I wish to thank the States that have supported my proposal to renew and revitalize the Organization of American States (OAS) and have given me their vote in this election. In particular, I wish to thank Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda and Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who proposed my candidature as an option to rescue the OAS from the state of polarization and inefficiency in which it finds itself, and from the abandonment of its most essential principles and functions.
The support of 10 countries of the Americas and the Caribbean has demonstrated that there is another political vision of what is happening in our continent and of the role that the OAS should play. We have shown that it is possible to build an alternative proposal to a rhetoric, a vision, and a practice that is intended to be imposed as unquestionable. Despite the fact that the OAS has unfortunately become a battleground, a field of aggression, and not one of ideas and principles, we must not forget that the Organization was created for the opposite: to fulfill the purposes of hemispheric cooperation and solidarity.
Now more than ever we must insist on the need to adhere to international law, to multilateralism, and to constructive and respectful dialogue. The opposite would be a continued abuse of discretion, imposition, arbitrariness and unilateralism.
I continue to believe that the absence of a genuine multilateral body on the continent or in our Latin American and Caribbean region leaves a great vacuum that we must fill. The current COVID-19 crisis is another example of this. The OAS has been conspicuously absent from this emergency, as from so many other issues on the international agenda. The very fact of having forced an election, going against the very measures of the host country and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), putting the lives of OAS workers and the diplomatic corps at risk, is an indicator of indifference in the face of the great challenges we face. Different groups of States in the continent have established specific coordination mechanisms, ECLAC carries out its projections and analyses, PAHO coordinates with the World Health Organization, multilateral banks work on response scenarios, as do multiple other regional actors. However, there is no legitimate, strong, substantive leadership, which organizes, leads and coordinates the hemispheric response to the COVID-19 crisis. The Secretary-General has the mandate and political authority to exercise such leadership. However, particular interests and short-term vision have been prioritized.
We have demonstrated with our candidature that there is another way of doing politics in the continent and that there are effective formulas for hemispheric cooperation and solidarity. We have also shown that the OAS is not fulfilling the purposes for which it was created, and that one cannot continue to do things the same way in situations of crisis or conflict and expect different results. We have structured a political and programmatic discourse that provides all the arguments needed to say that it was possible to have a true multilateral organization, one that serves all countries, operates with transparency and efficiency, is accountable, and reflects the great diversity of visions and priorities of the countries of the hemisphere. It was and it is possible to build Unity in Diversity.
In building this political and strategic vision, I counted on the collaboration of extraordinary professionals who I am sure will continue to struggle to transform this Organization. Among them, I would like to express my special appreciation for the guidance and ongoing advice of the Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda, Sir Ronald Sanders, who I would like to point out is one of the most valuable professional that Antigua and Barbuda and the entire Caribbean has.
Two extraordinary women ambassadors also led the conceptualization of my proposals for a new OAS, with great commitment and leadership, Ambassador Louann Gilchrist of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Ambassador Luz Elena Baños of Mexico and her extraordinary team. Thank you for holding the dignity and leadership of women high in the defense and promotion of our candidature.
In addition, my productive and enriching meetings with various Heads of State and Government, Foreign Ministers, journalists, academics and civil society organizations enriched my vision and work plan.
I thank the Government of Mexico, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and the Mexican Foreign Service, for joining the Caribbean States in promoting my candidature. I am pleased that this election has brought this wonderful country closer to the Caribbean. Mexico is going through one of the most important political transformations in its history, in its efforts to rebuild Latin American and Caribbean integration, to strengthen multilateralism as the only response and antidote to the crises we face and to put women’s leadership at the forefront.
Finally, I would like to thank the social and political organizations that supported my candidature. Indigenous, women, academic youth organizations and human rights defenders. Special thanks to the Organizations of Ecuador. At a time of so much polarization in my country, the support of so many (including the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), the National Confederation of Indigenous and Black Organizations of Ecuador (FENOCIN), the Coalition of Workers´ Unions (CUT), and of various organizations of youth and women in Ecuador and of the Alianza PAIS Movement, has filled me with joy and renewed my commitment. Count on me in all your struggles, which are also mine and those of many in Ecuador and around the world.
I thank the dozens of people that from Ecuador and other countries contributed with their valuable time, their advice, their intelligence, and their volunteer work in this battle to regain common sense and coexistence in the hemisphere.
As a professional and as a woman politician, I believe that we have the obligation to give this and every battle that may be necessary to continue conquering equality and the guarantee of our rights. The time of women in the OAS and in the governments of the Americas will come.
As I have always done, I will continue to work with the same commitment for Latin American unity, for multilateralism, for social justice, for the defense of individual and collective rights, and for a better, more humane, more sustainable and more just world for all.
Thank you very much,
María Fernanda Espinosa