Lino Gutierrez, former US Ambassador to Argentina, in an article for Foreign Policy, outlines the reasons why, despite the recent vote to remove the restrictions on Cuba’s membership in the OAS, no one expects the island to rejoin the organization. Here are the salient excerpts:
Cuba won’t rejoin the organization, which Fidel Castro once called a “Yankee bordello,” anytime soon. The island’s leaders did hail the OAS’s invitation as a great victory, of course. But becoming an OAS member would subject Cuba to the kind of international scrutiny it has avoided for the past half century. The invitation calls for Cuba to rejoin the organization and commit to its established norms — including the Democratic Charter. And while Venezuela and its allies would gladly give Cuba a pass, the United States, Canada, and others would require that Cuba at least begin a process that leads toward democracy.
That is a process that Cuba will not undertake so long as the Castro brothers are in charge. Though Fidel is no longer on stage, he continues to influence decisions behind the scenes. Brother Raúl seems to be open to more dialogue with the United States, and many Cubans hoped he was a closet reformer. But after announcing some modest economic reforms in 2008 (Cubans can now stay in tourist hotels), the regime seems to have retrenched and closed ranks, as the recent firing of reform-minded economist Carlos Lage and Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque seems to indicate. Both Fidel and Raul have said that, while they’re willing to talk to the United States, the revolution’s principles are non-negotiable.
Curiously, the variable in the present equation is none other than Obama. Despite Fidel’s boast of having outlasted 10 U.S. presidents, neither he nor Raúl have dared take on the popular U.S. president. Cubans are fascinated with Obama, having been told by the Castros for years that blacks were second-class citizens and that no African-American could ever hope to be in a position of power in the United States. In a country that is 60 percent Afro-Cuban, Obama’s very election has sparked new hope among many that things could at last get better. How and when this will happen remains to be seen — but at least for now, Cuba’s future won’t be in the OAS.
For the complete article, which includes analysis of the reasons behind the change of heart among the member nations of the OAS, go to http://experts.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/06/09/why_cuba_wont_join_the_oas