Speeches and other documents by the Secretary General


November 9, 2023 - Washington, DC

My dear friends, welcome to the House of the Americas.

Dear former President Laura Chinchilla, President elect Bernardo Arévalo, Ambassador Thomas Shannon, dear Rebecca Bill Chavez, President of the Inter-American Dialogue, and distinguished personalities to be honored tonight with the Leadership of the Americas Awards:
It is a pleasure to be here today at the house of the Americas, attending the annual Gala of the Inter-American Dialogue.

The OAS works tirelessly to protect democracy and human rights in the region. Those are two of our main concerns and we are committed to them. Fortunately, we have a legal instrument which is the Inter American Democratic Charter, a real Constitution for the Americas.

And thank you, because we have very good partners, like the Inter American Dialogue.
In 1980, in this room, one of the greatest champions of democracy and human rights in the Americas, President Jimmy Carter said to the 10th General Assembly of the OAS: “The cause of human rights will be all the stronger if it remains at the service of humanity, rather than at the service of ideological or partisan ends, and if it condemns both terrorism and repression. In the phrase "human rights," the "rights" are important; the "human" is very important”.

And we have challenges today. We have special situations, one of them that demanded our actions. Our work was in Guatemala.

Due to the challenges that arose during and after the electoral process, which resulted in Bernardo Arévalo as the winner and President-elect, we have maintained a permanent presence in the country, first through the Electoral Observation Mission, and later with the Transition Mission that we formed.

Our mandate is to support democracy and the rule of law in Guatemala. We have condemned the unjust and anti-democratic actions seeking to delay the electoral process, which try to undermine the role played by secrecy of the vote and threaten – and those that threaten - Guatemala’s democratic stability.

We are all aware that we need to keep our efforts and we hope that things will definitely get unto the right track and definitely this mediation will achieve a very positive end, that is, that the Guatemalans will have a new President - Bernardo Arévalo on the 14th of January.

President-elect Bernardo Arévalo and Vice President-elect Karin Herrera were duly elected, and they have the responsibility of implementing their governance strategy with the objective of continuing to improve the socio-economic life of Guatemalans. They know our commitment to continue to support democracy in their country as we have done so far.

They have big challenges. But that is the thing. I have to introduce Bernardo Arévalo, the President-elect, and the good thing about him is that it is not what he has done, it’s what he will do.

He is a man of future for his country, and he has the opportunity to bring normalization to his country; to bring development; to resolve long-standing social issues that have never been fixed.

This man has an incredible responsibility. He has the capacity, he has the charm, he has the formation to deal with this matter and for sure to find the way for a better Guatemala in the future.

We need this hope. Bernardo Arévalo is bringing this hope. The hope of rule of law; the hope of fighting corruption; the hope of bringing strength to the institutions; the hope that Guatemalans will unite; the hope that discrimination will end; the hope that will resolve the life of the majority of the country so underrepresented and undervalued like the indigenous original communities in the country.

It is a big task. It is an enormous task. We have more than faith and belief. We have the conviction that he has the tools. Personal tools to do that.

And we really highly appreciate that he is here with us today. And we highly value that we have been able to work with him all these weeks, months, and we have an opportunity to hope for the best for Guatemala.

It’s not always like that, but we have it now.