Ambassador Nestor Mendez, the new Belizean Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS), while challenging the hemispheric body to be more robust in its critical role in combating poverty, social inequity and corruption, has identified education and people empowerment as “the principal prescriptions” against these and other major scourges.
In his first formal address before the OAS’ second-highest decision-making body since he became Permanent Representative for his country, Ambassador Mendez also cited rising food costs resulting from “record oil prices” and concerns about alternative energy sources, and climate change. He argued that while the organization has been moving to address these challenges, more can be done.
Mendez, who presented credentials to the OAS Secretary General in early June, in his wide-ranging maiden speech also pointed to other urgent issues such as migration and sustainable development. “It is clear to us that only through visible and sustainable improvement in the standard of living of our people, bolstered by the provision of the best possible education and health care, food security, and the fabric of social stability, that the dividends of democracy will become real,” the Belizean diplomat remarked.
Thanking the OAS for supporting the ongoing process between Belize and Guatemala as they seek a “fair, equitable and definitive resolution to the territorial differendum,” Mendez also revealed to the fellow ambassadors and other Member States representatives that both countries are preparing to hold constitutionally-required public consultations and referenda before taking their territorial differendum to the International Court of Justice. Both governments had agreed to take their case to the international court as recommended by OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, Ambassador Mendez recalled.
The Belize envoy also reserved special praise for the OAS and its leadership on many of the key hemispheric agenda issues. “Today, the OAS is the undisputed leader in the promotion and protection of democracy and human rights in the hemisphere, and it enjoys a privileged place as both guardian and advocate of our democratic values and democratic systems,” Mendez declared. In the area of security, he noted, “the organization has embraced its challenging mandates with determination and clarity of purpose, and the results have been excellent.”