Monday, March 30, 2009

Cuba Should Be Readmitted to Regional Groups, Insulza Says

By Joshua Goodman

March 30 (Bloomberg) -- The Organization of American States should take steps to readmit Cuba, 47 years after it was banned from the organization, OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza said.

Insulza, in an interview in Medellin, Colombia, said the 1962 OAS resolution that banned Cuba from the Washington-based assembly because of its links to communism, China and the Soviet Union no longer makes sense.

“One of the countries has disappeared and the other is buying a lot of U.S. Treasuries,” Insulza said at the Inter- American Development Bank’s annual meeting. “Please, if they’re going to be excluded, let’s come up with some better criteria.”

Insulza’s comments come as U.S. President Barack Obama is preparing to travel next month to Trinidad and Tobago for the fifth Summit of the Americas, where regional leaders are expected to reiterate their call for him to end the U.S.’s trade embargo against the communist island.

El Salvador, Costa Rica

Cuba is the only Latin American and the Caribbean nation excluded from proceedings at the 35 member-nation OAS. The U.S. is the only country in the hemisphere that doesn’t have full diplomatic relations with the country. El Salvador and Costa Rica’s reestablished ties this month with Cuba, the only country in the region that isn’t a democracy.

Insulza said Cuba’s readmission into the OAS should come after serious study and dialogue. Its return would likely follow its entry into other hemispheric organizations like the IDB and the Pan American Health Organization, he said.

“Cuba’s fundamental problem is the U.S. embargo, not whether or not it belongs to specific organizations like the OAS,” said Insulza, adding that he didn’t expect the issue to dominate discussions at the April 17-19 Summit of the Americas.

To contact the reporters on this story: Joshua Goodman in Rio de Janeiro at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

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