Department of Electoral Cooperation and Observation
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DECO

The Team

Director

Gerardo de Icaza
Gerardo de Icaza has been Director of the Department of Electoral Cooperation and Observation since March 1, 2014. In his years as Director, he has led more than 50 Electoral Observation Missions in more than 20 countries. In 2018, he served as Acting Secretary for Strengthening of Democracy from February to July. Previously, at the National Electoral Institute of Mexico (INE) he served as Deputy Legal Director for Overseas Voting and as Coordinator of the Technical Committee of Specialists on Overseas Voting. He was a law clerk, and then Head of the International Affairs Unit in the Electoral Tribunal of Mexico. He studied Law and has a Master's Degree in International Relations and Communication. He has been a visiting professor at Princeton, Georgetown and Science Po Universities, and has published numerous academic articles on democracy and electoral systems in various languages.

Section Chief

Brenda Santamaría
Chief of the Electoral Observation Section, leading and coordinating activities related to the deployment of Electoral Observation Missions (EOMs). Brenda has served as Interim Director of the Department of of Electoral Cooperation and Observation since February to July 2018. Since she joined the team in 2007, Brenda has participated in more than 50 EOMs as Deputy Chief and Press Officer, among other positions. She also monitored DECO's communication activities and coordinated the development of online courses, face-to-face trainings and meetings aimed at strengthening the capacities of electoral authorities in the region. She has more than 18 years of professional experience in journalism, institutional communications, elections and international relations. She holds a Master's Degree in International Studies from Torcuato Di Tella University and a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires.

Section Chief

Cristóbal Fernández
Cristobal is Head of the Electoral Technical Cooperation Section. He studied Law at the University of Chile and has an LL.M in International Law from American University. He has worked in DECO since 2011 and has participated in more than 20 Electoral Observation Missions. He has been Deputy Chief of several EOMs, including El Salvador in 2014 and 2015, Guatemala in 2015 and Colombia in 2016. He is co-author of the methodology to observe the electoral participation of indigenous peoples and afro-descendants and is the coordinator of the American Electoral Jurisprudence Working Group. During his studies in Chile, he became involved in university politics, where he was elected to different positions of student government.

Specialists

Alex Bravo
A specialist in DECO since August 2009, Alex is responsible for managing projects in the areas of technical cooperation, electoral technology observation, comprehensive audits of electoral registries and software generation for the management of electoral technical cooperation. Alex is a computer science engineer; he did his undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland and holds a Master of Science in Computer Security from George Washington University.

Clara González Zunzarren
A specialist in DECO since June 2014, Clara has participated in 20 Election Observation Missions as Press Officer, General Coordinator, Media Specialist and Observer. A journalist by profession, she worked for three years for the Spanish news agency Agencia EFE in Madrid and in Santiago de Chile. She also lived in Brussels, where she worked in the cabinet of the European Parliament's spokesperson. She holds a Master's Degree in International Relations and International Development from Georgetown University. She has both Spanish and U.S. citizenship.

Claudia Mariana Rojas Manrique
Claudia, a Peruvian citizen, joined DECO in 2015. Her first Electoral Observation Mission was in Suriname in May of that year and since then she has participated in EOMs in Mexico, Guatemala, Jamaica, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, among others. She previously worked on development and security issues in Boston, and in the private and academic sector in Peru. Claudia studied law and graduated with honors from the University of Lima. In addition, she has studied Negotiation and Conflict Resolution at Harvard University, and Security and Development at the Center of Superior National Studies of the Graduate School of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers of Peru.

Daniel Tovar Angola
Daniel is a Venezuelan citizen and joined the DECO team in September 2015. He has participated in different Electoral Observation Missions as General Coordinator, Regional Coordinator, Logistics Officer and Observer. A lawyer by training, he worked two years for the European Union External Action Service in Colombia and in the European Parliament with MEP Luis Yáñez Barnuevo. He holds a master's degree in International Relations and is a specialist in European Development Cooperation in Latin America.

Gerardo Sánchez
Gerardo has more than 20 years of experience in electoral issues; he studied political science, and obtained a master's degree in Public Policy and a Diploma in Political Analysis. During his professional development, he worked in both electoral courts and electoral administrative bodies. He joined DECO in 2015. He has participated in more than 15 Electoral Observation Missions as Deputy Chief of Mission, Regional Coordinator, Electoral Organization Specialist, Media and Campaign Funding Specialist and Observer. In the area of technical cooperation, he has designed and implemented several projects in conjunction with international cooperation agencies. He is certified as an (ISO Electoral) Auditor in quality management systems (ISO 9001: 2015 and TS 17582: 2014).

Ignacio Álvarez Gussoni
Ignacio holds a degree in International Relations from the University of the Republic of Uruguay. He studied at the José Ortega y Gasset University Research Institute in Spain, where he obtained his Master's Degree in Applied Political Studies. He has been a DECO Specialist since 2015 and since 2007 has participated in more than 25 Electoral Observation Missions as General Coordinator, Coordinator of Methodologies, Specialist in Political Financing and Electoral Organization, Regional Coordinator and International Observer. He worked in the State Protocol and Ceremonial Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Uruguay and was an advisor to the international cooperation management body at the General Department of Relations and Cooperation (DGRC) of the University of the Republic.

Martín Ferreiro
An Argentinean citizen, Martin joined the DECO team in September 2017. With a degree in Political Science from the University of Buenos Aires, he started his professional career at the communications department of the Buenos Aires city government. He has research experience in public management and electoral reform. He has participated in several Electoral Observation Missions as Observer, Regional Coordinator, Gender Specialist, Methodology Coordinator and Regional Coordinator.

Martin Huenneke
Martin joined the DECO team in 2016 after more than 15 years of experience in other areas of the OAS where he worked on project management and evaluation, technical support for political processes, and resource mobilization. He was also in charge of relations with the 70 Permanent Observers of the OAS, and coordinated inter-institutional and civil society relations. Previously, Martin worked as a continuing education teacher and in the administration of educational programs in Texas and Mexico. He is a US citizen and holds a Bachelor’s degree in French and Political Science from the University of Missouri, a Master's degree in Latin American Studies from the University of New Mexico, and a Master’s in Education from New Mexico State University.

Melene Glynn
Melene, a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, joined the team in January 2017. She has more than 20 years of experience in international development, diplomacy and management, with a focus on the Caribbean region. Previously she served as the OAS Representative in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, in charge of the implementation of OAS activities in the country, and as a specialist in the Caribbean. Melene has participated in more than 15 Electoral Observation Missions as Deputy Chief, Regional Coordinator and Political Analyst, among other positions. She holds a Master's Degree in International Studies from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom and a Bachelor's Degree in French and Literature from the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago.

Víctor Mesejo
He joined the DECO team in July 2018. He is a Venezuelan political scientist graduated from the Rafael Urdaneta’s University and with a Master’s Degree in Diplomacy and International Relations from the University of Barcelona in Spain. In addition, he counts with a specialization in Human Rights and International Development from the Diplomatic School of Madrid, and has professional experience in refugee issues and international protection of human rights, having collaborated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain in the Project to prepare the participation on the Global Compact on Refugees. Victor participated in 2018 as an International Observer in the Electoral Observation Mission for the Presidential Elections in Colombia.

Yerutí Méndez
Yerutí, a Paraguayan citizen, has been a DECO specialist since 2014 and is in charge of the department's internal coordination. She has participated in more than a dozen OAS Electoral Observation Missions as Deputy Chief, General Coordinator, Coordinator of Methodologies and International Observer. She joined the OAS in 2006, where she served as Deputy Executive Director of the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT), leading youth employment promotion programs in the region. Subsequently, between 2012 and 2013, she worked in the Executive Office of the Secretary for Political Affairs of the OAS. Yerutí holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of Maryland and is pursuing her Master's in Government at Johns Hopkins University.

Department of Electoral Cooperation and Observation

1889 F St., N.W.
Washington, D.C., 20006
E-mail: deco@oas.org
Phone: (202) 370-4526
Fax: (202) 458-6250