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Secretary General of the OAS Dialogues with Students at George Washington University

  November 8, 2013

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, spoke this Thursday with students at George Washington University about “the OAS in the Americas: Progress and Challenges.”

In his presentation, Secretary General Insulza highlighted the political progress made in the region, which in his judgment is reflected in more competitive and open elections, and greater stability among the governments of the region in the last ten years. “I think that we have been building democracy in the Americas,” said Secretary General Insulza, while at the same time noting that the political progress coincided with a great period of economic growth. “Between 2002 and 2012, we had more growth in Latin America than in the two previous decades put together,” he said.

But the OAS leader warned that “democracy is a process, and processes go backward and forward,” and added that despite the progress made building democracy in the region, “anything that can be constructed can also be de-constructed, and certainly there are some factors of de-construction of democracy that are present among us, and that show that this is a complex path.”

Among the main challenges facing the Americas, Secretary General Insulza cited governance, warning that, while the people of the Americas have a much more positive attitude toward democracy, surveys also show that many are not satisfied with the performance of their political systems, “because they don’t deliver what they should.”

The Secretary General mentioned other “structural problems” such as the current level of inequality in the region, which in his view “is not compatible with democracy;” he also cited transnational crime; a lack of consensus; and “a tendency to use democratic rules to gain more power and stay in power.”

Following the presentation, there was a question and answer session with the students in attendance.

Stephen Kaplan, Professor of Latin American and Hemispheric Studies, delivered the introduction to the event, which was moderated by Bob Maguire, Director of the Latin American and Hemispheric Studies Program at George Washington University.

Before his presentation, the Secretary General met with a group of students and professors to discuss the current context in the Hemisphere.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-420/13