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President Calderón Closed OAS and UNDP Forum in which Security, Participation, Equality and Human Rights Were Reaffirmed as Key Aspects of Democracy

  October 15, 2010

The Latin American Democracy Forum in Mexico City, in which the President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, and other renowned regional political personalities participated, closed this week while recognizing the importance of strengthening democracy and confronting its challenges so that its benefits may reach all citizens.

The event, held in the Palace of Mining in the Mexican capital, closed with a panel titled, “Our Democracy,” in which participants were the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza; former President of Uruguay Julio María Sanguinetti; former President of Chile Ricardo Lagos; and the Ibero-American General Secretary, Enrique Iglesias. The conclusions of the event were presented by Dante Caputo, OAS advisor, and by Magdy Martínez, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Mexico, along with Leonardo Valdés, President of Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), an organization that made possible the regional forum.

In a debate before the closing ceremony, the OAS Secretary General made reference to the key subjects of the three-day forum, asserting that “from a pragmatic point of view, most of the principles that have been discussed here are adequately summarized in this wonderful tool that our governments signed in 2001 and that we have called the Inter-American Democratic Charter,” adding that “the dogmatisms, the exclusivisms, and the idea of pushing magical solutions to our problems, are risks that we have in our democracies and that lack rationality and democratic politics.”

The head of the hemispheric organization also referred to the need to maintain freedom of thought in society, and to recognize that in pluralist societies not everyone can achieve the same goals. “Unlike dictatorships, democracy assumes there are differences, that not all of us seek the same thing and there is an acceptance that not all of us are going to achieve everything we seek,” he said.

In the closing ceremony, President Calderón acknowledged the democratic development achieved by many countries of the region but warned that it is “not free of regressions in the economic sphere as well as in the political sphere, and we must be very attentive so that the democrats of the world and of Latin America always are aware of what their criteria or obligations are, without which a society or political regime cannot call itself democratic.”

The Mexican President took the opportunity to congratulate the OAS and UNDP for their Leadership in the area of democracy and added that “democracy without adjectives, that is, the act of voting with freedom in conditions of equality, and that one’s vote be respected, is an essential element, a necessary condition, perhaps not sufficient but sine qua non to give true institutional strength to the life of our peoples.” He continued by saying that “the challenges to democracy in Mexico and in other parts of Latin America continue to be significant, especially in matters of equality, social democracy, governance, but also specifically in maintaining and preserving electoral democracy strictly as an indispensable condition for the advancement of societies.”

Former President Sanguinetti, for his part, covered issues such as the opportunities from recent prosperity in Latin America to invest in infrastructure, education and innovation, warning that public security and freedom of expression must be considered upon evaluating the state of democracy in the region. “For its functioning, democracy requires political institutions, a comptroller, an active civil society, stable political parties, and a citizenry conscious of its duties and rights,” he said.

Former President Lagos spoke about a “trilogy” between State, markets and society, and presented an analysis of how the relationship between these three elements has grown. “Our democracy is that which allows citizens to define which are going to be the goods and services that have a public character, that are available to everyone. This they do by electing a government and its program, and deciding what type of society they wish to live in.”

The Latin American Democracy Forum had as its primary objective to provide a space for reflection and debate to contribute to the identification of problems, needs and challenges implied in the transition, construction and consolidation of democracy in Latin America, and to explore, share and discover different approaches, perspectives and roads to address the pending issues of democracy’s agenda. The event was co-organized by the OAS, the UNDP and the IFE.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-383/10