This Organization Unites The Americas

In May 2016, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States called for a vote on whether or not to kick the country of Venezuela out of their organization Venezuela’s leader has been repeatedly accused of acting undemocratically, and not unlike a dictator, violating the basic principles of the OAS

But what exactly is the OAS, and what does it mean if Venezuela is ejected? Well, the Organization of American States is a regional coalition made up of all 35 independent countries located in North and South America These “American States” are not to be confused with the country known as "The United States of America" The idea of a Pan-American organization goes as far back as the early 1800s Venezuelan political leader, Simon Bolivar (SEE-mon bo-LEE-var), suggested creating an intercontinental American republic, with one military and one parliament Only one country actually agreed to it, so the idea didn’t materialize

But around that time, in the United States, President James Monroe implemented the “Monroe Doctrine” of foreign policy This doctrine stated that any further efforts by Europe to colonize the Americas would be seen as hostile territorial aggression and be met with US intervention, and the policy stayed in place for over a century But with World War II showing that one powerful country was not enough to defend an entire hemisphere by itself, in 1947, originally 19 countries in the Americas signed a mutual defense pact called the Rio Treaty This treats an attack on any participating nation as an attack against them all The following year, the United States organized a meeting of 21 Pan-American countries, in order to officially form the Organization of American States

The push for an official regional coalition was bolstered by US fears of communism spreading throughout the Americas In addition to pledging an oath against communism, the meeting also resulted in the first ever international human rights agreement, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man However, despite the stated efforts of the OAS to achieve peace, justice, solidarity, and collaboration while defending the sovereignty and independence of all members, the organization ended up dropping Cuba from its list of representatives in 1962 This was after Cuba became a communist country following the Cuban Revolution, which the OAS described as quote “incompatible with the principles and objectives of the inter-American system” In 2009, the ban was lifted, being described as a “historical error”, but in response, Cuba stated that it would not return to the OAS, calling the ban “shameful”

More recently, in 2009, the OAS suspended Honduras when they underwent a coup d’état, ousting the President from office, and suspending human rights, including a ban on freedom of movement, expression, and assembly  Honduras was reinstated after the crisis ended with a new presidential election So what would cutting Venezuela out of the OAS do? Well, besides barring the country from weighing in on matters concerning the OAS itself, such as prosecuting human rights violations in the Americas, the organization has little ability to enforce intervention Realistically, while the OAS serves as a useful body (?pact) for leaders of the Americas to keep the region stable, the organization itself is more of a catch-all for the many smaller military and trade agreements that exist among member countries In short, the ejection of Venezuela may symbolically show that the rest of the Americas do not support the country’s actions, but beyond that, will do little to change the situation

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