Press Releases: The OAS Ministerial in Honduras
Wed, 03 Jun 2009 18:38:02 -0500
The OAS Ministerial in Honduras
Thomas A. Shannon, Jr.
Special Assistant To The President and Senior Director For Western Hemisphere Affairs at The National Security Council Dan Restrepo
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Briefing Via TeleconferenceWashington, DC June 3, 2009
MR. AKER: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us today for a read-out of the results of the OAS Ministerial in Honduras, which has just concluded. We have with us today Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Tom Shannon and Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council Dan Restrepo. Well start out with a statement by Mr. Restrepo.
MR. RESTREPO: Thank you very much. And thanks, everybody, for getting on this call this afternoon. We just wanted to get you all up-to-date on what has happened here at the OAS General Assembly.
Today has been a historic day for the inter-American system. Youve seen two things occur in a resolution passed by consensus by the organization, one that leaves without effect the 1962 suspension of the current government of Cuba from participation in the OAS, and second that establishes a path forward that has multiple steps to it, beginning with whether the Cuban Government asks to come back to the organization or not, a question that may be complicated for that government given what it has been saying about the organization in recent weeks and actually throughout the last 40 years, but a process that is clearly enunciated on the face of the resolution that it has to be in accord with the basic principles, purposes, and practices of the OAS, which itself is defined in the resolution to be based on the OAS Charter and other fundamental instruments that defend democracy, self-determination, non-interference, human rights, development, and security.
So what weve seen today is really a testament to the hard work of multilateral diplomacy. A couple of weeks ago, if you had stopped and asked all the countries in the Western Hemisphere what they wante d to do with the 1962 resolution, they would supported a three-line re solution doing lifting the 1962 resolution and allowing Cuba to automatically return to the OAS. The United States and other countries from various parts in the hemisphere fought, defended, and prevailed in saying that this was not an automatic process, that yes, lets leave an argument of the past in the past, lets not become prisoners of the past, but let us ensure that we are defending the basic principles of democracy and human rights and non-intervention and non-interference as the path forward to Cubas return to the organization.
Simply put, for Cuba to return to the organization, the organization has to agree that Cuba is abiding by the same rules that everybody else is abiding by. That is a historic achievement. We think it is an important day that reflects a policy that listens to the concerns of the region with respect to lifting the 62 suspension and defend the core principles of the Americas shared by the United Sta tes, all in defense of ensuring that they are shared by and enjoyed by all the people of the hemisphere, including the people of Cuba. So instead of being focused on an argument that is nearly 50 years old that has done little to advance the cause of freedom for the Cuban people, we can return to the focus to today, to the realities of today, and to the realities of the issues not just in Cuba but throughout the Americas.