Thursday, June 4, 2009

OAS and Cuba: What next?

The first thing to note about the OAS action in Honduras regarding Cuba is that it is exactly what Secretary General Insulza suggested at the Trinidad summit in April. The 1962 resolution was repealed, and the issue of Cuba’s return was left for another day – or, as Insulza put it in an interview in May, “A rusted lock has to be taken off, and later we open the door.”

Cuba’s return is not automatic. The resolution provides that Cuba would have to ask to return, and then a “process of dialogue” would take place “in accordance with the practices, purposes and principles” of the OAS.

Hence the resolution, approved by consensus, was crafted to allow all to claim victory.

The Obama Administration sees the “practices, purposes, and principles” clause as a clear reference to the OAS Democratic Charter, and believes the hemisphere’s democratic principles were defended. Until recently, says the National Security Council Latin America chief Dan Restrepo, OAS members “would have supported a three-line resolution lifting the 1962 resolution and allowing Cuba to automatically return to the OAS.” Now, he argues, “for Cuba to return to the organization, the organization has to agree that Cuba is abiding by the same rules that everybody else is abiding by. That is a historic achievement.”

Other OAS members note that the 1962 resolution was repealed unconditionally. “Today the Cold War has ended,” Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya said. With El Salvador’s restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba on Monday, the entire region except the United States now has formal ties. And the 1962 resolution that suspended Cuba for its “adherence” to Marxism-Leninism and its “alignment” with “the communist bloc” is gone. A few nights ago, Zelaya joked on CNN that if 1962 standards were to be applied today, the United States would have to be expelled from the OAS, given its ties to Russia and China.

What happens now?

Cuba controls the timetable, since the resolution stipulates that any further action would be triggered by a Cuban request. Cuba reiterated last night that it “Cuba has not asked and does not want to return” to the OAS, according to a statement read on the Mesa Redonda television program.

If Cuba one day changes its mind, the entire debate over conditions for its re-entry – sidestepped in Honduras by the resolution’s compromise language – will then be revived, and we will see exactly how much OAS member states see the Democratic Charter as an impediment to seating Cuba.

The answer may be: Not much.

In the same interview cited above, Secretary General Insulza said, “If you ask me whether Cuba meets the requirements of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, I could name seven or eight countries that do not meet them.” And Brazilian President Lula da Silva – whom President Obama called “to press for help in ending the impasse” in Honduras, according to the New York Times – says it’s possible to find a “common denominator” to permit Cuba’s return, and he’s “optimistic that in the coming months we are going to find a solution.”

Secretary of State Clinton’s statement is here. The Herald has audio of comments by Assistant Secretary of State Tom Shannon here. Cuban Colada has a roundup of Congressional and other reaction.

AFP Spanish reports that at the OAS meeting, a U.S. delegate complained that no English version of the resolution was available 11 hours after it was approved, leading the Honduran foreign minister to plead for patience and to note, “There are some who have waited 47 years.”


Anonymous said...

Next step: The regime insults all its water carriers and bootlickers, making them all look ridiculous. gee, when have we seen that before?

Anonymous said...

Under the category of "What Next?" it should be pointed out a curious incident in Havana today: a group of seven "balseros" sank in front of the US Interest Section as reported by Nuevo Herald. A Cuban policeman was quoted as saying that it is not a crime to leave Cuba. This could foreshadow a new migration crisis in the coming months as both the austerity measures and the sense that nothing will change sink in the popular mindset in Cuba.

Vecino de NF