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OAS Political Missions Map

With the return of democracy to the region in the 80s and 90s, the OAS repositioned itself as the premier forum for multilateral dialogue and political consensus in the region. It helped diffuse more than a dozen attempts at altering the democratic order by invoking in the 1990s Resolution 1080, a mechanism designed to condemn and punish threats to democracy, and, as of 2001, by appealing to the Inter-American Democratic Charter, an OAS instrument which defines democracy and specifies how it should be defended when it is under threat. In all these cases, the OAS deployed good offices and facilitation missions to the affected countries and played a decisive role in resolving the complex political and institutional crises that had occurred.

Below you will find a description of these Missions.

Country Year Explanation
Haiti 1991 Haitian military forces ousted democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Peru 1992 President Alberto Fujimori illegally closed the Peruvian National Congress
Guatemala 1993 President Jorge Serrano suspended constitutional guarantees in a self-coup
Paraguay 1996 Army Commander General Lino Oviedo’s unwillingness to resign at President Juan Carlos Wasmosy’s request precipitated a constitutional crisis that threatened to interrupt Paraguay’s fragile democratic transition

Applications of the Inter-American Democratic Charter
Year Country Situation Application
2002 Venezuela Coup d’état against President Hugo Chávez Article 20
2003, 2005
and 2008
Bolivia Successive political crises and violent street protests General invocation
2004 Peru Confrontation between the State powers General invocation
2004 and 2005 Nicaragua Confrontation between President Enrique Bolaños and the Parliament Article 18
2005 Ecuador President Lúcio Gutiérrez removed the Supreme Court magistrates and unconstitutionally appointed new members Article 18
2009 Honduras Coup d’état against President Manuel Zelaya. Honduras is suspended from the OAS Article 20 and 21
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Special Mission to Nicaragua (2005)

The OAS supported the Government of Nicaragua and the various political and social actors to facilitate a dialogue between the Government and the main Nicaraguan parties. These accomplishments took place in a political crisis that jeopardized the governability of the country. The Framework Law, which was a result of the negotiations between the different actors, incorporated the agreements reached and succeeded in institutionalizing the dialogue and creating a roundtable with the presence of the Catholic Church and the OAS as Guarantors, thus facilitating the legislative task.

Special Mission to Ecuador (2005)

In Ecuador, the Secretary General established a Special Mission to support the selection process of the Supreme Court members during the months from July to November. The Organization helped the country during the difficult process of restoring the Supreme Court after a long political and institutional crisis, which sparked the demise of President Lucio Gutierrez and the assent to power of President Alfredo Palacio.

Since the country had been without a Supreme Court for over a year, when the Special Mission arrived in Ecuador, their priority to restore confidence in the country. This was achieved through a media campaign. The work done in restructuring governmental institutions, was possible thanks to the coordinated actions of the OAS, the United Nations and the Andean Community of Nations, as well as the national agencies and civil society.

Special Mission to Ecuador (2010)

On September 30, 2010, following a police uprising and a subsequent attempt at a coup d’Etat in Ecuador, the OAS Permanent Council convened in an emergency session and adopted a resolution to repudiate the actions and express its firm support for the constitutional government of President Rafael Correa. The Secretary General of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza, immediately traveled to Ecuador to support President Correa and inform him about the Organization’s determination to demand the observation of the principles and norms enshrined in the Democratic Charter.

Special Mission to Bolivia (2005)

In the case of Bolivia, the OAS provided their services to the electoral process, creating a Special Mission to support presidential, legislative, and local elections, elections of a constituting assembly, and an autonomous referendum. The participation of the OAS as observer during the tense election period, helped guarantee transparency of the elections and thus, engendered more confidence in the authorities and candidates.

Haiti – The Special Mission for Strengthening Democracy in Haiti (2002-2006)

The OAS has continuously supported Haiti in its efforts to achieve a full-fledged and stable democracy, and durable peace. Following the coup d’état of 1991, when the Haitian military ousted democratically elected President Aristide, a joint OAS-UN Mission - the International Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICIVIH) - was established in February 1993, at the request of the legitimate Government, to monitor the observance of human rights in Haiti. After the return to constitutional order, the Mission’s mandate was expanded to include the promotion of human rights and institution building. MICIVIH was unique in that it was the first joint, fully integrated field-mission between the OAS and the UN, with its director and deputy director jointly designated by both organizations and equal number of staff members provided by each organization. On December 17, 2001, an attempt of coup d’état triggered a deep political crisis marked by violence, electoral difficulties, serious breaches of the rule of law, and a lack of agreement among the domestic political actors. In 2002 the OAS deployed a Special Mission for the Strengthening of Democracy in Haiti, with the mandate to support the government and people of Haiti in strengthening the country’s democratic institutions, specifically in the areas of security, justice, human rights, democratic development, governance and institutional development, as well as to conduct an independent investigation into the violent events of December 17, 2001. In 2007 the activities of the Special Mission were incorporated into the OAS Country Office.

Special Mission to Haiti (2005)

A year later, In Haiti, national elections were finally held after many delays and challenges. In light of the events of 2004, which saw the ousting of former President Aristide, it is important to underscore that the Haitian electoral process should be seen as a vital step in the democratization of the country. The OAS program had to overcome many obstacles such as the high degree of political polarization, the lack of security in many areas of the country, and the limited infrastructure. The success achieved was due not only to the technical ability of the OAS officers, but rather, to more than seventeen years of acquired knowledge, experience and commitment in Haiti, as well as to the excellent coordination and cooperation among the national and international actors.

Good Offices Mission in Honduras (2009 – 2011)

On June 2009, a coup d'état was staged against the constitutionally established Government of Honduras, and President José Manuel Zelaya was arbitrarily detained and forcibly sent into exile. The OAS Permanent Council vehemently condemned the events which produced an unconstitutional alteration of the democratic order and convened a special session of the OAS General Assembly. The General Assembly reiterated the Permanent Councils condemnation and demand the immediate, safe, and unconditional return of President Zelaya to his constitutional functions . Before the refusal of the de facto regime to comply with the provisions adopted by the Special General Assembly at its first plenary session, on July 4 this organ resolved to suspend Honduras from the exercise of its right to participate in the Organization of American States, in accordance with Article 21 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. The General Assembly also instructed the Secretary General to step up all diplomatic initiatives and to promote other initiatives for the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in the country. Pursuant to this mandate, several diplomatic initiatives were undertaken including the support to the actions of the then President of Costa Rica, Óscar Arias, two Missions of Foreign Ministers, the mediation of the Guaymuras Dialogue and the signing of the Tegucigalpa/San José Agreement. In June 2010, the OAS General Assembly instructed the Secretary General to form a High-Level Commission to assess the evolution of the political situation in Honduras. The Commission presented its report to the General Assembly on July 29. Among its conclusions and recommendations, the report underscored the desirability of resolving the legal situation of former President Zelaya in order to enable his return to Honduras in full enjoyment of his constitutional rights; and the need for concrete actions in compliance with the recommendations of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission; and commended the Government of Honduras for the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Commission’s recommendations outlined the path for an eventual reincorporation of Honduras in the OAS. On May 2011, after a complicated legal process, the Honduran Supreme Court annulled the pending proceedings against former President Zelaya, thus clearing the path for his return to Honduras and, consequently, the return of Honduras to the OAS. The diplomatic efforts of the Governments of Colombia and Venezuela, under the framework of the Cartagena Agreement, contributed decisively to this process. On June 11, 2011, at the Special Session of the General Assembly, the suspension of Honduras was revoked, in accordance with Article 22 on the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

Facilitation Mission to Venezuela (2002 – 2004)

In April 2002, the OAS Secretary General led a mission to Venezuela to investigate the alteration of the constitutional order and acts of violence which resulted in the loss of human lives. In a climate of confrontation and extreme political polarization, the OAS, together with the Carter Center and the United Nations Development Program, facilitated a national dialogue to promote a peaceful resolution to the political crisis. The negotiations between the Government and the opposition groups culminated in August 2003 with the signing of the “Agreement of the Forum for Negotiation and Agreement” which proposed a constitutional solution through an electoral process. The OAS offered its technical assistance and in 2004 sent an Electoral Observation Mission for the Presidential Revocatory Referendum, which took place in a peaceful and orderly manner.

OAS Mission to Peru (1992)

On April 5th 1992, the Peruvian Government dissolved and shut down the Congress and assumed full legislative powers and “reorganized” the Judicial branch of the Government. One week later, the Foreign Ministers met and adopted Resolution 1, “Support for the Restoration of Democracy in Peru.” The OAS condemned the action and sent a mission headed by the Foreign Minister of Uruguay, Héctor Gross Espiel and the OAS Secretary General, Joao Clemente Baena Soares, in order to promote dialogue between Government authorities and opposition groups. After three visits to the Country, it was agreed that elections would be held to establish a Constituent Assembly. The elections took place and were monitored by an OAS electoral observation mission.

OAS Mission to Guatemala (1993)

President Jorge Serrano Elías attempted a self-coup on 25 May 1993, and illegally suspended the constitution, dissolved Congress and the Supreme Court, imposed censorship and tried to restrict civil freedoms. He also called on the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to convoke elections for a National Constituent Assembly in 60 days. In response, the Permanent Council asked the Secretary General to head a “fact-finding Mission” to Guatemala. The Mission met with the affected groups, political party leaders, the armed forces, and key representatives of the Guatemalan society. After considerable pressure from the OAS, the international community, popular resistance and the institutions that he had tried to dissolve, Serrano resigned and fled the country

OAS Mission to Nicaragua – 2004

In October 2004, the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic of Nicaragua announced it would suspend President Enrique Bolaños’ salary and seek his impeachment, following his refusal to testify on the investigation on the financing of his electoral campaign. In response to a formal request by the executive branch of Nicaragua and the other members of the Central American Integration System (SICA), the Permanent Council of the OAS met in a special session and agreed to send a high-level delegation to Nicaragua to follow the political developments in the country. Led by Ambassador Aristides Royo, then Chairman of the Permanent Council and Permanent Representative of Panama to the OAS, and Ambassador Luigi Einaudi, Acting Secretary General of the OAS, the mission travelled immediately to Managua, where it met with President Bolaños, the opposition leaders, the Supreme Court, the National Assembly and the Office of the Comptroller General, among other sectors of the society. A national dialogue began in January 2005, culminating with the announcement by opposition leader Daniel Ortega that his party would not support the removal of the President, thus putting an end to the impeachment process.

OAS Mission to Haiti (1991)

When President Aristide was overthrown in a coup d'état on September 29, 1991, the Foreign Ministers of the OAS Member States condemned the act, refused to recognize the de facto government, recommended the suspension of trade and financial relations with the military regime in power, suspended all military and financial aid, and sent a Mission headed by the Secretary General to express to the members of the new Government the Organization’s repudiation of the coup and of all acts committed against the constitutionally elected Government.

Good Offices Mission to Bolivia (2008)

After the new Bolivian Government took office in January 2006, the country faced two major challenges: the drafting of the new Constitution and the demands of some regions for greater autonomy from the central government. These two processes created opposing and at times incompatible views which over time contributed to an erosion of state institutions. By September 2008, this institutional crisis worsened and violence broke out in many parts of the country.

At the Government’s request, the OAS, through the Secretary General or his Personal Representative, was present throughout the negotiation process to solve the conflict between the government and the regional opposition. Following a series of ongoing good offices missions to Bolivia, pursuant to Permanent Council Resolution 935, an agreement between the government and the opposition was finally reached in October 2008.

OAS Mission to Paraguay (1996)

In April 1996, President Juan Carlos Wasmosy asked the Chief of the Army, Lino Oviedo, to step down from his position but he refused the order and threatened a coup d’etat. The OAS Secretary General, together with the Deputy Foreign Minister of Bolivia (Bolivia held the pro-tempore Secretariat of the Rio Group), traveled to Asuncion to condemn the act on behalf of the organizations they represented and to reiterate their support to the Paraguayan democracy. The crisis was overcome when General Oviedo formally resigned.

Special Mission to Guatemala by the Secretary General (2009)

Guatemala’s political stability was threatened after the assassination of the lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg, on May 10th 2009. Rosenberg recorded a video before he died, in which he denounced then President Álvaro Colom, his then wife Sandra Torres and five more people of being responsible for his death. President Colom denied all accusations and asked the Public Ministry to do an extensive investigation into the case in collaboration with the International Committee Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). Both retractors and supporters of the Government protested following this event, either asking for the President’s resignation or showing their support for him and the first Lady. Guatemala’s foreign Minister at the time, Haroldo Rodas, in a panel before the Permanent Council of the OAS, accused organized crime of committing the murder in an attempt to destabilize the country. In response to an invitation from the Guatemalan Government, the Secretary General of the OAS and the Secretary for Political Affairs travelled to Guatemala in order to show support to President Colom during the resolution of the political crisis triggered by the assassination of Rosenberg. During the visit the OAS representatives met with the main political actors in order to convey their support of the democratic institutions of Guatemala. The CICIG, together with the Public Ministry of Guatemala, took over the investigation of the murder of the lawyer Rosenberg, and on January 2010 exculpated President Colom and his wife of all responsibility. Even though the OAS did not take part in the investigations, it did follow the whole process closely. In June 2010, the General Assembly adopted a resolution reiterating its support for the Government and people of Guatemala in their efforts to strengthen the rule of law and preserve the democratic institutional system.

OAS Special Political Accompaniment Mission to Paraguay (2012 - 2013)

In 2012, ten months before a scheduled general election, Paraguay’s Senate voted to oust the democratically elected President Fernando Lugo Méndez from power, catapulting the country into the worst political and institutional crisis of the last decade. In what was widely considered a “coup d’état”, the Senate launched an impeachment process on charges of “negligent performance”, stemming from controversy over the handling of the June 15th events in Curuguaty, where violence broke out after a forced eviction of peasants from contested lands, which resulted in the death of 11 peasants and 6 police officers. In response to the political crisis, on July 1st 2012, the OAS Secretary General traveled to Paraguay as the head of a Special Mission, accompanied by OAS Permanent Representatives from Canada, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, and the United States, to gather first-hand information on the situation. On July 10th 2012, the Secretary General presented the report of his exploratory visit to the Permanent Council, which recommended "the immediate deployment of a mission to accompany the process leading to the elections of April 2013, and to facilitate political dialogue and report periodically to the Permanent Council." The proposal was approved by the Permanent Council, and the Special Political Accompaniment Mission was formally established. Given its mandate to promote and consolidate representative democracy in the hemisphere, OAS Officials visited Paraguay six more times in order to promote a national democratic dialogue by bringing political actors and civil society together with the intention of reaching consensus on key issues. For the General Election in April 2013, the OAS deployed an Electoral Observation Mission. On June 30th 2013, during the opening of the new session of the Paraguayan Congress, the newly elected Paraguayan president, Horacio Cartes, along with representatives of other major political parties in Paraguay, signed a political agreement entitled "Agreement for Paraguay", effectively concluding the crisis.

Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH) (2015 – present)

In response to a request made by the Government of Honduras after several conversations with representatives of the Secretary General, the OAS was asked to prepare a long term mission to improve the quality of services provided by the justice system in Honduras, through active cooperation, technical advice, supervision and oversight of the State institutions responsible for preventing, investigating, and punishing acts of corruption. Corruption and its perception, despite several efforts made by Honduran institutions to stop it, is still one of the main problems this country faces, consistently so, according to public opinion. The MACCIH will perform its work under the following principles: independence, autonomy, professionalism, neutrality, and transparency. On January 19th 2016, the Agreement to install MACCIH in Honduras was signed at OAS headquarters by the President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, and the Secretary General of the OAS.