Inter-American Electoral Commission

by Carlos Sánchez Berzaín



A Commission created from the principle that elections aren't democracy, but they are essential elements of it; the objective is to make elections fair, i.e. free of fraud or suspicion.

If we can do a classification to differentiate today the countries of the Americas, the most appropriate is that of countries with democracy and countries with non-democracy. In the first, freedom is respected, governed by the rule of law, and they are predictable.

In non-democratic countries freedom is infringed, a dictatorial or totalitarian project changed the institutional framework, creating its own legality (which is not legitimate or lawful) to ensure the perpetuation of the warlord in power; they are States with persecuted, imprisoned or exiled politicians, in which elections are the shield to shelter in the shade of a democracy that no longer exists

In both, countries with democracy and in countries without democracy, there are elections:, the difference is that in the former, the institutions and the electoral system are at least acceptable and there are resources for complaint and sanction to fraud. In countries without democracy, all the institutions aimed at ensuring clean and transparent elections are established mechanisms to serve the perpetuation of the warlord or of his anointed in power, including the judiciary. In countries without democracy there is no possibility of the pro-Government candidate to lose an election, because the system is designed to avoid that.

In these conditions the question lies in how to establish courts or impartial electoral bodies in countries without democracy such as Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and others of the orbit of the ALBA project or socialism of the 21st century.

The challenge is how to restore democracy in the States that have a non-democratic legal and institutional design, which do not comply with the Inter-American Democratic Charter, in a moment in which, most of the States of the international community are not willing to sacrifice its trade relations with the non-democratic countries.

The answer I propose is that in application of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, an Inter-American Electoral Commission be created; an electoral body that is the impartial electoral body for the countries of Latin America within the framework of the Organization of American States.

With an inter-American electoral body, we will avoid repeating the plight of recent elections in Venezuela which has instituted a President flawed of legitimacy, because its own legality is not sufficient and not even convinced to Chavez's supporters; we will avoid that the show in preparation for the incoming year presidential elections in Bolivia, be an event of a single official party candidate who will be re-elected with simulation of opposition when most of the potential candidates are imprisoned or in exile.

In short, avoid that further grading of democracy be given to elections with electoral fraud executed before, during and after the day of voting.

In addition to the impartiality, transparency and many other advantages to which discussion and debate remains open, an inter-American entity election would reduce the cost of elections and would comply to one of the essential conditions for democracy: the holding of periodic elections in liberty, fair..., and based in universal, secret vote as expression of people sovereignty.


The author is a lawyer and Bolivian political scientist. He has been Minister of State and parliamentary.