Alejandro Toledo, George Soros Adress World Forum on Democracy | Freedom House

Alejandro Toledo, George Soros Adress World Forum on Democracy

Warsaw

Alejandro Toledo, an opposition presidential candidate in Peru's most recent elections who forced, and later pulled out of, a run-off vote against the incumbent Alberto K. Fujimori, delivered an address at the opening plenary session of the World Forum on Democracy (WFD) on June 25 in Warsaw, Poland. His presentation highlighted the urgent threat to democracy and democratic procedures in Peru.

Over 50 major world leaders and thinkers, including philanthropist George Soros, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and US Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, will address an audience of 300 civil society leaders from over 80 countries at the WFD in Warsaw, Poland from June 25th to 27th.

Mr. Toledo arrived in Warsaw last night, where a member of his party, Baruch Ivcher, was detained by Polish immigration and threatened with arrest by Interpol. He was finally released after several hours. Mr. Ivcher, an Israeli journalist who is also a Peruvian citizen, operated for many years in Peru, often criticizing the government of President Alberto Fujimori. Mr. Toledo drew attention to Mr. Ivcher's detention, calling it yet another example of the Peruvian government's attempt to restrict freedom of expression and sabotage Mr. Toledo's movements.

Mr. Toledo declared himself a "staunch guerrilla" fighting a political monopoly, where the government has appropriated all power and occupied all democratic institutions and the media. He warned that this new form of dictatorship poses the most serious of hazards since it disguises itself as a democracy and exploits democracy's trappings. He called it a "contagious disease," and warned of its imminent spread in Latin America.

Mr. Toledo's address followed a keynote speech by international financier and philanthropist, George Soros, who focused on the need to establish an international association of democracies to work in a co-ordinated fashion to promote open societies.

American Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright will outline America's position on the global advance of democracy during a plenary address June 26. At the forum's closing session on June 27 Secretary General Annan will address the need to create linkages between civil society and governments, and the United Nations' efforts to promote democracy.

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