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Insulza: “Anti-democratic Temptations are Still Present in Different Sectors of Our Region”

  March 30, 2010

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, said today that “in our continent electoral processes have made remarkable progress, and so democracies have become legitimate in their origin. Nevertheless, institutionality is still fragile and the constitutional changes produced in some countries must prove they can generate stable governments.” The Secretary General’s remarks came during a conference organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

During the conference, entitled “The Inter-American System: Governance and Democracy,” Insulza said that poverty continues to be the most important though not the sole factor limiting the possibility of reaching democratic stability in the region. He also explained that though democracy progresses in its origin, “anti-democratic temptations continue to be present in different sectors of our region, especially in two forms: one based on the false premise that whoever has a majority has the right to change the system as he sees fit, and the other one is the tendency of the dominant sectors to distrust the whole process of reform and to make corrections in the most brutal way.”

In his analysis, Insulza identified lack of freedom of expression, corruption and restrictions to the necessary separation of state powers as “some of the most important limitations in the transition of regional countries towards democratic stability.”

In this context, and in reference to the situation of Honduras, Insulza said that “if the government of Honduras had requested action by the OAS in a timely way, we could have controlled that conflict before it became a coup d’état. Successful activity by the OAS in matters of crises in the last few years has not been scarce, nor have been few the instances in which the Inter-American Democratic Charter has been successfully implemented,” he said.

"Those who often demand of the Secretary General the application of the Democratic Charter should read it first,” Insulza said, because, as he explained, it still has serious limitations that he has presented to the Permanent Council of the Organization to consider addressing. “Among them I suggested the idea of broadening the range of actors who may request intervention to avoid a crisis; considering the possibility of taking action without the need for an invitation from the government involved; and clearly defining what actions amount to a threat or rupture of the institutional order. These were proposals made at one time by the Secretary General, and that are currently being studied by the Inter-American Juridical Committee,” Insulza said.

Regarding the suggested changes to the Inter-American Democratic Charter, Insulza concluded that “the States must review whether such actions would go beyond what is permissible in a multilateral organization. Their development, therefore, relies on a proper balance of the principles and values we share, and the preservation of the principles of non-intervention and self-determination that are included in the foundational Charter of the Organization.”

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-098/10