Venezuela: The Chilean Foreign Minister Piñera will lead the Ibero-American General Secretariat | International

Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares (left) greets his Venezuelan counterpart, Félix Plasencia, this Friday in Santo Domingo.Twitter

The Ibero-American General Secretariat (Segib), an organization that some Latin American countries have looked at with disdain until now and that only seemed to import to Spain, this Friday in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) has become the object of a very fierce political struggle. The representatives of the 22 countries of the Ibero-American community (19 Americans, in addition to Portugal, Spain and Andorra) have elected the Chilean Andrés Allamand Zavala, 63, Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Government of Sebastián Piñera, new Ibero-American Secretary General in replacement of Rebeca Grynspan, who left office in September to go on to lead UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development). Four candidates ran for the position: former Peruvian Foreign Minister José Antonio García Belaúnde, current Foreign Ministers of Guatemala and Chile, Pedro Brolo and Andrés Allamand, and former Ecuadorian Vice President Rosalía Arteaga.

Although until now this position had been chosen by consensus, the foreign ministers decided to vote for the one elected to avoid a blockade that could be indefinite. But the decision was not easy, since the support of the four candidates was very even, although with an initial advantage of the only woman. So it was decided to carry out several rounds of eliminatory voting: first Belaúnde fell, then a vote was made between Brolo and Allamand, in which both were tied and, finally, the Chilean foreign minister prevailed and faced in the final the Ecuadorian, defeating her; although by a small difference, 12 votes to 8, according to diplomatic sources.

Allamand’s victory has been a surprise, since he is part of an outgoing government, which will be replaced by the winner of the second round of the Chilean presidential elections, on December 19. Furthermore, Artega had the advantage of belonging to an Andean country, since the first two general secretaries of the Segib were from the Southern Cone, Enrique Iglesias (Uruguay) and from Central America, Grynspan (Costa Rica). However, the Chilean has won the vote of those who supported fallen candidates in the different elimination rounds. Spain was in favor of avoiding active foreign ministers, who have had to position themselves on unresolved conflicts in neighboring countries, but in the end the representative of a traditional right that seems to be in decline throughout the continent has prevailed.

Only the political polarization that Latin America is experiencing, where an ultra-rightist (José Antonio Kast) and a leftist (Gabriel Boric) will contest the Chilean presidency, as has already happened in Peru, can explain that a technical and innocuous position, such as that of secretary general de la Segib, has become the subject of such a close dispute. The first thing that was surprising was the presence at the Santo Domingo meeting of 13 foreign ministers, including some traditionally absent from these appointments, such as the Cuban Bruno Rodríguez or the Venezuelan Félix Plasencia, which showed that the election did not leave anyone indifferent.

The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, has taken the opportunity to hold bilateral meetings with several of them, including the Venezuelan Félix Plasencia. Much of the conversation has focused on the controversial local and regional elections held last Sunday in Venezuela, in which the candidates of the Maduro regime won 20 of the 23 governorates and 205 of the 335 mayors at stake, in the middle of a strong abstention. The EU Observation Mission has not yet published its final opinion, but in its provisional conclusions it gave one of lime and another of sand, recognizing that “electoral conditions have improved compared to the three previous national elections”, but warning that “structural deficiencies still persist,” such as the arbitrary disqualification of opposition candidates, the abusive use of State resources in favor of the ruling party, unequal access to the media and the lack of judicial independence. This was the first time that opposition parties participated in Venezuelan elections since 2018 and that the EU had sent an observation mission for three decades. The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has already ruled that the elections “were neither free nor fair.”

Albares asked his Venezuelan counterpart to end the practices denounced by the EU mission and to resume as soon as possible the negotiations with the opposition that were taking place in Mexico and were suspended last October, to guarantee that the next presidential elections, unlike the last Sunday, be “fully free and competitive,” according to diplomatic sources. The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry had previously been “disappointed” by the “value judgments” made by the Spanish Foreign Ministry in a note in which it warned that local elections had not met “democratic expectations.”

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The minister also met with the foreign ministers of Cuba (Bruno Rodríguez), Guatemala (Pedro Brolo), Peru (Óscar Maúrtua), Ecuador (Mauricio Montalvo) and the Dominican Republic (Roberto Álvarez), the latter in his capacity as host.

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