Despite the global pandemic of COVID-19, the Organization of American States (OAS) has refused as of Wednesday to postpone the March 20 General Assembly for the purpose of conducting elections for the post of Secretary-General.
For this reason, today representatives of 13 member states sent a letter to the Chair of the Permanent Council, Regional Coordinators, Secretary-General and all OAS member states objecting the decision and urging the organization to suspend the General Assembly, evoking a “clear case of force majeure.”
“We are deeply concerned about the risks to the health of persons who would be summoned to a General Assembly. No one would have any way of knowing how many are infected by COVID-19 even if they show no obvious symptoms,” the letter reads.
The document was signed by ambassadors from Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago.
The envoys cited the recommendations of the World Health Organization and Pan-American Health Organization to not hold large gatherings of people, also U.S. and Washington DC’s orders and laws against gatherings of more than 10 to 50 people and the known fact of the dangers f the novel virus and rapid spread in the continent.
“There is a real risk, that considering the seriousness of this situation, member states may be forced not to attend the General Assembly,” they warned.
This would cause “one of two troubling results for the OAS, either (i) that there may not be a quorum; or (ii) the meeting would be regarded as lacking legitimacy with damaging and far-reaching consequences for the effectiveness of the Organization and its capacity to continue as a representative body of the nations of our Hemisphere.”
Meanwhile, the organization issued a press release on Tuesday informing that an invitation has been sent and accepted to “the authorities from the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for the purpose of inspecting the Organization’s facilities.”
The elections face Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and 73rd President of the United Nations General Assembly Maria Fernanda Espinosa against current Secretary-General Luis Almagro, as member states will vote to either reelect or choose a new Secretary-General for the next five years.
Uruguay’s Almagro seeks to compromise the 18 votes he needs to be confirmed in office and continue the United States-led plan against the progressive governments in the region.
The diplomat has defended controversial tools such as economic sanctions against Venezuela, and the coup that ousted former President Evo Morales.