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Fear of Democracy at the OAS!

By Veneconomy

08.06.05 | The 35th General Assembly of the Organization of American States, in which 34 foreign ministers of the region took part, was brought to a close with the approval of the Declaration of Florida sporting the slogan “making the principles of democracy a reality.”

The outcome of this meeting lends itself to more than one interpretation. The first would be that, while the final declaration did not include explicit reference to the role of “crisis prevention” proposed by the United Sates, it did not exclude it completely. Nor was Venezuela able to put a stop to the initiative to grant extended powers to the Secretary General, José Miguel Inzulsa.

On the contrary, Secretary Inzulsa emerged from the meeting with a stronger mandate upon being granted, under item number 3 on the agenda, the power, with the prior consent of the Permanent Council, to promote and consolidate representative democracy and also to draw up timely, effective draft initiatives to address situations that could affect member countries’ democratic development or their legitimate exercise of power; in short, a tiny step forward.

Another reading of the outcome would be that it was made manifest, yet again, how much the governments of Latin America fear facing up to their responsibility with regard to democracy and taking decisive steps to defend it in their countries. The position that prevailed in the declaration is one of long standing in the OAS, that of assuming support for democracy and the freedom of its peoples merely on the rhetorical level, but not following through with action.

For example, since it was founded, the OAS has really made no effort to prevent democratically elected governments from changing to an autocratic tack. Generally, the governments of the region hide behind “defense of sovereignty” and “self-determination of peoples” to cover their backs and avoid their responsibility as guarantors of democracy.

This ambiguous position adopted by the OAS is what has weakened its leadership, undermined its commitment to democracy, and permitted a situation to develop so that, today, the region is sitting on a powder keg that is about to explode, with several countries plunged into riots and chaos, among them Haiti, Ecuador and Bolivia, and others, such as Venezuela, where freedom and democracy are now nothing short of a parody.

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