President-elect Maurício Macri: Democracy in Latin America gets a boost from Argentina

With the election of Marício Macri in Argentina, defeating the candidate of the ruling party of Cristina Kirchner, a strong new voice for democracy throughout the hemisphere may be entering the scene.

President-elect Macri has called for applying the MERCOSUR’s democracy requirement to Venezuela, which would lead to suspension of that country from participation in the organization which it joined in 2012. Macrí has promised he will seek to honor the commitment undertaken in 1998 by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile with the signing the Protocol of Ushuaia, a treaty which established full effectiveness of democratic institutions as an essential condition for membership in MERCOSUR. The Protocol provided, moreover, that any rupture of the democratic order in one of the states parties should lead to its suspension from the organization.

See Javier El-Hage, “Marurício Macri y la posible resurrección de la OEA,” El País, 26 de Noviembre 2015 (00:39 CET).

Citing the example of Rómulo Betancourt, the democratic leader of Venezuela in the 1950’s and 1960’s, El-Hage suggests that Macri might not only push for the suspension of the despotic government of Venezuela of Nicolás Maduro, but also push for application of the democratic norms of the Organization of American States (OAS).

El-Hage quotes “the Betancourt Doctrine”, enunciated by a new Venezuelan president in his first speech to Congress in 1959, which calls for the exclusion of non-democratic states.  It finally became a legal obligation on September 11, 2001, he reports, with the adoption of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. The Charter is now binding on all 34 member states of the OAS.

After observing that the OAS has not applied the Charter as it should have, El-Hage suggests that with Macrí’s election in Argentina, and the election of a new Secretary Genral of the OAS, Luís Almagro, this long period of negligence may soon end.  The democracy requirement could be applied not only in the MERCOSUR but within the OAS itself.

This result, of course will depend on the votes of the member states of the two organizations. Macri’s election is undoubtedly the product of complex political forces in Argentina, but it may also be a sign of new democratic winds blowing in South America.  These could have substantial impacts on the current governments of Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua.

The Trenchant Observer

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James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.