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  • Documents on Democracy


On 13 April 1992 the Organization of American States (OAS) convened a meeting of foreign ministers in Washington, D.C., to address the "presidential coup" carried out in Peru eight days earlier by Alberto Fujimori (see the article by Eduardo Ferrero Costa on pp. 28-40 above). The resolution adopted on that occasion is excerpted below:

The ad hoc meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs . . .

Reaffirming: ...That the solidarity of the American states and the high aims that are sought through it require the political organization of those states on the basis of the effective exercise of representative democracy.

Resolves: 1. To strongly deplore the events that have taken place in Peru, and to express the highest level of concern, since such events seriously prejudice the effectiveness of the institutional mechanisms of representative democracy in that country and in the region.

2. To appeal for the immediate reestablishment of democratic institutional order in Peru, for an end to all actions that impair the observance of human rights, and for abstention from the adoption of any new measures that will further aggravate the situation . . . .

6. To request the President of the ad hoc meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, together with those ministers he designates and the Secretary General, to travel to Peru and take immediate measures to bring about a dialogue among the Peruvian authorities and the political forces represented in the legislature, with the participation of other democratic sectors, for the purpose of establishing the necessary conditions and securing the commitment of the parties concerned to reinstate the democratic institutional order, with full respect for the separation of powers, human rights, and the rule of law.

7. To ask . . , all states that they continue examining the situation in Peru, and that, taking into account the pace of the reestablishment of democratic institutional order in Peru, they reassess their relations with that country, as well as the assistance they give Peru. [End Page 135]

On May 18 the foreign ministers, reconvening at Nassau in the Bahamas with Fujimori in attendance, adopted a second resolution, excerpts from which appear below:

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs . . .

Resolve: 1. To reaffirm the provisions of [the resolution of April 13], and to take note of the commitment made by the President of Peru to call immediate elections for a Constitutional Congress, in an electoral process fully guaranteeing free expression of the will of the people, in such a way as to restore representative democracy in his country.

2. To urge the Peruvian authorities to effect the return to the system of representative democracy at the earliest possible opportunity, with full respect for the principle of separation of powers and the rule of law, thereby facilitating complete restoration of international aid and assistance.

3. To recommend to the Secretary General of the OAS that, subject to prior consideration by the [OAS] Permanent Council and in light of developments in the political situation in Peru and in particular, the timely compliance with President Fujimori's commitment, be provide such assistance as may be formally requested of him, including observation of the elections for a prompt return to the system of representative democratic government.


In 1984, Argentine president Raúl Alfonsín appointed the National Commission on Disappeared Persons, headed by writer Ernesto Sábato, to investigate the human rights abuses that occurred during the preceding years of military rule (see the essays by Jamal Benomar and Raúf Alfonsín on pp. 3-19 above). Excerpts from the prologue to the Commission's report, entitled Nunca Más (Never Again), appear below:

During the 1970s, Argentina was convulsed by terror from both the extreme right and the extreme left . . . .

The armed forces responded to the terrorists' crimes with a terrorism far worse than the one they were combatting, since after 24 March 1976 they could count on the power and impunity of an absolute state, which they misused to abduct, torture, and kill thousands of human beings.

Our Commission was set up not to sit in judgment, because that is the task of the constitutionally appointed judges, but to investigate the fate of the people who disappeared during those...


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