President Bush has hailed what he called "dramatic gains for democracy" in the Western Hemisphere in the past three decades.
Mr. Bush spoke Monday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at the annual meeting of the 34-country Organization of American States.
The president noted that all 34 participating countries now have democratic and constitutional governments. He recalled that in 1974, the last time the OAS General Assembly met in the United States, fewer than half its members had such governments.
During the address, the president also said democracy will one day reach communist-run Cuba. Mr. Bush also called on the U.S. Congress to pass a proposed U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement, known as CAFTA.
He said the agreement would bring significant benefits to Central America. But critics of the agreement in the United States say foreign competition would threaten American jobs and industries.