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Organization of American States seeks new ‘strategic vision’ for the future

At a recent meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) Permanent Council, Secretary General José Miguel Insulza issued a challenge.

The OAS has traditionally espoused four pillars: democracy, human rights, security, and development. But presently, the OAS is overextended and underfunded. With this in mind, the Secretary General called on the OAS to measure current efforts against the four pillars – and to reprioritize, as needed:

“If we return to giving strict priority to the core OAS missions, that would lead us to concrete measures that we could carry out efficiently and achieve the objectives that the member states have set. Today we have clear budgetary restrictions .… The assumption is that by concentrating on fundamentals, not only can we overcome the short-term situation, but also dispel many doubts about what role the OAS is destined to play in the hemispheric context.”

While the document itself is titled “A Strategic Vision of the OAS”, it’s really more of a call for a strategic vision. Much of the proposal deals with internal personnel matters, but it also recommends the decentralization of programs, to be determined by regional priority and strategic outlook, and instituting financial quotas, which would spread OAS budgetary dependency more evenly among member nations.

In response to the Secretary General’s challenge, as reported by Caracas-based newspaper El Nacional, Venezuelan ambassador Carmen Velásquez recommended a one-year break after the 2012 General Assembly – scheduled for June in Cochabamba, Bolivia – to “concentrate on discussing the strategic vision of the organization.”

The ambassador did not specify whether she was advocating a complete cessation of operations or merely a cancellation of the 2013 General Assembly. This suggestion came two months after the inaugural meeting of the Community of Latin and Caribbean States (CELAC), which some hope will replace the OAS. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez made crystal clear his feelings about the OAS – considered by many to be dominated by the US – during the CELAC summit in early December:

“The CELAC is being born with a new spirit …. As the years pass, the CELAC will leave behind the old and worn out OAS.”

The ambassadors of Nicaragua and Uruguay were quick to support the Venezuelan suggestion, but it seems unlikely that the OAS General Assembly will take a sabbatical. Guatemala has already offered to host the 2013 General Assembly. It remains to be seen whether the Western Hemisphere is large enough for so many regional organizations competing for the limited time and resources of the region’s leaders.

The OAS is not the only international organization currently seeking revitalization. In discussing UN Security Council reform, Qatari Ambassador Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser stated:

“There is no shame in recognizing that after six decades our organization needs reform. To remain relevant and legitimate, the UN must adapt itself to meet current global challenges.”

There is no shame in the OAS seeking a revised strategic vision, to include reevaluation of priorities and reallocation of resources. In fact, establishing this strategic vision is vital to the future of the organization. But it will only be possible through collaboration and consensus.

By guest contributor, Jackie M. Briski, of Cuando asi no sea.

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.


  1. OAS is a bunch of crap! Money grubbing bastards!

  2. this is the same OAS who worked to deprive the Honduran people of their right to depose their leader and call for the castro regime to be allowed entry to said organization.

  3. Yes. Kick Chavez and all his populist regimes!!

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