Part of the left bloc in the Organization of American States broke a tense session over the organization’s budget

Mexico’s representative to the Organization of American States, Ambassador Luz Baños, during the Permanent Council session that dealt with the issue of the budget. Washington, US, May 31, 2023. COURTESY OAS

(Washington, United States) – Mass Leave in the Organization of American States (OAS), which were homogeneous in some respects, And collapsed In the early hours of Thursday in a tense session on budget which included Screaming, hitting the table, accusations of discrimination and insults. The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States approved a resolution by 25 votes to 5 asking the General Assembly, which will convene this month, to increase the resources that countries allocate to the organization after years of freezing. Countries that disagree with the leadership of the Secretary General Louis AlmagroThey wanted to stop him.

Mexicowhich through its chief Andres Lopez Obrador He had expressed interest in having the OAS “disappear”, and was the one who devoted more energy during the debate to trying to block the Caribbean-led proposal. pressure exerted Mexico It was such that some of his allies in the debate up to that point decided to change sides and eventually vote on the proposal to increase the budget.

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representative of that country, Luz Elena Baños, said that “was being committed”Illegalaccused the table presiding over the discussion of acting against Professional ethics and ethics,” he said. He said the organization’s mandate was violated and that discussion was “unacceptable.” At one point he stood up and started screaming so much that the microphones couldn’t pick up what he was saying.I will not sit downshouted at the request of the President of the Council, the representative of Uruguay, Washington Abdullah.

The situation was so tense that some states said they felt it violated And insulted. And also some allies I had Mexico In the discussion, they change positions. This was the case with Argentina. “This is not a discussion between those who defend, strengthen and improve the Organization of American States and those who want to destroy the OAS. No,” said the representative of Argentina, Carlos Raimondi.

Argentina’s representative to the Organization of American States, Carlos Raimondi, at the session that approved an increase in the OAS budget. Washington, May 31, 2023. COURTESY OAS

Then a message was added to Mexico:”I do not agree that questions of ethics interfere with technical and political discussions. Because when one invalidates the other because of their moral status, it closes the possibility of artistic and political debate,” he said.

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budget ceiling OAS 2023 82.8 million US dollars. What countries have agreed to provide to the General Assembly is to increase the cap to US$92.1 million. for the year 2024.

The day started at ten in the morning. Washingtonwith led session Mexico To discuss issues related to arms companies. In the afternoon, from 2:30 p.m., the regular session was scheduled, which included aspects of the budget. The beginning of that second session was already tense.

The left bloc in the regional organization asked for a change in the agenda, which was configured when the topic proposals arrived. Antigua and Barbados, representing all countries of the Caribbean region, has submitted a proposal to increase the organization’s budget. But later Chili peppermade a proposal that, although unlike the other proposal, did not specify the amount, he proposed an increase mechanism that would be more advanced and less risky.

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actor Chili pepperAnd Sebastian Kraljevic, he suggested submitting his initiative for discussion before, but the Caribbean refused. This already generated the first source of tension and Mexico He made his first accusation of “bad faith”.

The second crossing was when, after discussing the proposal to increase the budget, the Caribbean asked to close the discussion and go to a vote. There, Mexico again charged, accusing its colleagues of lack of democracy and of wanting to shut down the debate.

bathrooms Argued that the proposal Caribbean You can’t vote. His argument was that discussion of the budget was taking place in a committee of the agency and should not be brought to the board yet. At the same time, with the support of Bolivian And Chili pepperstopped at the way the proposal was written, which had a directive tone and was not suggested to be General Assembly who solves

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For this reason, Panios asked the secretary Legal issues affiliate OASAnd Jean Michael Arrigiissued by this point. The expert stressed that the General Assembly alone is the decision-maker on the budget, but the Permanent Council acts as a “preparatory committee” and has to submit proposals so that what is approved there, even if it was written in this way, is not obligatory. It must be ratified by the General Assembly.

Organization of American States Legal Secretary, Jean-Michel Arrigi, and Chief of Staff of the Secretary-General, Gonzalo Conque, during a discussion of the OAS budget. Washington, May 31, 2023. COURTESY OAS

The decision to suspend or close the debate was considered and did not obtain the required two-thirds. In addition to Mexico, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Argentina, Left bloc members also voted negatively Costa Rica and countries like saviorwhich maintains a dispute with the Organization of American States over the criticism it has received from the government Nep Pokell on human rights issues.

Thus it seemed that the session had gone on forever and tensions were running high. After some mediation that unsuccessfully tried to lower the tension, Mexico kept up the pressure and it was there that Argentina, which initially voted not to close the debate as the Caribbean nations wanted, changed its position. “When we voted not to close the debate, it does not mean to delay it forever. It should never be resolved. We must set a deadline for that,” said the Argentine ambassador.

If the budget has been frozen for a few years, it makes sense to update it. It’s common sense. But it is also logical that there are countries that are not in a position to see a 30% increase, so it seemed important to consider the position of Chile that does not question the ceiling, but rather a gradual progression until the ceiling is reached,” Raimondi added.

Finally, the proposal went to the vote and won the initiative Caribbean On increasing the budget by 25 votes to 5. Only the countries of the left bloc voted against it MexicoAnd Chili pepperAnd Colombia And Bolivianextra Costa Rica, who used the financial reasons for the opposition. According to what the representative of that country said, Costa Rica suffers from a financial deficit that does not allow it to increase the budget that it allocates to the state. OAS. El Salvador was one of the two countries that abstained. Brazil, despite being a left-ruled country in the region, in the Organization of American States did not support the more stringent proposals of that bloc.

The table of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States, chaired by the representative of Uruguay, Washington Abdallah and with Assistant Secretary-General Nestor Mendez and Coordinator Carmen Lucia de la Pava. Courtesy OAS

After the vote, the representative of Mexico returned to the charge saying that what happened in the session was an outrage, and accused the OAS leadership of being “Gods of Olympus” and his colleagues to serve asbad faith”, This, he said, shows that there is no need to “waste more time on pluralism and less time on consensus”, because a post-majority is imposed. “Let’s take advantage of them,” Banios said, “they won by force.”

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Most ambassadors avoided entering into that discussion, but several noted that the tone of the session was reprehensible. Who recorded, at the end of the session about midnight, his disagreement with the tone Mexico was an actor BarbadosAnd Noel Anderson. “I’ve been listening to things of value Disrespect For us. ” According to him, he studied at latin america And there he had to listen to “the most vile racial slurs in the street” that they called him “Cake”

I will not accept insults disguised in this room. I have already lived that life. I know what it is. I hope one day they can come to the OAS with more people like me. We are very competent and capable, but they insult me ​​because I assumed a sovereign position. “I wouldn’t take that from anyone,” Anderson said.

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