Former Costa Rican President and FIU professor Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera will lead an independent team charged with observing national elections in Guatemala this summer.
Solís, who served as president of Costa Rica from 2014 to 2018, was chosen by the Organization of American States (OAS) to head its independent electoral mission to Guatemala, which will hold general elections for president and Congress on June 16.
OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro announced the appointment on social media, saying it was a “priority of the OAS” to support the “strengthening of democracy” in its member states.
“This important mission will take place amidst a context of political instability in one of the key actors of the Central American community,’’ said Solís, who began his tenure as professor at FIU’s Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC) in August 2018. “It demonstrates the continued international recognition of Costa Rica in the promotion and defense of democracy. It is my privilege to uphold, defend and reflect the democratic principles and values which we all hold dear.”
Electoral missions of the OAS provide local support and impartial observation of the electoral process to help ensure free and transparent elections and strengthen democracy in the region.
“I cannot think of a better person to navigate through the challenges presented by this year’s election in Guatemala than President Solis,’’ said Frank Mora, director of LACC and a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Western Hemisphere. “His leadership and commitment to democracy and the rule of law in the hemisphere will provide the OAS delegation with the credibility needed to have its judgments respected by all parties.”
Solís will travel to Guatemala for a preliminary visit in May, then for the first round of elections in June. If there is no majority winner, a runoff election for president will be held in August. Solís will present a report to the Permanent Council of the OAS in Washington, D.C., in October.
Solís first came to international prominence as an aide to the president of Costa Rica during Central American peace negotiations in the 1980s.
He previously served as a researcher and Fulbright Scholar with the Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC) and also worked with FIU’s Center for the Administration of Justice, both part of the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs. In 2017, Solís received FIU’s Presidential Gold Medallion – the highest honor the university bestows upon heads of state and other high-ranking public officials.
His lengthy academic career includes nearly 30 years at the University of Costa Rica, where he held various positions, including a deanship, and remains a tenured professor of history and political science. He has written, co-written and edited 10 books and published more than 60 academic articles. Solís holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Costa Rica and a master’s degree in Latin American studies from Tulane University in New Orleans.