Organization of American States votes to lift Cuba suspension

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

News outlets are reporting that the Organization of American States (OAS) has voted to rescind the 1962 suspension of Cuba. The Washington D.C. based organization had suspended the island nation in 1962, three years after Fidel Castro led the successful overthrow of the U.S. backed Batista government. At the time, the organization cited the incompatibility of Cuba's Marxist-Leninist doctrine with its own charter.

Since Cuba's suspension the U.S. government has stated that any lifting of the ban would depend upon both developments of personal freedoms and democratic reforms on the island. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had stated at the OAS meeting that "membership in the OAS must come with responsibilities;" however, the U.S. delegation left before the final vote citing the inability of the organization to reach an agreement on the issue of Cuba.

Many Latin American governments, most of whom have long since called for the lifting of the Cuban suspension without precondition, have applauded the vote. Honduran President Zelaya declared that "the cold war has ended," while the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister, Fander Falconí, stated that "this is a moment of rejoicing for all of Latin America." Falconí was careful to clarify that although the vote itself was voted upon "without conditions," it was not an open invitation to the Cuban government to take a seat at the organization. The vote removes the ban upon Cuba's membership, but OAS member states must still satisfy OAS requirements and conventions on human rights.

U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said that the United States had worked to ensure "the return of Cuba to participation in the OAS will be done consistent with the principles and purposes of the democracy and human rights."