WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and former chair of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, today made the following statement on the election of former Uruguayan Minister of Foreign Affairs Luis Almagro as the next Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS):

“I am pleased to congratulate Luis Almagro on his election as the next Secretary General of the OAS. I hope that today’s election will provide an opportunity for OAS member states to reaffirm their commitment to the Inter-American Democratic Charter and democracy in all its forms. We need a new kind of OAS that will not only focus on electoral democracy but will also hone in on the more subtle challenges to democracy in the hemisphere. The OAS and its member states must not be afraid to speak up when press freedom is under attack, when countries’ judiciaries are no longer independent, or when leaders disregard legislatures and rule by decree.

“In order to confront these challenges to democracy, we need a well-funded OAS. This will require all member states to pay their dues in full and on time. I look forward to working with Secretary General-Elect Almagro and the OAS member states to strengthen the OAS and democracy throughout the Americas.”