Almagro Must Go on

There are already 14 OAS member states that have explicitly stated their support for Almagro to continue, a true coalition of democracies which others will join

Carlos Holmes Trujillo, Colombian Foreign Minister, left, is greeted by Luis Almagro, Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary-General, right. (U. S., New York) EFE/EPA

Spanish – The week-long multilateral summit by the United Nations General Assembly in New York concluded with a relevant event for another multilateral space, the OAS. Ivan Duque went to its headquarters in Washington to promote the candidacy of Luis Almagro to be reelected as Secretary-General.

He had already applied in June during the General Assembly in Medellin when four other countries responded to Colombia’s call. Today, 14 OAS member states have explicitly announced their support for Almagro to continue, a true coalition of democracies which others will join.

Perhaps there is not even a rival for the incumbent Secretary-General. As Laura Chinchilla, former president of Costa Rica and a recognized international leader, illustrated when she declined to run for the position, “Both President Alvarado and I are committed to supporting Luis Almagro who has waged a courageous struggle in defense of democracy in the hemisphere.”

Also noteworthy is Venezuelan leader Maria Corina Machado who said, “We democrats of the Americas recognize in Luis Almagro as an uncompromising defender of justice, truth, and freedom. We count on the member states of the OAS to support this decision of the government of President Duque.”

Almagro’s leadership entails the practice of diplomacy without euphemisms, and he engages in politics with principles. It is uncomfortable, therefore, for those who have no principles or select them based on political positions, that is, depending on whether the left or the right is in power. Unlike Amlo, they ignore the fact that rights have no ideology.

His administration has given back to the OAS its mission and identity: the defense of democracy and the protection of human rights. The organization has achieved this by recovering the financial and institutional health of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, revitalizing TIAR, balancing the organization’s accounts, and recovering its political protagonism, which was previously diminished by the role of CELAC and Unasur, both of which are practically extinct today.

These objectives are at stake, and serious risk, because of the Venezuelan crisis, a crisis that Almagro announced before anyone else. He warned early on that it would get worse if the continent persisted in its indolence. One by one, his recommendations were confirmed by the tragic reality that Venezuelans confront daily.

When Almagro called Maduro “dictator,” the feeble leaders and their accomplices said he was exaggerating. When he pointed out that there were alterations to the constitutional order, the inaction of the international community facilitated the subsequent institutional breakdown. When he presented evidence of food and medicine shortages, the indifference of many opened the door to the current humanitarian crisis.

When he condemned the massive human rights violations, he was called “intransigent.” When those violations became crimes against humanity, many denied reality, and when he documented those crimes and reported them to the International Criminal Court, he did so alone until finally six countries in the region joined him months later.

When Almagro warned of the deliberate “Cuban-style” expulsion strategy that Maduro’s dictatorship was implementing, the inaction of all parties allowed the migration to turn into an exodus, and then into the most serious refugee crisis ever in the Western hemisphere.

Hence the names of potential adversaries are little more than distraction strategies. You can see the hand of those who would see Almagro’s continuity as a defeat: the Revolution Square in Havana, Miraflores – Maduro’s bunker in Caracas, and the conglomerate of criminal organizations that benefit from these regimes.

And though not restricted to Venezuela, the South American country is indeed a place where the agenda must be rescued. The reason is clear: The future of human rights and democracy is at stake, and the recovery of freedom in Venezuela is the joint political project of the continent. Almagro knows this better than anyone else, and that is why he must go on.

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