OAS opens door for Cuba’s readmission (Lead)

June 4th, 2009 - 7:22 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama San Pedro Sula (Honduras), June 4 (DPA) The Organisation of American States (OAS) Wednesday revoked a 47-year suspension of Cuban participation after two days of intense negotiations over how to re-admit the communist nation.
The consensus decision at the OAS gathering in Honduras does not mean automatic Cuban re-entry in the organization. US officials said the Cuban government’s rejoining is conditional upon it living up to OAS principles supporting democracy and human rights.

Cuba has said it has no desire to return to the 34-nation OAS, which it views as a tool of the US for influencing the internal politics of Latin American countries. Nevertheless, officials at the gathering praised the decision as a departure from the Cold War hostility of the past.

“A historical mistake has been amended today,” Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Fander Falconi said. Honduran President Manuel Zelaya described the move as a “reunion of the Americas.”

The OAS suspended Cuba in 1962 under pressure from Washington after Fidel Castro seized control of the island and declared that it was a socialist state. US officials emphasized that Wednesday’s decision left it for Havana to determine its future in the

organization.

“We removed an historical impediment to Cuba’s participation in the OAS, but also established a process of engagement with Cuba, a pathway forward based on the principles, purposes, values and practices of the OAS and the Inter-American system,” US Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who attended the conference but left early to join President Barack Obama in Egypt, issued a statement saying the decision reflects a new approach by the United States to hemispheric relations.

“This outcome is in keeping with our forward-looking, principled approach to relations with Cuba and our hemisphere,” she said.

“We must now build on this success by meeting our goals with actions that move us beyond rhetoric to results, and advance the mission which each of our nations have pledged to pursue,” she said.

Momentum grew in recent weeks throughout Latin America that action on Cuba needed to be taken to erase what many considered to be an outdated Cold War view towards Cuba.

Deep divisions, however, remained among the nations about how to take that step, with several varying proposals thrown on the table. Venezuela and Ecuador had initially opposed placing reform conditions on Havana.

“Today we addressed and bridged an historic divide in the Americas while reaffirming our profound commitment to democracy and the fundamental human rights of our peoples,” Shannon said.

The Obama administration has already eased travel and remittance restrictions on Cuban Americans and called on Havana to respond to the overtures. Cuba has agreed to resume US-proposed talks on migrations.

The OAS General Assembly met Tuesday and Wednesday in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula. The Cuba issue dominated the agenda.

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