The decision by the U.S. Administration to support a compromise resolution at the OAS meeting earlier this month, that in effect lifts Cuba’s suspension while requiring that Cuba conform to OAS principles, helps break with the unilateral approach toward Cuba that has plagued our policy for over four decades. The move in essence did two important things: First, it allowed the U.S. to remove itself as the sole reason for Cuba’s absence in the OAS thus taking away an important talking point from Cuban leaders and second, it set important conditions to Cuba’s membership imposed not by the U.S. alone, but by a multilateral organization.

Despite these positive initial steps taken by the U.S. Administration, Cuban leaders will continue to take measures to preserve their grip on power. But as we have learned from transitions from authoritarian rule elsewhere, in every regime there are reformers looking for ways to promote change from within. By taking the steps it has, the Administration has put Cuban leaders on the defensive and their rejection of U.S. and international overtures no doubt fuel this internal dissent.

The U.S. should continue to take unilateral steps that are in its national interest, regardless of the overtures made by Cuban leaders. Cuban leaders have repeatedly reacted to U.S. attempts of rapprochement with hostility in order to derail these efforts and recast the U.S. as an aggressor. The U.S. would do well to continue to take steps that multilateralize pressure on Cuban leaders to reform and that encourage internal reformers.

As published in the Inter-American Dialogue's Latin America Advisor from June 16, 2009.

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Our Opinions

Date Title
6/16/09 Current Record
6/8/09 Time for U.S. Policy toward Cuba to represent our National Interest
Tomas BIlbao, Cuba Study Group