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Activities Update: Friends of the Inter-American Democratic Charter

Guatemalan Electoral Process, May and June 2015

Latin America and Caribbean Program (formerly known as the Americas Program) staff traveled to Guatemala City in May 2015 to conduct a pre-election assessment in Guatemala City in advance of the general elections to be held on Sept. 6, 2015. The objective of the assessment was to determine the logic and receptivity of a high-level political delegation from The Carter Center for Guatemala's electoral process.

On June 12, President Carlos Mesa, former President of Bolivia and member of the Friends of the Inter-American Democratic Charter (FIADC), and Marcelo Varela participated as witnesses of honor at the signing ceremony of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE)-sponsored "Agreement for a Transparent, Peaceful, and Honest Electoral Process." The agreement was signed by all political parties participating in the elections (28 parties registered to date).

The Carter Center and the FIADC sent three high level delegations to visit the country in the following months to complement the efforts of domestic and international observers, to demonstrate international interest in the Guatemalan democratic process, provide support to the TSE, and to speak with key socio-political actors to prevent escalation of political tensions. A high-level political delegation will be present for the September 2015 general election.

VII Summit of the Americas, Panama City, April 2015

Representing the Secretariat of the FIADC, Jennie Lincoln and Marcelo Varela actively participated in the Civil Society and University Presidents forums of the VII Summit of the Americas in Panama City. They contributed to the production of recommendations of the Civil Society Forum to strengthen democracy, human rights, and respect for the rule of law in the hemisphere; learned about current political dynamics in the hemisphere; and co-sponsored a panel on freedom of expression in the Americas with the participation of the new Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Quiet Diplomacy Mission to the Dominican Republic, February 2015
Accompanied by Carter Center staff, Pedro Nikken, former president of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and of the International Commission of Jurists, visited Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in February 2015 to learn about the immigration regularization plan that President Danilo Medina implemented in response to a 2013 ruling of the Constitutional Court, rendering Dominicans of Haitian descent stateless and to assess possibilities for collaboration to improve the overall situation of human rights and rule of law.

Tensions in the country had been rising since ruling 168-13 in 2013 by the Dominican Republic's Constitutional Court. The ruling stripped thousands of Dominican citizens of foreign descent of their Dominican nationality and ordered the government to initiate a process to implement its decision in violation of international human rights law. As a result of the Court's decision, the government produced an initial list of over 45,000 individuals — primarily Dominican citizens of Haitian descent — who would be immediately affected by the decision.

Medina's administration is trying to get as many individuals through the processes of naturalization and regularization before the period ends on June 15, 2015.

Inauguration of the National Commission on Electoral Reform in Panama, January 2015

Accompanied by Carter Center staff, President Carlos Mesa, former President of Bolivia and member of the FIADC), traveled to Panama City in January 2015 to deliver the keynote address at the inauguration of the National Commission on Electoral Reform following the May 2014 general election. The address was widely covered in local media and expressed the commitment of the FIADC to the strengthening of Panamanian democracy.

Since 1994, the Tribunal Electoral established a National Commission on Electoral Reform immediately after each general election to evaluate the preceding electoral process and prepare proposals for electoral reform to improve the democratic process every electoral cycle. The Commission is chaired by the Electoral Tribunal; constituted by representatives of political parties, academics, civil society organizations, worker groups and the private sector; and provides a setting for an open and constructive dialogue.

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