In the midst of the Coronavirus crisis, the OAS held its elections for the period 2020-2025 in an act that was criticized given the current health emergency.
Luis Almagro was reelected as Secretary General of the OAS. / Photo: flickr.com/OEA -OAS
LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez
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Leer en español: Luis Almagro, reelegido en la OEA
Luis Almagro was re-elected last Friday, March 20, as OAS secretary general after an extraordinary meeting that tried to be postponed due to the Coronavirus. Nestor Méndez was reelected as undersecretary.
The General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) was in attendance for several days, as some members proposed to postpone it due to the Coronavirus, following the recommendations of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC's recommendations were to avoid any type of meetings of more than 50 people, to which President Donald Trump added that the limit should be 10.
On the contrary, most of its members were lobbying for it to proceed as planned to prevent the situation from escalating. Likewise, in the elections the decision would be made whether to continue with Luis Almagro as secretary or to go down a new path, so those who supported his re-election did not want the votes to “cool down” and could change the course of the General Secretariat.
The decision was finally to hold the extraordinary council where the new secretary general of the organization would be elected at its headquarters in Washington. The event, however, was announced to be behind closed doors to minimize the number of attendees. OAS spokesmen assured that there would be no media presence either inside the headquarters or after the exit, so they asked that reporters not be transferred to the place because the members would not speak to the press.
Even avoiding the extra staff and minimizing the entrance, the event had more than the 50 people recommended by the CDC. At least the 34 ambassadors of the member countries were present, but to this number should be added those in charge of the operation, advisers and security of the facility. However, the OAS previously announced that only 34 members would enter the voting room, following the entity's recommendations.
Luis Almagro has generated love and hatred in the OAS and in the international community. He has been recognized for his role against what he has called Latin American dictatorships such as Nicaragua and Venezuela. For the same reason, he has been criticized for politicizing the organization by accepting the presence of Juan Guaidó's envoys from Venezuela. It also played an important role in the OAS mission, which concluded that the Bolivian elections could have failed to comply with protocols to ensure transparency.
After being elected in 2015, Almagro had affirmed that he did not want to seek reelection, assuring that a break was needed in the power figures. However, with the support of the United States and Colombia and the growing crises in the Latin American countries that he has criticized, he decided in 2018 to try to be elected again.
Thank you @SecPompeo for your support & trust in the work we do at the @OAS_official. This victory is for all of us who believe in freedom & human dignity. I am also thankful to @WHAAsstSecty & Amb. Trujillo @USAmbOAS for being staunch supporters during the campaign. https://t.co/LtZcBQegVe— Luis Almagro (@Almagro_OEA2015) March 20, 2020
After a path both supported and criticized, Luis Almagro obtained 23 of the 34 votes in the extraordinary assembly, which meant his reelection until 2025. His only opponent was the Ecuadorian ex-chancellor, María Fernanda Espinosa.