Media Center

Press Release


  June 15, 2006

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, said today in Stockholm, Sweden, that democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean is going through a particularly positive period, characterized by the normal functioning of institutions and the improvement of electoral processes. Judging by the experience of recent OAS electoral observation missions, he said, the hemisphere has seen considerable progress in government transparency and in the proper operation of electoral systems.

Insulza was invited by the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA)—which has 23 member countries, seven of them from the Americas—to participate in a roundtable discussion on “The State of Democracy in Latin America.” Noting that the observation of elections is one of the most important tasks the OAS carries out, Insulza said that recent presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections in the region in the last few months have been completely normal. “This shows that best practices in the electoral arena have taken hold and reflects a trend toward democratic consolidation,” he said. He recalled that until 20 years ago, Latin America had undergone a period of long dictatorships and violence, which makes this time of peace, democratic consolidation and economic development even more noteworthy.

In his remarks, the Secretary General talked about the OAS role both in election monitoring and in helping to resolve crises that have developed in some countries of the hemisphere. The OAS has been present in six of the last seven presidential elections, he said, adding that this indicates that the region’s governments seek the seal of the OAS as a sign of transparency and correctness. It also assumes, he said, that electoral systems are improving and that the OAS carries out its role “with increasing efficiency and credibility.”

Insulza also discussed the contributions that high-level OAS representatives have made in the resolution of internal conflicts in some countries of the region. He referred in particular to successful political mediations undertaken in Nicaragua and Ecuador, as well as the technical and political support provided in Haiti and Bolivia. Speaking at length about Haiti, he said that Caribbean nation will need long-term cooperation and support from international organizations to solidify its institutions.

The seminar was opened by Swedish Foreign Minister Jan Eliasson. Sweden’s State Secretary to the Minister for International Development Cooperation, Annika Soder, was also among the participants.

Reference: E-132/06