Sunday, February 28, 2010

Feb 28/10 | Alvaro Uribe stopped on his tracks: A win-win solution in Colombia

Question: And what happened with the Court?
Uribe: It told me to f*** off 

Both Colombia and Alvaro Uribe "won" as a result of the well reasoned Constitutional Court decision. I have been quite critical of  Mr. Uribe's push to run a third time. One of the rules of democracy is the need for an orderly - and timely - succession of elected leadership. If a president has done a good job there is no reason to believe his legacy will be trampled on by the electorate and his successors. What did Mr. Uribe fear? His obstinacy was the real risk for a country that has always relied on strong legal and institutional framework to combat all sorts of challenges. PMB

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Feb 27/10 | Micro-entrevista con el SG OEA Insulza sobre su slencio con respecto a informe de la CIDH sobre Venezuela

Apoyo de Chávez a los terroristas de las FARC nunca han sido condenados por Insulza
¿Muy sordo o demasiado callado? Lea aqui su explicación...

El miércoles La Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH)publicó un informe titulado “Democracia y Derechos Humanos en Venezuela” que concluye que ambos principios (y sus practicas conexas) están profundamente amenazados por el gobierno de Hugo Chávez. Ante la extensa cobertura que recibió este informe mucha gente se pregunta porque el Secretario General de la OEA,  José Miguel Insulza, no ha emitido una opinión al respecto mas allá de un comunicado formalista explicando que es la CIDH. Luego de ese comunicado escueto, el Presidente Chávez se sumo al coro de sus sicofantes en el ataque frontal a la CIDH – que irónicamente es presidida por una venezolana de corte chavista - y su secretario ejecutivo Santiago Canton. 

Para buscar una respuesta contacte al SG Insulza y le hice una pregunta que me respondió hoy de forma diligente a pesar de la tragedia que vive Chile. 

PMB: ¿Por que el Secretario General Insulza no ha dado su opinión acerca del Informe sobre Venezuela entregado por la CIDH?
SG OEA JMIEso jamás ha ocurrido. Ni el Secretario General ni el Consejo Permanente han entregado nunca una opinión acerca de los contenidos de un dictamen ni de un informe de la CIDH. Más de una vez algún país ha llevado un caso o Informe al Consejo, para quejarse del trato recibido, pero nunca se ha emitido una conclusión ni una opinión.

La razón es simple: SG, Consejo Permanente y CIDH son órganos creados por la Carta para funciones distintas. La CIDH es el órgano competente de la OEA para pronunciarse sobre materias relativas a derechos humanos. Agregar a sus pronunciamientos comentarios favorables o negativos contradice el carácter autónomo de la CIDH y, a la larga, restaría valor a sus opiniones.

El SG no conoce, ni debería conocer, de manera previa, los informes que emitirá la CIDH. Tanto el SG como la CIDH son elegidos por la Asamblea General y no corresponde que el SG reafirme o cuestione sus opiniones. La CIDH es totalmente autónoma y esa autonomía es la que le ha permitido tener la eficacia y la respetabilidad que tienen sus decisiones e informes.

Lo que si corresponde al SG es defender a la CIDH como el órgano que los países miembros han creado y eligen para formular veredictos en materia de derechos humanos. Por esa razón he pedido que la CIDH sea recibida por todos los países que quiera visitar y he criticado cualquier ataque a la CIDH que considere impropio. 

Fin de la micro entrevista 

Tengo entendido que en las próximas horas habrá un comunicado del SG Insulza respecto a lo que toca en el último párrafo y a la luz de la escatológica arremetida del Teniente Coronel Chávez Frías la CIDH y el Sr. Canton. 

Me gustaría recibir sus comentarios respecto a la posición institucional del Sr. Insulza con la seguridad de que se las haré llegar de forma abierta (o anónima si es que así lo prefieren). Ya el sabe mi opinión (es critica) pero me la reservo por ahora en la espera de las de ustedes.  

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Feb 25/10 | The English Version of Arias' Speech in Cancun

Translation from the original in Spanish

Speech delivered by President Oscar Arias Sanchez of Costa Rica at the Cancun Summit, February 23, 2010

Excellencies, Heads of State and Government from  Latin America and the Caribbean, friends:

This is my last appearance at an international summit. I do not expect to say goodbye to Latin America nor to the Caribbean. I keep the dreams of this region bound to the center of my life. But I do have to say farewell to all of you, my colleagues, brothers and sisters, fellow travelers. I must say goodbye to this audience that summarizes, in a cluster of voices, the hopes of 600 million people, nearly a tenth of humanity. It is on behalf of that Latin American lineage that I want to share with you some thoughts. It is on behalf of the generation that dwells beyond these doors, and demands from us the boldness to build a more dignified place under the sun.

Despite the speeches and the applause, the truth of the matter is our region has made little progress in recent decades. In certain areas, it has stepped back with resolve. Many want to climb aboard a rusted out railroad car headed toward the past, to the ideological trenches that divided the world during the Cold War. Latin America runs the risk of adding to its amazing collection of lost generations. It runs the risk of wasting, once again, its opportunity on this Earth. It is up to us, and those who come after us, to prevent that from happening. It is up to us to honor the debt we owe to democracy, to development and to peace for our peoples, a debt which matured centuries ago.

Honoring the debt to democracy means more than enacting political constitutions, signing democratic charters or celebrating periodic elections. It means building a reliable set of institutions, beyond the anemic structures that currently sustain our state apparatuses. It means guaranteeing the supremacy of the law and the effectiveness of the Rule of Law, which some insist on pole vaulting.

It means strengthening the system of checks and balances, deeply threatened by the presence of tentacular governments who have erased the boundaries between ruler, party and State. It means ensuring the enjoyment of a solid core of fundamental rights and guarantees, chronically impinged upon in much of the Latin American region. And it means, above all, the use of political power for achieving a greater human development, the improvement of our people’s living conditions and the expansion of our citizens’ freedoms.

One must not confuse the democratic origin of a régime with the democratic operation of the State. There are governments in our region that avail themselves of election results so as to justify their desire to restrict individual freedoms and persecute their opponents. They make use of a democratic mechanism in order to subvert the foundations of democracy. For a true democrat, if he has no opposition, then he must create one. He shows his success in the fruits of his labor, but not in the product of his retaliations. He demonstrates his power by opening hospitals, roads and universities and not by curtailing freedom of opinion and expression. A true democrat demonstrates his power by fighting poverty, ignorance and rampant crime, and not foreign empires and imaginary conspiracies. This region, tired of hollow promises and empty words, needs a legion of increasingly tolerant statesmen and not a legion of increasingly authoritarian rulers. It is easy to defend the rights of those who think like we do. Defending the rights of those who think differently: that is the challenge for the true democrat. Let us hope that our peoples have the wisdom to elect rulers for whom the democratic shirt is not too large a fit.

And may they also resist the temptation of those who promise rose gardens behind the participatory democracy that can be a dangerous weapon in the hands of populism and demagoguery. Latin America's problems are not solved by replacing a dysfunctional representative democracy with a chaotic participatory democracy.

Paraphrasing Octavio Paz, I dare say that democracy in our region does not need to take on wings; what it needs is to take root.  Before selling tickets to paradise, let us worry first about consolidating our feeble institutions, safeguarding the fundamental guarantees, ensuring equal opportunities for our citizens, increasing the transparency of our governments, and above all, improving the effectiveness of our bureaucracies . My experience as a head of state has shown me that what we have are sclerotic and hypertrophied States, unable to meet the needs of our people and to provide the benefits that democracy is obliged to deliver.

This has serious consequences for our capacity to honor the second debt that I wanted to mention to you, the debt owed to development. A debt which, I repeat, we must honor. Neither Spanish colonialism, nor the lack of natural resources, nor the hegemony of the United States, nor any other theory resulting from the eternal victimization of Latin America, explains the fact that we refuse to increase our spending on innovation, to tax the rich, to graduate professionals in engineering and the hard sciences, to promote competition, to build infrastructure or to provide legal certainty to businesses. It is time for each mast to endure the sails of its own own progress.

What right does Latin America have to complain about the inequalities that divide its peoples, if it collects almost half of its fiscal revenues in indirect taxes, and the tax burden in some nations in the region hardly reaches 10% of the Gross Domestic Product? What right does Latin America have to complain about its underdevelopment, if it is the one that has demonstrated a proverbial resistance to change every time there is talk of innovation and adaptation to new circumstances? What right does Latin America have to complain about the lack of quality jobs, when it is the one that allows the average schooling to be around 8 years? And above all, what right does  Latin America have to complain about its poverty if it spends, each year, nearly 60 billion dollars in weapons and soldiers?

The debt to peace is the most shameful of all, because it demonstrates the amnesia of a region that feeds the return of an arms race, in many cases aimed at fighting ghosts and mirages. It also shows the complete inability to set priorities in Latin America, a practice that prevents the realization of a true agenda for development. There are countries suffering internal conflicts who may justify an increase in national defense expenditures. But in the vast majority of our nations, increased military spending is inexcusable in view of the needs of a people whose real enemies are hunger, disease, illiteracy, inequality, crime and environmental degradation. It is regrettable that there are gathered at this Summit of Unity countries that are arming against each other. It is also regrettable that one finds absent from this Summit of Unity the Government of Honduras, whose people are victims of militarism and do not deserve punishment, but rather help instead.

If I had been told twenty years ago that in the year 2010 I would still be condemning the increase in military spending in Latin America, I probably would have been surprised.

How, after having seen the mangled bodies of young people and children wounded in war, could this region long for a return to arms? How could one allow the horrific parade of rockets, missiles and guns that passes by in view of rickety school desks, empty lunch boxes and clinics without medicines? Some might say that I was mistaken to trust in a peaceful future. I think not. Hope is never a mistake, no matter how many times it is short-changed.

I still hope for a new day for Latin America and the Caribbean. I hope for a future of greatness for our peoples. The day will come when democracy, development and peace will fill the saddlebags of the region. The day will come when the recount of the lost generations will cease. It may be tomorrow, if we dare to make it so. It may be next year, in the next decade or in the next century. As for me, I will keep fighting. Regardless of the shadows, I will continue to wait for the light at the end of the rainbow. I will continue to fight until such day arrives.

Dear friends. It has been a high honor and a true privilege to partake in this forum with you, just as it has been at many others. This is my last summit and in saying goodbye I want all of you to know that Óscar Arias will always be your true friend.

Thank you very much.

Óscar Arias Sánchez

Note: non-official translation by MO&WK

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Feb 25/10 | Arias, un salvavidas en el estercolero de Cancún

"Un verdadero demócrata, si no tiene oposición, debe crearla."

| De la Cumbre de Cancún lo que el mundo se enteró fue de las malcriadeces de los Presidentes Chávez y Uribe; lo que pocos han oído o leído es este magnifico discurso de Óscar Arias Sánchez, Presidente de Costa Rica. Es un discurso magistral que no merece haber sido eclipsado por insultos y malacrianzas, y mucho menos por inventos folclóricos sobre la necesidad de crear nuevos organismos - o mecanismos - para distraer aun mas a los malos gobernantes de sus verdaderas ocupaciones. PMB

Discurso de Óscar Arias Sánchez, Presidente de Costa Rica

23 de febrero de 2010 | Cancún, México |Cumbre de la Unidad de América Latina y el Caribe.

"Que cada palo aguante su vela" Jefes de Estado y de Gobierno de América Latina y el Caribe, amigas y amigos:

Ésta es mi última participación en una cumbre internacional. No pretendo despedirme de América Latina ni del Caribe. Los sueños de esta región los llevo atados al centro de mi vida. Pero sí debo despedirme de ustedes, colegas, hermanos, compañeros de viaje. Debo despedirme de este auditorio que resume, en un racimo de voces, las esperanzas de 600 millones de personas, casi una décima parte de la humanidad. Es en nombre de esa estirpe latinoamericana que quiero compartir con ustedes algunas reflexiones. Es en nombre de la prosapia que habita más allá de estas puertas, y que exige de nosotros la osadía de construir un lugar más digno bajo el sol.

A pesar de los discursos y de los aplausos, lo cierto es que nuestra región ha avanzado poco en las últimas décadas. En ciertas áreas, ha caminado resueltamente hacia atrás. Muchos quieren abordar un oxidado vagón al pasado, a las trincheras ideológicas que dividieron al mundo durante la Guerra Fría. América Latina corre el riesgo de aumentar su insólita colección de generaciones perdidas. Corre el riesgo de desperdiciar, una vez más, su oportunidad sobre la Tierra. Nos corresponde a nosotros, y a quienes vengan después, evitar que eso suceda. Nos corresponde honrar la deuda con la democracia, con el desarrollo y con la paz de nuestros pueblos, una deuda cuyo plazo venció hace siglos.

Honrar la deuda con la democracia quiere decir mucho más que promulgar constituciones políticas, firmar cartas democráticas o celebrar elecciones periódicas. Quiere decir construir una institucionalidad confiable, más allá de las anémicas estructuras que actualmente sostienen nuestros aparatos estatales. Quiere decir garantizar la supremacía de la ley y la vigencia del Estado de Derecho, que algunos insisten en saltar con garrocha.

Quiere decir fortalecer el sistema de pesos y contrapesos, profundamente amenazado por la presencia de gobiernos tentaculares, que han borrado las fronteras entre gobernante, partido y Estado. Quiere decir asegurar el disfrute de un núcleo duro de derechos y garantías fundamentales, crónicamente vulnerados en buena parte de la región latinoamericana. Y quiere decir, antes que nada, la utilización del poder político para lograr un mayor desarrollo humano, el mejoramiento de las condiciones de vida de nuestros habitantes y la expansión de las libertades de nuestros ciudadanos.

No se debe confundir el origen democrático de un régimen con el funcionamiento democrático del Estado. Hay en nuestra región gobiernos que se valen de los resultados electorales para justificar su deseo de restringir libertades individuales y perseguir a sus adversarios. Se valen de un mecanismo democrático, para subvertir las bases de la democracia. Un verdadero demócrata, si no tiene oposición, debe crearla. Demuestra su éxito en los frutos de su trabajo, y no en el producto de sus represalias. Demuestra su poder abriendo hospitales, caminos y universidades, y no coartando la libertad de opinión y expresión. Un verdadero demócrata demuestra su energía combatiendo la pobreza, la ignorancia y la inseguridad ciudadana y no imperios extranjeros y conspiraciones imaginarias. Esta región, cansada de promesas huecas y palabras vacías, necesita una legión de estadistas cada vez más tolerantes, y no una legión de gobernantes cada vez más autoritarios. Es muy fácil defender los derechos de quienes piensan igual que nosotros. Defender los derechos de quienes piensan distinto, ése es el reto del verdadero demócrata. Ojalá nuestros pueblos tengan la sabiduría para elegir gobernantes a quienes no les quede grande la camisa democrática.

Y ojalá también sepan resistir la tentación de quienes les prometen vergeles detrás de la democracia participativa, que puede ser un arma peligrosa en manos del populismo y la demagogia. Los problemas de Latinoamérica no se solucionan con sustituir una democracia representativa disfuncional, por una democracia participativa caótica.

Parafraseando a Octavio Paz, me atrevo a decir que en nuestra región la democracia no necesita echar alas, lo que necesita es echar raíces. Antes de vender tiquetes al paraíso, preocupémonos primero por consolidar nuestras endebles instituciones, por resguardar las garantías fundamentales, por asegurar la igualdad de oportunidades para nuestros ciudadanos, por aumentar la transparencia de nuestros gobiernos, y sobre todo, por mejorar la efectividad de nuestras burocracias. Mi experiencia como gobernante me ha comprobado que los nuestros son Estados escleróticos e hipertrofiados, incapaces de satisfacer las necesidades de nuestros pueblos y de brindar los frutos que la democracia está obligada a entregar.

Esto tiene serias consecuencias sobre nuestra capacidad de honrar la segunda deuda que he querido mencionarles, la deuda con el desarrollo. Una deuda que, repito, tenemos que honrar nosotros. Ni el colonialismo español, ni la falta de recursos naturales, ni la hegemonía de Estados Unidos, ni ninguna otra teoría producto de la victimización eterna de América Latina, explican el hecho de que nos rehusemos a aumentar nuestro gasto en innovación, a cobrarle impuestos a los ricos, a graduar profesionales en ingenierías y ciencias exactas, a promover la competencia, a construir infraestructura o a brindar seguridad jurídica a las empresas. Es hora de que cada palo aguante la vela de su propio progreso.

¿Con qué derecho se queja América Latina de las desigualdades que dividen a sus pueblos, si cobra casi la mitad de sus tributos en impuestos indirectos, y la carga fiscal de algunas naciones en la región apenas alcanza el 10% del Producto Interno Bruto? ¿Con qué derecho se queja América Latina de su subdesarrollo, si es ella la que demuestra una proverbial resistencia al cambio cada vez que se habla de innovación y de adaptación a nuevas circunstancias? ¿Con qué derecho se queja América Latina de la falta de empleos de calidad, si es ella la que permite que la escolaridad promedio sea de alrededor de 8 años? Y sobre todo, ¿con qué derecho se queja América Latina de su pobreza si gasta, al año, casi 60.000 millones de dólares en armas y soldados?

La deuda con la paz es la más vergonzosa, porque demuestra la amnesia de una región que alimenta el retorno de una carrera armamentista, dirigida en muchos casos a combatir fantasmas y espejismos. Demuestra, además, la total incapacidad para establecer prioridades en América Latina, una práctica que impide la concreción de una verdadera agenda para el desarrollo. Hay países que sufren conflictos internos, que pueden justificar un aumento en sus gastos de defensa nacional. Pero en la gran mayoría de nuestras naciones, un mayor gasto militar es inexcusable ante las necesidades de pueblos cuyos verdaderos enemigos son el hambre, la enfermedad, el analfabetismo, la desigualdad, la criminalidad y la degradación del medio ambiente. Es lamentable que en esta Cumbre de la Unidad se reúnan países que se arman los unos contra los otros. Y es también lamentable que en esta Cumbre de la Unidad se encuentre ausente el Gobierno de Honduras, cuyo pueblo es víctima del militarismo y no merece castigo, sino auxilio.

Si hace veinte años me hubieran dicho que en el 2010 estaría todavía condenando el aumento del gasto militar en América Latina, probablemente me habría sorprendido.

¿Cómo, después de haber visto los cuerpos destrozados de jóvenes y niños heridos en la guerra, podía esta región anhelar un retorno a las armas? ¿Cómo habría de permitir el dantesco desfile de cohetes, misiles y rifles que pasa frente a pupitres desvencijados, loncheras vacías y clínicas sin medicinas? Algunos dirán que me equivoqué al confiar en un futuro de paz. No lo creo. La esperanza nunca es un error, no importa cuántas veces sea defraudada.

Yo aún espero un nuevo día para América Latina y el Caribe. Espero un futuro de grandeza para nuestros pueblos. Llegará el día en que la democracia, el desarrollo y la paz llenarán las alforjas de la región. Llegará el día en que cesará el recuento de las generaciones perdidas. Puede ser mañana, si nos atrevemos a hacerlo. Puede ser el próximo año, la próxima década o el próximo siglo. Por mi parte, yo seguiré luchando. Sin importar las sombras, seguiré esperando la luz al final del arco iris. Seguiré luchando hasta el día que llegue.

Queridos amigos y amigas. Compartir con ustedes este foro, al igual que muchos otros más, ha sido para mí sumamente honroso y un verdadero privilegio. Esta es mi última cumbre y al decirles adiós, quiero que sepan que en Óscar Arias tendrán siempre a un amigo de verdad.

Muchas gracias.

Óscar Arias Sánchez

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Feb 22/10 | Carnival is over or is it not?

Chávez went to Rio Group Summit in Cancun with his military costume: nobody was kind enough to tell him Carnival ends on Ash Wednesday> the poor guy is really frustrated he only reached the rank of coupster.

This Fidel Wannabe fits less and less in such group picture...PS: Will the lady in the front row en up in a black and white stripped jumpsuit?

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Feb 13/10 | On The Treasonous Plan of a Puppet and his Cuban Puppeteers

Will the Venezuelan Armed Forces march to this mismatch?

This well documented article from the Economist requires little additional commentary. Suffice to say that Cuba is not the only rogue state, or foreign criminal group, trying to meddle in what with little doubt will be the violent unravelling of a very corrupt and ruinous "revolution". PMB

The Economist |"Venecuba", a single nation | Hugo Chávez, as he drafts in ever more Cuban aides to shore up his regime, is fulfilling a longstanding dream of Fidel Castro’s

Feb 11th 2010 | CARACAS | From The Economist print edition

IN A small fishing village on the Caribbean coast of Venezuela stands a plinth. Unveiled by government officials in 2006, it pays homage to the Cuban guerrillas sent by Fidel Castro in the 1960s to help subvert Venezuela’s then recently restored democracy. Almost entirely bereft of popular support, the guerrilla campaign flopped. But four decades later, and after a decade of rule by Hugo Chávez, Cuba’s communist regime seems finally to have achieved its goal of invading oil-rich Venezuela—this time without firing a shot.

Earlier this month Ramiro Valdés, a veteran revolutionary who ranks number three in Cuba’s ruling hierarchy and was twice its interior minister, arrived in Caracas, apparently for a long stay. Officially, Mr Valdés has come to head a commission set up by Mr Chávez to resolve Venezuela’s acute electricity shortage. But he lacks expertise in this field, and Cuba is famous for 12-hour blackouts. Some members of Venezuela’s opposition reckon that Mr Valdés, whose responsibilities at home include policing Cubans’ access to the internet, has come to help Mr Chávez step up repression ahead of a legislative election in September. Others believe he was sent to assess the gravity of the situation facing the Castro brothers’ most important ally (Cuba depends on Mr Chávez for subsidised oil). He has been seen in meetings with Venezuelan military commanders.

Although by far the most senior, Mr Valdés is only one among many Cubans who have been deployed by Mr Chávez under bilateral agreements that took shape in 2003. As well as thousands of doctors staffing a community-health programme, they include people who are helping to run Venezuela’s ports, telecommunications, police training, the issuing of identity documents and the business registry.

In 2005 Venezuela’s government gave Cuba a contract to modernise its identity-card system. Since then, Cuban officials have been spotted in agencies such as immigration and passport control. A group of Cubans who recently fled Venezuela told a newspaper in Miami that they had bribed a Cuban official working in passport control at Caracas airport.

In some ministries, such as health and agriculture, Cuban advisers appear to wield more power than Venezuelan officials. The health ministry is often unable to provide statistics—on primary health-care or epidemiology for instance—because the information is sent back to Havana instead. Mr Chávez seemed to acknowledge this last year when, by his own account, he learned that thousands of primary health-care posts had been shut down only when Mr Castro told him so.

Coffee-growers complain that in meetings with the government it is Bárbara Castillo, a former Cuban trade minister, who calls the shots. Ms Castillo, who was formally seconded to Venezuela four years ago, refuses requests for interviews.

Trade unions, particularly in the oil and construction industries, have complained of ill-treatment by the Cubans. No unions are allowed on Cuban-run building sites. In September last year Froilán Barrios of the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers, which opposes the government, said that “oil and petrochemicals are completely penetrated by Cuban G2,” the Castros’ fearsomely efficient intelligence service. Oil workers planning a strike said they had been threatened by Cuban officials.

The new national police force and the army have both adopted policies inspired by Cuba. The chief adviser to the national police-training academy is a Cuban, and Venezuela’s defence doctrine is based on Cuba’s “war of all the people”. Foreign officials who watch Venezuela closely say that Cuban agents occupy key posts in Venezuela’s military intelligence agency, but these claims are impossible to verify.

Mr Chávez portrays Cuban help as socialist solidarity in the struggle against “the empire”, as he calls the United States. When he was visiting Cuba in 2005 Fidel Castro said publicly to him that their two countries were “a single nation”. “With one flag,” added Mr Chávez, to which Mr Castro replied, “We are Venecubans.” These views are not shared by Venezuelans. In a recent poll 85% of respondents said they did not want their country to become like Cuba. Perhaps Mr Valdés will include that in his assessment.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Feb 10/10 | The OAS Needs New Management Now

Insulza and Zelaya: What a pair!

PMBComment | Secretary General Insulza seems to have have been consistent in earning disapproval in Washington. The legislative branch, the executive branch and now the town's main newspaper all seem aligned as to the ineffectiveness of his leadership. Keep in mind that both the Busn and Obama administrations have chosen not to support his two bids for the job.

Chastised, Mr. Insulza has promised to tell the world - on March 3rd - what he accomplished during his five year as Secretary General. There would be no need for such post facto justification if many beyond this city were not questioning his merits for reelection, or if his accomplishments were more noteworthy than his obvious failures. His ineffectiveness on the systematic abuses on the part of Chavez and Ortega, and the terrible mess he contributed to in Honduras define him more than any promises he might now make. An Organization with a flippant record on defending democracy in the region cannot afford to be lead astray for 5 more years by a man who, as all can attest, focused mostly on promoting himself and then Eduardo Frei, unsuccessfully, to the Chilean electorate.

Today his chances for reelection rest first and foremost on Sebastian Piñera, the newly elected President of Chile who has been more than reluctant to endorse a man who shamelessly - and violating every norm of the OAS - campaigned against him. The false argument being batted around in Chile by Mr. Insulza's allies is that support for Mr. Insulza is a matter of national interest. It might be good for Chileans to stop and think how could it be good for Chile - as a country - to see its reputation for levelheadedness be dragged into a wasting debate. Mr. Piñera would do well to remain silent as a signal to other countries that he would welcome the chance to review other candidates and as proof he is not beholden to failure just because it was born in Chile. PMB


Mr. Obama should press for change at the OAS

Wednesday, February 10, 2010; A16

SINCE ITS founding in 1948, the Organization of American States has defined its two top purposes as "to strengthen peace and security" and "to consolidate and promote representative democracy." On the second count, it is failing.

Despite the adoption in 2001 of a "democracy charter," the OAS has done little to stem what has been a steady erosion of free elections, free press and free assembly in Latin America during the past five years. When Honduras's president was arrested and dispatched to exile by the military last year, the organization was aggressive but clumsy -- and ended up making a democratic outcome harder to achieve. In the case of countries where democracy has been systematically dismantled by a new generation of authoritarian leaders, including Venezuela and Nicaragua, the OAS has failed to act at all.

The embodiment of this dysfunction has been OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza. A Chilean socialist, Mr. Insulza has unabashedly catered to the region's left-wing leaders -- which has frequently meant ignoring the democratic charter. Last year, he pushed for the lifting of Cuba's ban from the OAS, even though there has been no liberalization of the Castro dictatorship. When Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez launched a campaign against elected leaders of his opposition, stripping them of power and launching criminal investigations, Mr. Insulza refused to intervene, claiming the OAS "cannot be involved in issues of internal order of member states." Yet when leftist Honduran President Manuel Zelaya tried to change his own country's internal order by illegally promoting a constitutional referendum, Mr. Insulza supported him, even offering to dispatch observers.

Now Mr. Insulza is up for reelection; a vote is scheduled for late next month. The United States, which supplies 60 percent of the funding for the OAS's general secretariat -- $47 million in 2009 -- ought to have a prime interest in replacing him with someone who will defend democracy. Yet the Obama administration is paralyzed: It has yet to make a decision about whether to support a new term for Mr. Insulza. Partly because of that waffling, no alternative candidate has emerged.

There is some reason for this. Five years ago, an effort by the Bush administration to promote a couple of friendly candidates backfired, and a U.S.-backed nominee this year would surely trigger pushback by Mr. Chávez and his allies, and by center-left governments such as Brazil. But the potential resistance to Mr. Insulza is growing. Panama, Colombia, Canada and Mexico could be enlisted in the search for an alternative. Even Chile's new center-right president has so far declined to endorse his compatriot.

At a minimum, the administration should embrace the recommendation of a recent Senate report on the OAS drawn up by the staff of Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.). It calls for the OAS permanent council to require that Mr. Insulza make a presentation about his proposals and priorities for a second term, and for any other candidate who steps forward to offer such a presentation as well.

The United States should make clear that it will not support any secretary general whose platform on democracy issues is inadequate. Congress should meanwhile consider whether the United States should continue to provide the bulk of the funding for the OAS when it fails to live by its own charter

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Monday, February 08, 2010

Feb 8/10 | This is the way Venezuela is being ruined...a whim at a time

Chávez: What is that building?
Voice: A building with stores in it
Chávez: Expropiate it!

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