Media Center

Press Release


  November 27, 2007

Salvadorian President Elías Antonio Saca mounted a staunch defense of freedom of expression in the Americas, declaring to a special session of the Organization of American States (OAS) Permanent Council on Tuesday that democracy is strengthened when freedom of expression, access to public information, and free exchange of ideas are fully respected “as a right not to be restricted or accorded a lesser importance.”

Addressing the Permanent Council session convened in his honor—and chaired by Argentina’s Ambassador Rodolfo Gil—the Salvadorian President told those gathered, the Member State ambassadors, Secretary General José Miguel Insulza and Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin among them, that “we must all remain steadfast in defending these rights, as they are vital to dialogue. They enrich our efforts to conduct debate in an atmosphere of respect and tolerance—indispensable to the democratic way of life for citizens and are a pillar of the system of liberties.”

President Saca also urged the Member States to introduce laws that would enshrine access to public information as a right for citizens, furthering calling on states to establish mechanisms to implement this, as it fosters transparency and accountability by those holding public office.

“In places where freedom of expression is curtailed, power is exercised without restraint, which leads to abuse, intolerance, lack of transparency, corruption and impunity on the party of government,” he asserted.

Meanwhile, in welcoming the Salvadorian leader, Secretary General Insulza lauded Saca’s outstanding leadership and his solid approach at the helm of his country’s government, noting that President Saca “has always sought to promote the highest ideals of human coexistence and freedom of expression in particular.”

Insulza pledged support for El Salvador as it prepares to host the Ibero-American heads of state and government at their next Summit in October 2008, when the problems affecting youth, especially labor-related issues, will be a major focus.

In his address, President Saca also urged the hemisphere’s citizens to promote the engagement of OAS Electoral Observation Missions in their respective countries’ electoral processes, which would fully ensure transparency and submission to the popular will.

“El Salvador thanks the OAS for its ongoing engagement with our electoral system. We have even already consulted with the organization ahead of our January 2009 elections for mayors and congressional representatives, and for the March 2009 election for the country’s President and Vice President. An OAS monitoring of our system will certainly improve and strengthen the capacity of our Supreme Electoral Tribunal to respect the will of Salvadorians, with total independence,” he said.

“Mr. Secretary General, I must thank the OAS for its engagement, because I believe as citizens of the Americas we should be open to having organizations such as yours provide good-faith assessment of what is happening in the Americas, even if election results are very close as has happened in certain cases, so that those exercises can translate into respect for the will of our citizens,” President Saca added.

The President said his country is now more confident than ever in the OAS, is even more confident in the aspirations of the peoples of the Americas and in their pro-active multilateral approach that helps deliver make the benefits of democracy and freedom real.

Reference: E-305/07