The State of Democracy in the Americas with Luis Almagro

It’s possible for the latest Venezuela talks to make progress despite low expectations, said the OAS secretary general, but that doesn’t mean that the Maduro regime will give up any key powers.


  • Luis Almagro, Secretary General, Organization of American States
  • Eric Farnsworth, Vice President, Americas Society/Council of the Americas (interviewer)

The Inter-American Democratic Charter is arguably more relevant today than it was when first adopted 20 years ago, said OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro in a one-on-one discussion with AS/COA’s Eric Farnsworth. Threats to democracy like inequality, corruption, and violent crime “have always been there,” said Almagro, and they tend to boomerang.

On Venezuela—a particular focus of Almagro’s since he took the reins of the body in 2015—he said that the Maduro regime “played a lot with the tiredness of the international community” and as such, aspirations for the current talks in Mexico are lower than they were a few years ago. So while it’s possible or even likely negotiators there will reach some agreements, they’ll be working based upon these lowered expectations, and it’s unlikely the Maduro regime will be giving up any key powers.

Speaking more broadly on how to strengthen democracy, Almagro talked about how the social pact is at the foundation of any socio-political system. There’s been a tendency to turn your political adversary into a veritable enemy, which he sees as having opened the door to polarization and populism. “We have to avoid the polarization provoked by ‘enemy-zation’ of political adversaries,” he said.