OAS considers lifting Cuba suspension

WASHINGTON, United States, May 29, 2009 – The Organisation of American States (OAS) is giving consideration to readmitting Cuba into that hemispheric body, 47 years after its suspension, and has set up a group to try to find consensus on the issue.

The Permanent Council of the OAS earlier this week agreed to create a working group to try to find a consensus text for an eventual resolution.

The results of the deliberations will be presented at the 39th OAS General Assembly, to be held next week – June 2nd to 3rd – in Honduras.

The working group was established a day after the United States, in a surprise move, said it was willing to allow Cuba’s readmission if the island adopts democratic principles.

The US, Honduras and Nicaragua and the United States had presented three different draft resolutions but none of them obtained enough support, prompting the suggestion that the working group be formed.

But a release from the OAS said following other interventions from several permanent representatives, including those from the Caribbean, it was clear that the majority had common positions.

St Vincent and the Grenadines and Guyana participated in the deliberations and that Belize spoke on behalf of Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, St Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica, Suriname, St Lucia, Haiti, Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago.

“Most permanent representatives agreed…there is a common interest for all member states to fully take part in the institution and there is a need for deeper dialogue to find a consensus solution that is satisfactory for all parties,” the statement said.

Following a proposal by Nicaragua, the Permanent Council also agreed to include the debate on the draft resolutions regarding Cuba on the agenda of the General Assembly, despite it being presented out of time.

The OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, supported the proposal by Nicaragua, asked the Permanent Council for flexibility and recalled that the Heads of State of Government at the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago decided recently that the OAS General Assembly was the appropriate forum to discuss the issue of Cuba.

Cuba had its OAS membership suspended at the Eighth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs held in Uruguay, in 1962, because its communist system was “incompatible with the principles and objectives of the inter-American system”, according to the resolution passed at the time.

While Cuba has not been expelled and is still technically a member state, the current government is denied the right of representation and attendance at meetings and participation in activities.