As expected OAS countries could not resit it and canceled the 1962 expulsion of Cuba. Now the island can ask to rejoin the OAS if it wants. The only thing left hanging in the air is whether at least some conditions will be imposed on that to preserve a minimum of decency. But it is to be doubted.
The deed is done and Secretary Clinton had at least a good excuse to leave before the end and have to pose for a photo with a continent that has abandoned any pretense at the defense of Human Rights while it slowly slides in the gray limbo that the XXI century new model of dictatorships have created: a renewed autocratic executive power that slowly but surely is eating up individual liberties.
This is seen clearly in Venezuela and Nicaragua and less clearly but worrying enough in Bolivia and Ecuador. Not to mention other countries such as Paraguay were a tarnished sleep around bishop president does not seem to be in danger of losing his seat or in Argentina which under Peron legacy has never been quite democratic and seems sliding once again in that grey area. Why countries like Chile, Peru or Colombia supported the San Pedro Sula vote, if they did, is simply a mystery partly unveiled looking at the personal failings of their leaders: Garcia and ex populist that even ruling as a serious moderate cannot help but miss his old days; Bachelet who is a secretly unreconstructed leftist that has a hard time fitting the institutional rules of Chile; and Uribe who is thinking about a third reelection. It seems that we cannot escape the worst vices of our political culture, even in 2009, no matter where we stand in politics.
The Castros know that and have been playing us like a fiddle since 1958. With a mere blink from Raul, with a mere good intention the trick was done: instead of being 100% totalitarian Cuba under him promised to be 98.5% totalitarian and that was enough for him to score the Honduras victory. Chavez and Ortega were mere peons there, useful scarecrows to bully small countries of the Caribbean to sign in.
Now, does anyone think that the OAS will criticize Chavez if he closes Globovision? Will the courts depending on the OAS muscle be able to enforce their ruling when the OAS council has abdicated its democratic principles today?
The US has tough choices ahead, either abandon its promotion of democracy and try to gain some peace from the South, a little bit like the guy that feeds crocodiles in the hope that he will be eaten last. Or, more courageous, give up altogether the OAS and just have a formal presence in there. I would even suggest that the US propose that the OAS moves out of Washington, under any pretense such as budget savings. The OAS has lost its right of residence in a city which is a symbol of democracy. Send it to Caracas, that will be a great punishment for all those useless ambassadors who cherish the plum job that representing their country in Washington is.
President Obama, you should take seriously your own words when you told vulgar Ortega that you were happy he did not blame you for things that happened before your birth. Indeed, you have no need to pay for past US abuses from people that are unwilling to admit their own guilt and failures. I, for one, would understand and applaud that the US forgets about Latin America and let it sink on its own. Love will never work as long as people like Castro or Chavez or even Lula hang around. You will irremediably become the whipping boy of failed populists demagogues. Try indifference for a while and see if it works better. Those willing to sign FTA welcome, the other can go to Chavez and Lula. Trust me, in the end it will be no great loss to the US.
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I am putting coverage of the Honduras fiasco separate because there is still some hope that at the end there will be some conditions imposed to Cuba if this one wants to return to the OAS, although I must admit that I am very skeptic. Also, I might update it this evening if better news come.
The AP focuses on the travails of Clinton and the lost cause. The Miami Herald, writing from where the news will have the bigger impact, is at a loss for words and basically limits itself to the announcement.
The New York Times writing earlier was still under the impression that the agreement would not happen. Same thing with the Washington Post though this one focused more on the gang beating that Secretary Clinton had to face up.
Just right now Reuters make it look like it is just opening the door to Cuba but that the negotiation is not over. Maybe we can hope that it is true, that some folks voted yes knowing full well that it was a mere PR measure and that Cuba was far from warming a seat in the OAS. BBC Mundo seems to agree but it weirdly focuses on the declarations of Honduras foreign minister as a "victory for Latin American people". A victory for whom? When was embracing an hereditary dictatorship a victory for the people?