Former Foreign Minister of Uruguay Luis Almagro was yesterday elected as the next Secretary General of the Organisation of American States (OAS).
Almagro will begin to serve his five-year term on May 26 and will replace the current OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza.
“My efforts will be focused on making the Organization a useful instrument for the interests of all the peoples of the Americas, wherever they are from,” he said, according to a press statement from the OAS.
The XLIX Extraordinary General Assembly was held at the headquarters of the hemispheric organization in Washington, DC.
The OAS statement reported that in his first speech, Almagro said the agency will work to ensure the interests of the billion people who inhabit the American continent with pragmatism, the search for unity and solidarity as pillars of its management. The incoming head of the hemispheric institution announced that the OAS will work with all countries of the region “without exception” and expressed his conviction that “it was time to put an end to unnecessary fragmentation. As of May 26 and as Secretary General of the OAS, my efforts will be focused on making the organization a useful tool in the interests of all Americans, be they from the center, south, north or the Caribbean.”
The statement said that the Uruguayan received broad support from member countries that participated in the Extraordinary Assembly and received 33 votes with one abstention.
The elected Secretary General said he will work with a pragmatic spirit to solve the problems of the region and will not rest when seeking regional consensus.
“To you, as representatives of the peoples of the Americas, I owe you, and thank you for your vote of confidence. In me you will find a tireless fighter for American unity, more concerned with practical solutions to enduring problems of our region by rhetoric and strident in guided by one or another ideology statements,” he was quoted as saying.
The Uruguayan diplomat also called for the Organization to set aside the debates of the past and focus on contemporary challenges. “I do not want to be the administrator of the crisis of the OAS, but the facilitator of renewal,” he added.
He also mentioned that “solidarity will be my main guiding principle” while also calling for hemispheric unity.
In the short term, the Uruguayan diplomat said that he will form a transition team, and eyes will be directed to the Seventh Summit of the Americas, to be held on 10 and 11 April in Panama which, he said, will be historic as Cuba will be present for the first time in decades.
Almagro, according to the statement, also made clear his commitment to the realignment of the objectives of the OAS and stressed his intention to continue positioning the organization to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
The Uruguayan diplomat spoke of the main actions he plans to push during his tenure which, among others, includes public safety, which was identified as one of the main concerns of all countries in the hemisphere. “We will work on a hemispheric initiative, along with multilateral, with a comprehensive approach to the problem,” he said.