Gregoire, left and OAS Secretary General Almagro
Gregoire, left and OAS Secretary General Almagro

In a statement Luis Almagro Lemes, the secretary general of the Organisation of American States (OAS) last week responded to a declaration by Timothy Harris, the Chairman of CARICOM that criticized a tweet that Luis Almagro Lemes posted on 7th February.

In that tweet, Almagro said he met with Crispin Gregoire, the former Dominican United Nations Ambassador who expressed concern about free and fair elections in Dominica. Gregoire met the OAS secretary general at the request of the opposition United Workers Party.

Soon after the Almagro tweet, Dominica's Foreign Affairs Minister Francine Baron wrote to Almagro on behalf of the government of Dominica, demanding its withdrawal and an apology for the tweet.

Here is the statement by the OAS secretary general:

February 22, 2019

In response to the statement published by the chairman of CARICOM on February 19, 2019 in which he wrongly asserts that I acted beyond the competence of the Office of Secretary General of the OAS, I would like to highlight the following:

  1. The tweet I published on February 7, 2019 at 12:55 pm reads: "Today I met with Former Ambassador to @UN, Crispin Gregoire, who expressed his concern that the upcoming elections in #Dominica are not free and fair. He also requested @OAS official assistance to help ensure a level playing field in the country." As is evident from the transcript, Ambassador Gregoire expressed his concern to me and I formulated the communication. I am surprised that I was denounced for being transparent and for not censoring ideas, particularly in an organization that is obliged to act in accordance with democratic principles such as freedom of speech, openness and tolerance for the diversity of political views.

  2. In connection to the previous point, I would like to reiterate what I promised during my inaugural speech as the Secretary General of the OAS in 2015. I said I would be "both government and opposition." As Secretary General of the OAS, I have an open-door policy, I meet with people with different views and I welcome pluralism of ideas and beliefs.

  3. It is worth noting that, according to a study published by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and The University of Sydney, Dominica is the country with the lowest rate of implementation (below 10%) of the recommendations of OAS Electoral Observation Missions. Democracy is a way of life and an ongoing process of continuous improvement and the recommendations of the Organization aim to guarantee voters the best possible electoral process. When they are not followed and not implemented, this does not help member states to increase the level of trust from the opposition and the international community in their electoral processes.

I stand by my statements and actions, which are completely consistent with the competencies of the Office of Secretary General and the democratic principles that this Organization promotes and defends.