OAS: A Dying Dinosaur?

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary Last week the governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador announced that they are leaving the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal. The reason they gave was the same—the treaty was out-dated, it favored the United States, it did not take into account their national defense or interests, and since it could mean an “attack” against Cuba (a friend of all four countries) they want no part of it. When the treaty was created along with the Organization of American States (OAS), the treaty was a defense pact whereby if one country of the OAS was attacked then all the other countries would come to its defense. When Cuba became a Communist state in 1959, the equation changed. While many countries in Latin America were not too thrilled with Cuba’s Communist government, they did not want to attack it either. One might say that the whole defense treaty was left in limbo because of the Cuba issue.

Since the former Soviet Union is gone, and a number of Latin American countries now have leftist governments, a growing number of Latin American and Caribbean governments no longer see the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal as relevant. The four countries that have left the treaty may be only the beginning of more countries not only exiting parts of the OAS but the entire OAS itself. All four governments complain that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights favors “American-style human rights.” While Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador are contemplating leaving the OAS altogether, other Latin American and Caribbean countries may also be considering the same thing. Or if not considering leaving the OAS, then they may reduce their participation in it. For a growing number of Latin American countries, the OAS does not in their view represent their opinions and the issues that are most important to them. One example of this is the issue of the Falkland Islands.

All South American states believe that the Falkland Islands (called the Malvinas Islands by Argentina) belong to Argentina. Because of this belief, almost all South American countries have stopped accepting British commercial vessels from visiting their seaports. Further, Argentina has not ruled out using military force to take the islands. The United States and Canada have ruled in favor of Great Britain’s claim to the islands (and the fact that British citizens still on the islands as they have for generations). This is just one fault line among many that may crack the OAS. Already Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador (along with Cuba) have formed a separate economic and military alliance called the Bolivarian Alliance, or ALBA Bloc. This is a direct challenge to the OAS and to the United States in particular. One thing is for sure, this event is among a growing number that America is losing influence not only around the world but even in the Americas.

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