Kofi Annan: These are the lessons he left for Latin America

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In LatinAmerican Post we remember the former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, spokesman for democracy in Latin America, who died on August 18

Kofi Annan, seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, died on Saturday, August 18 in Bern, Switzerland. Annan held that  position of the United Nations for nine years, from 1997 to 2006. During this time, he stood out for the reforms he brought to the organization, as well as for his efforts to fight against HIV in Africa and in favor of democracy and human rights around the world.

Leer en español: Kofi Annan: las lecciones que dejó para América Latina

In 2001, Kofi Annan received the Nobel Peace Prize for "his work towards a more organized and peaceful world", year in which the award celebrated its 100th anniversary. Subsequent to his retirement from the United Nations, Annan created his own NGO under the name Kofi Annan Foundation, which focuses on the peaceful resolution of conflicts and the overcoming of obstacles to development through politics. At the news of his death, the leaders of Latin America expressed their condolences on their social networks.

Annan: "Latin America is a microcosm of the challenges, hopes and threats of the world"

The Ghanaian went to Latin America on several occasions. His priority for the region was always the promotion of democracy, since dictatorships, populisms and corruption were for him the biggest obstacle it faced.

"Latin America has a solid democratic tradition, but its benefits have not yet reached the poorest in the region," Annan said in 2004, during the speech that would open the "International Seminar on Democracy, Politics and the State" in Mexico City. "The power to vote has not yet produced stable employment, a full dining room, property rights, or, for many indigenous people, not even a real sense of participation in the political life of their country," he added.

For Annan, the real concern was that Latin America should become disenchanted with democracy when noting that this was not interested in satisfying the needs of the poorest. Only if the material and social interests of the people are met through democracy, the ghosts of dictatorships and populisms would dissipate, according to him.

Speaking with the leaders of Latin America in the city of Salamanca, Spain, in 2005, Annan also referred to the condition of the region as what he called a "microcosm of the challenges, hopes and threats of the world."

The then UN Secretary-General argued that Latin America was taking giant steps towards development, reducing the rates of infant mortality and inequality, but that in spite of that "we see the stubborn presence of inequality and exclusion through the economic, social and ethnic fields."

"I do not pretend for a second that there are easy solutions to your challenges," he told the Latin American presidents on this occasion. "But I do believe that the answers will be found by implementing more democracy, not less. Their democracies must become democracies of citizenship, governed by a rule of law that applies to all and that can respond to the needs of all its people, including its indigenous population. "

After the death of Annan, his insistence with an inclusive democracy, which pursues above all the satisfaction of the needs of citizens, must continue to be a priority for Latin American governments.


LatinAmerican Post | Pedro Bernal

Translated from "Kofi Annan: las lecciones que dejó para América Latina"