Belizean Diplomat Wins OAS Asst. SG

Belize’s Ambassador to the US, Nestor Mendez, is Ambassador no more – tonight he is the Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States. That is the result after he won an election this afternoon in Washington D.C., comfortably outdoing his Guyanese opponent Ambassador Bayney Karran by a margin of 24 to 10.

It is a breakthrough accomplishment because the post of Assistant Secretary General carries hemispheric responsibilities and it is the second highest post in the OAS. More than that, it is one of only two elected posts within the OAS – and this year, it was the only elected since the new Secretary General Foreign Minister of Uruguay Luis Almagro ran unopposed.

Almagro and Mendez will make up the new leadership tandem in the OAS – and today, Mendez – who becomes the first Belizean to hold the senior post – was gracious in acceptance:…

H.E. Nestor Mendez – Newly Elected Assistant Sec. Gen., OAS

"Thank you so much for making such an special and important day for my country. For the government of Belize, for my family and especially for me. I want to give a special recognition to ambassador Bayney Karran, ambassador of Guyana, my dear friend and caricom brother. Ambassador Karran ran a respectful and well organised campaign, fully in line with the caricom traditions, I congratulate him. To his excellency José Miguel Insulza thank you for your years of dedicated service to our OAS. We all know the great challenges that blake this organisation and recognise your steadfast and dedicated service. Much appreciation also to assistant secretary general Ramdin for his years of dedicated server. I look forward to working with him to ensure a seamless transition when the time is appropriate. To the staff of the OAS general secretariat, I want to assure you, that I look forward to working with you as partners towards the transformation of the institutional culture into one that's more responsive to the needs of the member states.”

Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington was in Washington DC today when Mendez was elected, and he also witnessed the ascension of Foreign Minister of Uruguay Luis Almagro to the position of Secretary General. He had a few comments for the new leader of the OAS, and here’s an excerpt from Elrington’s presentation:

Hon. Wilfred Elrington - Minister of Foreign Affairs

"The work of the OAS has conduced directly to the evolution of our hemisphere from one characterised by dictatorship and violence, to one characterised by democracy and peace. We personally think that is an admirable feat in the very short time of only 67 years. Given the turbulent past which we have experienced in this hemisphere and the dept of poverty and disparity that the region has always been characterised by. The test therefor for you, secretary general elect, is in our view an herculean and unenviable one. Because yours will be the responsibility to chart our organisation's path to a deepening of our democracy and our development - as well as our security. This is a very difficult time, resources are limited. The rest of the world is in turmoil and i'm sure there rest of the world is looking in our region as an oasis of peace and security."

Almagro and Mendez will take the place of Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza of Chile and Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin of Suriname, who finish out their terms this year. The term of office is for five years.

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