Cesar Gaviria Trujillo

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Cesar Gaviria Trujillo

"Former Colombian President César Gaviria—known in Latin America as a conflict mediator, advocate of democracy in 1999, staunch supporter of regional integration and defender of human rights—was first elected OAS Secretary General in 1994. He was re-elected by the member-countries in 1999, and began his second term in September of that year.

"Through his strategy for a “New Vision of the OAS,” César Gaviria has fostered profound institutional changes that have reinvigorated the inter-American agenda and prepared the Organization to meet the challenges the region faces today. Administrative reforms have made it possible for the OAS to expand its activities, despite the scarcity of resources, and to strengthen key programs. The adoption of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, in 2001, established the region’s unequivocal commitment to democracy and human rights. The National Democratic Institute paid tribute to Secretary General Gaviria’s leadership and the Organization’s growing role in strengthening democratic values when it presented the OAS with the 2002 W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award.

"During Gaviria’s tenure, the OAS has also intensified efforts to improve hemispheric security and combat terrorism, drugs and corruption. It has become a key player in the Summit of the Americas process, and now serves as its technical secretariat and institutional memory. The Organization has also advanced the concept of integral solidarity and has reformed its technical cooperation programs.

"Gaviria has been instrumental in defusing numerous crises in the region, most recently the tensions in Venezuela. From November 2002 to May 2003, he undertook an unprecedented effort to facilitate talks between the Venezuelan government and representatives of the opposition. The negotiations formally ended with an agreement between the two sides that opens the door for the “peaceful, democratic, electoral and constitutional” outcome the international community had sought...

"In early 1989, he left the government to manage the presidential campaign of Senator Luis Carlos Galán. Following the brutal murder of Senator Galán by drug traffickers, the Liberal Party chose César Gaviria as its candidate. He was elected President of Colombia in May 1990.

"During his four-year term (1990-94) he enacted policies to strengthen democracy, promote peace and reintegrate armed rebels into civilian life. He also carried out a process of constitutional and institutional change, focusing on strengthening the judiciary branch and increasing human rights protection. In 1991, through a plebiscite and elected constitutional assembly, Colombia drafted a new, more democratic constitution. President Gaviria also undertook economic reforms to modernize and enhance Colombia’s competitiveness in the world market. He presided over the signing of free trade agreements between the members of the “Group of Three” (Mexico, Colombia, and Venezuela) and between Colombia and CARICOM, and initiated the revitalization of the Andean Pact." [1]

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  1. César Gaviria Trujillo, OAS, accessed May 26, 2009.
  2. Directors, Oceana, accessed May 26, 2009.