Defending democracy by applying it: OAS annual report

“Peoples from the Americas have the right to democracy and their governments the obligation to promote and defend it” is mandated by the first article of the “constitutive treatise” of the Interamerican Democratic Charter. That same law, national and international in its scope, establishes the fundamental components of democracy which puts to rest any ambiguity or manipulation over what democracy is in the Americas.
Carlos Sánchez Berzaín.

“Peoples from the Americas have the right to democracy and their governments the obligation to promote and defend it” is mandated by the first article of the “constitutive treatise” of the Interamerican Democratic Charter. That same law, national and international in its scope, establishes the fundamental components of democracy which puts to rest any ambiguity or manipulation over what democracy is in the Americas. Within this concept; to defend democracy member States only have to abide by it through the institutionalization of an annual report by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States on the fundamental components of democracy in each member State.

The Organization of American States (OAS) created by the “Charter from Bogota” on 30 April of 1948, is an international institution of regional scope whose declaration proclaims that “it works to strengthen peace, security, and consolidate democracy, promoting human rights, backing social and economic development for the benefit of America’s sustainable growth”. It is a political institution because the representation of the countries or States is done by their governments who represent political positions that constitute majorities or minorities, make treaties, and may have disputes amongst the 35 member States.

In this context, following years of studies and negotiations, the Interamerican Democratic Charter was signed and approved on 11 September of 2001 in Lima, Peru
Laying out, at the outset, that the OAS Charter “recognizes that a representative democracy is indispensable for the region’s stability, peace and development”. The Democratic Charter has the same legal stature as the Charter that created the OAS, it is a fundamental constitutive treatise.

It was anticipated that the 21st century would be the century “of whole democracy in the Americas” because in 1999 there was only one dictatorship in the region, the one from Cuba, who was agonizing in its “special period” following the disappearance of the Soviet Union. The vision of “whole democracy in the region” was wrecked by the appearance of Hugo Chavez as president of Venezuela who reactivated the Castroist dictatorship by doling out money, oil, and finally the entire nation of Venezuela to Cuba.

Castroism began operating in the 21st century under Chavez’s leadership as Bolivarian populism, 21st Century Socialism, and expanded Cuba’s dictatorship by establishing Castrochavist dictatorships in Venezuela with Chavez and Maduro, Bolivia with Morales, Nicaragua with Ortega, and Ecuador with Correa. As a result of terrorist attacks on 11 September of 2001 the region was abandoned by United States’ foreign policy, the same day the Interamerican Democratic Charter was being signed.
These circumstances enabled Castrochavism to have a majority in and have control of the OAS that endured 10 years of betrayal to democracy and complicity in the growth of dictatorships under the secretariat of Insulza.

In 2015, Luis Almagro was elected as Secretary General of the OAS and in the midst of important political changes in the region, he issued -on 30 May of 2016- his “first report” on the “the Application of the Interamerican Democratic Charter for Venezuela” avowing the “alteration of the Constitutional order” and convening the Permanent Council. On 14 May of 2017, he issued his “second report” pointing out “the breaking down of the democratic order”. On 19 July of 2017 he issued his “third report” and on 25 September of 2017 his “fourth report” that identifies Venezuela’s regime as a dictatorship.

Almagro’s extraordinary and laudatory course of action represent the fulfillment of his duties perfectly applicable in the case of Venezuela but criticized in the case of Nicaragua and Bolivia’s dictatorships. Almagro’s course of action -accompanied by a very clear definition over “the leadership of Cuba’s dictatorship”- is a historical milestone that gives the Secretary General the merit for rescuing the existence of principles and legal guidelines of a mandatory nature regarding democracy at the OAS.

The recent 5 May forum “Defense of Democracy in the Americas” amongst its proposals requests that “as part of the institutions permanent system, and in adherence to the application of fundamental components of democracy contained in the Interamerican Democratic Charter, the OAS immediately implement an institution to analyze and issue an annual report on the “state of democracy” in each one of the member states” This is a report that each year would show how each government meets the five essential components of democracy.

It is about defending democracy by applying it. It would be extremely helpful to the nations under dictatorships such as; Nicaragua and Bolivia, as well as Argentina and Mexico.

Translated from Spanish by; Edgar L. Terrazas, member of the American Translators Association, ATA # 234680.

Published in Spanish Infobae.com Sunday May 30, 2021.

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