Joining an effort led by the left-wing leader of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, the Obama Administration has offered a resolution at the inter-American body that calls for, among other things, calling on the OAS “to initiate a dialogue with the present Government of Cuba regarding its eventual reintegration into the inter-American system.” According to a State Department spokesman there is no change in U.S. policy. If only that were true.
When I read the resolution I could not help but wonder if National Security Council advisors bothered to review U.S. law before they advised the President on this matter? According to 22 U.S.C., Ch. 69A § 6035: “[t]he President should instruct the United States Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States to oppose and vote against any termination of the suspension of the Cuban Government from participation in the Organization until the President determines … that a democratically elected government in Cuba is in power.”
According to that same law, a transition government in Cuba is one that has (1) legalized all political activity; (2) released all political prisoners and allowed for investigations of Cuban prisons by appropriate international human rights organizations; (3) has dissolved the present Department of State Security in the Cuban Ministry of the Interior, including the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution and the Rapid Response Brigades; (4) has made public commitments to organizing free and fair elections for a new government; (5) has ceased any interference with Radio Marti or Television Marti broadcasts; and (6) makes progress in establishing an independent judiciary, respecting human rights and labor union rights, among other things. See 22 U.S.C., Ch. 69A § 6065. A transition government cannot include either Fidel Castro or Raul Castro. Id.
By cooperating with Cuban allies at the OAS the Obama Administration has changed its approach toward Cuba. It may have every right to do so, but ignoring U.S. law on this matter sets a poor example and sets a bad tone. It fails to put U.S. interests first and, in the case of Cuba, could harm U.S. security interests. Cuba remains a state sponsor of terrorism and it has not intention of making nice with the United States just because we make disheveled gestures at the OAS. This approach was tried by Jimmy Carter. It failed then and it will fail today.
The U.S.-sponsored OAS resolution either short shrifts U.S. law or ignores it all together. It sends a poor message to the opposition movement in Cuba because it rewards bad behavior. It plays into the political hands of the Latin American leftist leaders who run the organization today, as well as lead the governments of the most of the region. None of these leaders have U.S. interests at the forefront of their agenda, quite the opposite.
Rather than offering a resolution seeking regional cooperation that calls for isolating the Cuban regime, this approach opens a back door for Obama Administration officials to start negotiations with dictators and their supporters. Nothing good will come of these discussions and will only serve to validate a failed system that, despite its precarious political and economic situation, still somehow manages to undermine U.S. interests and national security in the Western Hemisphere and elsewhere.