Garcia-Sayan Withdraws as Peru’s OAS Candidate

Garcia Sayan, DiegoDiego Garcia-Sayan, a former Peruvian Justice and Foreign Relations minister, has withdrawn his candidacy for secretary general of the Organization of American States.

Currently a member of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights —and elected president of that court for the 2010-2014 period— Garcia-Sayan said he made the decision due to a lack of support from Peru’s government.

“Knowing that the necessary conditions are not being provided, due to a lack of political support from the Foreign Relations ministry, I have decided to withdraw my candidacy,” Garcia Sayan said. “I’ve decided not to waste time with these conditions.”

Late Tuesday, Foreign Relations minister Gonzalo Gutierrez said he regretted the jurist’s decision and that, on the contrary, his ministry had given firm support to Garcia-Sayan’s candidacy and he had personally contacted 17 Foreign Relations ministers and instructed Peruvian ambassadors across the continent to support the effort.

Gutierrez had met with Garcia-Sayan on August 14 and proposed that he run for the secretary general position of the Washington D.C.-based OAS. Peru’s government registered his candidacy two days after the meeting, Peru.21 reported.  At the time, Gutierrez said that a detailed analysis had been made of several candidates, and that what had determined the choice of Garcia-Sayan was his proven record in the ICHR and in a number of inter-American missions.

Garcia-Sayan said that he has not received support from the government to help explain his position to other Latin American nations, including during a Sept. 25 meeting with Foreign Affairs ministers from the Caribbean.

He said he did have support from various countries, but they were waiting for public backing from President Ollanta Humala’s administration.

“The government had to give a public announcement supporting my candidacy,” he said.

Garcia-Sayan said he hasn’t had contact with the Foreign Affairs Minister for over a week and a half, and that the minister had proposed that he instead take on a position as adviser to Peru’s mission to the OAS.

“You step into the big leagues and then you find out that you’re playing neighborhood soccer,” Garcia-Sayan said. “That is why I’m pulling out.”

Although jurists and politicans from several parties in Peru had approved the choice of Garcia-Sayan, opposition came from the press and opposition politicians who questioned the choice and instead promoted Allan Wagner, a former Foreign Relations minister and most recently head of the Peruvian legal team that successfully defended the Peruvian maritime border case in The Hague.

Criticism of Garcia-Sayan is sharp among press and politicians who defend former President Alberto Fujimori and other authorities charged with  human rights abuses, branding him as the defender of terrorists.

But Garcia-Sayan brushes off the attacks.  “Coming from where they do, I’ve always taken them as condecorations.”

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