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The road ahead for OAS' Jose Miguel Insulza

By Aleksander Boyd

The people of the Americas have the right to democracy and the governments have a duty to generate conditions for governance and also to carry out their mandate in a democratic fashion. The guarantee of respect for the fundamental rights of the citizens, the Rule of Law, civil liberties, the respect for minorities and the institutions of the democratic system are crucial. Only then can the social, political, economic and cultural development that our nations deserve be effectively promoted. It is imperative that the commitments adopted under the Inter-American Democratic Charter be wholly fulfilled. Verbattim of acceptance speech of new OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza.

London 21.05.05 | Former Chilean Interior Minister Jose Miguel Insulza won the majority of the vote in the final round of elections for the OAS' top job. He seems to be willing to take the hemispheric organization down the path to efficiency; “political relevance and its capacity for action” shall be strenghtened under his mandate. It is heartening to read remarks such as "To my Bolivian brothers, I want to assure you that as Secretary General I will never do anything, objectively or subjectively, to harm your interests. I hope that the problems that have divided Chile and Bolivia, two close countries with a common destiny, can be resolved through dialogue for their mutual benefit" (sic). Equally gratifying is the fact that the man was himself, once upon a time, an exiled, meaning that he has also experienced rejection and prosecution due to his political views. In that sense one can only be hopeful that such a man will act in responsible and democratic fashion. Refugees, exiled, displaced, political prisoners and victims of human rights violations and narcoterrorism have something to look forward in the future actions of Insulza and the OAS can finally regain, through decisive undertakings, the waning respect.

The Road Ahead

South of the Rio Grande, apart from very few islands of stability, the whole continent is in a very fragile state democratically speaking. From north to south we have disturbing elements with rather good chances to reach office. Thus, Lopez Obrador, coming elections in Honduras, the Ortegas, corruption scandals marring democracy in Costa Rica, instability in Haiti seasoned with a presidential race this year, Colombia's guerrilla warfare, Evo Morales wreaking havoc in Bolivia and the Humalas following in the former's footsteps, Ecuador's recent upheaval -which does not seem to have stabilised at all, Bolivia and Chile territorial dispute and to top it all up Fidel Castro's and Hugo Chavez's mischief, read promoting violence and anti-democratic revolutions across the continent. Awash with petrocash the pair are hellbent in imposing their system of governance, a model, needs be stressed, that has utterly failed in bringing benefits to the people. However there are other factors that can not be left out of this equation; for instance the ascendancy that Castro has over the FARC/ELN and the power that Chavez will have over them as the master of the source of weapons and ammunition. Furthermore, having forbidden US' narcotics operations and overflights in Venezuela, the country has effectively become the launching pad from where analysts consider that 80% of Colombia's drug produce enters the international markets.

Insulza won't tread on a rosy path. He is faced with the daunting task of neutralising two leaders that seem to count with widespread simpathy. It remains to be revealed whether the Secretary General will be as unforgiving towards Castro and Chavez as he was towards Pinochet. That will be the ultimate challenge. To his credit he has already shrugged off moves by the chavista regime regarding him being 'their candidate'. Rice was quicker on the gun and purportedly broke some sort of pact, albeit verbal, with Insulza before the 'Mision OAS' implemented by Chavez had any success.

Democracy building in Americas' poverty stricken countries is an extremely difficult thing to do, least of course one shares the nouveau concept established and implemented by Castro and Chavez. There seems to be a genetic predisposition for chaos and anarchy amongst us Latin-Americans. Disrespect and distrust for democratic institutions characterize our relationships with the State. Ergo in order to advance in the road towards democracy Insulza and his team will have to introduce a revolutionary maxim in our hearts and minds: officials, irrespective of investiture, have to be accountable for their deeds. The belief that the social contract can be unilaterally broken upon arrival in office must be extirpated and this also applies with respect to Insulza's promises. Let us hope he's a man of his word.

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