Once again, the Organization of American States (OAS) -the oldest multilateral regional organization in the world is open to scrutiny in Washington. As its objectives of democracy and rights protection, economic and social development, and regional security cooperation beam the breast bare mirror of reasoning, a doubting shade reflects a shrouded revelation of betrayal and pretense.
And conflicting views on the OAS’ loyalty thrives in ambiguity.
Although Washington has sought the help of the Organization of American States to advance critical economic, political, and security objectives in the Western Hemisphere, it is clear that the United States’ ability to advance its policy initiatives within the OAS is under decline.
According to archived House foreign affairs documents, “the Organization of American States is an enemy of freedom and democracy in the western hemisphere.” To be sure, the Republicans accusation that “the OAS is an enemy of the U.S. and an enemy to the interests of freedom and security” is now apparent in its election oversight in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In this light, the weakness of the political power of the OAS, its ineptitude in decision-making, and contradiction in applying its democratic principles is readily evidenced in the recently concluded election on the Caribbean island of Dominica. Here, ignoring previous recommendations and guidelines for electoral reform by the OAS, a dictator has been ushered again into power after more than 15 years of corruption and despotism. Here, a tyrant who overtly places himself above the Constitution and the rule of law has been democratically elected with total disregard to proposals of the OAS, thus continuing to menace the national security of the United States with its sale of passports to Iranian terrorists and criminals.
And as for the notion that election monitoring is one of the OAS’s key functions in light of its commitment to democracy – its track record put it to test. It is here we witness as well the tumult of the 2000 Peruvian elections, Venezuela’s channel of increasing presidential powers for Hugo Chávez in 2010, and the 2009 Honduran leadership catastrophe.
Statistics confirm that in all of these instances, OAS’ election monitors reported irregularities and high level delegations were sent to smooth the progress of dialogue and issue recommendations for democratic reforms, but contrary to its Democratic Charter, the OAS took no formal action against it.
In this regard, if the Organization of American States Inter –American Democratic Charter continues to declare that American states have a “right to democracy, and an obligation to promote and defend it,” then why is it allowing dictatorships to overtake Latin American and Caribbean nations?
Elaborating further, Dr. Christopher Sabatini, senior policy director for the Americas Society/Council of the Americas admits, “the OAS as a political entity has declined precipitously in recent years.” Also obvious is the fact that the Republican-sponsored Bill of 2011 to defund the OAS’ foreign policy on the charge that the organization supports anti-democracy regimes in Latin America and the Caribbean, must again be brought into inspection.
Is it then possible that the Organization of American States may be the perpetrator of anti -Americanism in the region?
Moreover, the ideological schism and mistrust that the Organization of American States have evoked in Latin America and Caribbean states, not only prompts doubt over its relevance in the region, but its new method of strengthening peace and security and promoting and consolidating representative democracy, and encouraging economic, social, and cultural cooperation within the Americas must be questioned.
Whereas the conventional thinking that the United States has a treaty obligation to pay its dues to the promotion of freedom and democracy must be respected, it is also evident that a new platform is urgently needed in providing electoral oversight in Latin America and the Caribbean.
It is therefore obvious that the OAS is condoning many of the ills that America loathes. On this defeated score, it would be folly to ignore its “ambiguous commitment” to the defense of democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, but it is dangerous to be so blinded by them as to ignore the larger realities.
By Rebecca Theodore
Republished with permission
Rebecca Theodore is an Op-ed columnist based in Washington, D.C. She writes on national security and political issues. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org