Press Memorandum: Changing of the Guard at the Organization of American States

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Council On Hemispheric Affairs

Monitoring Political, Economic and Diplomatic Issues Affecting the Western Hemisphere

Memorandum to the Press 04.64

Thursday, 23 September, 2004

Word Count: 2750


Changing of the Guard at the Organization of American States

• Selected at last June’s by the Organization of American States (OAS) to replace outgoing Secretary General Cesar Gaviria, former Costa Rican president, Miguel Angel Rodriguez Echeverria, assumed his new post today at a special meeting of the OAS’s Permanent Council in

• The ongoing crises in Haiti and Venezuela, and the lack of an institutional OAS role in both disputes, have demonstrated that the hemisphere’s political forum is an ineffective and aging mammoth that, without strong leadership, may soon be utterly useless.

• The incoming Secretary General’s major tasks will be to rejuvenate the OAS’s diminishing role in hemispheric affairs and reverse the steady loss of its prestige and operational jurisdiction to the United Nations.

• While it will not be difficult for Rodriguez to improve upon Gaviria’s egomaniacal performance, his record as president of Costa Rica is steeped in mediocrity and plagued by a general lack of seriousness and, thus, leaves little hope that his performance as Secretary General of the OAS will be any more promising.

After ten years as the head of the Organization of American States (OAS), two-time Secretary General and former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria will step down from his post today and former Costa Rican president Miguel Angel Rodriguez Echevarria will become his successor. This transition began at the 34th regular session of the OAS General Assembly, which took place last June in Quito, Ecuador. Unfortunately, neither the organization’s Quito meeting nor the appointment of its new leader is likely to reverse the organization’s growing irrelevancy that that it so aptly demonstrated with its impotence in addressing the de facto ouster of President Jean Bertrand Aristide in Haiti.


This analysis was prepared by Alex Sanchez, COHA Research Fellow.

September 23, 2004

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