Luis Almagro was elected Secretary General of the OAS on March 18, 2015, with the unanimous support of 33 of the 34 member states and one abstention. Upon taking up the leadership of the OAS, he announced that the central theme of his administration would be “more rights for more people” and that he would work “to be the voice of the voiceless.” His priority at the helm of the General Secretariat is to put the Organization in touch with people’s needs and the new realities in the Hemisphere, as well as helping to ensure greater democracy, more security, and more development and prosperity for all.
As Secretary General, Almagro has prioritized defense of democracy and human rights in his daily work and has not hesitated to speak out when democracy and human rights are being trampled, as in the case of Venezuela, where he pressed for the enforcement of the Inter-American Democratic Charter (IADC), the “Constitution of the Americas,” as he calls it. He is the first OAS Secretary General to have invoked Article 20 of the IADC.
Pursuing a type of multilateral diplomacy predicated on principles, Almagro has also played an instrumental role in the search for solutions to the crisis in Nicaragua; he has put the struggle to restore democracy in Cuba at the very top of the regional agenda; he has increased OAS support for the Mission to Support the Peace Process (MAPP) in Colombia; he drove the creation of the Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH), the first OAS mission of its kind; and he reinvigorated and expanded the OAS electoral observation missions, with the first-time deployment of missions in such countries as the USA and Brazil. Almagro also played a key role in ensuring elections in Haiti, mediated in the migrant crisis between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and deepened diplomatic efforts in the territorial differendum between Belize and Guatemala in relation to the Adjacency Zone, among other initiatives.
After announcing his intention of hauling the OAS into the 21st century, he transformed and modernized the Organization’s communications policy, bringing it closer to the citizens of the Hemisphere by giving it a more proactive presence on social media platforms. By mid-2017 the official OAS accounts had over 1 million followers. According to Twiplomacy, the Secretary General is the most followed leader of an international organization.
A career diplomat, he has extensive regional and international experience. Almagro was his country’s foreign minister from March 1, 2010 to March 1, 2015. Under his tenure, Uruguay set new records for exports year after year. He also defined several landmark initiatives of President José Mujíca’s government that put the country on the global map. Uruguay decided to take in former prisoners from Guantanamo, granted asylum to dozens of Syrian families who were victims of their country’s civil war, and secured the endorsement of GRULAC for its election to a seat on the United Nations Security Council in January 2016.
Almagro was also ambassador to China for five years, after occupying senior diplomatic posts in his country’s foreign ministry and at its embassies in Germany and Iran.
In addition, he was elected as a senator in Uruguay’s national elections in October 2014.
Almagro is a lawyer by profession and has seven children. Apart from Spanish, he speaks English and French.