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OAS summit debates five proposals on the Cuban issue

Wednesday, June 3rd 2009 - 10:14 UTC
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After one day of negotiations, Secretary of State left Honduras for Egypt to join President Obama’s Middle East tour. After one day of negotiations, Secretary of State left Honduras for Egypt to join President Obama’s Middle East tour.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says no consensus has been reached on re-admitting Cuba to the Organization of American States, which suspended the country in 1962 in response to its alliance with the Soviet block in the midst of the Cold War.

Mrs. Clinton made the comment Tuesday as she wrapped up a day of negotiations in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, where Foreign Affairs ministers from the 34-member OAS have been holding their General Assembly.

Clinton, who now heads to Egypt, has said Cuba must meet certain responsibilities before it can rejoin the OAS. She says Cuba must release political prisoners and improve basic rights first.

Earlier, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya urged that the resolution suspending Cuba's membership be revoked. He told the gathering of foreign ministers it is time to correct what he called “that mistake”.

Mr. Zelaya said failure to rescind the suspension would make Latinamerican nations “accomplices” in the decision.

The US stance has left it increasingly isolated as most Latinamerican countries have restored diplomatic ties with Cuba and pushed for an end to the decades-old US embargo.

Other OAS members, including Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela, have described Cuba's exclusion from the OAS as a “mistake.” Cuba, for its part, has said it has no interest in resuming its OAS membership but would consider lifting the ban a “most welcome gesture”.

A task force named last week to help work out a consensus on the Cuban issue was unable to come with a solution and five different proposals are for consideration of ministers in the second day of discussions on Wednesday.

Basically even the Obama administration favours the full return of Cuba to the OAS fold but with “democratic” responsibilities. The US position is supported by Canada.

“We do look forward to the day when Cuba can join the OAS, but we believe membership in the OAS comes with responsibilities, and we owe it to each other to uphold our standards of democracy and governance that have brought so much progress to our hemisphere“ said Secretary Clinton. ”This is not about reliving the past. It's about the future and being true to the founding principles of this organization”.

In his opening speech OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza said that “principles which make to the essential values of the organization are involved in the debate: inclusiveness and democracy as enshrined in the OAS charter. We shouldn’t be afraid to discuss the issue, but recalling the past, reaching a consensus must come first. We want to advance, to progress and leave behind a past which for many is not positive, and we must not again fall in divisions”.

Another proposal comes from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Peru and is an attempt to bridge the positions of those who want the return of Cuba with no conditions and those that insist with the “democratic responsibilities”.

El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize and Costa Rica sponsor a draft resolution on procedures, which was presented to the Inter-American Judicial Committee to consider the International Law repercussions of the readmission of Cuba.

Honduras calls for a lifting of sanctions but links future relations between Cuba and the OAS to the “manifest willingness” of Havana to sustain them.

Uruguay supports this initiative.

Finally Venezuela and its allies, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador want the annulment of resolution 662 and the immediate readmission of Cuba and also demand OAS apologize for the “ignominious and anachronic” expulsion of Cuba. The Havana regime would then decide if it returns to the OAS or not.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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