The OAS Falls Apart

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary Three things have happened that have virtually destroyed the credibility of the Organization of the American States (OAS). First, the issue of Cuba came up time and again. Every country at the OAS (except the United States and Canada) wants Cuba to be allowed to return to the OAS. Cuba was expelled from the OAS—the only country that has ever been expelled from the OAS—in 1962. The United States since then has made sure that Cuba has never been readmitted. Every Latin American country and countries in the Caribbean has called for the United States to end the embargo against Cuba and readmit Cuba into the OAS. Even Mexico and Colombia, which are staunch allies of the United States, have called for Cuba to be readmitted to the OAS. Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador, along with a number of Caribbean nations, have made it clear that they will no longer attend nor be part of any future OAS summits until Cuba is readmitted.

The second thing that has put the whole OAS on edge is the issue of illicit drugs. The illicit drug trade has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people throughout all of Latin America and the Caribbean. From Colombia to Mexico, people are slaughtered by gangs, criminal cartels and guerrilla movements who use the illicit drug trade for financing their operations. The whole illicit drug is breaking down a number of Latin American and Caribbean societies, it is causing their police forces to disintegrate, and it is causing a drain on their economic coffers to try and contain it the way the United States wants it. The illicit drug containment policies, initiated by the United States during the Richard Nixon administration, is not working in Latin America and the Caribbean. Hence, many of these nations are now calling for the unthinkable—legalize some parts of the illicit drug trade. This sentiment is not just among the more leftist regimes of Venezuela, Bolivia or Nicaragua, but even among staunch U.S. allies like Colombia, Panama and Mexico. The United States has made it clear it does not want legalization of any kind.

Finally, the world’s new superpower, China, is making inroads into the economies and political realms of many Latin American countries. Since the United States has neglected Latin America and the Caribbean, China has moved into the void. China is now the largest trading partner of a growing number of Latin American and Caribbean countries like Brazil. Because the United States has been too preoccupied with Afghanistan and Central Asia, it has lost ground in the whole of the Americas. I had previously warned that unless the United States does something to try and increase its presence in Latin America and the Caribbean, China will. Well, it has now become obvious that the United States is a declining economic as well as political superpower in its own backyard. In fact, countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador are strengthening their economic, political as well as military bonds with Cuba as well as China. It is becoming an important trend that leftwing political parties are making real headways into the political process of many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

What all of this means is that the United States and its northern neighbor Canada are isolated from the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean. The isolation is almost total. It is certainly political isolation. It is also turning into economic and diplomatic isolation. To put it mildly, the United States is being handed stunning defeats in just about every way, and the U.S. government does not know how to handle it. I find it sad and ironic that the United States is now this continent’s pariah. If anything, Cuba has more friends than this country does. It is the supreme irony that the Organization of American States was created by the United States in 1948 as a bulwark against Communism and as a means of unifying all countries in the Americas under the leadership of the United States. Its creation, the OAS, may soon be as much a relic of America’s bygone past as has the Cold War.

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