Media Center

Press Release


  December 13, 2006

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza , reaffirmed today that electoral observations are a priority for the OAS and said that as a next step, the regional body will create mechanisms to follow up on the recommendations made by its observer missions. Insulza said the General Secretariat is committed to exploring, with the member states, the implementation next year of a technical assistance program that will enable it to follow through with these recommendations and provide the countries with “a true electoral service.”

Insulza made his remarks at the beginning of a Permanent Council session which heard preliminary reports from the missions that monitored recent presidential elections in Ecuador and Venezuela.


Former Argentine Foreign Minister Rafael Bielsa, Chief of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission in Ecuador, and former Chilean Senator José Antonio Viera Gallo, who joined the team as Special Representative of the Secretary General, praised the government, electoral authorities and people of Ecuador for the organization of the elections and the high level of citizen participation. Rafael Correa was elected President in the second round of voting, held November 26.

In presenting the verbal report on the first and second rounds of the process, Bielsa stressed that from the time of its arrival in Ecuador, the OAS Mission noted “the unshakable will of the populace to take an active role in participatory, legitimate and transparent elections.” He added that this resolve will help Ecuador’s institutions “to evolve as necessary to meet the challenges the country faces.”

Bielsa told the Permanent Council—chaired by Ambassador Marina Valere of Trinidad and Tobago—that Ecuador’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal is currently carrying out the final activities related to the definitive vote count from the recent elections. While acknowledging that the electoral process included certain technical difficulties, delays in the tabulation of votes for congressional candidates and challenges by some sectors, Bielsa said that “it unfolded adequately” and said he trusted that “the definitive declaration of results will take place legally and legitimately.”

Ambassador Viera Gallo, who accompanied the process during the second round and on election day itself, told the member state delegations that the OAS Mission learned of “points of view and concerns expressed by various political and social sectors of Ecuador regarding incidences from the first electoral round and their perspectives on the second round.” Based on its contacts with a cross-section of the public, the OAS mission also observed “the firm will of Ecuadorian society to guard and strengthen its democratic institutions, as well as to overcome the current problems the country faces,” Viera Gallo said.
After hearing the report, the Permanent Council approved by acclamation a declaration recognizing the government and people of Ecuador for holding elections “in an atmosphere of absolute institutional normality” and congratulating President-elect Rafael Correa.


During the same session, the Permanent Council heard a verbal report by former Uruguayan Ambassador to the OAS Juan Enrique Fischer, who was appointed Special Envoy of the OAS Secretary General to lead the Electoral Observation Mission that monitored the Venezuelan elections. President Hugo Chávez Frias was reelected during the December 3 vote.

In his preliminary report to the member countries, Fischer expressed the OAS Mission’s confidence that now that the electoral process has concluded, it will be possible “to revisit and strengthen the dialogue among different sectors of Venezuelan society, political parties and the country’s institutions, to continue to advance toward the consolidation of democracy in Venezuela.”

Fischer noted that the process the OAS monitored saw a 75% voter turnout and noted that this represented “a high percentage of citizen participation, considering that in Venezuela the vote is not mandatory.” He affirmed that this is “a clear result that determines President Chávez as the winner, with an open recognition of the same by the opposition candidate, Governor Rosales.”

Fischer recognized the new authorities of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council, who “worked arduously to improve the Venezuelan electoral system.” He recommended “an appropriate and systematic updating of the electoral law in its diverse aspects, including control of activities, and control and financing of campaigns.”

Regarding the fingerprint-reading machines used in the electoral process, Fischer said these need to be explained more clearly to the public “to allay suspicions and fears that the identity of the voter could be made known.” On this point, Fischer noted that the auditors of the process determined that “this system is not capable of associating the voter with his or her vote,” which eliminates the possibility of compromising the secrecy of the ballot.

Fischer emphasized the civic spirit of Venezuelans, who took part on election day in a “massive and peaceful” process, which unfolded in a normal manner with the resolute participation of citizens, who began to go to the polls early in the day to exercise their right to vote.

A declaration approved by consensus by the Permanent Council considers that “the high level of participation in the presidential elections represents a fresh and optimistic signal of democratic strengthening in Venezuela.” It congratulates “the Venezuelan people, its government, its political parties and democratic institutions for the civic behavior that prevailed during the electoral process.”

The declaration also notes that the elections took place “in an atmosphere of tranquility and institutional normality” and congratulates President Hugo Chávez Frías on his reelection.

Reference: E-278/06