Chavez: Venezuela could leave OAS, join Cuba


AP:

CARACAS, Venezuela – President Hugo Chavez says Venezuela could eventually withdraw from the Organization of American States and seek Cuba‘s help to create an alternative regional group.

Chavez claims the OAS serves the interests of the United States. The Venezuelan leader has repeatedly criticized Cuba’s expulsion from the organization in 1962 on grounds that its communist government went against the hemispheric body’s principles.

Chavez said Monday that “Venezuela would love to join Cuba” as a nonmember.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez chimed in, saying Latin American and Caribbean nations should create an organization that “serves our people rather than the Empire,” a reference to the United States.

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Clinton Says Cuba Not Ready For OAS


(AP) Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that Cuba shouldn’t be allowed to rejoin the Organization of American States until it makes political reforms, releases political prisoners and respects human rights.

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Clinton said the charter of the Western Hemisphere bloc of nations requires members to adhere to democratic standards that the communist government of Cuba does not yet meet.

“Any effort to admit Cuba into the OAS is really in Cuba’s hands,” she said. “They have to be willing to take the concrete steps necessary to meet those principles.”

“If Cuba is not willing to abide by (the charter’s) terms then I cannot foresee how Cuba can be a part of the OAS and I certainly would not be supporting in any way such an effort to admit it,” said Clinton, who plans to attend the organization’s annual general assembly on June 2 in Honduras.

At that meeting, some countries want the organization to annul a resolution that suspended Cuba’s membership. Cuba was expelled from the OAS in 1962 after the communist revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power.

“We’re hoping that the members of the OAS will abide by their own charter,” Clinton said.

The Obama administration has said it wants to engage with Cuba and eased some sanctions but has called on Cuba’s government, now led by Fidel Castro’s brother Raul, to reciprocate with reforms before moving ahead. Clinton said those steps would include moving toward democracy, releasing political prisoners and respecting “fundamental freedoms.”

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Undersecretary of State welcomes Cuba back to OAS… when its a democracy


AFP:

Washington eagerly awaits Cuba’s return to the inter-American diplomatic system, a top U.S. official told a gathering at the Organization of American States on Wednesday.

“We look forward to the day when every country in the hemisphere, including Cuba, can take its seat at this very special table, in a manner that is consistent with the principles of the Inter-American democratic charter,” said Undersecretary of State James Steinberg.

“The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba and we have changed our policy in ways that we believe will advance liberty and create opportunity for the Cuban people,” Steinberg said in a speech delivered at the annual Council of the Americas meeting.

He added that U.S. President Barack Obama “has also made clear our willingness and our readiness to engage constructively with the Cuban government on a wide range of issues.”

“We must also call on our friends in the hemisphere to join together in supporting liberty, equality and human rights for all Cubans,” the diplomat said.

In April, Obama lifted travel and money transfer restrictions on Americans with relatives in Cuba.

However, the U.S. president has said he won’t, for now, end the 47-year-old U.S. economic embargo on Cuba, instead urging Havana to show progress on human rights.

“None should mistake our willingness to engage governments with whom our relations have deteriorated in recent years for an abdication of principle,” Steinberg said, echoing that sentiment Wednesday.

“The region is showing that democracy can deliver if government can find ways to go beyond trade and capital liberalization to craft policies and build institutions committed to social justice.”

But earlier this week, a top Havana official rejected Washington’s call for Cuban action to improve bilateral ties.

“Cuba has to do absolutely nothing, because it did not do anything to the United States,” Ricardo Alarcon, speaker of the Cuban National Assembly and member of the Communist Party Politburo, told CNN television.

Alarcon pointed to a trade embargo maintained by Washington against his country since 1962, the use by the United States of its naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which Havana opposes, and Cuba’s inclusion on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

“We don’t have to do absolutely anything except taking note of the corrective steps taken by the other side when they take place,” Alarcon said.

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OAS Secretary to Obama: End the Cuba Blockade


HAVANA TIMES, Jan. 21 — Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General, Jose Miguel Insulza expressed his hope Wednesday that US President Barack Obama will lift the half century economic blockade against Cuba, reported IPS.  Speaking on a Chilean radio station, Insulsa joined leaders from throughout Latin America and other regions calling for a significant shift in US policy on Cuba

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