Transforming digital access in the Western Hemisphere

Improving digital access for everyone and ensuring a more democratic and prosperous future are among the priorities of the United States and partner nations at June’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.

The summit comes at a crucial time, as the region recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, tackles corruption and the root causes of irregular migration, and looks to address the climate crisis.

“For the vast majority of countries in our hemisphere, there is still a strong agreement on the best way to address these challenges,” said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on May 3 at the Washington Conference on the Americas Luncheon, “and that’s through democracy.”

The United States will work with regional partners to harness new technologies to strengthen democratic governance and improve quality of life.

Events at the summit that focus on increasing access to new technology such as 5G will translate ambitions to action.

Together, countries can “enable increased innovation, equity, access, inclusion, government transparency, and ease of doing business for all,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian A. Nichols.

Digital development, including the expansion of internet access and 5G technology, can improve infrastructure, such as transportation, health care and the electrical grid. It also promotes open, secure and reliable internet for everyone, everywhere — connecting people living in even the most rural areas to education, information and work opportunities.

Open internet access is essential for democracy activists across the world. In July 2021, Cubans protested for better economic conditions in their country and the government responded by shutting down access to the internet.

Journalists also depend on an open internet to combat disinformation and ensure citizens have the facts they need to inform their decisions.

The United States will work with partners in the Americas to make sure countries can safely invest in and use technology in a way that promotes opportunity and inclusion and does not pose a risk to national security, personal privacy or human rights.

The result? More jobs, protection of rights and an improved digital landscape across the hemisphere.

Antony Blinken speaking in front of group of people seated for luncheon in elaborate room (State Dept./Ron Przysucha)
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken delivers keynote remarks May 3 at the 52nd Annual Washington Conference on the Americas Luncheon at the State Department. (State Dept./Ron Przysucha)

“I’m confident that if we embrace this and other lessons learned since the first Summit of the Americas,” said Blinken, “… we will not only strengthen our individual democracies; we will do better at what is our number-one responsibility, and that is delivering on the fundamental needs and the fundamental hopes of all the peoples in this hemisphere that we share.”