The upcoming presidential election will mark a surprising first. Yes, a woman will be on the ballot as a major party nominee. But in addition, for the first time ever, the Organization of American States is sending poll observers to watch as U.S. voting takes place. The OAS, based in Washington, D.C., has previously observed elections in 26 of its 34 member nations, but never before in the United States. The mission will be led by former Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla. Gerardo de Icaza, the OAS director of electoral observation and cooperation, says “a small deployment” of 20 to 30 observers will be sent at the invitation of the U.S. State Department. He says the OAS views it “as a learning experience” and will issue nonbinding recommendations “that can improve the electoral system anywhere.” Those recommendations will be shared with the other OAS members.
Peru’s election, wrought with allegations of fraud and the questionable application of campaign rules that shrouded the final weeks before voting day in uncertainty, has garnered a stern report from observers, who have called for deep reforms to the country’s electoral system, local media reported Tuesday. The Organization of American States mission found that Sunday’s general elections were threatened by political insecurity for voters brought on by the last-minute disqualifications and lasting uncertainty about who would be on the ballot up to 48 hours before polls open. The mission called for an overhaul of the disqualifications system, arguing that in its current form, electoral authorities are not able to guarantee the political rights of voters or candidates.
A Haitian opposition alliance is declining to meet with a regional mission that traveled to this troubled Caribbean nation to help ease a political crisis that has postponed elections indefinitely. Samuel Madistin, spokesman for the “Group of Eight” that includes second-place presidential candidate Jude Celestin, asserted Monday that the Organization of American States’ mission was “not welcome” and was “unable to play any role as a mediator. The OAS doesn’t help Haiti come out of crisis. They create more crisis,” Madistin said, pointing to its role in 2010 elections that saw Celestin get eliminated from a runoff after his reported second-place finish was challenged by foreign observers complaining of irregularities.
In the future, books about Argentina’s economic history in the early 21st Century will have to come with a comprehensive glossary. South America’s second-largest economy has been through so many different economic policies and experiments in the past two decades that a whole new vocabulary has sprung up to explain day-to-day economic transactions. Buenos Aires’ main commercial street, Calle Florida, now has dozens of “little trees” (arbolitos), the name given to black-market traders who buy and sell dollars openly in the streets. They stand around like bushes holding up their green leaves (dollar bills). Some traders prefer to “make puree” (“hacer puré”), which is to buy dollars from the government and resell them to the “caves” (“cuevas”), the illegal exchange rate shops that deal with “blue” (black-market dollars).
The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) on Tuesday severely criticized the head of Venezuela’s electoral board in a harshly-worded letter saying authorities were failing to ensure fair elections in December. The OAS’ Luis Almagro wrote a 19-page letter to Tibisay Lucena, who heads Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE), urging her to level the playing field between the Socialist Party and opposition. “There are reasons to believe that the conditions in which people will vote … aren’t right now as transparent and just as the (electoral council) ought to guarantee,” wrote Almagro. He was responding to a letter from Lucena which was not made public. The CNE did not respond to a request for comment.
Ivory Coast’s election commission is expected to announce Tuesday the first results from an election that was widely expected to give President Alassane Ouattara another term in office. The commission has already estimated turnout from Sunday’s vote at around 60 percent, though a civil society group put the figure at 53 percent. The opposition National Coalition for Change expressed further doubts about the turnout, saying many Ivorians stayed home and fewer than 20 percent actually voted.
Poll workers in Ivory Coast began counting ballots on Sunday after a day of peaceful voting in a presidential election seen as crucial to turning the page on a decade-long political crisis and a civil war in 2011. President Alassane Ouattara, whose leadership has helped the West African nation re-emerge as a rising economic star on the continent, is facing a divided opposition and is heavily favored to win re-election. However, there were concerns that a boycott by part of the opposition coupled with voter apathy could result in low turnout. … “For the moment we are quite satisfied that everything is going ahead without any major incidents,” said Mariam Dao Gabela, chairperson of the Peace-CI civil society elections observer project. While the risk of poll violence was considered low, tens of thousands of soldiers, police and gendarmes were deployed across the country to secure the election, in which voters faced a choice of seven candidates for the presidency. More than 6 million Ivorians were registered to vote at some 20,000 polling stations nationwide.
An international mission that monitored legislative elections in Haiti said Monday that there were scattered problems with violence and other disruptions during Sunday’s first round but not enough to disrupt the legitimacy of the overall vote. The Organization of American States had 28 observers monitoring Sunday elections that saw Haitians choose lawmakers for the next Parliament in a contest that was delayed for nearly four years. They visited 171 of more than 1,500 voting centers across the country of 10 million people.
Electoral violations had been detected in Paraguay’s presidential elections that put millionaire businessman Horacio Cartes in power, the Organization of American States (OAS) said Monday. Oscar Arias, head of a mission sent by the OAS to observe the presidential elections, told a press conference that members of his delegation witnessed “vote buying” at some polling stations and the “roundup” of indigenous groups before they were taken to the polls. Both represented “serious electoral violations,” said Arias, a former Costa Rican president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Foreign diplomatic missions appointed to Venezuela are closely keeping track of the Venezuelan political process as the effects of the results of the upcoming Venezuelan presidential election will extend beyond the country’s borders. After 14 years in office and hoping to extend such period to 20 years, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez represents the continuity of his foreign policy, which aims at privileging those countries with common ideological interests or opposing US interests.