Freedom is up for a vote in the Western Hemisphere


On March 20, the Organization of American States (OAS) will hold an election for its next secretary general. The incumbent, Uruguayan Luis Almagro, has rejuvenated the once-fading institution and is among the boldest pro-democracy voices in the Americas. Unsurprisingly, Venezuela is quietly mobilizing its regional allies to defeat him. Surprisingly, democratic nations from Canada to Mexico to Argentina may help Venezuela succeed.

Secretary General Almagro has earned this opposition through his principled leadership.


The Organization of American States is far from perfect, but any reforms will be harder if the OAS slides back toward weakness and moral ambiguity. Freedom without champions is an empty concept. We must back those who take the political risk to defend it. Now is the time to double down, not back down, on defending freedom and democracy across the Western Hemisphere.

Only Secretary General Luis Almagro will do so, and he deserves a second term.

Marion Smith is executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Originally published in The Hill.