Cuba’s Reintegration into Latin America

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CUBA'S reintegration into Latin America means that the government of Raúl Castro will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the revolution in a wholly different regional context than the one that prevailed in the 1960s, when this Caribbean island nation was marginalized by practically all of Latin America.

2008 has been a very productive year for Cuban diplomacy, and the string of successes is expected to continue in 2009, with several Latin American heads of state visiting Havana, including Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and Argentine President Cristina Fernández in January, followed by their Chilean counterpart Michelle Bachelet in February, and Mexican leader Felipe Calderón on a date to be decided.

Raúl Castro's choice of Venezuela and Brazil as the destinations of his first official trips as Cuban president, following his appointment in February 2008, is an indication that he is steering his administration down the path of Latin American and Caribbean integration, while continuing with a foreign policy focused on relations with China and Russia, the successor to the Soviet Union.

In Brazil, Cuba was officially admitted as a full member of the Rio Group - a political discussion and coordination forum involving 21 countries of the region - which convened an extraordinary meeting during the first Latin American and Caribbean Summit on Integration and Development, held Dec. 16-17 in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia.

Cuba's admission to the Rio Group and the fact that it was invited to participate in the first regional summit held without US involvement, where it also secured a condemnation of Washington's nearly five-decade trade embargo on Cuba, strengthens the Cuban government's stance against a possible reinstatement into the Organization of American State (OAS).

For some analysts, the next step towards achieving complete regional integration would require dismantling the OAS, which excludes Cuba. On Jan 31, 1962, the OAS's Eighth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, held in Punta del Este, Uruguay, passed a resolution excluding Cuba from the Inter-American system due to the island nation's Marxist-Leninist government and its alignment with the Communist bloc.

The decision was passed with the supporting votes of 14 countries, one negative vote (Cuba), and six abstentions (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Mexico). Following the suspension from the Washington-based OAS, all the governments of the region, with the sole exception of Mexico, broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba.

According to former Cuban diplomat Carlos Lechuga, Washington secured the votes in favor of excluding Cuba "through pressure and extortion," violating both the OAS and United Nations charters. "For much of these past 50 years we've been cornered, but we've put up a strong defense," Raúl Castro said during his recent visit to Brazil, in reference to the period of international isolation that began in 1962, as the Cuban Revolution also became a reference point for any leftist movement that chose to take up arms.

Although Cuban authorities deny having played a role as "exporters of revolution" they have recognized that during the 1960s and 1970s they supported and encouraged armed revolutionary movements that emerged in several countries to fight against their national "oligarchies" and the United States' ‘imperial policy' in the region.

According to researchers, the worst moment in Cuba's relations with other governments of the region was during the 1962-1975 period. In 1975, the OAS amended a 1964 resolution that forced its member states to suspend diplomatic, trade and consular relations with Cuba.

The biggest row occurred with Mexico, during the presidency of Vicente Fox (2000-2006). But Fox's successor, Felipe Calderón, ironed out the differences, and diplomatic relations between the two countries are now strong, with both presidents planning official visits for 2009.

Today, Cuba maintains ties with all the countries of Latin America, with the exception of El Salvador and Costa Rica, with which it has only restored consular relations. Since the 1990s, Cuba strengthened its cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean, especially in the fields of health and education, through literacy programs, specialized medical assistance, and free training for health professionals.

Feroz Ahmed Bawany goal is to increase my knowledge and to understand the only civilized creations of Almighty Lord are HUMAN. He is a regular contributer to TRCB.com.

 

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