SECRETARY-GENERAL, IN VISIT TO HISTORIC GUAYAQUIL, ECUADOR,
SAYS CITIES CAN BE MODELS OF DEMOCRACY, DIVERSITY
NEW YORK, 10 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks by Secretary-General Kofi Annan upon arrival in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on Friday 7 November:
I am very pleased to see so many of you here -- in particular young students, the leaders of tomorrow. I hope they will stay engaged, and that you will encourage them to do so. (Applause and cheering). I take that as a yes!
You have truly honoured my wife and me with this warm reception. This is our very first experience of your city and your country, but we can already sense that we are going to feel at home here!
Guayaquil has a very special place in the geography and history of Ecuador, and in the minds of people everywhere. Your city is legendary as the venue for the only meeting between the two liberators of South America, Simón Bolivar and José de San Martín.
Today, Guayaquil is not only the largest city in Ecuador. It is known and respected all over the world for its visionary planning, its vibrant economy and its key location as a gateway to all Ecuador.
Modern Guayaquil gives new life and meaning to the words of one of its most famous sons, José Joaquín de Olmedo, who spoke of “the imposing pyramids that daring human art would lift to the heavens, to speak to centuries and nations”.
Today, as citizens of Guayaquil, and like other city-dwellers around the world, you represent the future of humanity. More than half of humankind now lives in cities. That is more than 3 billion people. Cities are crossroads of ideas and innovation. At their best, they can serve as models of democracy, diversity and multicultural living. It is from the life of the city, since ancient times, that we derive the notion of citizenship -- and indeed civilization.
And it is on the character of its citizens that the future of any city depends. You, the people of Guayaquil, can take pride in the example you are setting for the citizens of the rest of the world.
I am deeply grateful to you, Mr. Mayor, and to all the people of this city -- rightly known as the Pearl of the Pacific -- for welcoming me so graciously to my first port of call in Ecuador.
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