Saturday, January 29, 2005

Tired of the big stick?

In tandem with the report I mentioned a few days ago, the Miami Herald also reported this week that an elite "action panel" of the UN's Commission on Human Rights has decided to include that beacon of human rights in the Caribbean, Cuba. This is the same panel that only narrowly approved a resolution last year condemning the arrest and sentencing (for up to 25 years) of some 75 Cuban dissidents back in 2003.
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.

1 Comments:

At 6:57 PM, Blogger Randy said...

David,

The only things that I would add is that the Inter-American Democratic Charter gets short shrift because it was signed in Lima on September 11, 2001.

Also, it's worth noting that with regard to the attempted coup against Chávez in April 2002 and the resignation/ouster of Aristide, the Bush adminstration gave at least tacit support in the case of the former and perhaps more active support in the case of the latter in such a way as to contravene at least the tenets of the IADC.

 

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