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January 8, 2001


Chile's Ambassador to the Organization of American States, Esteban Tomic, today assumed the chairmanship of the Permanent Council, with a suggestion that political factors could take on a more prominent role in the Hemisphere.

"The OAS is the Hemisphere's only political organization that brings together all the countries, and therefore I believe that responsibilities will fall to the OAS as the events of history unfold, and the Organization will have to grapple with them."

Turning to the three-month stint he will serve in the OAS chair, the Chilean diplomat said his country was greatly honored to be assuming the high functions. "We are mindful of how tremendous a responsibility this is, albeit for a short time," he remarked.

The outgoing Permanent Council chairman, Canada's Ambassador Peter Boehm, turned over the gavel to his successor and pledged his full support. Among those attending the brief hand-over ceremony were Secretary General CÚsar Gaviria, Assistant Secretary General Luigi Einaudi, a number of member country ambassadors, and senior OAS staff.