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Monday, February 22, 2010

An OAS without the U.S.?

  Latin America's leaders are meeting this week in Playa del Carmen in Mexico to discuss the possible formation of a new multilateral organization for the region that would exclude the United States and Canada. It's never a bad idea for political leaders to agree to talk more, and too much can be made of this exclusion of the U.S., in particular. Leaders rightfully resent the dominance of the U.S. historically in the affairs of the Organization of American States (OAS). Spanish story. English story.
  Forming yet another organization to host negotiations and dialogue on a regional basis might make some anti-U.S. leaders feel better. But it will further alienate the American Right from the region and its centrists and center-left leaders who must be seen to stand up to the "hegemonists" in Washington, D.C.
  Wouldn't it be better to just reform the OAS, and perhaps take its headquarters out of Washington?
  The ongoing exclusion of Cuba from the OAS, and the recent suspension of Honduras from the organization, brings to light some of the OAS's weaknesses. OAS reform would be one additional way the Obama Administration could begin to correct some of the imbalances in the U.S. relationship with other countries of the hemisphere.

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