Media Center

Press Release


  May 1, 2007

The Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the Organization of American States (OAS), Ambassador Francisco Villagrán de León, signed an agreement today with OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza related to the privileges and immunities granted to the members of the OAS team that will observe the September 9 general elections in that country.

Underscoring the importance of the agreement signed today, Insulza noted the solid tradition and respect toward OAS Electoral Observation Missions in Guatemala. He recalled that with this Mission, the OAS will have monitored five electoral processes in that country since 1996, when peace was formalized in the Central American nation.

“It is worth noting that the Mission understands the goals and challenges of this electoral process being carried out under a new Electoral Law, which contemplates a more relevant commitment of the Peace Accords, such as the decentralization of electoral voting stations to the country’s rural areas,” the Secretary General said.

Insulza indicated that the Chief of the Electoral Observation Mission, former Peruvian Foreign Minister Diego García Sayán—who was also present during the signing at OAS headquarters— will begin his activities in Guatemala tomorrow, accompanying the official convocation of the elections. The Secretary General announced that during this first trip, García Sayán will meet with governmental authorities, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, representatives of nongovernmental organizations that observe the process nationally and with delegates of the international community, among others. He will also sign the Mission’s Agreement of Procedures with the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

“This is a very decisive moment, since with the elections in Guatemala—and also in Argentina—a cycle of electoral processes in Latin America comes to a close, one that has been extremely satisfactory, perhaps the most complete, most prolonged, and most satisfactory that we have seen in recent decades,” the Secretary General said. Although he acknowledged that there are no perfect electoral processes, he added that “the quality of elections in Latin America and the Caribbean has significantly improved in recent years, and we are sure that this will be confirmed in Guatemala, which will allow us to close an important electoral observation process on a high note,” Insulza said.

For his part, Ambassador Villagrán noted that the support of the OAS during elections in his country has always been “very valuable and very important for bringing confidence to the people, as well as to the international community, in the institutions responsible for managing the electoral process.” Villagrán said that the OAS has “extensive” experience in this area and is “very familiar with the Guatemalan situation and its particulars, the electoral laws and all the actors in the electoral process,” adding that his government has complete confidence in the regional organization’s support.

In the upcoming elections, Guatemalan citizens will elect a President, Vice President, national lawmakers and representatives to the Central American Parliament, among other political offices. The OAS Mission will deploy approximately 150 international observers, who will cover the 22 departments in the country and monitor the different stages of the electoral calendar.

Other participants in today’s ceremony included the Guatemalan Vice Minister of Foreign Relations, Marta Altolaguirre; the Director of the OAS Department for Cooperation and Electoral Observation, Elizabeth Spehar; and the Deputy Chief of the Electoral Observation Mission, Moisés Benamor.

Reference: E-114/07