Venezuela’s Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS), Ambassador Jorge Valero, assumed the chairmanship of the Permanent Council and talked about the need for deeper conceptual and institutional change within the hemispheric organization.
The OAS should focus “not just on the concerns of governments but should also reflect the interests of the peoples of the Americas in their quest for justice, equality and solidarity,” declared Valero, as he accepted the gavel to succeed Uruguay’s Ambassador María del Lujan Flores in the Permanent Council chair.
Pledging that over the next three months he would lead the Council “with a spirit of broad-mindedness, to foster the broadest possible debate,” Valero said the OAS should faithfully reflect progressive changes taking place across the hemisphere. He argued that it should therefore reorient its debate “toward a comprehensive, multidimensional approach to democracy.”
Meanwhile, the OAS Assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Albert R. Ramdin, underscored the importance of this chairmanship in the lead-up to the next General Assembly session, which will be held in Panama City in June. Over the next few weeks, he said, the Permanent Council will be seeking consensus on the resolutions and issues that will be up for consideration and decision by the member states’ foreign ministers. “We are convinced that Venezuela’s leadership will facilitate the adoption of a consensus document on the main theme of the General Assembly—Energy for Sustainable Development,” Ramdin said.
During the hand-over ceremony, Valero also touched on the General Assembly, saying that “integration and cooperation around energy—based on principles of solidarity, collaboration and reciprocity that promote fair, just and universal access to energy—could be used as a vehicle to combat poverty, deliver sustainable economic and social development to the peoples of the Americas, and build just and equitable societies.”
A number of member state delegates were also on hand for the ceremony, which was held at OAS headquarters in Washington.