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OAS Secretary General Advocates for a Democracy Built on Civic Friendship

  October 11, 2010

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today participated in the inaugural ceremony of the Latin American Democracy Forum held in Mexico City, alongside Mexico's Secretary of the Interior, José Francisco Blake Mora; the Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Rebeca Grynspan; and the president of the Federal Electoral Institute, Leonardo Valdés.

In his speech, Secretary General Insulza recalled that a necessary condition of every democratic system is the holding of free and transparent elections, adding that the OAS has in the last five years observed more than 50 elections, confirming the commitment of the organization to the practice and perfecting of the electoral system as a instrument of democracy.

Insulza noted that in the region today there are problems "whose sole existence puts at risk the democratic state or in some way represents an incompatibility." In this context, he referred to the issue of discrimination on the basis of race and gender. "There is no doubt that democracy is incompatible with categorical discriminations, that is, cases in which someone's birth, for example, decides his or her place that a person occupies in society." Following this reasoning, he held that "this is a clear problem, especially when we note that a majority of the population that lives in conditions of poverty is African American, indigenous or lives in homes headed by women who do not have the same rights in our society."

In the same context of the challenges to democracy, the head of the hemispheric organization talked about the issue of security and the negative consequences that organized crime brings with itself. "It is difficult to think about a democratic system when there are those in society who wish to behave by their own rules. Criminal groups who behave independent of society's leadership do not follow our social contract and represent an evident threat to democracy," he said.

Acknowledging the existence of serious institutional deficiencies in many democratic systems, Insulza asserted that despite this, Latin America has the opportunity to reach not only economic but political development, and in this sense he called for the rejection of all forms of marginalization. He emphasized the need to "build a civic friendship and a civilized relationship between the people who are part of the democratic base so that every resident can exercise the right to live in peace."

Finally, the Secretary General emphasized that every democracy must be conceived as a system of cohabitation and that, because of this, emphasis must be placed on the respect for freedom of expression, the search for consensus and that for, "at the lack of a better word. what is called civic friendship, something of which there is little sometimes in our Americas."

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-374/10