Cuba's inclusion to the newly created action panel was approved by the 11 Latin American nations that form part of the 53-member Commission on Human Rights. The designation means Cuban diplomats will not only have a say in alleged violations the commission will investigate, but also will be first to represent the region when the group has its initial gathering on Feb. 7.Mexico, will be chairing this group, which conveniently does not include two key U.S. allies in Latin America, El Salvador and Colombia.
Meanwhile, former President Jimmy Carter addressed the OAS the other day, calling on that body to make the Inter-American Democratic Charter
more than empty pieces of paper, to make it a living document. Right now the charter is weak because it is vague in defining conditions that would constitute a violation of the charter - the 'unconstitutional alteration or interruption' of the democratic order noted in article 19. The charter also requires the consent of the affected government even to evaluate a threat to democracy. If the government itself is threatening the minimum conditions of democracy, the hemisphere is not prepared to act, since there would certainly not be an invitation.He then goes on to suggest eight conditions that would constitute an interruption of democracy:
1. VIOLATION OF THE INTEGRITY OF CENTRAL INSTITUTIONS, INCLUDING CONSTITUTIONAL CHECKS AND BALANCES PROVIDING FOR THE SEPARATION OF POWERS.
2. HOLDING OF ELECTIONS THAT DO NOT MEET MINIMAL INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS.
3. FAILURE TO HOLD PERIODIC ELECTIONS OR TO RESPECT ELECTORAL OUTCOMES.
4. SYSTEMATIC VIOLATION OF BASIC FREEDOMS, INCLUDING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION, OR RESPECT FOR MINORITY RIGHTS.
5. UNCONSTITUTIONAL TERMINATION OF THE TENURE IN OFFICE OF ANY LEGALLY ELECTED OFFICIAL.
6. ARBITRARY OR ILLEGAL, REMOVAL OR INTERFERENCE IN THE APPOINTMENT OR DELIBERATIONS OF MEMBERS OF THE JUDICIARY OR ELECTORAL BODIES.
7. INTERFERENCE BY NON-ELECTED OFFICIALS, SUCH AS MILITARY OFFICERS, IN THE JURISDICTION OF ELECTED OFFICIALS.
8. SYSTEMATIC USE OF PUBLIC OFFICE TO SILENCE, HARASS, OR DISRUPT THE NORMAL AND LEGAL ACTIVITIES OF MEMBERS OF THE POLITICAL OPPOSITION, THE PRESS, OR CIVIL SOCIETY.
Great ideas, but it appears we're witnessing a bit of a backlashto U.S. dominance in the region by Latin American countries, who seemed to have retrenched back into their traditional resistence to outside interference under any circumstances.
UPDATE: As Boz points out, Andres Oppenheimer pretty much comes to the same conclusion in his piece today.