Permanent Representative of Belize to the Organization of American States (OAS), Ambassador Nestor Mendez was yesterday elected as the next Assistant Secretary General of the hemispheric institution, beating out his only competitor Guyanese Bayney Karran.
Mendez obtained 24 votes from the member states compared with 10 received by Guyana’s Permanent Representative Karran. The XLIX Extraordinary General Assembly of the OAS was held at the headquarters of the hemispheric organization in Washington, DC. At the meeting, former Foreign Minister of Uruguay Luis Almagro was elected as the next Secretary General of the hemispheric institution. He will assume the post on May 26, succeeding the current leader of the OAS José Miguel Insulza. Mendez will succeed Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin on July 12.
According to a press statement from the OAS, upon accepting the position, the Assistant Secretary General-elect said he stood before the countries that elected him to the post “with a clear mandate and an unwavering commitment to seize the opportunity that is before us to work together to transform the OAS into the organization that we want and that the people of the Americas deserve.”
He thanked the member states for their votes, calling it an important gesture for the Government of Belize, and recalled that his country, “considered an effective bridge between Central America and CARICOM has an important contribution to make to the Inter-American System, anchored in the fundamental principles enshrined in the OAS Charter, the Inter-American Democratic Charter and the Social Charter of the Americas.
Therefore, I am honored to reiterate that commitment to the Inter-American System and to the people we all serve,” he added.
The diplomat from Belize thanked the member states for the trust deposited in him which he said was a show of trust and recognition of his country and himself.
“The clear mandate I have received from you shows me that we agree that today, more than ever, is the moment to strengthen our organization, focusing ourselves on the things we have in common and that unite us and not those that divide us,” he was quoted as saying. “This is a job that can only be done as a team and through dialogue, based on respect and with a deep commitment,” he added.
In his speech to the General Assembly, Mendez congratulated the Secretary General-elect, Almagro, and promised to work together with him as a team for the organization. “I am ready to work closely with him to transform this organization,” he said, while congratulating Karran for “a respectful and well organized campaign, fully aligned with the CARICOM tradition.”
Mendez also expressed his gratitude for the support and advice he received from the missions of the member states, with which he has worked for several years and expressed his interest in working with the OAS General Secretariat “toward the transformation of the institutional culture into one that is more responsive to the needs of the member states.”
He also recognized “the arduous and dedicated service” carried out during the last decade by Insulza and Ramdin.
The statement noted that Mendez has served as Ambassador of Belize to the OAS and to the Government of the United States since June 2008. He was an advisor to the Belize High Commission in London from 1997 to 1999 and holds a postgraduate title from George Washington in International Affairs.