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May 21, 1999



Civil society’s role in consolidating democracy in the Americas will be the topic of discussion at a Democratic Forum next Monday, May 24. The Forum will bring together distinguished experts, government officials and special guests from several member countries at the Organization of American States (OAS).

The OAS Unit for the Promotion of Democracy (UPD) is organizing the event as part of ongoing discussions on the role of civil society in the Summit of the Americas process. Practical examples of cooperation between civil society and democratic institutions will be featured.

Participants will be examining the concept of civil society’s role in the hemisphere and how it has evolved. They will also discuss the experiences of government institutions and civil society in implementing mutual cooperation models.

The Democratic Forum begins at 9:00 a.m. in the Padilha Vidal Room at the OAS General Secretariat Building, located at 1889 F Street, NW Washington, D.C. The opening session will be addressed by UPD Executive Coordinator Elizabeth Spehar; Ambassador Flavio Darío Espinal, Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the OAS; and Argentinean Patricia Valdez, representing the Kellogg Foundation.

Main presenters include the President of the Electoral Tribunal of Panama, Eduardo Valdés; the Director of Panama’s Justice and Peace Commission, Stanley Muschett; Deputy Minister of Agriculture of Guatemala, Luis Castañeda; representative of Mayan Peoples of Guatemala, Sergio Funes; Colombian Member of Parliament, Antonio Navarro Wolff; and the Director of Social Foundation for the Nariño Department, Luis Eduardo Calpa.

Other participants are Laura Pavón Jaramillo, Mexican legislator; Marina Arvisu, member of DIVERSA; Deborah Moore, Tobago House of Assembly; and Selwyn Ryan, Director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of the West Indies. Kelly McBride, the UPD’s Principal Specialist will moderate the discussions, and the meeting is expected to adopt conclusions and final statements.