick Pavilion behind me, we have exhibitions related to the ancient Americas – Mixpantli: Space, Time, and the Indigenous Origins of Mexico, which you should see – which give voice, a new voice to the narration of history through Indigenous voices.  And there is a contemporary exhibition across the way.
Another exhibition on view for you is The Portable Universe, which is about the thought and splendor of indigenous Colombia, which offers a new framework of thinking about – there are many Colombians here, I know, including my chief operating officer, who’s here.  And this is about working with indigenous cultures to rethink, again, how we tell the stories of these objects and their use.
And then finally, we have a huge exhibition of – called Archive of the World: Art and Imagination in Spanish America, 1500-1800, which showcases our incredible collections of the art of the Spanish Americas.
The galleries are going to be open to you this evening to enjoy along with food and drink.  We love having you in Los Angeles, and now I would like to introduce one of our distinguished guests, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.  (Applause.)
SPEAKER PELOSI:  Thank you, Michael.  Thank you very much, Michael.  Let us thank Michael Govan for the beautiful, beautiful hospitality he’s extended to us this evening.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Michael, so much.
It’s so appropriate as we come here to celebrate we’re all Americans in this wonderful hemisphere that the arts are a such a unifying force in our lives.  And as Michael described the art of so many regions of the Western Hemisphere, particularly Latin America, we see some unifying things.  We see the art.  The poet Shelley once said the greatest force for moral good is imagination.  Imagination should be creative, to enjoy, to laugh together, to cry together, to be inspired together, to forget our differences, to be unified, and to appreciate each other’s culture.  So thank you, Michael, for your hospitality for this very important meeting.
Now, I was told I’m supposed to welcome you to California, and here our governor is here, Gavin Newsom.  Gavin Newsom.  (Applause.)  And our Senator Alex Padilla.  Senator Alex – newly renominated Alex Padilla.  (Applause.)  But I want to also bring greetings from the Congress of the United States, and I want all my members of Congress to come forward here so you can see how important this meeting is to all of us.  See all these members who have come?  (Applause.)  Chairs of committee, chairs of caucuses, leaders in the Congress, and many of them from southern California.  Our former colleague, Deborah Mucarsel-Powell is here, a co-chair of this conference.  (Applause.)
Let me just say how proud we are to be part of this, how proud we are of the President and the Vice President for their leadership in bringing this meeting together, to our Secretary of State hosting the ministers who are here.  We welcome you, ministers.  We look forward to exchanging some ideas with you, to hear from you how we can work better together as neighbors and as friends as we try to, shall we say, build the economy and save – in terms of health care, in terms of the planet, in terms of so much resilience and growth and equality and fairness that we want to generate.  So perfect that we are at a museum that unifies us, LACMA.  How wonderful.  Michael, thank you.
And I’m so proud of my members.  Okay, everybody wave who’s a member.  Okay, Maxine Waters, some of you are there.  (Applause.)  And now it’s an honor to be here with all of you.  Thank you so much.
Now, I don’t know if I’m supposed to introduce somebody else or just say, again, on behalf of the Congress of the United States, to the ministers, we’re very proud of our Secretary of State.  We take our lead from him, and he is so proud that so many of you are here.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)
MR GOVAN:  Thank you, Madam Speaker, and now we welcome the Second Gentleman of the United States Douglas Emhoff.  (Applause.)
MR EMHOFF:  Good evening.  Michael, thank you so much.  I remember when Michael came to Los Angeles several years ago.  We got to meet when you got here, and you have made such an imprint on my hometown.  So Michael Govan, we need more civic leaders like you – (applause) – because arts are so important for life, especially in times like this.
But good evening, everyone.  I see so many friends in this room and so many people here from my own hometown of Los Angeles.  Hello, Senator.  And also want to say hi to my governor, Governor Newsom.  (Applause.)  My mayor – I think I heard Eric was here.  Eric, if you’re here, hello.  Our senator, Alex Padilla, thank you for everything you do.  (Applause.)  And all the dignitaries here in this room from all over the Americas, thank you for coming to my hometown of Los Angeles, California.  We welcome you.
I’m here on behalf of the entire Biden-Harris administration.  I see some of the secretaries here and some folks who work in our White House with me.  Thank you for all your work and thank you for being here to help us welcome this summit.
I want to personally take a moment to thank my good friend and someone that I look up to very much.  We’ve now done a few events together over the last couple of weeks.  I’m talking about you, Madam Speaker.  (Laughter.)  You’re such an inspiration to so many of us in this room.  I get to see firsthand now every day what she does.  I know the members see this every day.  You’re just truly outstanding.  You really are – your work ethic.  (Applause.)  And it’s not just for Democrats; it’s for the entire country, if not the entire world.  So I don’t say enough in private how wonderful you are, I’ll say it once again publicly.  Thank you so much.
And I got to know now-Secretary Blinken a couple years ago.  We got to spend a lot of time together, and we are truly fortunate as a country and as a world to have Secretary Blinken as the Secretary of State of the United States of America.  (Cheers.)  So again, thank you.  This man travels the world.  He’s everywhere.  He works so hard.  He accomplishes so much.  So you’ll hear from him in a minute.  So thank you so much for your service to our country.
I was just a teenager when I moved to southern California, but even as a young person it didn’t take me long to realize how vibrant and how amazing and how dynamic this city of Los Angeles is.  So like the people in this room, Los Angeles is a diverse city.  We come from diverse backgrounds.  We represent diverse perspectives.  And we have ties all over this amazing world here in Los Angeles.  And I spent a career in entertainment, so I know firsthand that Los Angeles is home to some of the most creative minds in the world.  We got to see some of that in the museum here – people who inspire us through art, through music, through film, all here in Los Angeles.  So I’m glad for that reason that we’re gathered here at one of the beacons of our city, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  It’s under a lot of construction and growth, so over the next couple years it’s going to continue to be one of the greatest museums in the world right here in Los Angeles. 
But the Speaker mentioned this – administrator and I were at an event representing the arts today.  Arts have this unique ability to unite people, to foster conversation, foster understanding, broaden our perspectives, inspire change, and really to heal, which is very much in the spirit of the Summit of the Americas.  So as you prepare to enter the final days of the summit, I hope this evening’s reception will continue to inspire you, and as we continue to work together to unite our region and bring us all together. 
With that, I would like to introduce my very good friend, Secretary Antony Blinken.  (Applause.)
SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good evening, everyone.  I know that I am the only thing standing between you and the opportunity to visit the extraordinary exhibits that we got a little taste of thanks to Michael and the team here.  I really want to commend it to you.  And in particular, there are extraordinary works that tie our entire hemisphere together and show the vibrancy of an extraordinary culture.  So I really commend it to you.  I hope you’ll take the time to do that.
Doug, thank you.  Thank you for your kind words, but thank you also for your leadership of one of the most important challenges that we’re facing here at the summit this week and beyond: ending the COVID-19 pandemic and also supporting the communities hit hardest by the pandemic.
And Madam Speaker, Nancy, thank you for joining us tonight, but mostly thank you for what you do every single day in leading this country.  (Applause.)  I think most of you know this:  The Speaker has played a pivotal role in strengthening the United States’ relationships with our partners across this hemisphere – empowering civil society, advancing women’s rights, and so much more.  Many of you know this as well because you’ve worked with her and hosted congressional delegations that she’s led to your countries.  The Speaker has also long championed the enormous contributions that generations of immigrants from our hemisphere have made to the United States, including, of course, right here in California.  Mostly, Madam Speaker, it’s one of the privileges of my career to be able to serve at the same time that you are.  Thank you.  (Applause.)
To my fellow foreign ministers, representatives, observers who are here:  Thank you, thank you, thank you for participating in this 9th Summit of the Americas and for the months of hard work that have gone into advancing our shared goals, more of which we’ll hear about tomorrow.
And Michael, again, thank you for hosting us here at LACMA.
We had a chance, as I said, to tour a part of the museum, including the Mixpantli exhibit which marks the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec capital in modern-day Mexico City. 
I want to point out one project and really commend it to you.  It’s called We Are Here.  It was created by artists and scholars from CIELO, an Indigenous women-led organization.  The piece that you’ll see is an interactive map that depicts the 20 Indigenous languages spoken today – today – in Los Angeles.  It highlights Indigenous communities from Mexico and Central America who are adding to the richness of everyday life here – small business owners, teachers, students, so much more.
And in this way, the map makes visible communities that have too often been rendered invisible across our shared hemisphere.  And that’s a fundamental step toward demanding rights that they and all communities are entitled to. 
As Mariah So, the main cartographer for this project, said recently, “[Maps] create a reality just as much as they represent it.” 
This is one project that reminds us of the remarkable diversity that we can see here in this room tonight and that we experience every single day across our hemisphere – the immense strength that lies in that diversity if we draw upon it.
It reminds us that we can build societies where more people have access to opportunity, instead of reserving those opportunities for the just well-off.  (Applause.)
Drawing on that diversity, drawing on that diversity, building a future where all people in the Americas are empowered to reach their full potential – that’s kind of what this summit is all about. 
A few quick examples, and then I will leave you to the exhibits and to talking to so many friends you have here.
The America Health Corps initiative, which the United States developed in partnership with the Pan American Health Organization and others, will provide training to 500,000 – 500,000 – health professionals, increasing access to health care for people across the Americas.  It will do this by expanding existing training programs administered through the United States Government, as well as by increasing the capacity of PAHO’s training platform.
The U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis, or PACC 2030, will support communities across the Caribbean as they adapt their infrastructure to withstanding the growing effects of the climate crisis.  The Vice President will lead these efforts and draw on the capabilities of governments, of businesses, of NGOs, and others to help our partners implement their national adaption plans.
And by the way, I saw Secretary Kerry in the house, who – John.  (Applause.)  The extraordinary leadership that John is providing in actually helping our country and helping the world meet this crisis, the truly existential challenge of our time.  Thank you for everything that you’re doing.  (Applause.)
And I would mention too very quickly the Digital Agenda for Transformation in the Americas.  This is the first-ever shared framework that we have in our hemisphere for our region’s digital future, for example, by helping to expand internet access.  We know we need to do that.  We need to bridge the digital divide that exists within our countries and among our countries, particularly in historically marginalized communities.  We’re going to be using digital technology to promote quality education and to connect small businesses to the marketplace. 
We’re working on a number of other initiatives to deepen our ties even further.  We’ll talk about those more in the – over the next 24 hours.  You heard the President speak to so many – so much of this today.  I don’t want to belabor it tonight, but let me just say this in closing. 
We look forward to working with our existing partners on each and every one of these initiatives, to expanding the group of partners that we have so that more can effectively address the challenges and opportunities before us.
But here’s the thing.  Here’s the challenge for all of us, especially my colleagues who are with us tonight.  The more that we can ensure that we not only set out these commitments – but we actually deliver on them, we implement them, we do what we say – the more we’re going to meet the demands of our people, the more we’re going to be able to show that democracies can actually deliver results.  That is the challenge for our time.  I am so glad and grateful that we’re all united in advancing that challenge together. 
Thank you all for being here and have a wonderful evening.  (Applause.)  Michael.
MR GOVAN:  We are just so honored to have all of you here.  Thank you so much.  Enjoy food, drink, each other, and the galleries.  Our brilliant curators are waiting if you want to go into the galleries and speak with them and learn about all of these exhibitions and artworks.  Thank you. 
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