When Global Americans started monitoring foreign policy and respect for liberal norms regarding human rights and democracy three years ago, little did we know how much the consensus around basic institutions and processes would fray. We began this effort with the intent to track and hold accountable not just the “rogue” regimes of Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Nicaragua that were forming alliances with autocratic regimes globally and challenging human rights and democratic norms on everything from electoral standards to refusing to call out notoriously repressive regimes such as North Korea. There were also what we called the “enablers” elected governments such as the Kirchner administration in Argentina (2003-2015) or the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) administrations of Luiz Inàcio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff in Brazil (2003-2016) that quietly stood down on human rights issues globally and regionally and abstained over key votes in multilateral institutions calling out flagrant violations, implicitly allying themselves with autocratic regimes in China, Iran and Russia.
The world and the region have changed. As we have detailed over the course of this three-year project, the political and normative sands in the region have shifted, perhaps irreparably. While the election of President Mauricio Macri in Argentina has reset Argentina’s commitment to transparency, Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno has demonstrated an unexpected break with his predecessor Rafael Correa, and the region finally secured a majority in the OAS by one vote to denounce Venezuela’s fraudulent presidential election and the political and humanitarian deterioration in the country, other countries have joined a growing trend to buck hemispheric human rights and multilateral institutions.
Jamaica was a no show at an Inter-American Commission of Human Rights hearings on race-based state violence. As of the writing of this report, Nicaragua’s autocratic President Daniel Ortega and his Vice President and wife, Rosario Murillo, continue to repress protestors and defy international calls for mediation. Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza openly insulted other foreign minsters who had raised legitimate concerns over the humanitarian crisis in his country. And Brazil, even under president Michel Temer, took a pass (and a page from Temer’s PT predecessors) on condemning the Iranian government on its human rights practices. Finally, the United States under the administration of Donald J. Trump has continued to show a troubling disregard for protocol, international norms and multilateral institutions, with the president not traveling to the April 2018 VIII Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru and the U.S. delegation remaining uncooperative in multiple hearings of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights.
“In the report that follows—the fifth in our series of National Endowment for Democracy-supported studies—we detail the balance of hemispheric com- mitment to international and regional norms and processes protecting human rights and democracy, we detail the “good, the bad and the ugly.”