Date: Tue, 18 Jun 1996 09:36:11 -0500
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Revolt in the OAS: Latin countries condemn U.S. anti-Cuba law
By John Catalinotto, Workers World, 20 June 1996
The Organization of American States broke with its entire history on June 5 when every member except the United States voted to criticize the U.S. government for intensifying the blockade against socialist Cuba.
A look at the history of the OAS shows how remarkable this latest vote is.
Washington has dominated the OAS since it was founded in 1948. Though its charter states the group's purpose is to prevent intervention in the affairs of Western Hemisphere countries, this was sugar coating for U.S. Cold-War policies.
As far as U.S. imperialism was concerned, the purpose was to prevent any friendly relations between Western Hemisphere countries and the Soviet Union.
In 1962, Washington got the OAS to vote to expel Cuba, supposedly because Cuba had developed ties to the USSR.
In 1965, the United States arm twisted enough other member states to get backing for the Pentagon military takeover of the Dominican Republic. They voted with Washington even though many Latin American heads of state--who knew how much the masses of their countries hated U.S. intervention--had spoken out against the military invasion.
Through the years it became more and more apparent that the OAS was a complete tool of U.S. policymakers. If it couldn't be counted on to back U.S. policy, it was just pushed aside.
Now this same body has taken the initiative to criticize a keystone of U.S. policy in the hemisphere: the blockade of Cuba.
The Helms-Burton Act extending the blockade passed Congress earlier this year. Bill Clinton, who had pledged to veto it, reneged on this promise and signed it into law.
Helms-Burton not only tightens the economic noose around the people of Cuba. It demands that corporations operating in other countries submit to United States rules or lose the right to do business with the United States. In other words, it infringes on the sovereignty of all the Western Hemisphere states, since all do business with Cuba.
Now these countries are saying, "Enough."
The OAS measure criticizing the United States had 32 co- sponsors. Only U.S. representative Harriet Babbitt voted against it. In typical U.S. Newspeak, Babbitt lashed out at the other members for "diplomatic cowardice."
The truth is that these representatives finally stopped caving in to U.S. pressure. They voted the interests of their own capitalist classes to continue doing business without U.S. interference. In doing so, they isolated U.S. imperialism in an international body that Washington created and dominated.
There had been speculation in some circles that Cuba's determined measures--shooting down a hostile plane from the United States and then opening a political offensive against bourgeois influence inside Cuba--would weaken the socialist island diplomatically. This vote shows just the opposite.
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