Latin American leaders divided on OAS at regional meeting

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Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador wants to leave questions of human rights and democracy to the United Nations as part of his continued criticisms of the Organization of American States.

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López Obrador spoke on Saturday at a meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC, which includes almost all countries in the region except Brazil. Unlike the OAS, the US and Canada are not related to the CELAC.

The summit raised questions plaguing the sector such as mass migration and the coronavirus pandemic. But some leaders, angered by the OAS’ criticism of the leftist regime in the region, have hoped that the CELAC could change that.


López Obrador has suggested that the OAS is interventionist and a tool of the United States. But he did not formally propose to leave the organization. Rather, he opposed any sanctions and said that questions of human rights and democracy should be considered only if the country alleging violations requests it.

López Obrador said, “Disputes over democracy and human rights should be worked out in neutral forums created by the countries of America, and the final word should be left to the specialized agencies of the United Nations.”

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Uruguay’s President Luis Lacalle defended the OAS.

“You may disagree with how it is managed, but you cannot discount the organization,” said Laacle, who has openly and by name called Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua the anti-democracy Criticized for practices.

El Salvadoran Vice President Felix Uloa criticized the “partisan” behavior at the OAS, but said that “we are not expecting nor do we think this will lead to an alternative.”

The Minister of Foreign Relations of Panama, Erica Moynes, drew attention to the migration problem of the region. Moynes said just a few months ago there were only about 800 migrants entering Panama – mainly from Colombia – with about 20,000 now arriving every month. Panama is struggling to feed and care for the influx.

“This phenomenon can only be handled in a regional way,” Moyness said.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was one of the unexpected leaders who arrived in Mexico City late Friday for the meeting. This is his first trip outside Venezuela since the US government indicted him on drug trafficking and terrorism charges in March 2020, and he has been offered a reward of up to $15 million.

Maduro challenges Uruguay’s Lacale to a debate on democracy.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel raided in July against criticism of his country’s action on the protests. He called the demonstrations “an opportunistic campaign of discredit, financed by US federal funds and which still threatens the stability, integrity and sovereignty of my country”.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who has been indicated by US prosecutors to have funded his political ascent with bribes from drug traffickers, spoke out in a lengthy defense of his record. He has not been formally charged, and the DEA is accused of employing drug traffickers who testified about his alleged drug ties.

“There has been a tsunami and an avalanche of perjury,” Hernandez said.

He has denied any wrongdoing. His brother, former federal lawmaker Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernandez, was sentenced to life in New York in March.

Newly inaugurated Peruvian President Pedro Castillo delivered a fairly liberal speech at his first summit since taking office, focusing on Peru’s status as one of the countries with the world’s highest COVID-19 death toll did, which Castillo put “over 200,000”.


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