Alumni Update: Election Monitor

Emmanuel Davalillo Hidalgo, Global UGRAD 2013-2014, Venezuela 

Over a year since the end of my Global UGRAD Program, I’m still reaping the unique opportunities presented by my year  abroad at American University in Washington, DC.Greetings from Haiti

During my time as an intern at the Department of Electoral Cooperation and Observation of the Organization of American States (OAS), I came into direct contact with a flagship activity that the OAS has performed across the hemisphere for the past 50 years: electoral observation missions (EOMs). In 2014, as my internship drew to a close, I was offered a chance to participate in my first mission to Panama for their general elections!

Almost a month ago I received another invitation to observe the elections just held in Haiti, and it was an experience unimaginably more challenging than my first assignment.

In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, to say reality on the ground has been exceptionally harsh for the Haitian people is a clear understatement. As trained observers, our chief goal was to accompany Haitians during such a critical moment for their political system, while documenting and—where possible—helping dissuade electoral violence with our presence, so as to procure the most peaceful and sustainable outcome.

Our mission works closely with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), whose peacekeepers always looked out for our safety and helped in our deployment across all 10 departments of the country. On Election Day, our team of 125 observers from 27 different nationalities was present in almost 500 polling centers. Fortunately, the nationwide electoral event unfolded in a largely peaceful environment, and we continue to strive for a serene transition.

As an alumnus of this life-changing program, I must recognize—once again—all those who made it possible for me to work towards the strengthening of democracy in the Americas. To you I say: Mèsi anpil!

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