Wednesday, January 27, 2010

PMBComments | US Senate Committee Staff Weighs in on Insulza's Mess at the OAS

I think that Insulza has done nothing on the favor of Venezuelans. The situation in Venezuela have gone worse. I want the new Chilean presiden: Mr. Pinera kick him out of the OAS, he also has a strikeout.
vdebate reporter
PMBComments Attached you will find the US Senate report (drafted by Republican Staff of the very important Committee on Foreign Relations) titled "Multilateralism in the Americas: Let's Start by Fixing the OAS" that is the subject of the following Miami Herald and La Nación (Argentina) stories (read below).

OAS.pdf

Not that many people in the world, or even in our hemisphere, care for the OAS, an organization that has become disjointed and inconsistent under the leadership of its seemingly cowered Secretary General El Panzer (1), Jose Miguel Insulza. Nevertheless the study is brief enough to be worth a read by those of us who instinctively believe in the power, or the ultimate need, of multilateral mechanisms.

The conclusions of the report are reasonable and should be implemented ASAP. In addition to the need to focus SERIOUSLY on democracy and human rights, it calls for improved financial controls, and it ends chastising Insulza for his selective actions on behalf of democracy in the region it (highlights - as I have done on previous PMBComments - his repeated blunders in Honduras, his cowardly silence on Nicaragua and Venezuela, and his obsession with playing domestic politics in his native Chile). The report ends with a call to the member states to get their collective act in shape and worry about the kind of leadership that they elect on March 24th. While not calling outright for Mr. Insulza to abandon his hopes for a second term it states that his first term was a real disappointment.

Will this report hurt Insulza as the Miami Herald implies? Who knows? Countries - actually governments - like Brazil, that are die hard supporters of both Hugo Chávez and a weak OAS might actually redouble their efforts to give El Panzer 5 more years to graze in DC. Chileans - outgoing and incoming - might rally around him even though his misdeeds have lessened the country's well deserved influence and moral standing in the region. An then we have Venezuela which seems intent on a now farcical candidacy of its own making (let's remember Insulza was their darling in 2005. many still wonder why that was the case; What did Chávez and his acolytes know about Insulza that gave them comfort to have him at the helm of the OAS?). Putting these, and other considerations and calculations aside, it would benefit the OAS that Insulza does not push his luck and further traumatize the organization by pursuing a reelection he has most definitely not earned. PMB

(1) According to a top Chilean political analyst, Insulza loves the moniker El Panzer, which would seem to denote ruthless strength as in German tank, or armored military force, but in fact the this Congressional report highlights his sloppy management of the organization and his less than forceful resolve when it comes to facing the thugs that are really bullying democracy in the region. You can see the joy when he insults Honduras' Roberto Micheletti, and we have all witnessed his less than muscular response to Hugo Chávez 24/7 shenanigans. There is no panzer there.

Miami Herald
Congressional report could hurt OAS leader's reelection efforts
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO

JTAMAYO@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/miami-dade/breaking-news/story/1447097.html


The head of the Organization of American States' campaign to win reelection took a hit Tuesday from a report complaining the OAS has failed to stop elected presidents from eroding democracy in the region.

``Given the challenges described in this report, no reelection should be rushed or rubber stamped,'' the U.S. congressional staff report said. ``Any reelection should involve a deliberative evaluation of the incumbent's first term in office.''

OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, a Chilean socialist whose five-year-term ends in May, has said he wants to be relected, and so far is the only candidate. The 34-nation OAS is scheduled to vote Wednesday on holding the election in March.

But the report's withering criticism of the OAS and his performance may bolster opposition to Insulza's candidacy. Some Obama administration officials view him as too soft on leftists such as Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

Washington provides 37 percent of the OAS' total budget.

Commissioned by Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the report was written by Carl Meacham, his senior staffer on the committee.

The report noted the OAS acted decisively when a military coup briefly toppled Chávez in 2002 and when Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was ousted and expelled from the country last summer. The organization also is strong on election monitoring, cooperation on counter-drug and counter-terrorism and the protection of human rights.

But the hemispheric body did little as Chávez and Zelaya slowly undermined democracy in their respective countries, the report added, arguing that those maneuverings in essence sparked the efforts to topple the two presidents.

``In both cases the OAS reacted forcefully to the [presidents' ousters] . . . yet it had demonstrably failed to respond to the erosion of democratic institutions by elected presidents that preceded the coups,'' it noted.

The report also said Insulza's strong support for Zelaya following his ouster complicated efforts to resolve the crisis, and that the OAS has failed to act as Chávez cracks down the Venezuelan news media and as Nicaraguans complain of massive fraud in elections last year.

The OAS also faces a $9.6 million budget shortfall in 2011, the report added, and will have to either raise members' contributions or tighten its belt and cut back on activities, the report added.

``The OAS requires a renewed effort to make it effective and financially solvent in the coming decade,'' Lugar wrote in a letter submitting the report to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Insulza, a former interior and foreign minister in Chile's socialist governments, was elected secretary general in 2005 after a string of 17-17 votes against the U.S.-backed candidate, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez.

Washington helped break the stalemate by throwing its support behind Insulza after he publicly promised to make the OAS a strong protector of democracy in the region, specifically mentioning Venezuela and Cuba.

His reelection prospects were complicated earlier this month when Chileans elected center-right candidate Sebastian Piñera as their next president. Without his own country's endorsement, Insulza's chances for reelections would be diminished.

Piñera has not yet said whether he will support Insulza, who campaigned for the center-left candidate in the presidential race, Eduardo Frei.
http://www.lanacion.com.ar/nota.asp?nota_id=1225979

La OEA, en la mira del Congreso de EE.UU.

Críticas a Insulza en un informe republicano
Martes 26 de enero de 2010 Publicado en edición impresa

WASHINGTON (De nuestra corresponsal).- La crisis de Honduras parece haber sido el disparador. Pero lo cierto es que, tras meses de marchas y contramarchas, la habilidad de la Organización de los Estados Americanos (OEA) para intervenir en crisis institucionales está en la mira en esta ciudad. Parte del descontento apunta contra su titular, el chileno José Miguel Insulza.

"La OEA tiene que resolver una cuestión crucial de liderazgo. El secretario Insulza no ha cumplido con las promesas que hizo al asumir y, por la salud de la institución, es conveniente que los países miembros consideren las condiciones que debe tener su titular y no den por garantizada ninguna reelección", dice un durísimo informe del Congreso norteamericano.

Titulado "Multilateralismo en América. Empecemos por arreglar la OEA", el documento , al que tuvo acceso LA NACION, fue elaborado por la oficina del senador republicano Richard Lugar, uno de los hombres más influyentes en la Comisión de Relaciones Exteriores del cuerpo.

De 27 páginas, el informe, sumamente crítico sobre la situación de la OEA y la gestión de su actual titular, será formalmente difundido en los próximos días.

Si bien destaca la trascendencia de la organización americana, el documento pone en duda su eficacia a la hora de trabajar en la promoción de la democracia en la región.

"Tiende a reaccionar cuando hay una situación clara de golpe de Estado, pero no cuando hay un deterioro gradual de la democracia por culpa de gobiernos que abusan de sus poderes constitucionales", subraya.

También señala la grave crisis financiera que atraviesa la organización, con dinero siempre insuficiente, lo que se traduce en incapacidad real para operar. Estados Unidos es el país que carga con la mayor parte del sostén económico de la entidad. Y a la luz de los refuerzos presupuestarios que deberían hacerse, el impacto del informe podría ser crucial.

La nota es especialmente crítica en lo que se refiere al manejo de la organización y de su secretario general en la reciente crisis de Honduras, donde, entre otros puntos, reprocha la falta de capacidad para lograr "un compromiso" entre las dos partes en juego. Y el hecho de que esa incapacidad motivara la intervención de otros actores internacionales.

En el tramo final, el texto carga especialmente contra Insulza, a quien cuestiona por haber estado "más atento al destino político de Chile", con una situación especialmente complicada en lo personal por haberse manifestado "públicamente" a favor del derrotado aspirante Eduardo Frei.

En el informe se acusa a Insulza de aplicar una "política selectiva de defensa de la democracia", en referencia a las situaciones en Venezuela y Honduras. "La asociación del secretario general con el abortado intento de retorno del presidente Manuel Zelaya, el 5 de julio, dañó seriamente la imagen de la OEA como un agente honesto", afirma.

"Desafortunadamente, la OEA está fallando en su misión. Hoy por hoy, si más gobiernos del hemisferio se vuelven poco democráticos, la OEA será aún menos capaz de reforzar, colectivamente, los procedimientos para reforzar la democracia", afirma el texto, que lleva como carta de presentación una nota firmada por el senador Lugar.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Is Greg Craig driving US Latin America policy?

The Wall Street Journal

Is Greg Craig driving U.S. Latin America policy?

By MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY

Former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya returned to his country on Friday, traveling by SUV from Nicaragua to a small border town. It was his first time back in Honduras since he was arrested and deported on June 28 for violating the constitution.

Mr. Zelaya appeared somewhat disappointed that his theatrical re-entry did not provoke a shoot-out. A few hours later he jumped back into Nicaragua where Sandinista President Daniel Ortega has given him shelter.

If Mr. Zelaya keeps this up, the crisis could drag on. But however the standoff is resolved, it is likely to be remembered as a defining moment for U.S. Latin America policy under Barack Obama.

Mr. Zelaya had means, motive and opportunity to destroy the country’s democratic institutions and was moving to do so. If he succeeded, he could have consolidated power in the manner of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and turned the country into a police state. Mr. Obama’s insistence that Mr. Zelaya be restored to power has strengthened the image of an arrogant and patronizing Uncle Sam disconnected from the region’s reality.

Hondurans might be more amenable to an Obama democracy lecture if the U.S. showed any interest in standing up to Mr. Chávez and his antidemocratic allies or any grasp of the dangers they present. Instead, since taking office in January the American president has embraced the region’s bad actors only to be subsequently embarrassed by revelations that his new “friends” are actually enemies of liberty and peace.

The weirdness started with the April Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, when Mr. Obama practically high-fived Mr. Chávez like they were long lost soul mates. The administration’s spin was that tension in the region was caused by George W. Bush. The charming Mr. Obama would change all that, and from there U.S. influence would rise again. Mr. Chávez didn’t get the memo. On July 19, the Washington Post reported that a new Government Accountability Office report finds “that corruption at high levels of President Hugo Chavez’s government, and state aid to Colombia’s drug-trafficking guerrillas, have made Venezuela a major launching pad for cocaine bound for the United States and Europe.” Now Mr. Chávez says he will overthrow the Honduran government.
Mr. Obama called Ecuador’s Rafael Correa in early June to “congratulate” him on his recent re-election, and according to a White House spokesman, “express his desire to deepen our bilateral relationship and to maintain an ongoing dialogue that can ensure a productive relationship based on mutual respect.” This made Mr. Obama look uninformed again since Mr. Correa’s disrespect for U.S. interests is legendary.
On June 22, I reported in this column that Colombian military intelligence had evidence the Correa government is a supporter of the Colombian rebel group FARC. A furious Mr. Correa jumped in front of television cameras to issue a threat to sue The Wall Street Journal. “We are fed up with their lies,” he warned.

The Americas in the News
Get the latest information in Spanish from The Wall Street Journal’s Americas page.

He couldn’t know that the Associated Press would release a video days later of a rebel reading a letter from the FARC’s deceased leader about “compromising” documents that talk of the FARC’s financial support for Mr. Correa’s 2006 presidential campaign and “agreements” with Correa envoys. Reporting on the news, the Spanish daily El Pais wrote that “various emails from the computers of [FARC honcho] Raúl Reyes tell about the delivery of $100,000 to the Correa campaign team. What is new is that a high-ranking leader of the guerrillas verbally acknowledges the contribution.” Mr. Correa denies FARC connections and says it is a “setup.” No word yet on whether he plans to sue all the other newspapers that subsequently reported the story.

Having established that making nice with the region’s troublemakers is a priority, Mr. Obama now wants Mr. Zelaya—who was endorsed by the FARC last week—reinstated. If Honduras does not comply, the U.S. is threatening to freeze assets and revoke the visas of interim government officials.

Some Washington watchers figure this bizarre stance is due to the fact that Mr. Obama is relying heavily on White House Counsel Gregory Craig for advice on Latin America.

Mr. Craig was the lawyer for Fidel Castro—er, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, the father of Elian Gonzalez—during Bill Clinton’s 2000 repatriation to Cuba of the seven-year-old. During the presidential campaign when Mr. Craig was advising Mr. Obama, the far-left Council on Hemispheric Affairs endorsed Mr. Craig as “the right man to revive deeply flawed U.S.-Latin America relations.” In other words, to pull policy left.

There is plenty of speculation that Mr. Obama is making policy off of Mr. Craig’s “expertise.” It is not too much to believe. Indeed, if all policy is now being run out of the White House, as many observers contend, then the views of the White House counsel may explain a lot.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chavez will celebrate anniversary with summit


Waste money, why don't you?

CARACAS, Venezuela (CNN) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will celebrate 10 years in power next week by holding a rare summit with some of his closest leftist allies in Latin America.

Venezuelans will be asked in February whether or not Hugo Chavze should be allowed to run for a third term.

Attending will be leaders or representatives from a group called the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our Americas, better known as ALBA. Chavez and his allies started the group a few years ago in attempt, they said, to counterbalance United States influence in Latin America.

Chavez announced the gathering Monday on state-run Radio Nacional de Venezuela, commonly called RNV. He called it "an extraordinary summit of ALBA ."

Bolivian President Evo Morales, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and Dominican Republic Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit will attend, RNV said on its Web site.

Cuban President Raul Castro will not be there because he is on a trip to Asia, El Universal newspaper said.

At ALBA's latest meeting in Caracas in November, the leaders began discussion on the creation of common currency throughout the region, El Universal said. Officials talked about creating a currency called a "Sucre," a Spanish acronym for "Unified System of Regional Compensation." Sucre is also the constitutional capital of Bolivia, where the Supreme Court meets, and the main currency in Ecuador.

A meeting scheduled for mid-December to discuss regional economic integration was canceled, the newspaper said.

Chavez was elected president of Venezuela in 1998, six years after a failed coup attempt to depose then-President Carlos Andres Perez. He was sworn in on February 2, 1999.

He was re-elected in a special election in July 2000 after a new constitution was adopted and again in 2006.

The new constitution limits him to two consecutive six-year terms, but the Venezuelan congress recently approved a referendum for February 15 that would allow Chavez to run for a third term in 2012. Venezuelans narrowly rejected a similar measure in a December 2007 referendum.

Chavez has been campaigning hard in favor of the referendum.

Bolivians approved a new constitution Sunday that will allow that nation's president, Morales, to run for another five-year term in December

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