• Emergence and development of the Organization of American States • Its role in the region • Inter-American complicity in U.S. aggression against the Cuban people • Raul Roa’s battle for dignity • The OAS must be dismantled as the only liberating option for today • Cuba will never rejoin
SINCE its take-off as a nation, the United States of America has always countered the ideology of Latin American unity and integration with its pretensions for continental domination, an ambition expressed on December 2, 1823 in the famous Monroe Doctrine and synthesized in the phrase: “America for the Americans.” It was not until the final quarter of the 19th century that that philosophy could be put into practice, when the unprecedented growth of its national industry transformed the United States into a rapidly rising power, with which it proposed not only domination of the continent but to launch itself into the battle for a new division of the world.
Thus, at the end of 1889, the U.S. government convened the 1st Pan-American Conference, which was the starting point of “Panamericanism,” perceived as the economic and political domination of the Americas under a supposed “continental unity.” That implied an updating of the Monroe Doctrine at the point when U.S. capitalism arrived at its imperialist phase. José Martí, an exceptional witness to the emergence of the imperialist monster, posed the question in relation to that conference: “Why go as allies, in the finest years of one’s youth, to the battle that the United States is preparing to wage with the rest of the world?” and he was right. From 1899 to 1945, in eight similar conferences, three consultation meetings and a number of conferences on special issues, the advance of U.S. economic, political and military penetration in Latin America was established.
ASCENT OF MONROE-STYLE PANAMERICANISM
The end of World War II, from which the U.S. emerged fortified, saw the initiation of a period of ascent for Panamericanism and the Inter-American System, which began with the Chapultepec Conference in 1945, progressed to the creation of the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1948, and the invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965, consolidating the subordination of the continent’s governments to U.S. foreign policy.
Thus, the Inter-American Conference on Problems of War and Peace in Chapultepec in March 1945 had a defined political objective: to align the countries of the region to confront the process that would arrive with the creation of the United Nations.
As a result, at the San Francisco Conference in April 1945, during which the UN was founded, U.S. diplomacy, supported by the Latin American countries, defended the “autonomy” of the Inter-American System and secured the inclusion in Article 51 of the UN Charter of the solution of differences via “American” methods and systems. The interpretation given by the Executive Council of the Pan-American Union is that the UN Charter was born compatible with the Inter-American System and the Act of Chapultepec.
In August 1947, the Pan-American Conference of Rio de Janeiro passed a resolution that gave origin to the instrument that would give life to the permissive clause dragged out of the UN: the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR in Spanish), which reaffirmed the principle of continental “solidarity” put forward by Washington in the function of confronting any situation that might endanger “its peace” in America, and to adopt necessary measures, including the use of force. The Rio Treaty imposed the yanki will on the continent, constituting a constant threat to the sovereignty of the Latin American nations.
The crowning moment came when the International Conference of American States in Bogotá – from March 30 to May 2 – gave life to the Organization of American States (OAS). In the middle of that meeting the Colombian liberal leader, Jorge E. Gaitán, a man rooted in the people, was assassinated, prompting a huge insurrection known as the Bogatazo, which was brutally repressed. His murder served to manipulate the course and results of the Conference, given that the U.S. promoted the threat to democracy signified by the rise of the Soviet Union and communism, on which it blamed the deaths in Bogotá.
However, both the TIAR and the Bogotá Conference coincided with a intensification of economic problems in Latin America, whose countries – enthused by the Marshall Plan for Europe – began to demand an aid plan for the region. But Secretary of State George Marshall personally took charge of defrauding them.
From the debate on and adoption of the OAS Charter emerged an extensive document of 120 articles, signed unreservedly by the 21 countries meeting in Bogotá. The Charter made its own some of the cardinal and just principles of international law; however, at Washington’s urging, provisions were introduced that transferred to the OAS the principal postulates of the TIAR, and so, from its creation, the OAS has been the ideal juridical instrument for U.S. domination on the continent.
Its diplomatic rhetoric in relation to provisions on the independence and sovereignty of nations and human and civil rights has remained a dead letter.
PAGES FROM A BLOODY FILE
In 1954, Guatemala was invaded by mercenary troops organized by the CIA, who brought down the government of Jacobo Arbenz. The OAS had previously lent itself to the passing of a resolution which introduced the variant of collective regional intervention, in express violation of its own Charter and that of the United Nations. In the face of a consummated act, the organization confined itself to giving laissez faire to the United States and delayed any review of the situation, ignoring the interests of the country that had been attacked.
The OAS conduct toward Cuba starting with the triumph of the Revolution; its support of the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961; the actions it unleashed in the political-diplomatic order to isolate us, which concluded with the expulsion of our country in January 1962 and the rupture of diplomatic relations with the island on the part of countries in the region, signified a degree of barbarity that placed the organization all the more in doubt.
In April 1965, yanki marines disembarked in Santo Domingo to prevent the imminent victory of the constitutional popular movement over the military forces of reaction. The OAS dispatched its secretary general, Uruguayan José A. Mora, to the Dominican capital with the ostensible proposition of obtaining a truce between the warring factions, while its Consultative Body postponed making any decision in order to allow the military forces to take control of the situation. After many moves, the United States secured – by the narrow margin of one vote – the passing of a resolution approving the creation of an Inter-American Peace Force, thus producing, for the first time under OAS auspices, a collective intervention in one country in the region.
The OAS, whose basic tenets included the principle of non-intervention on the part of any state in the internal affairs of another, continued in crisis.
March 1982 brought the British intervention that gave rise to the Malvinas War and the first aggression of an extra-continental power in a country belonging to the Inter-American System. That act, according to the TIAR, should have convened continental solidarity with the country under attack.
And…? The United States gave political and military backing to Britain and imposed economic sanctions on Argentina. And, what did the OAS do? It delayed any reaction, adopted a tepid resolution calling for an end to the conflict and, only one month later, condemned the military attack and urged the U.S. to immediately lift the sanctions brought against Argentina.
There is more. In October 1983 a military coup brought down Prime Minister Maurice Bishop of Grenada, who was assassinated by the coup leaders. The United States likewise dispatched an invasion force of 1,900 Marines to Grenada, which took control of the island. The principle of non-intervention was once more invalidated. Within the OAS, the majority approved of that action as a “preventive measure,” while other member countries rejected it. The invasion was finally condemned on the basis of being in violation of the Bogotá Charter.
THE BANKRUPTCY OF PANAMERICANISM
The end of the so-called Cold War and the disintegration of the USSR changed world geopolitics and the OAS, as demanded by the United States, attempted to re-accommodate itself with the objective of being more loyal to the oligarchies. Thus, in 1991, it began to promote the precepts of bourgeois representative democracy and neoliberalism. At the initiative of the U.S., the Summits of the Americas, which granted renewed mandates to the organization, were organized under those banners. At this juncture, in 1992, came the significant creation of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which raised to the level of a treaty the imposition of unipolarity in the region; in other words, the OAS never changed its face, exhibiting the same degree of incapacity and putrefaction in the face of the military coup in Haiti that deposed President Jean Bertrand Aristide. It delegated the issue to the UN Security Council, which approved a multinational military force headed by… the United States.
At this point, well into the 21st century, nobody can be left in any doubt as to the irrelevance, obsolescence and discredit of an organization that has been the accomplice of the principal crimes of state that occurred in Latin America and the Caribbean in the second half of the 20th century. Despite the fact that the United States has relegated the OAS on occasions, it has never discarded it. The OAS is an instrument of the empire in its essential need to influence and divide the region and to halt the consecration of its unique, inevitable and veritable historic destiny: the integration of its peoples as advocated by José Martí and Simón Bolívar.
To be continued…
Oscar Sánchez Serra, Granma