#Dante Caputo

Dante’s Inferno


I was saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Dante Caputo, the former Foreign Minister of Argentina, Secretary of Political Affairs at the Organization of American States (OAS), peacemaker, scholar and friend.

My first encounter with Dante did not go so well when I tried to give him my take on the structure of project management and budget control, he waved his finger in the air, calling me a Rasputin like figure trying to “control” his big picture view through mere numbers and process!

From this inauspicious start, Dante and I polar opposites (literally and figuratively) went on to develop a good working relationship.

I learned a lot from Dante, mostly about Latin America and democracy. I remember asking him for a one-pager defining democracy to which he laughed and gave me a 500 page UNDP exegesis. Eventually, a small group of us sat down with him while he dictated his one-pager, a document I still use.

He said a functioning democracy has three parts;

  • elections, not a transaction but a free, fair and competitive process with equal opportunities and financing. What he called the origin of power.
  • Good governance, through inclusive institutions, not just for the few but for all, creating a sense of credibility and legitimacy. What he called the use of power.
  • Developing and expanding the concept of citizenship through the protection of rights, participation in the business of the state and an understanding of responsibilities. What he called the social aspects of democracy.

While we all agree that there is more to it, this became my working definition.

I don’t pretend to speak for Dante but by his definition, Venezuela is no democracy, to which the OAS has rightly taken a firm stand.

Nicaragua would also fail this litmus test and I wonder what Dante would think and have done?

We will never know but I am surprised at the silence of the OAS ….

RIP Dante Caputo





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