April 18, 2005
OAS SYG ELECTIONS: AN 'UNFORTUNATE IMPASSE'
** Latin papers label the OAS election "failed" and a "diplomatic defeat" for the U.S.
** The vote became a "wrestling match" between the U.S. and Venezuela.
** Whatever the vote's outcome, the "stupefied" OAS must focus on "real solutions."
** Latin papers split on Havana's role, as several blame "Cuban rascals" for the tie vote.
'The U.S. was the big loser'-- The OAS's inability to select a new Secretary-General (SYG) led papers to conclude the U.S. "suffered a new defeat" because it lacked "the capacity to impose a candidate." Chile's center-left Diario Siete opined that "no longer" can the U.S. "impose its will." Other papers agreed Washington must accept that the OAS must "stop being an instrument for only one country"; Guatemala's moderate Prensa Libre noted it now not "the case that the U.S. designates its preference...and all others revere it." Mexico's nationalist El Universal concluded the OAS does "not behave any more like a branch of the U.S. Department of State."
'Polarization of the continent'-- Outlets saw a "new dispute" between the U.S., which ended up backing Mexico's Derbez, and Venezuela, which supported Chile's Insulza. Citing the "emergence of anti-American populism," Peru's center-left La Republica saw a "new South American bloc" that seeks "more autonomy and independence" from the U.S. Argentina's daily-of-record La Nacion agreed that pro-Insulza countries sought a "hemispheric counterbalance" to the U.S. Chilean writers questioned the "convenience of upholding" Insulza's "unsuccessful and costly" candidacy; conservative La Tercera expressed concern over "unnecessary tension" in U.S.-Chile relations.
'Increasing institutional irrelevance'-- Numerous Latin dailies concluded that the OAS' failure to select a new SYG left it more "divided, weakened and lacking in energy to face the challenges ahead." Argentina's leading Clarin cited the OAS' "political and budgetary decadence," while Mexico's left-of-center La Jornada assailed the U.S. effort to "get the worthless Derbez" into the "equally worthless OAS." A few analysts hoped that the OAS could "experience a process of institutional regeneration" under a new SYG. Ecuador's center-left Hoy predicted the crisis would result in the "resurrection of this zombie--the OAS."
Avoid 'ritual condemnation' of Cuba-- Mexican papers accused Cuba of "sowing discord" and blocking Derbez' victory at the OAS. Independent Reforma noted Havana "has great influence over Caribbean nations." Other leftist papers defended Havana in light of the U.S.' "authoritarian and discriminatory" UN resolution on Cuba's human rights record. Zambia's Post held that Cuba "has been grossly slandered," while Nicaragua's Nuevo Diario assailed "criminal and awkward" U.S. policies against the Cuban people. A few conservative papers backed the resolution; Paraguay's ABC Color stressed the need to condemn the "brutal and blatant situation" in Cuba.
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, email@example.com
EDITOR: Rupert D. Vaughan and Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 45 reports from 13 countries over April 6 - 15, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed by the most recent date.
Marcelo Cantelmi noted in leading Clarin (4/15): "It was a defeat for Cuba. But we must say that in order to obtain the European vote, the U.S. had to tone down the resolution and soften it. It doesn’t denounce or condemn. It says nothing about the island. What was approved was a request for Havana to allow a UN inspection on the status of human rights. But even with those limitations it's a clear diplomatic defeat.... This result, with a larger number of negative votes than last year, in fact might be indicating a change in the perception countries have on Cuba, an issue which the U.S. benefits from, but not because of its own merits. It’s the appearance of a more critical perception regarding the situation in Cuba and repression measures that aren't easy to explain and overwhelm those that denounce the clear senselessness of the embargo."
"Kirchner: Argentina Will Cast An Abstention Vote On Cuba"
Jorge Elias commented in daily-of-record La Nacion (4/14): "Kirchner accomplished his annual rite--he made clear that Argentina's vote at the UN Human Rights Committee on Cuba will be 'an abstention one'.... Then, Argentina will not endorse the US draft resolution urging to condemn human rights violations on the island.... By defending Argentina's (neutral) position, which was adopted by Eduardo Duhalde in 2003 after more than a decade of condemnation ordered by Carlos Menem and continued by Fernando de la Rua, Kirchner said 'We do not interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries except for cooperation, as happened in the case of Haiti.'"
"Abstention Vote On Cuba Confirmed"
Business-financial Ambito Financiero stated (4/14): "Kirchner reiterated in Germany that 'Argentina's vote (at UN Human Rights Committee) on Cuba's (human rights situation) will be one of abstention.' There were no signs that the (Argentine) Government would change the stance adopted by former president Eduardo Duhalde--attempting to be neutral in a field in which it is hard to be neutral, such as the human rights defense. The UN Human Rights Committee will analyze the situation on the island next week, and the countries are advancing their stances. The draft resolution to be voted was submitted by the US and supported by the EU. On an article published in a Buenos Aires daily, US Ambassador to Argentina Lino Gutierrez asked for the condemnation vote of Washington's 'democratic allies' in Europe and Latin America.... (Ambassador) Gutierrez emphasized that 'All countries should pay attention to the will of the international community. Cuba is making fun of UNHR resolutions.' For his part, Adolfo Franco, USAID Assistant Administrator of the Latin American and Caribbean Bureau, said that the US believes it is 'important' to do everything at hand to share a 'common position on Cuba in order to make democracy prevail.' The US resolution's wording was softer than that of previous years in order to obtain more support, but it failed in this regard. In contrast to past years, when it managed to have other countries submit their condemning project, the US had to do it on its own, although it obtained the support of 36 countries, including 11 out of the 61 having a right to vote at the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva."
"Seeking A New OAS Candidate After A Tie"
Hugo Alcona Mon wrote in daily-of-record La Nation (4/13): "Yesterday, diplomats from Chile and Mexico began negotiations with other hemispheric countries in search of more support for their candidates wishing to become OAS Secretary-General, among growing versions on the eventual appearance of a third and more conciliatory candidate. Only a day after the historic tie...between Chilean Interior Minister Insulza and Mexican Foreign Minister Derbez, the OAS reflected the consequences of what was defined as a defeat of the U.S., which so far had always managed to impose its candidate.... South American governments, with the remarkable exception of Colombia, are looking for more autonomy and independence from the U.S., and Venezuela took advantage of this to deepen the rift, using economic resources and an aggressive anti-U.S. campaign...and it was leaked that Peru, Panama and Bolivia are apparently analyzing the possible presentation of a third candidate if the present balance is maintained, while the Canadians are viewed as an 'acceptable option' to some OAS delegations.... The U.S. will maintain its support for Derbez, even though Insulza met yesterday with A/S Noriega. According to Chilean diplomatic sources, Noriega said the decision to support the Mexican candidate had been made by the White House and, therefore, he couldn't do much when Washington's official circles understand that voting for Insulza is almost equal to supporting Venezuela."
"The White House's Choking Shadow"
Oscar Raul Cardoso analyzed in leading Clarin (4/12): "Through the U.S.' choking presence...the OAS added uncertainty about its leadership to its increasing institutional irrelevance. It was not able to decide between Chilean (Interior Minister) Jose Miguel Insulza and Mexican (Foreign Secretary) Luis Ernesto Derbez for its future secretary general.... Everything suggests that beyond rhetoric niceties (Washington termed both men as 'excellent candidates'), the White House wielded its influence through some central American countries in order to bog down the election, once it knew for sure that its favorite candidate, Salvadorian Francisco Flores, would not be chosen.... At least since the 1982 Malvinas-Falkland crisis...the OAS has only suffered political and budgetary decadence.... The favorite argument to explain this situation is the disproportionate weight of Central America and Caribbean countries at the OAS.... In fact, the OAS lacks an oligarchic structure along the lines of the UNSC. But, this is only part of the problem because Washington would not tolerate such a scheme in America. Rather, the OAS suffers a situation that is not publicly acknowledged--without the U.S., it could be irrelevant; with the U.S. it is sure to be doomed to irrelevance."
"The U.S.' Unexpected Retreat At The OAS"
Hugo Alconada Mon wrote in daily-of-record La Nacion (4/12): "Regional blocs and political interests became obvious again in America, but this time with an unexpected outcome--the U.S. was the big loser in the failed election of a new OAS secretary general.... After the historic tie between Mexican foreign minister Derbez (U.S. candidate) and Chilean Interior Minister Jose Miguel Insulza (supported by Argentina and Brazil), foreign ministers agreed to meet again next May 2 to make a new election.... But the confrontation for the leadership of one of the most criticized hemispheric organizations during the last ten years demonstrated that there is a new dispute between the U.S. and Venezuela behind the scenes. Venezuela promoted Insulza among the Caribbean countries, and this was combined with the hemispheric counterbalance role sought by Brazil and Argentina.... Venezuela is the new 'ogre' for the Republican administration after Cuba.'"
MEXICO: "Latin American Divided"
The lead editorial in nationalist El Universal read (4/12): "The fact that no country would change its vote reveals the polarization of the continent. It's also worrisome that the perception has arisen that a vote for the Mexican Chancellor is equivalent to a vote in favor of the U.S. and that a vote for Insulza will be in support of the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.... When the OAS reconvenes to break this unfortunate impasse, it will be important that Latin American interests predominate in order to achieve integration, a source of common support and to safeguard identities and independence. This is the task the candidates will face, and eventually, the new secretary general of the OAS."
Independent Reforma stated (4/12): "Yesterday the Mexican delegation in Washington couldn't have their celebration because their calculations were wrong and they didn't have the 18 votes needed. What's worse, this Friday the UN votes on the issue of human rights in Cuba, long the source of trouble between Havana and Los Pinos. It is said that depending on how Mexico votes Friday in Geneva, many Caribbean countries will determine their support for him at the OAS. Meanwhile, Derbez keeps getting his paycheck."
Marcela Gómez Zalce asserted in nationalist Milenio (4/12): "There are too many interests for the Bush administration regarding foreign policy: Castro's regime is one of them; Mexico is a fundamental player in reprimanding Cuba in the upcoming days at the Human Rights Commission in Switzerland.... However this year things are a little bit more complicated, why? It's simple, first because Luis Derbez calculated that OAS would take place before the Cuba vote--don't ever underestimate anyone--therefore he thought he would get the U.S. vote, intended for El Salvador's candidate. Second, the Cuban rascals, who move the waters in Caribbean nations, were sowing discord. But finally a surprise: both Derbez and Insulza got 17 votes each. Nothing for anybody."
"Candidates And Ingenuousness"
Julio Hernández López noted in left-of-center La Jornada (4/12): "Not even a last-minute maneuver by the U.S. could get the worthless Luis Derbez into the equally worthless OAS. Five rounds of votes finished in a tie, even though the Mexican got some votes pledged to Francisco Flores, whom Washington ordered to withdraw so that the supposedly stronger Mexican candidate could win over the Chilean threat called José Miguel Insulza. Flores was used by the White House to make others believe that he was the gringos' official candidate, however, the true candidate was Luis Ernesto. He did not get in despite this effort, at least for the moment. The White House will push--with its injured pride--to win during the next May 2nd session."
"OAS: Priorities And Expectations"
Nationalist El Universal opined (4/11): "Today it's possible that the Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez may become the 9th Director General of the OAS, defeating Jose Miguel Insulza of Chile. Washington's favorite, former Salvadoran President Francisco Flores, who is dogged by corruption scandals, increased Derbez' chances with his withdrawal from the election. The OAS should assume a governing role that is urged by many Latin American diplomats and political analysts, and not behave any more like a branch of the U.S. Department of State. It could commit itself to developing real solutions that meet the needs of the poorest countries of the continent."
Independent Reforma concluded (4/11): "It's the final straw! Luis Derbez' luck is in the hands of Fidel Castro. Up there in Washington, they say the Caribbean countries will decide whether Derbez or Insulza gets the Secretary General's job. It's a challenge for the Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretariat because the Cuban government has great influence over Caribbean nations. Moreover, one already knows that Castro does not favor the Fox Government, so that is why they believe that even though Cuba does not belong to OAS, it is working to block Derbez's candidacy."
"Derbez At OAS"
Miguel Angel Granados Chapa commented in independent Reforma (4/11): "Now we know that the surprising candidacy of Derbez for OAS Secretary General was the result of a bet that the U.S.' favorite former Salvadoran President Francisco Flores would not be a convincing candidate. Thus, in spite of last-minute factors, it is very likely that Luis Ernesto Derbez will be elected today as Secretary General of OAS, a candidate who always wished for the Mexican Presidency.... The OAS has always functioned systematically, especially during a crisis as a majority of one. The White House has never abandoned its control of the Inter-American system, anything but, since today when faced with more political options in the hemisphere, even when they do not conflict with the U.S., they try to increase the decisions in favor of their country."
BARBADOS: "Crude And Insulting"
Tony Best observed in the leading weekly Sunday Sun (4/10): "The U.S sought to get Caricom to switch their votes away from Mexico’s candidate in favor of Flores with a promise of $10 million in technical assistance. An unnamed Caribbean diplomat called the offers 'crude and insulting'.... During the past ten days Washington was rife with rumors of attempted-votebuying by both the U.S. and Mexico.... Caribbean nations stood firm in their decision to back Chilean Interior Minister Jose Miguel Insulza, thus convincing the Bush White House and Flores that he was heading for an embarrassing defeat.... Flores was a weak candidate and was weakened even further since his country was the only one within the region to recognize the short-lived government that temporarily ousted Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez."
BOLIVIA: "A Real Miracle"
Centrist La Razon editorialized (4/12): "Yesterday's tie vote in the OAS general secretary elections was a real miracle.... We commend Foreign Minister Juan Ignacio Siles for his lobbying activities against Chilean candidate Jose Miguel Insulza, while recognizing the importance of President Mesa's recent warning at the IADB meetings in Japan.... The tie vote paralyzed Chile's hegemonic ambition in the continent and alleviated Bolivia's justifiable anxiety.... In the second round on May 2, it would be ideal to have a third alternative candidate."
CHILE: "OAS: We Must Step Aside"
Maria Luisa Brahm wrote in independent, conservative La Tercera (4/14): "The government should withdraw Minister Insulza’s unsuccessful and costly candidacy and promote a third consensus candidate. This is in our national interest. To continue in this competition brings unnecessary tension to our historically good relations with the United States; moves us away from Mexico, which is an important partner; and could lead us into new and more costly commitments with the Caribbean, a region that is outside our foreign policy goals.”
Independent, conservative La Tercera commented (4/13): “Santiago did not correctly measure the effect that a close relationship with Venezuela would have on Washington.... Chile’s support of Venezuela's bid to join the UN Human Rights Committee and its high-profile lobby in search of votes for Insulza in the Caribbean concerned the United States because both reflected a clear debt for a future secretary general.... Chile has to attack the Chavez problem if it wants to change the dynamics against Insulza’s candidacy...and especially be more critical of the 'exportation’ of the Chavez model... If Chile does this, it runs the risk of losing the Venezuelan and some Caribbean votes and could also seem desperate, thus hurting its credibility. These are the dilemmas that Insulza and the GOC face.”
"OAS: A Complicated Gamble For Chile"
Independent, conservative La Tercera editorialized (4/13): "Venezuela’s support of Chile...seems to have turned this election into a wresting match between Washington and Caracas.... The Chilean authorities seem to have understood...that it’s not convenient...for Chile’s candidate to assume the representation of those voices in the region that are clearly anti-American. The U.S. is key for Chile and we must try to ensure that the OAS campaign has the lowest possible cost in terms of our relationship with that country. The effort to show that Chile does not intend for its campaign to create divisions or confrontations is on the right track. Must Chile continue? Yes, if this is something in which Chile has invested heavily and that promises clear geopolitical advantages for the country. Nevertheless, it is important to consider the costs of a defeat, especially regarding Chile’s presence and clout in the region.”
"Stumbling In The OAS"
Conservative, influential El Mercurio declared (4/13): "Venezuela’s support of the Chilean candidate has been counterproductive because of the mistrust several countries, especially the U.S., have for Chavez.... What is transcendental, though, is that Chile has achieved consensus regarding one of its most prominent political figures for the most important office in the most important multilateral organization in the region.... But the absence of transparency in the election, the withdrawal of at least one committed vote, and the time between now and the next vote entail high risks that could lead to greater pressure and conflict.... Our diplomacy must coolly assess the convenience of upholding this candidacy.”
"The Trees Should Not Block The View Of The Forest"
Center-left Diario Siete editorialized (4/13): “It’s important that Chile head the project to renew an entity that needs to better relate to the times and play a more active role defending democracy and human rights, promoting growth and cooperation, rejecting terrorism and encouraging dialogue with the rest of the world. But this calls for the United States to understand that a useful OAS is one that has its own voice, acts independently, and garners consensus.”
"The OAS Election"
Popular, conservative afternoon daily La Segunda remarked (4/12): "Once more, the United States has shown itself to be short-sighted regarding Latin America, letting itself be guided by the mere proximity of Mexico and a transitory antagonism instead of by a hemispheric strategy of greater scope.... Yesterday’s tie is already a landmark in the history of the OAS, but we must not forget that imperial policy does not admit defeat. This could, therefore, be just the beginning of what is to come on May 2 if, as Minister Insulza expects, there is no consensus.... Among the losses (for Chile) is Haiti...but more painful yet is the rupture of historical synchronization with Paraguay, the unforeseen clash with Mexico...the inopportune distancing from Colombia, and Peru’s adherence to Bolivia’s hostility. It’s not an advantage either...to be paired with Venezuela and--at least in terms of image--closer to the populism of the Atlantic coast.”
"The U.S. Mistake In The OAS"
Genaro Arriagada commented in center-left Diario Siete (4/12): "The U.S. succeeded in preventing Insulza from being elected...but at a very high cost: providing the spectacle of the world’s greatest power being unable to destroy a coalition of 17 countries that resisted the enormous pressure on them to change their votes.... In a region characterized by the emergence of anti-American populism, with imminent threats to democracy, and the resurgence of economic polices that remind us of serious mistakes in the past... Bush was unable to find a good ally... Chile and its candidate offered the best chance to face these challenges in constructive cooperation with the United States, Argentina, Brazil, and a series of Latin American countries that define themselves as center-left, but that are willing to work together.... Our main difference with the United States is one of misunderstood pride, but one that emerges from a different vision of what the OAS, Latin America, the Caribbean, and our relations with the United States must be.”
"The OAS At The Hour Of Definitions"
Center-left Diario Siete held (4/12): “One must celebrate the fact that the OAS in Washington experienced an authentic democratic competition in which the election of its secretary general was not the foregone conclusion it has been in the past whenever the United States made public its preference. Whoever eventually wins...one thing is clear: it is no longer the time in which one country--the U.S.--can impose its will without a counterweight, as it has since the foundation of the OAS in 1948... Nor it is the time to foster prejudiced attitudes toward the United States, in terms of blocking the possibilities of dialogue with its governors… Undoubtedly, the prevalence of old schemes has led the White House to oppose the Chilean candidacy. Minister Insulza would be the flesh and blood incarnation of the ‘socialist threat’ within the OAS. Acting in this manner misses the point: what distinguishes a politician like the Minister of the Interior is precisely his modern vision of the role of multilateral organizations as entities called to struggle for an international order based on law, aimed at preserving peace among nations and defending human rights.... If the United States opens itself to the new realities, the OAS may experience a process of institutional regeneration and win the peoples’ respect.”
Independent, conservative La Tercera maintained (4/12): “Yesterday’s (vote in) Washington was a classic high-level international political (match) that pitted two experienced rivals in Chile’s minister of the Interior and Mexico’s foreign minister... Chileans gathered in front of TV sets in the metro, storefronts, in homes and at offices.... Many could only wish that a ‘classic’ soccer match would raise such high expectations.”
ECUADOR: "Surprising OAS"
Juan Jacobo Velasco opined in Quito's center-left Hoy (4/14): "It would have been logical that in the face of an imminent defeat of its [candidate], the U.S. would have aligned with Chile. Not in vane the austral country is the Latin American lone star of the moment thanks to the strength of its democracy and economy. Yet, the Venezuelan support for Insulza’s candidacy stripped the interest of the Americans, [who are] intending to give a lesson to the [Chileans]. On Monday we found ourselves with a polarization of forces, with crossed interests and regional strategies that, let’s hope, will at the end of the day give way to the resurrection of this zombie--the OAS.”
GUATEMALA: "OAS: Overtime"
Marielos Monzon contended in moderate leading Prensa Libre (4/12): "The times are changing.... It is no longer the case that the U.S. designates its preference for secretary general of the OAS and all others revere it.... Unconditionally, Flores...supported the war in Iraq, the blockade and hostaging of Cuba and the implementation, without question, of politics that direct the international financial agencies...his declaration maintaining that the best day of his life had been when he met George W. Bush.... We attend a diplomatic defeat for Washington and a show of the enormously difficult relations it has with the majority of countries.... The OAS should...stop being an instrument for only one country."
"Who Uses Guatemala Against Cuba?"
Adrian Zapata said in conservative, business-oriented Siglo Veintiuno (4/7): "Guatemala should abstain from voting...if we want relations with the U.S. to reflect the actual asymmetry, we should be respected.... We should not be U.S.ed, by interests that are not ours.”
"Geneva And The Cuba Case"
Gustavo Porras Castejon remarked in conservative, business-oriented Siglo Veintiuno (4/6): "The Cuban case and the alleged violations to human rights are a further expression of hypocrisy that rules policy, especially foreign policy and the governments that are willing to participate in the ritual condemnation of the Island during the Geneva Conference, that the Guatemalans do only under U.S. pressure.”
"Mariel, The Ferrymen Bomb And The Quiet Lion"
Carlos Alberto Montaner opined in influential El Periodico (4/6): "Castro is presented before the world as a victim of the U.S., but precise data shows exactly the opposite: Washington has been a source of stability to the dictatorship.”
NICARAGUA: "Failure For The U.S."
Oscar Rene Vargas asserted in leftist national El Nuevo Diario (4/14): "The fact that the resolution was presented by the U.S. and not by a slave country is a political and moral failure in itself for the U.S. It also reveals a new political atmosphere in the world which reflects in different multilateral forums such as the elections in the OAS and in the Human Rights Commission. The number of countries that are reacting against the U.S. authoritarian and discriminatory political practices is growing. The fact that this project was presented by the U.S. demonstrates that the topic of human rights in Cuba is a worry solely of the U.S. and not of the entire international community or of Latin America.... To vote in favor of or abstain from voting on the U.S. resolution against Cuba is to collaborate with the aggressive politics of the Bush administration against Cuba and to help perpetuate the warrior-like strategy of today's U.S. government."
Bayardo Altamirano contended in leftist national El Nuevo Diario (4/14): "As is well known, Cuba has faced a blockade by every U.S. president since the start of the revolution. Every year, the UN approves motions condemning this type of criminal and awkward politics against the Cuban people. The UN General Assembly has asked the U.S. to put an end to the economic sanctions imposed against Cuba, considering it an act of genocide.... But now more than ever, Bush wants to double the measures that reduce the economic exchange with Cuba. The administration tries to put a new 'lock' against the food exportation to the island. Curiously enough, Cuba is increasing its commerce with the U.S. in spite of the restrictions and the island is one of the top ten importers of rice, wheat, chicken and milk products from the U.S.... Once more it is demonstrated that this blockade makes no sense and is the most absurd policy that can be conceived."
"The OAS Election"
Center-right national La Prensa editorialized (4/13): "Apart from the intellectual and ideological discussions regarding a crisis in the OAS and the U.S. hegemony--after all it provides 80% of the funds this institution needs to maintain itself--this situation gives Nicaragua a great opportunity to present another candidacy for secretary general of the OAS.... Both Nicaragua and Peru are competing for a non-permanent seat in the UNSC for the 2006-2007 term. Nicaragua must weigh what is best for the country: an OAS secretary general or a non-permanent seat in the UNSC, and negotiate accordingly with Peru for reciprocal support one way or another. Of course, Nicaragua's presence with an OAS secretary general must not be motivated only by a longing to have political power, but rather by the will to strengthen the principles and objectives of great interest such as the application of the Anti-Corruption Convention and the Inter-American Democratic Charter."
"Intellectuals And Totalitarian Regimes"
Center-right national La Prensa editorialized (4/7): "241 intellectuals and artists from different parts of the world signed and are distributing a political proclamation called: 'Stop New Actions Against Cuba'. These intellectuals and artists state that the proposal of a condemnation to the Castro regime because of violations to human rights in Cuba is a U.S. conspiracy.... It is not unusual to have intellectuals and artist sympathize with the communist regime in Cuba, or of any other part of the world where there are still parts of this totalitarian system. For incomprehensible reasons, many intellectuals admire strong men and despotic leftist regimes and defend them with passion. What is strange is to have intellectuals and artists pronouncing themselves against totalitarian regimes, communist or otherwise, and it is even harder to have them show solidarity with those whose individual freedom has been suppressed, as is the case of Cuba.... Those prisoners are suffering terrible conditions of hostility and repression just because they dissent from the established system and because they want to be free.... It is precisely in defense of those prisoners of conscience that waste away in Cuban prisons that a minority of intellectuals and artists...signed a document that calls for democratic humanity to condemn the terrible violation of human rights being practiced in Cuba."
PARAGUAY: "Formidable International Hypocrisy In The Case Of Cuba"
Leading influential ABC Color opined (4/14): "There are no political arguments capable of justifying the violation of human rights and the political repression in Cuba, for the simple reason that human rights are valid moral premises in all times and places. Human rights are universal and because of this were subscribed to by all civilized nations in 1948. The tired argument that voting to sanction Cuba implies an alignment with the U.S., which also violates human rights--according to allegations of supporters of Castro and enemies of the northern country--is no longer sustainable because if a country is really sovereign and autonomous, it can not make its vote to condemn the brutal and blatant situation in Cuba conditional upon this childish position.”
PERU: "Will Peru Win The Sixth Round At The OAS?"
Mirko Lauer speculated in center-left La Republica (4/13): "Peru was probably one of Washington's instruments in rejecting Chile's candidate at the OAS.... Now Washington must demonstrate its capacity to impose a candidate--it has being doing this since 1948--even against the votes of a new South American bloc that seeks to affirm its identity."
VENEZUELA: "Elections At The OAS"
Pro-Government daily tabloid Diario VEA (04/14) editorialized: “The United States suffered a new defeat at the OAS. The first one was when it had to withdraw the candidacy of Francisco Flores, former President from El Salvador. Flores was the only Latin American President to recognize the spurious government of Pedro Carmona. For Venezuela, the result of the election at the OAS has a special meaning. Washington intends to use the OAS in its strategy to intervene and attack our country. It won’t be easy. Before, there was a single bloc that unconditionally supported the U.S. Now there are two blocs. Dignity, sovereignty and independence conquer new grounds.”
"A Foreseeable Impasse At The OAS"
Antonio Sánchez García wrote in liberal tabloid El Nuevo País (4/13): “The elections at the OAS have been marked by a mute fight between American and Venezuelan diplomacy. The former, preparing the ground of the OAS to deal with the thorny issue of the Venezuelan government’s violations of the Democratic Charter, and the latter, engaging all its possible allies to turn the OAS into an ideological and political battle field similar to the one that led to the expulsion of Castro’s Cuba from the hemispheric organization in the early 1960s. Will there be a consensus candidate? The truth is that the political integrity of the region seems to be seriously threatened today. And it has an impact on the OAS.”
"Election At The OAS"
Rodolfo Schmidt commented in economic tabloid Reporte (4/13): “Only a diplomatic bureaucracy, without the majority of its professional members and stupefied by the oil prices, can think that the situation that has come up at the OAS is ‘conflict between the north and the south, between South America and North America.’ For May 2, most of the 34 votes will have thought about two key factors: 1) The United States provides 60% of the OAS budget; 2) Washington has a wide range of persuasion at its disposal to get the votes it needs, among which the commercial arguments and the credit cooperation stand out.”
Adolfo P. Salgueiro commented in leading conservative El Universal (4/13): “For the first time since its foundation in 1948, the OAS is now divided into two equal parts and therefore stagnated and we cannot presume that this situation is going to change on May 2 if by that time someone succeeds in getting the magic number of 18 votes.”
Political analyst and attorney Italo Luongo-Blohm commented in leading conservative El Universal (4/13): “Once again, Chávez got well ahead of the State Department. Seemingly inoffensive moves that now bear their fruits and that were planned by the time the Democratic Charter was enacted, and when the U.S. was distracted by the terrorist attacks against the city of New York and the Pentagon. The strategic oil associations with Brazil and Argentina and the beginning of close economic relations with Uruguay now produce the intended results. But the tie is an achievement for Washington, in my point of view, because Secretary Rice was planning, it is logical to consider it, to get votes for an application of the Democratic Charter on Chávez. Rice has to attract one or two more countries for the new election on May 2, if she wants to play the game against Chávez and take him to a position to apply the Charter. If she can’t, she will play the card of influencing Caricom countries through Canada. If they get to besiege Chávez, he won’t mind being together with Fidel in ostracism. He’s already prepared for that and with the military reserve he will be able to resist a possible invasion of the hated gringos.”
"Uncertain And Dark Future"
Maria Teresa Romero observed in leading conservative El Universal (4/13): “The tie in the OAS secretary general election not only prolongs the crisis of the organization after the forced resignation of former Costa Rica president, Miguel Angel Rodríguez last year, but it discloses two realities: the political polarization among its members and the loss of influence of the United States in the inter American system. The Bush administration's and central and north American governments’ support for Flores and Derbez is explained by the following interest: that the OAS is headed by a man with a clear democratic position and free market now that socialist governments advance in the hemisphere, with some being radical in their challenges to American regional leadership.”
"The OAS Elections"
Maruja Tarre contended in leading conservative El Universal (4/13): “Derbez and Insulza announced that they will continue with their candidacies, so they will continue with their lobbying and attempts to get support from a Caribbean country. It is probable that the United States will not overtly express its support for any of the candidates. Chávez will continue to send emissaries to the Caribbean in his desire to portray the division of the hemisphere as a personal triumph for his revolution. Some commentators even think that Chávez would present a Venezuelan candidate for secretary general. In the meantime, the OAS continues to be divided, weakened and lacking in energy to face the challenges ahead of it.”
"Suspense In Washington"
Leading liberal El Nacional editorialized (4/12): “What happened in Washington yesterday at the OAS could be labeled as a ‘comedy of mistakes.’ The first mistake was committed by the strongest one, the U.S., a country that had traditionally had the final word in the election of the OAS secretaries generals. Without the approval of Washington, no one could apply for the high-ranking post. This is one of the conclusions we can draw from yesterday’s events. The first mistake of the U.S. was to endorse a candidate with so little support, such as the former President from El Salvador, Francisco Flores. Another mistake was having underestimated the possibilities of the Secretary of Foreign Relations from Mexico. No country or region has enough power to impose a candidate. This was a new clash between the North and the South, which tells us a lot about the future that awaits us.”
BRITAIN: "A Stick To Beat Cuba: U.S. Bullying Of The UN Human Rights Group Must Stop"
Former MP Dr Ian Gibson argued in left-of-center Guardian (4/15): "Last year, after it became obvious that the US had browbeaten enough countries, the Cuban government withdrew its resolution on Guantanamo. The same thing is expected to happen this year. So while the commission will most likely condemn Cuba--where there has been no verified case of torture since 1959--it will not even debate the situation in the US prison on the same island, where torture has been extensively documented, or Abu Ghraib, where it has been photographed."
ZAMBIA: "Defending Cuba's Human Rights Record"
The privately-owned independent Post commented (4/15): "U.S. politicians--and other less famous but just as presumptuous--are spending all their free time dreaming up new arguments to persuade the world that human rights are being violated in Cuba, and that the Cuban people are screeching like a deflowered maiden, calling on everyone to put an end to their Calvary. Objectively, we are thoroughly convinced that no country in the world has done more than Cuba to protect human rights. Despite the main economic challenges the country faces as a result of the U.S. embargo of more than 45 years, no children in Cuba have to beg or are homeless; no children have to scrounge for a living on the streets. In the rest of the world--including the U.S...but mainly in the other Third World countries--tens of millions of homeless children...are begging in the streets.... Is there any country that has done more than Cuba to protect human rights?.... Cuba has been grossly slandered, especially by the U.S.... What is behind the U.S. determination to stain the clean record of the Cuban Revolution, which has set an unprecedented example, if it is not the imperialists' aim of slandering the Cuban Revolution, undermining its moral authority and destroying it?.... In terms of hypocrisy and double standards, it was the straw that broke the camel's back. What will it do this year, after the dissemination of the heinous pictures of tortures at the prison of Abu Ghraib?.... There's a need to rescue the Commission on Human Rights from disrepute and confrontation by rejecting the United States motion against Cuba."
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