Albion Monitor /News

Drop Latin America Anti-Drug Rules, Leaders Tell U.S.

by Abraham Lama

(IPS) LIMA -- The 27th General Assembly of the Organization of American states (OAS) ended with progress on the internal reform of the body, and criticism of the United States' antidrug policy and civil rights violations in Peru.

In the meeting, the 34 participant nations (all of the American states except for Cuba) adopted agreements against corruption, drug trafficking, poverty and terrorism.

OAS secretary general, former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria, revealed on June 6 that advances had been made towards institutional reform, with a project which stresses better intercommunication between the presidents of the countries and the region.

"This Assembly has been useful to look at what the OAS can to do resolve the problems of the Americas and set us on the way to a culture of peace and development, and to get the process of the hemisphere presidential summits better articulated in our organization," said Gaviria.

"Corruption, poverty, drugs, and terrorism are factors which destabilize democracy. It is necessary to eradicate these energetically to build development within a culture of peace," said Peru's Foreign Minister, Francisco Tudella, chairing the assembly.

U.S. delegation insisted that the agreement did not allude to the "certification" policy
The United States did not come out well in the agreements adopted by the OAS in Lima, as the accord on an antidrug policy explicitly rejected the idea of member countries adopting unilateral measures affecting other nations.

Although it did not say so specifically, the agreement was directed at the "certification" process carried out by Washington each year. Under that process, Washington certifies the performance of countries in the war on drugs according to its own criteria, rewarding those it considers good enough and imposing political and economic sanctions on those it does not.

The proposal was presented by Belize and approved unanimously, because the U.S. delegation insisted that the agreement did not allude to the "certification" policy.

Belize's foreign minister, Dean Barrows, explained the text approved "showed the hemisphere community rejects certification as offensive to the notion of sovereign equality, to the personality of the American states and the commitment to multilateralism which has been adopted."

Despite efforts from the Peruvian group to prevent the OAS Assembly from discussing Peru's internal affairs, the InterAmerican Human Rights Commission said it was concerned about the situation in the host country.

Delegates from the 34 countries attending the meeting found Peru wrapped up in a bitter confrontation between the Fujimori government and the opposition on issues linked to constitutional legality and civil rights.

"The meeting in Lima was positive for the OAS, which made advances on its thematic agenda and the preparation of institutional reforms, but it was nearly a disaster for the Peruvian government, which did not come out well on the human rights issues," said local analyst Manuel Romero.

Romero, editor of Peruvian economic daily Gestion, said the bad timing of some of the political problems of the Alberto Fujimori government turned the assembly into an echo chamber which the opposition was quick to exploit.

During the meeting, opposition press groups said that army leaders had been pressuring them over their revelations of torture and criminal activities perpetrated by the Military Intelligence Service.

Baruch Ichver, a Peruvian television mogul, fled to the United States to avoid the pressure. The Armed Forces called for his citizenship to be withdrawn in order to force him to sell his television station.

The Commission also criticized Fujimori for ousting three of the seven members of the Constitutional Safeguards Tribunal, when they objected to Fujimori's attempts to pass a law allowing his re-election.

The OAS described this Tribunal as a "fundamental factor for the protection of human rights."

The declaration also demanded the Peruvian government put into practice earlier recommendations to end the use of masked judges in the antiterrorist military courts.

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Albion Monitor June 17, 1997 (

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