The Organization of American States has voted to rescind the ban on Cuba's membership in the largely U.S.-financed, Washington-based assemblage, but don't stop the presses (or click the send button) on that one. Nothing has happened — not quite, not yet.
The decision was a perfect compromise at the end of an OAS meeting in San Pedro Sula, Honduras this week. The definition of a perfect compromise? Neither side is particularly happy.
Thirty-three of the 34 members of the OAS want to bring Cuba in from the political wilderness and have diplomatic relations with Cuba. But the United States pays for 60 percent of the OAS budget, and OAS headquarters is an august building about a block and a half from the White House. Attention must be paid.
Opponents of the Cuban government in Washington immediately called for a re-examination of providing $47 million toward the OAS budget for the next fiscal year.
The compromise vote to end the Cuba ban came after the United States managed to get a little codicil added to the declaration, in diplomatic speak:
The participation of Cuba in the OAS will be the result of a process of dialogue to be initiated at the request of the Government of Cuba and in compliance with the practices, goals and principles of the OAS.
Apparently, Cuba can only rejoin the OAS if it meets democratic and human rights guidelines, part of the OAS charter. In any case, Cuba hailed the OAS decision as historic, but said it isn't interested in rejoining, for now.
Nevertheless, the reaction from Havana was triumphant. This was the online headline of Granma, the official organ of the Cuban Communist Party:
Fidel and the Cuban people have been absolved by history
The case is left in President Obama's very full court. U.S. policy, despite some changes in recent months, is pretty much where it was before George W. Bush took office. Opponents of Cuba in Congress will make lots of noise if the Obama administration moves quickly to end the 47-year U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.
Here's what William Leogrande, Dean of the American University School of Public Affairs, said, quoted by the Miami Herald:
It was a ”perfect compromise” — with both the United States and its ”antagonists,” chiefly the leftist governments of Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua — declaring victory.
[...] if the United States had failed to accept a compromise it would have left “with a resolution that made no mention of any underlying principles and with the creation of deep animosity toward the U.S.’”
- Peter Eisner