The General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) on Wednesday elected the Permanent Representative of Belize, Ambassador Nestor Mendez, as the next assistant secretary general of the hemispheric institution.
The OAS said the election of Ambassador Mendez took place in a vote in which he obtained 24 votes from the member states, compared with 10 received by the Permanent Representative of Guyana, Bayney Karran.
The vote took place following the election of the former Foreign Minister of Uruguay, Luis Almagro, to the position of Secretary General, which he will assume on May 26, according to the OAS.
Almagro succeeds the current leader of the hemispheric organization, José Miguel Insulza. Ambassador Mendez will succeed Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin on July 12.
On accepting the position, the assistant secretary general-elect said he stood before the countries that elected him to the post “with a clear mandate and an unwavering commitment to seize the opportunity that is before us to work together to transform the OAS into the organization that we want and that the people of the Americas deserve.”
He thanked OAS member states for their votes, calling it an important gesture for the Government of Belize.
Mendez said his country “considered an effective bridge between Central America and CARICOM (Caribbean Community) has an important contribution to make to the Inter-American System, anchored in the fundamental principles enshrined in the OAS Charter, the Inter-American Democratic Charter and the Social Charter of the Americas.”
“Therefore, I am honored to reiterate that commitment to the Inter-American System and to the people we all serve,” he said, thanking member-states “for the trust deposited in me through today’s vote, which I understand as a show of trust and recognition of my country and myself.”
“The clear mandate I have received from you shows me that we agree that today, more than ever, is the moment to strengthen our organization, focusing ourselves on the things we have in common and that unite us and not those that divide us,” Mendez continued. “This is a job that can only be done as a team and through dialogue, based on respect and with a deep commitment.
“Today, we begin a new stage in our organization; we look to the future with optimism that together we can change and improve this valuable Organization; it is a debt to the peoples of the Americas,” he said.
Mendez also congratulated the secretary general-elect, promising to work with him as a team for the organization.
“I am ready to work closely with him to transform this Organization,” he said, while congratulating Ambassador Karran for “a respectful and well-organized campaign, fully aligned with the CARICOM tradition.”
Mendez also recognized “the arduous and dedicated service” carried out during the last decade by Insulza and Ramdin.
Ramdin, congratulated the newly-elected, stating that the electoral exercise “has demonstrated the relevance of this organization in all terms.”
“The value and purpose of the organization signifies that we are a true platform for dialogue among member states, the 34, and hopefully soon, the 35 active member states in our hemisphere,” he said, alluding to the principles that have guided his and Insulza’s work in the last 10 years: “strengthening peace, unity, stability and prosperity in the Americas.”
Mendez has served as Ambassador of Belize to the OAS and to the government of the United States since June 2008.
He was an advisor to the Belize High Commission in London from 1997 to 1999 and holds a postgraduate title from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. in International Affairs.