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Safeguarding Democracy in the Americas: How to Strengthen the Inter-American Democratic Charter

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A side event to the IX Summit of the Americas with a keynote address by President Gabriel Boric of Chile.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022
9:30 AM - 2:30 PM (Pacific Time)

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Safeguarding Democracy in the Americas: Keynote Speech and Q&A with President Gabriel Boric of Chile   

Safeguarding Democracy in the Americas: Session I: Diagnosing the challenges to democratic governance   

Safeguarding Democracy in the Americas: Session II: Solutions to the challenges to democracy 

Safeguarding Democracy in the Americas: A conversation with Ms. Uzra Zeya, US State Department    





This year’s Ninth Summit of the Americas takes place amid a steady erosion of democratic values in the hemisphere. Indeed, the defense of democracy is a defining challenge for this region.

Twenty years ago, to safeguard hard-fought democratic gains, every country in the region except Cuba signed onto the Inter-American Democratic Charter. At the Third Summit of the Americas in April 2001, held in Canada, leaders agreed that democracy and the rule of law were an “essential condition” for participation in the summit process, and emphasized the need for better tools to defend democracy in the hemisphere. On September 11, 2001, in Lima, Peru, during a special session of the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly, foreign ministers from the 34 democratic countries of the Americas adopted the Inter-American Democratic Charter. 

Building on the OAS Charter, this historic agreement made democracy a ticket for participation in the OAS and in the summit process, and created new mechanisms to address democratic backsliding. There are many success stories. But the charter’s tools, and its enforcement by OAS member states, have not been infallible. Today, despite numerous proposals to improve the application of the charter, there are three authoritarian states in Latin America and many others in the Western Hemisphere where the balance of power, judicial independence and civil liberties have greatly diminished. At the same time, scores of citizens across the region have lost faith in democracy. This year’s Summit of the Americas offers an opportunity to consider what has led to undeniable successes in the region and considers solutions to present challenges.

This conference will convene experts and senior leaders to discuss ways to strengthen the collective defense of democracy in the Americas. This regional democracy dialogue, taking place on the margins of the Summit of the Americas, is designed to generate and advance realistic policy recommendations to improve the charter’s application by OAS member states.  



  • 9:00 am - 9:30 am - Registration and networking
  • 9:30 am - 9:35 am - Introductory Remarks - Ambassador Mark Green, President, Director & CEO, Wilson Center
  • 9:35 am - 11:00 am - Session I - Diagnosing the challenges to democratic governance in the Americas
  • 11:00 - 11:15 am - Break
  • 12:00 - 1:00 pm - Break
  • 1:00 - 2:30 pm - Session II - Solutions to the challenges to democratic governance in the Americas, the role of civil society and governments
    • CHAIR: Rubén Hernández-León, Director, UCLA Latin American Institute
      • Susanna Hecht, Director, UCLA Center for Brazilian Studies and Professor of Urban Planning, UCLA Luskin School
      • Veronica Herrera, Associate Professor of Urban Planning, UCLA Luskin School
      • Paavo Monkkonen, Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy, UCLA Luskin School
      • Gaspar Rivera Salgado, Director, UCLA Center for Mexican Studies
      • Gary Segura, Dean and Professor, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs



Gabriel Boric Font was born in Punta Arenas on February 11, 1986, the eldest child of María Soledad Font Aguilera, of Catalan descent, and Luis Javier Boric Scarpa, of Croatian descent. After graduating from secondary school in 2004, he entered the Universidad de Chile Faculty of Law, where his academic performance earned him teaching assistantships in several courses, including International Human Rights Law, the Institutional History of Chile, and Justice Theory. He graduated from law school in 2009, but it was politics, rather than law, that became his passion and has been his calling for many years now.

As a student, in 1999-2000 he facilitated the re-establishment of the Federation of Secondary School Students of Punta Arenas. In 2008, he was elected councilor to the Universidad de Chile Student Federation (FECh), representing the Faculty of Law, and in the following year he became president of the Student Union of the Faculty of Law (CED). In late 2011, after one of the most tumultuous years of student mobilizations since the country’s return to democracy, he won the election to lead the Universidad de Chile Student Federation, defeating Camila Vallejo, a fellow student who has remained a longtime political ally.

In 2013, he entered the broader political arena by becoming a candidate for congressional deputy of District 28 (Antarctica, Cape Horn, Laguna Blanca, Natales, Porvenir, Primavera, Punta Arenas, Río Verde, San Gregorio, Timaukel, and Torres del Paine). He was first past the post in his district and was elected without the backing of a traditional coalition.

In 2016, he again paired with his colleague Jackson to create the Frente Amplio political party, launching the presidential candidacy of current constitutional convention delegate Beatriz Sánchez. In that election, just a few months after its formation, the Frente Amplio managed to become the third political power in the country, and he was reelected as deputy, earning the second largest majority in the country. In this second term, he sat on the Constitution, Legislation, Justice and Regulations, and Remote Areas and the Chilean Antarctica standing committees.

In 2019, one of his final years as a congressional deputy, Chile experienced a tremendous socio-political crisis that erupted on October 18th. After weeks of widespread displays of social unrest over a series of actions and a general disengagement of the political and corporate classes, Gabriel Boric signed the “Agreement for Social Peace and a New Constitution.” This pact led to the constitutional reform process that is currently underway in the country, with guaranteed gender parity, and will result in the first democratic Constitution in Chilean history.

Since 2019, President Boric has been in a relationship with Irina Karamanos, a political scientist, anthropologist, and sociologist who has proposed rethinking the role of first lady. On March 17, 2021, Gabriel Boric Font was proclaimed the presidential candidate of his political party, Convergencia Social, with the added backing of Revolución Democrática. Thus began the process of collecting signatures that would end on May 17th with his official registration in the presidential race to La Moneda Palace, and his call for widespread participation of opposition parties in the primaries.

In the first round of the presidential elections, on November 21, he took second place with 25.83% of the vote. This galvanized the citizenry and invigorated his campaign for the second round, as it became apparent to voters that what was at stake was more than just the presidency. On December 19, President Boric won in the second round at the ballot box with 55.8% of the total vote, significantly outpacing his opponent and taking power with the highest margin, the highest voter turnout, and at the youngest age of any president in the history of Chile.



In addition to our UCLA partners, this event is also co-sponsored by the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, The Carter Center, and the Community of Democracies




Sponsor(s): Burkle Center for International Relations, Latin American Institute, School of Public Affairs

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