The secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, made 34 work trips with a female staffer with whom he maintained a long-running intimate relationship, according to a report by The Associated Press. Apparently, 21 out of the 34 trips made by Almagro and his junior aide Marian Vidaurri were paid in part or full by the OAS, an organization that has been in a deep budgetary crisis for years. Costs of some of the other trips were covered by the organizers of events that the two attended, while for the rest the funders have not been specified in OAS reports.
Moreover, the couple traveled 15 times together without any other OAS staffer listed as present, AP reported.
Here in Venezuela we got some troglodytes like Vladimir Villegas trying to normalize the whole thing saying that “love is love” disregarding that they used OAS money to pay for their honey moon, and Almagro is at the top of OAS hierarchy. Nasty machismo we got here! https://t.co/IyG0yElzUf
— Orinoco Tribune (@OrinocoTribune) March 10, 2023
These revelations come as a formal investigation is going on to determine whether Almagro’s romance with his junior staffer violated the OAS code of ethics.
Almagro, through a spokesperson, declined AP’s request for comment, thus evading questions about the trips.
OAS Chief Almagro Faces Investigation Over Unethical Relationship with Staffer
“The secretary general stands by all previous statements issued on this matter that no OAS rules were violated at any time due to the measures he and his team took to ensure all regulations were complied with,” spokesperson Gonzalo Espariz said in a written statement.
Last year, AP revealed in a report that Almagro was being internally investigated by the OAS over whether his office romance violated the organization’s ethics code.
Washington ordered external investigation
The report prompted US President Joe Biden, the OAS’ largest donor, to request an external investigation into possible misconduct committed by the OAS head. A few weeks later, the body’s Permanent Council hired the Washington-based law firm Miller & Chevalier Chartered to conduct an inquiry and submit its findings by the end of March this year.
OAS Authorizes External Investigation Against Almagro for Unethical Relationship with Junior Staffer
The 59-year-old Almagro denied any wrongdoing. He insisted that he was not the direct supervisor of the Mexican official, Vidaurri. He also claimed that he never benefited her in any way and that their long relationship was consensual.
“I definitely want to confirm, reconfirm and super-confirm that this relationship existed” for three years, Almagro said in November, without revealing the name of the person with whom he had the affair. “None of this changes my vision of the institution, its operations and the responsibility we have with respect to them.”
At issue are OAS ethics guidelines that prohibit staff members from having intimate relationships with colleagues they supervise or in a way that interferes “with the performance of their duties or to disadvantage others in the workplace.”
According to the AP report, details on Almagro’s travels are contained in reports that he was asked to file quarterly with the OAS’ Permanent Council as part of a savings and transparency initiative approved by OAS member states in 2016. However, Almagro did not submit any reports in 2020 and 2021, a period that coincided with the COVID pandemic, when travel throughout the world was severely restricted. OAS spokesperson Espariz declined to explain why Almagro did not file travel reports during 2020-2021, and whether there were additional trips he took with Vidaurri.
(RedRadioVE) by Dubraska Esteves, with Orinoco Tribune content
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
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