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Freedom Is up for a Vote in the Western Hemisphere

March 19, 2020


On March 20, the Organization of American States (OAS) will hold an election for its next secretary general. The incumbent, Uruguayan Luis Almagro, has rejuvenated the once-fading institution and is among the boldest pro-democracy voices in the Americas. Unsurprisingly, Venezuela is quietly mobilizing its regional allies to defeat him. Surprisingly, democratic nations from Canada to Mexico to Argentina may help Venezuela succeed.

Secretary General Almagro has earned this opposition through his principled leadership. Established in 1948 to help the Western Hemisphere become a “land of liberty,” by the 21st century it had a reputation for supporting dictators over democrats. In 2009, the OAS voted to readmit Cuba after a 47-year suspension, despite that country’s widespread human rights abuses. It also turned a blind eye to Hugo Chávez’s and Nicolás Maduro’s despotism in Venezuela, Evo Morales’s autocratic socialism in Bolivia, Daniel Ortega’s authoritarian turn in Nicaragua, and Cuba’s long-term communist autocracy. 

At the time of publishing, Marion Smith was executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

Originally published in The Hill.

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