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07/30/2021

Caribbean countries rise up against US’ policy on Cuba

Caribbean countries rise up against US’ policy on Cuba

The United States continues efforts to create international diplomatic pressure – without much success and even putting in jeopardy long established US diplomacy tools.

On July 25, the US has published a joint statement, urging “the Cuban government to heed the voices and demands of the Cuban people”. The declaration demanded “the release of detained”, establishment of press freedom and restoration of Internet access.

“The international community”, concluded the declaration, “will not waver in its support of the Cuban people” in reference to the protests that erupted in Cuba on July 11.

The US’ ‘international community’ consists of 21 states

But that “international community” consisted of only 21 states.

More importantly, only 5 of 33 Latin American countries – Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala and Honduras – signed the joint statement.

Even more strikingly, the US statement was not joined by Canada and Spain, which maintain close economic ties with Cuba. After a phone call with his counterpart on July 23, the Canadian minister of foreign affairs published a statement, saying “Both expressed the need for continued engagement while committing to work together for the benefit of Cubans and Canadians alike.”

Non of the major European countries, such as Germany, France, Italy or the United Kingdom has joined the US statement.

Instead, the High representative of the European Union made an own statement, which expressed “concern about repression of protests”, claimed “Cuban people are suffering”, demanded “internal economic reforms” and defended “external trade and investment as crucial for Cuba’s modernization”, calling for the “easing of external restrictions”, as an implicit criticism of the US embargo, which the Cubans call “blockade” as it also hinders the country’s relations with third parties.

The Cuban foreign minister responded via twitter, saying the EU Representative “had not dare to call the embargo by its name, a genocide, which violates the European sovereignty too.” Rodriguez accused Borrell of “lying and manipulating on Cuba”.

184 countries in the UN against US embargo

Only a month ago, on June 23, the UN General Assembly also had voted for the lifting of the US embargo against Cuba, with 184 countries supporting the notion, the US and Israel rejecting and Colombia, Ukraine and Brazil abstaining.

Uprising in the OAS

But the US has suffered a major blow in the Organization of American States (OAS). Founded in 1948 and headquartered in Washington D.C., the OAS is considered as the main intergovernmental organization to pursue US interests in Latin America. 

Following the revolution, Cuba was suspended from the OAS in 1962. In 2019, the OAS delegitimized the elections held in Bolivia, paving thus the path to the coup against President Evo Morales. In the same year, the organization recognized Venezuelan National Assembly leader Juan Guaido as the president of Venezuela.

Following the US statement, the OAS convened to an extraordinary meeting of its Permanent Council on the situation in Cuba, scheduled for July 28.

But on July 27, the Chair of the OAS has announced that the meeting has been postponed “in order to make consultations”. Notwithstanding the postponement, the Chair’s statement urged the events in Cuba “do not admit delays”, criticizing “ignoring the events” by members.

The OAS Chair statement also indicates that members have rejected to so-called “word of mouth” reports as well documentation from the Inter-American Commission on “Human Rights.

CARICOM threatens not to attend the OAS

The postponement came, after 13 countries of the CARICOM, the Community of Caribbean States threatened, “not to attend” the meeting, in a letter send on July 27.

The Caribbean countries firstly argued that despite earlier attempts to include the country, Cuba is still excluded from the OAS. But their letter, signed on behalf of the CARICOM by Sir Ronald Sanders, Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the US and the OAS, went much further in its critics.

The letter stated considered a debate “harmful to diplomatic efforts to improve relations between Cuba and the US”.

Caribbean countries blame US embargo and Trump measures for Cuban protests

Sanders stated that, on day when the OAS convened to the meeting, head s of government of the CARICOM had written a letter to US president Biden, where they attributed the protests in Cuba “to the 61-year-old US trade embargo, punitive measures imposed by the Trump administration, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Various other countries besides the CARICOM have sent letters similar letters to the OAS, demanding to call of the meeting, wrote Sanders, stating that “for fear of calling a meeting for which there would be no quorum, the chair decided to defer the meeting”.

The CARICOM members finished their letter that an OAS meeting on Cuba would only “satisfy political hawks with an eye on US mid-term elections where winning South Florida with the backing of Cuban exiles”.

The Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez tweeted after the postponement that a maneuver instigated by the United States against Cuba that sought to impose a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) was “defeated”.

The minister also conveyed his “gratitude to the countries that defended Latin American and Caribbean dignity”.

A State Department spokesperson said the United States was “deeply disappointed” in the postponement, reported the Washington Post.

“OAS member states should not bow to dictators and stem the ability of member states to hear about issues that affect everyone in the region,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement to the newspaper that printed an article titled ‘Biden’s Cuba moves are slow to win support among key U.S. allies’.

Mexican President: “Replace the OAS”

As United World International has reported Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Saturday called Cuba an “example of resistance” and praised its ability to stand up to the United States.

In a speech held in commemoration of Simon Bolivar’s birthday, Obrador proposed the replacement of the OAS “by a body that is truly autonomous, not anybody’s lackey.”

Latin Americans actively breaching embargo

While the US intends to mobilize international diplomacy against Cuba but suffers the paralysis of even the OAS, Latin American countries and governments are actively breaching the embargo. CARICOM countries have declared to support Cuba with medical supplies.  The Mexican president has declared to send military planes with medicine. Nicaragua will send ships with food supplies. And the Bolivian president also announced to display practical solidarity with Cuba.

Yunus Soner
Political Scientist, former Deputy Chairman of Vatan Party (Turkey) Soner has participated in diplomatic visits to China, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba and Mexico, among others. He has conducted meetings with President Bashar Al Assad (Syria), President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iran), President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (Mexico), Manuel Zelaya (Honduras) and Foreign Ministers, Ministers of Finances and Representatives of Parliament from various countries. He has worked on Turkish-Russian, Turkish-Syrian, Turkish-Chinese and Turkish-Egyptian relations as well as on Latin America. Soner has had media participation in various international media channels, among them Russia Today and Sputnik (Russia), CGTN (China), Press TV (Iran), Syrian TV, El Mayaddin (Lebanon) and Telesur (Venezuela) and Turkish media. He has been a columnist to Turkish daily newspaper Aydınlık
 

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