OAS Should Provide Roadmap for Cuba's Readmission

Washington

Freedom House welcomes renewed discussion of Cuba's readmission as a participating member of the Organization of American States and calls on the OAS to provide a roadmap for Cuba’s full reintegration into the Inter-American system. Such a roadmap should include a plan to establish a representative democratic government that would bring Cuba into conformity with the Inter-American Democratic Charter, adopted unanimously by the OAS member states in 2001.

The OAS effectively suspended Cuba's membership in 1962, on the grounds that Cuba’s "Marxist-Leninist" government was incompatible with the democratic premises of the OAS. Membership should be based on adherence to democratic principles, as stated in the foundational Charter of the Organization.

"Not every government in the hemisphere in 1962, or since, has been fully democratic," said Jennifer Windsor, Freedom House executive director. "But our region is distinguished today by its generally strong adherence to democratic norms. This is something in which the member nations of the OAS can take great pride and should seek to reinforce."

Freedom House therefore urges that the OAS lift the suspension while simultaneously conditioning Cuba's full participation on respect for the principles of the Charter of the OAS, including commitment to respect fundamental human rights. Lifting the suspension should not automatically lead to participation. To become a fully participating member, Cuba should also sign and ratify the American Convention on Human Rights, the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and all other international instruments approved by OAS member states. Cuba’s reforms should ultimately lead to the establishment of an independent judiciary, a multi-party political system and the conduct of free and fair elections.

"The current state of human rights in Cuba and the decades-long oppression of the Cuban people by their government are clearly inconsistent with the principles espoused in the OAS Charter," said Windsor. 

As an integral part of this process of reincorporation, the OAS should create a mechanism to monitor Cuba’s progress in enacting reforms. Because of its independent nature, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights should play a prominent role in this mechanism and continue to report on the situation in the country. 
Creating a reintegration process for Cuba would ensure that its readmission strengthens the prospects for democratic reform on the island, rather than weakening the mechanisms for upholding the Inter-American Democratic Charter. It is well known that Cuba has repeatedly attempted to undermine the legitimacy of the UN Human Rights Council and recently manipulated the Universal Periodic Review process to gloss over its exceptionally poor human rights record.

"Based on its actions at the UN, the Cuban government would likely try to manipulate human rights organs rather than adhere to the OAS Charter, so it is the responsibility of the states of the Americas, as well as of the international community, to ensure that the process of reincorporating Cuba strengthens, rather than weakens, the OAS," said Windsor.

Freedom House consistently ranks Cuba among the world’s worst regimes. Cuba is ranked Not Free in the 2009 edition of Freedom in the World, Freedom House’s annual survey of political rights and civil liberties, and in 2009 version of Freedom of the Press. The country received the lowest ranking in Freedom on the Net, a newly-released pilot study of internet freedom in 15 countries.

To learn more about Cuba, read:

Freedom in the World 2009: Cuba
Freedom of the Press 2008: Cuba
Freedom on the Net 2009: Cuba

Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in Cuba since 1972.

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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