Almagro received 23 of the 33 votes, cast by member states, while María Fernanda Espinosa, from Ecuador, who was nominated by two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries –Antigua and Barbuda and St. Vincent and the Grenadines – obtained 10 votes, and one country was absent.
Belizean diplomat, Nestor Mendez, was re-elected as Assistant Secretary-General.
United States Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, who twice travelled around the region to throw his weight behind Almagro, congratulated his surrogate.
In a congratulatory note, Pompeo ignored the imminent gravity of the COVID19 pandemic, lambasted Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua and pointed a finger at Guyana: “As we overcome the threat to public health, posed by COVID-19, the peoples of the Americas and the Caribbean face other challenges, such as the full restoration of democracy in Nicaragua and Venezuela; adherence to free, fair and credible electoral processes in Guyana; and holding the Cuban regime accountable for its malign activities, ” Pompeo said.
“Opportunities abound as well, including the upcoming democratic elections in Bolivia, and implementing an array of OAS programs and initiatives to boost resilience; strengthen democratic governance, human rights, and fundamental freedoms; and bolster economic competitiveness and development in the region,” he said, adding, with Almargo continuing at the helm, “I am confident about the future of the OAS and the Americas,” the US Secretary of State said.
Thank you @SecPompeo for your support & trust in the work we do at the @OAS_official. This victory is for all of us who believe in freedom & human dignity. I am also thankful to @WHAAsstSecty & Amb. Trujillo @USAmbOAS for being staunch supporters during the campaign. https://t.co/LtZcBQegVe— Luis Almagro (@Almagro_OEA2015) March 20, 2020
The vote took place at an extraordinary OAS General Assembly meeting, despite calls by a group of countries – including Mexico and 13 of the 15 members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) – for it to be postponed, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Organisation would send a terrible signal of irresponsibility to the world, should it proceed to hold the General Assembly on Friday, March 20, 2020,” CARICOM said in a letter, on Wednesday.
“No one would have any way of knowing how many of such persons are infected by COVID-19, even if they show no obvious symptoms of it.”
Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the OAS, Sir Ronald Sanders, said, earlier this week, “to proceed with this meeting in circumstances — where the President of the United States has said that no gatherings should be larger than 10 people, and the CDC (U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention) has warned against anything over 50 people is extremely dangerous — is reckless and irresponsible”.
The event, however, was held behind closed doors to minimize the number of attendees. OAS spokesmen assured that there would be no media presence either inside the headquarters or after the exit, so they asked that reporters not be transferred to the place because the members would not speak to the press.
Both Almagro and Mendez will start their second five-year on May 26, 2020. Neither of them will be eligible for re-election, once they complete their second term.
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