Yesterday my class went to the Organization of American States in D.C. to hear the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, speak. Pretty cool! I had always seen the building and thought it was an organization of, you know, American (U.S.) states. Yesterday I found out it is an organization of countries in the Western Hemisphere. That made more sense as a destination for a class FIELD TRIP!
On the way there, traffic came to a sudden halt as police set up a blockade a couple cars in front of us. So we waited ... and waited ... this looked a bit familiar to me, but that's another story ...
Our bus driver thought the blockade might be because President Bush was going to pass by. And sure enough, after a while, a speeding motorcade of black cars, a camera crew, and a firetruck and ambulance (!) bringing up the rear flew by right in front of us, with a helicopter overhead.
But we made it to the OAS with time to spare.
The ambassadors have reserved parking (in ABC order, how diplomatic) out front. What's up, Argentina?!
We passed through the doors from the freezing D.C. weather into the verdant courtyard of a Latin hacienda. Well, it felt like it.
The flag and bust-filled hallway upstairs, overlooking the courtyard.
The meeting room. Quite impressive and very beautiful architecture. The tables were set up for the ambassadors from each of the member countries. They were apparently running on Latin time.
El jefe himself, Robert Zoellick (on the right).
"Bob" had a lot of interesting things to say during his "Conversation on the Inter-American Agenda." He's got quite a perspective on things as World Bank president during this time of world financial crisis.
One thing I was surprised to hear was his response to the statement that many in Latin America are of the opinion that recent events in the U.S. financial arena are "proof that the free-market model is a failure and we need more state intervention and control."
Instead of wholly defending the model, he noted that "it is natural and healthy during a time of crisis to question and examine the system." Of course, I'm sure we'll stick with this system, thank you very much, but it was interesting to hear him take that statement as constructive criticism.