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OAS Secretary General: “There is a common will in the Americas to solve our differences through dialogue and not conflict”

  October 21, 2010

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today analyzed at the Inter-American Dialogue the magnitude of the events in Ecuador on September 30; reiterated what was in his judgment “a tentative coup d’état”; and defended the role the hemispheric organization played when it provided unanimous and immediate support to the government of that South American nation.

In the Framework of the event, titled, “The Political Crisis in Ecuador: A Conversation with José Miguel Insulza,” organized by the think tank Inter-American Dialogue in Washington, DC, the head of the hemispheric organization described the events of that day in Ecuador and denied that they were simply a “dustup” between the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, and the National Police. He insisted also on the danger of the situation and recalled that the police strike was accompanied by other events such as the closing of the Quito Airport by a group from the armed forces, attacks against the President of the Republic and the Foreign Minister, lack of police presence in the streets to enforce the law, and the forceful, politically charged expressions heard at police headquarters.

“I don’t know what you call that but I certainly don’t call it a dustup between the president and a group of policemen,” Insulza said. “To me that was an attempted coup. I have seen it several times in my country and in other parts of Latin America. That is what we are trying to put an end to.”

Upon explaining the role of the OAS in the events of that day, Secretary General Insulza referred to articles 4, 17 and 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which provides for a Member State to request assistance from the Secretary General or Permanent Council whenever the democratic political process at home is “at risk.” “And that is exactly what we did on the morning of the attempted coup d’état in Ecuador,” he reiterated.

Insulza also referred to the background of the events, noting that presidents of Ecuador over the last decade and a half have failed to complete their mandates, either replaced or displaced by others. “Therefore in that country when policemen go out protesting you have to take that seriously,” he said.

Finally, Secretary General Insulza held that while the promotion of democracy is the basic role of the OAS, “the unity of the hemisphere and avoiding conflict in the hemisphere is as important as that,” while rejecting the use of force as a possible solution to conflicts.

“This is a continent at peace today,” Insulza said, acknowledging that while there isn’t unanimity of beliefs, “there is a common will to solve our differences through dialogue and not conflict, and to respect each other’s sovereignty. The times in which you could dictate to Latin America are long over, we all know that. So the OAS is not an organization of warriors but an organization of firefighters: we fight fire with water; we don’t fight fire with fire.”

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-393/10