Letter from Ambassador Mark P. Lagon
This year, America commemorates the bicentennial of its outlawing the transatlantic slave trade. In the decades following, this nation was ripped apart by a bloody civil war which sought to reconcile the words and ideas which birthed the United States and the brutal reality of a society fueled by the blood and sweat of human bondage.
The same lie which underpinned the transatlantic slave trade of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, namely that some people are less than human, is the very lie that fuels modern-day slavery.
Those culpable in this crime—traffickers, recruiters, factory owners, child sex tourists, and corrupt government officials—must be held to account. Those they grossly exploit and control—men, women, children, migrants, and refugees—must be accorded rights as human beings in full. Their dignity must be respected and restored. One of the central aims of U.S. foreign policy—promoting democracy and just governance—depends on meeting these imperatives.
Since taking office nearly eight years ago, President Bush has ensured U.S. global leadership on this most pressing human rights issue, from catalyzing cooperation with other countries to providing $528 million in programmatic assistance abroad from Fiscal Years 2001 through 2007. As such, countries the world over know they have a friend in the United States as they seek not to mitigate, or regulate, but rather to eliminate human trafficking. This Report exhaustively documents the efforts of nations around the globe to confront this evil.
We remain committed to acting as a voice for the voiceless—an advocate for the prostituted woman or child, the exploited domestic worker, the trapped agricultural laborer. Their bondage demands our attention and is worthy of our efforts.
You are a welcome partner in the growing, truly global coalition, and heeding the call for abolition!
Ambassador Mark P. Lagon