The United States will support Chile’s Jose Miguel Insulza in his bid for another five years as head of the Organization of American States, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday in a letter to the OAS secretary-general that was seen by Efe.
In the letter, Clinton said that it was a “pleasure” to inform Insulza that the Barack Obama administration will support his reelection and that of the assistant secretary-general, Alberto Ramdin, of Suriname, at Wednesday’s special OAS General Assembly in the U.S. capital.
The vote of confidence by Washington comes despite the campaign against Insulza launched a month ago by certain Republican lawmakers and the editorial page of The Washington Post.
As you may recall, the WaPo has gone on record requesting that Obama press for change at the OAS
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.
The WaPo reasonably requested that
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.
The request fell on the deaf ears of “smart diplomacy.”