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Press Release


  May 24, 2005

Former Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Ernesto Leal, a candidate for the post of Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), said today he would work closely with the Secretary General and member states to effectively tackle the OAS’ budget problem and other issues.

The OAS must be modernized “based on new and creative ideas,” Leal told member state delegates at a meeting of the Permanent Council, chaired by Peru’s Ambassador Alberto Borea. The election for Assistant Secretary General will take place during the upcoming OAS General Assembly session, slated for Fort Lauderdale in June.

On the role the OAS should take amid signs of institutional crisis in the hemisphere’s nations, the former Nicaraguan minister declared: “I firmly believe our organization should anticipate developments that could threaten some of our nascent democracies, rather than wait until disaster strikes and inflicts irreparable and irreversible harm.” He recalled the leadership role the OAS had played in his own country’s peace process that brought an end to nearly ten years of civil war.

Democracy must be linked to development, Leal asserted, explaining that “we should all safeguard democracy as set forth in the Democratic Charter.” But, he noted, democracy must be linked as well to progress as a matter of priority, so that “our citizens can feel that democracy does deliver well-being and that without democracy the benefits of development are harder to come by.”

According to Leal, “All our countries, big and small, face common challenges that call for common solutions.” He stressed the need to find consensus through dialogue to effectively tackle together new multidimensional threats. Following his formal presentation, Leal took questions from several member state representatives, regarding the need for a stronger OAS.

A civil engineer with a Master’s degree from the Georgia Institute, Leal served as his country’s Foreign Affairs Minister and as Secretary General of the Central American Integration System (SICA), among other positions. In 1993 he was part of OAS special missions on peace initiatives in Guatemala and Haiti.

Besides Ernesto Leal, the other candidate for the post of OAS Assistant Secretary General is Ambassador Albert R. Ramdin, a former Ambassador of Suriname to the OAS and former Assistant Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Reference: E-100/05