Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Crunch time for the OAS

The only thing that’s clear about the OAS and Cuba is that Cuba doesn’t want in. The third article in a Granma series called the organization a “pestilent cadaver.”

Nonetheless, the OAS General Assembly is about to plow ahead and debate two issues: the repeal of the 1962 resolution that suspended Cuba’s membership, and if that is done, the conditions (if any) under which Cuba would resume full membership.

AP reports that as of last night, there was no consensus among the member states, which is important because while the decision could be made by a two-thirds vote, the organization operates almost exclusively by consensus. That effectively gives each member state a veto. In this case – if proponents of Cuba’s return do not force a vote – it gives the Obama Administration a strong hand in pressing its view (expressed in a resolution (pdf) it proposed las week) that Cuba’s readmission should be tied to meeting conditions in the OAS Democratic Charter.

It would be interesting if the member states were debating a different proposition. Arturo Lopez Levy of the University of Denver kindly contributed this essay (pdf) that provides an interesting review of the history of Cuba and the OAS. He suggests that the 1962 resolution should be repealed, but Cuba should not be re-admitted to full membership now. Instead:

Cuba should be invited to participate in inter-American efforts against terrorism, narco-trafficking, natural disasters, pandemics and other threats. The OAS should also open its civil society forums to Cuban non-governmental organizations and allow Cuban students access to OAS scholarships.

“Likewise, the Cuban government should reevaluate its attitude toward the OAS from a 21st century perspective. Just as it has done with the Pan-American Health Organization in the last four decades, Cuba can benefit from a more active engagement with inter-American institutions in areas such as agriculture, academic exchange, and energy cooperation.”

Sounds like a way to avoid a train wreck in the making.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ah, Arturo Lopez Levy, that amazing Cuban-American who seems to be in perfectly tune with Cuba's foreign policies designs and goals and is a great apologist for the Communist regime. Now, that is a great source for an objective analysis of the Cuban scene. You have outdone yourself again, Mr. Peters.

leftside said...

Anon, if Levy was perfectly in tune with Havana's foriegn policy designs, he would be denouncing the OAS as an anachronism. If he was an apoligist for the regime, one might think, at the very least, he would be in support of the majority of countries in Latin America who want to make re-entry in OAS non-conditional. Instead, he is trying to save the United State's face by proposing something between the US and Honduras position. A train wreck is only in the works if one takes the US vantage point. This can only be avoided if the US backs off its completely isolated position.

Anonymous said...

just exactly what is a "Cuban non-governmental organization"???

Anonymous said...

cuba has survived without the OAS, there are other institutions that may better serve Latin America without US intervention. However, if Cuba is voted back in I hope they accept, for optics if nothing else. But Cuba is right OAS is nothing more than American run institution, develop ALBA better.

american hypocrisy -- they had to bribe Haiti's dictator to kick Cuba out of OAS back in 1962. haiti got an airport, cuba got the boot, and USA got another notch on the hypocrisy belt.

Anonymous said...

can you actually provide a source for that? or did it just come to you with your tin foil hat on?

leftside said...

Here's a source. Bribes and US diplomacy have long went hand in hand. What was particularly galling about that episode is the lack of shame in bribing a (truly brutal) dictator in passing a resolution supposedly needed because Cuba was supposedly becoming a dictatorship. The distinction was quite clear in the OAS text however. The problem had nothing to do with human rights or freedom or Dictatorship. It had to do strictly with the Marxist-Leninist character of the Revolution. That is why this resolution is an abomination. It said plainly that any government that sees capitalism as an inherent barrier to social progress is evil and incompatible with the "inter-American system."

leftside said...

What an inspiring day of Latin American unity today in Honduras. Poor Hillary tried to put lipstick on the pig that is US policy towards Cuba, but no one was fooled. Her only victory was in postponing a vote until after she leaves. Either the US relents and allows the majority of countries to have their democratic say, or we may very well be witnessing the very end of this outdated institution. What a start for Obama...

Hillary admitted that the U.S. was "pretty much by itself"Paraguay's President Fernando Lugo said the foreign ministers "should show in Honduras that there's a unified America, with no discrimination, with no veto to economic models, social or political that could be freely adopted by every country."

Anonymous said...

Lefty spouts:

"Hillary admitted that the U.S. was 'pretty much by itself'"

Right again, Leftoide! Just like that arrogant imperialist Churchill in 1940, who rudely insisted on continuing to oppose the peaceful activities of the First Free Territory of Europe.

Too bad a Bishop Lugo wasn't around in 1940 to rejoice over the "pacification" of France, among other victories. I can see him now, urging the newly "unified Europe" to "Let the healing begin!" Lefty, you should have been there, dude, to cheer him on.

Anonymous said...

your source is fellow crackpot Robert White? next.....

Anonymous said...

Trashing the OAS Democratic Charter may suit the Latinamerican governments but it is the last best hope of freedom to the Latinamerican people. The only alternative model to democracy is despotism, and democracy is not exercised at the international level but at the national and local level. Letting Cuba join the OAS without adherence to the OAS Democratic Charter bodes ill for the civil liberties of every country in the Western Hemisphere.

As far as capitalist being the only way to social progress, well look at the two Koreas or the former two Germanies.

Vecino de NF

Vecino de NF

Anonymous said...

I can't believe Leftside actually said something sensible: let the feckless OAS collapse.

leftside said...

Vecino, the prosperity of South Korea and West Germany was no natural thing. The amount of money in direct aid, tax breaks, low tarriffs, etc. that US taxpayers shoveled to these countries to make sure they were prospeous is probably in the hundreds of billions. Meanwhile, the embargoes, trade denial, and economic sabotage of Eastern Germany and North Korea are some of the most aggressive acts in the history of international econmics.

That is not to say that North Korean or East Germany Communism were perfect economic systems. Capitalism IS likely more efficient in terms of growth measures, but also more ruthless, uneven and unequal. I beleive capitalism is incompatible with basic notions of human decency and ethics.

Anonymous said...

Leftside,

Are you telling us that communism can only succeed with US taxpayers subsidies in the form of tax breaks, low tariffs, etc, and in the absence of a life and death struggle between capitalism and communism?

Capitalism like any other economic system has nothing to do with human decency and ethics. Like any other economic system it only concerns itself with the allocation of economic resources. It happens to be the most efficient way to allocate economic resources but like any other system is prone to being manipulated. It also allows for human decency and ethics to emerge because it doesn't dictate that you have to spend your profits (surplus in Marxist lingo) in making more profits as evidenced from neighborhood food drives to the Gates Foundation. Communism, in the other hand, doesn't allow for common human decency or ethics that are independent from the political diktats of the Communist Party leader(leaders if you are lucky!), and human nature being what it is the utility function of the leader is the first one to be satisfied.

To paraphrase the Bard: "The fault, dear [Leftside], is not in [markets],
But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

Vecino de NF

leftside said...

Capitalism like any other economic system has nothing to do with human decency and ethics.

Free market capitalism, by its very essence, negates human decency and ethics by putting private profit and greed front and center. Socialism has everything to do with putting ethics front and center, trying to rationally allocate resources "according to one's need." Socialism starts with a base of human rights that are essential to living with dignity (food, water, housing, education, health, transportation, culture, etc.) and designs the econmy to assure these things are taken care of - for everyone. Capitalism starts with the notion that the allocation of those goods depends on one's ability to pay. That 2-3 million in America do not have a place to live, then should be no surprise.

Anonymous said...

Leftside,

You are wrong when you say that "Free market capitalism, by its very essence, negates human decency and ethics by putting private profit and greed front and center." Free market capitalism does not pass moral judgment, it just functions based on the basis of human behaviour.

When socialism (methinks that you truly mean communism) allocates economic goods through compulsory mechanisms, it negates human decency and ethics because any discussion of human decency and ethics has to start with individual moral choices which are negated in a dictatorial society. At best socialism obscures economic relations offering to fulfill human needs for "free" resulting in serious dislocations in the supply and demand cycle.

If you want to fulfill the needs of those who can not provide for yourself, build a prosperous capitalist economy and a society populated by generous productive individuals.

Once again we must agree to disagee.

Vecino de NF

leftside said...

Of course capitalism does not "pass moral judgement." But it dictates, by its very nature, that all goods and services (housing for example) will cost what the market can bear. That millions of Americans get priced out of having a roof over their head is a natural outcome then. Is that moral? What about the renter who works hard in his/her community for years only to be priced out by rent increases when the neighborhood finally gets to be decent? Is that moral?

Individual choices are well and good, but your ideas (like Adam Smith's) begin with the notion that we are starting with a blank slate where everyone has the same opportunities. We know we are a million miles from that in the US, as was Cuba in 1959. Society either tries to rectify those disparate opportunities (as Cuba has done) or tries to sweep them under the rug and deny their existence.

And yes, I am talking socialism, not Communism. There are undoubtebly important roles for free markets, even in socialist societies. I would not design a system like Cuba's if I were starting from scratch. But their system is based on an excess of concern for morality and ethics, hardly something to be villified as evil and "incompatible with the Inter-American system."


Your prescription for "fulfilling the needs for those who can not provide" for themselves has been shown to be wishful thinking. For the US is surely a prosperous society full of generous people, yet we rank amongsth the worst in the world in terms of fulfilling basic human needs. I wish it was not this way, but our fetish for capitalism has denied the possibility for even a somewhat humane third way, a la Europe.

Anonymous said...

Leftside,

Do you agree to disagree or must I submit to your point of view?

Vecino de NF

leftside said...

I was just responding to the points you raised. But fair enough, I know I am not going to turn you into a socialist.

lazaro said...

Very Interesting. It seems that what Lopez-Levy suggested in his article "Toward new OAS Cuba Relation" was just implemented. Lopez-Levy is a visionary young man.