Group IDEA
Former Presidents from Latin American Countries Reinaldo Escobar

A group of former Latin American presidents gathered at Miami Dade College for an edition of the IDEA group and pledged to support all candidates who challenge what they view as the continent's dictatorial governments.

"There is a very active electoral calendar, starting with Venezuela and continuing with Chile, Argentina, Mexico and Guatemala. We, the presidents who make up the IDEA group, are preparing to visit Venezuela and Nicaragua, and if they let us in, we will strongly express our solidarity and commitment to an extraordinary woman like Maria Corina Machado, who has challenged a narco-dictator who has no scruples, who is so ambitious that he is capable of plunging his people into misery in order to cling to power," said former Chilean President Sebastian Piñera. The event was also attended by former Colombian presidents Andres Pastrana and Ivan Duque, Miguel Angel Rodriguez and Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica, Jamil Mahuad and Osvaldo Hurtado of Ecuador and Jorge "Tuto" Quiroga of Bolivia.

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, the President of the Ibero-American Institute of Constitutional Law, Diego Valdes, and the Secretary General of the IDEA Group, Asdrubal Aguiar, were also present at the event.

The panel focused on the marginalization of the rule of law and the criminalization of politics in the digital age. Participants addressed various issues related to the challenges the democratic system is facing in the modern era.

"In this era of digital revolution, everything has to be faster, more emotional, simpler and more graphic. The great speeches have no place in network TV, but only what comes easily and instantly, and this dampens our critical capacity. We live in a world of tweets," said Piñera about the issue.

Mahuad, on his end, stressed that "digitalization appeals to the emotional part of the brain and not to the rational part".

Ivan Duque threw several darts at the current Colombian government led by Gustavo Petro, whose ideology starkly contrasts with that of Duque's. "If we take the indicators for Latin America from 1990 to 2023, we have the 30 best years in education and health, in exports, in the access of our countries to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), in integration with global markets. This shows that we have made important conquests," Duque said.

Jamil Mahuad received solidarity from his colleagues for a trial against him that they described as political persecution. He was also praised for the dollarization of the Ecuadorian economy and his commitment to peace by signing the agreement that put an end to his country's past war with Peru.

On the subject of peace, Mahuad, who is of Arab descent, spoke to The Latin Times about the Israel-Hamas war: "As a former peace negotiator between Ecuador and Peru, I see that every international conflict ends at the negotiating table when the parties find a way, I hope this will happen here." When asked if he was in favor of an immediate ceasefire, he pointed out that "the sooner the killing of people is avoided, the sooner a solution can be found, because every person who dies, on either side, deepens the wounds.

Jorge Tuto Quiroga, for his part, echoed the criticism of some of his colleagues who have denounced recent agreements between the U.S. government and the Maduro administration, which exchange the lifting of some sanctions for electoral guarantee. He asked that the government in Caracas be urged not to prevent the participation of candidate Maria Corina Machado in the next elections. He harshly criticized the concessions made to the regime, such as the extradition of Maduro's nephews and the money he is allowed to collect "to finance his electoral campaign," Quiroga said.

He also declared himself, without mentioning it, a supporter of the Argentinean candidate Javier Milei.

The event concluded with the presentation of a banner brought by Tuto Quiroga and held by the former presidents in support of the Venezuelan candidate, Maria Corina Machado.

"I invite all of you to defend the cause of freedom not only with ideas, but also with actions, and this will require commitment, courage, conviction and resources, but the cause is noble enough to be worth dedicating ourselves to it, so that freedom and democracy will shine again throughout Latin America".

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