Media Center



March 18, 2015 - Washington, DC

It has been a long meeting and it is time to hear the voice of the States who are those who have resolved and elected our friend Luis Almagro by, I would say, a unanimous majority.

I don´t, however, want to let this opportunity pass, first of all to thank the Foreign Ministers and Representatives who have had very generous words for me that commit me to continue this job until it is concluded, to carry out a calm and proper transition, and also to present some more extensive reflections when I leave.

Secondly, I want to congratulate and give my full support to my dear friend Luis Almagro, former Foreign Minister of Uruguay and now Secretary General-elect of the Organization of American States. I think he has carried out a vigorous campaign, setting forth a set of ideas and principles that we share at this level and on the ways to achieve them which point to a strengthening of the Organization in the steps and the paths we have chosen when we adopted the Strategic Vision a year ago.

Certainly the task is not easy, because the OAS has not only pillars of work, but also principles on which it is based; and sometimes those principles are not easily reconciled, to be frank.

First, there is a principle proclaimed here, which is sovereignty. This is an organization of sovereign states, all equal, all with the same rights and the same right to participate in the OAS. The OAS belongs to no one, the OAS belongs to everyone, each of its member states has not only a voice, but the right to exercise it.

Second, it is an inclusive Organization, we want this OAS to be the Organization of the 35 independent states of the Americas, and we hope it will be soon. I think we have made progress in that since this Organization did away with the sanctions against Cuba in the General Assembly of 2009, and I think we will take a very important step when all the 35 Heads of State and Government are present at the Summit of Panama. And I sincerely hope that in the coming years we can also restore that inclusiveness completely to the Inter-American system.

Thirdly, and without repeating the pillars, there is one that is very decisive. This is a political Organization, and it is based on the principle of democracy, and not democracy as intrusion, because the Inter-American Democratic Charter is a document that all our states signed and to which they all committed. They all said that the people have a right to democracy and their states are obliged to ensure that right.

That implies, as a basic condition of peace and coexistence between us, a great effort, not so that we all think the same – democracy and politics exist precisely because not all humans think alike, otherwise they wouldn´t be necessary, it would be enough that one person told everyone else what to think - but so that we tolerate the way others think, and are willing to compare their ideas and pull from them a synthesis leading to a better future.

Therefore this OAS is sovereign, it is inclusive. But the OAS should also be profoundly democratic and allow here all states and all ideas to be expressed. Also civil society, also the other groups that attend the OAS, also people who have problems, and difficulties in human rights or other areas. This is not easy; often the principle of inclusiveness is not consistent with the principle of democracy. Often some think that asking questions about democracy means trampling on sovereignty, etc.

But knowing Luis Almagro I am sure he shares those great principles and I am sure he is the best person who could have been chosen to implement them and effectively reconcile them.

Congratulations Luis, and best wishes for a very important, meaningful and happy service to our Organization of American States.

Thank you.