By JP Carroll
Communist Cuba’s President Raul Castro said Saturday that his island nation would never rejoin the Organization of American States (OAS), an apparent effort to show solidarity with socialist Venezuela.
The OAS is an international organization meant to serve as a discussion forum for its 35 member states to promote cooperation in the Western Hemisphere. Washington, D.C. serves as the headquarters of the OAS, which was founded in 1948.
Castro made his remarks at a Caribbean countries summit hosted by Cuba, and labeled the organization “an instrument of imperialist domination.” The second Castro dictator, brother of Fidel Castro, also stated that Venezuela could count on Cuba’s, “most firm solidarity to our brothers the Venezuelan people, to the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro.”
Venezuela was subjected to a great deal of scrutiny from the OAS at the end of May, which led to the Cuban leader’s statement of support. Luis Almagro, the secretary general of the OAS, called an emergency meeting Tuesday to address the Venezuelan crisis and possibly suspend the country’s membership from the organization.
Venezuela has been suffering from a long-running economic and political crisis for years. After the death of President Hugo Chavez in March 2013, Venezuela has struggled under the governance of Maduro. Inflation is expected to reach 720 percent this year and politics is at a standstill — after the December 2015 elections saw the opposition take control of the National Assembly, the equivalent of Congress.
Ultimately, the emergency meeting resulted in a statement of support from the OAS for the efforts of former Latin American leaders, as well as former Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, to create a dialogue between the Venezuelan oppostion and Maduro’s regime. Zapatero met with jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez Saturday, the first meeting Lopez has had with someone other than his family or his lawyer since his imprisonment.
Cuba was suspended from the OAS in 1962 but had the ability to re-apply for active membership in 2009. Venezuela might still be suspended from the OAS which would be unsurprising given the tense back and for the between Maduro and Almagro. The Venezuelan leader has called the OAS chief, “a CIA agent” to which Almagro responded that Maduro is just “a petty dictator.”