Ximena Roncal Vattuone
The imperial policy of the United States is known for colonial looting and aggression, creating countries and dividing them, controlling their policies and actions from the top levels of imperial decision making. This is done through its different agencies –extensions of its goals–, and by carrying out destabilizing plans and projects completely contrary to its geostrategic interests.
The Organization of American States (OAS) was born in 1948 with the endorsement of the Bogota Pact, with a view to defending the region’s common interests and unity. Its trajectory however has become a guarantee for the U.S. neocolonial policy, which has tried to set a single world order through its unipolar regulations and actions. Supporting dictatorships and reactionary movements to oust governments contrary to its ideology is their plan, carried out through economics, the use of force and even bloody military actions –dissuasive and/or preventive actions– all of them part of the imperialist control in the Latin American and Caribbean region, spread the knowhow and the desire for the American way of life throughout the world.
As a political instrument, the OAS has strengthened the U.S. unipolarity, enabling the Pentagon to intervene, impose, oust, invade, and sanction those countries discrepant to the “concept of American freedom,” standardizing a view of the world, their view of the world. However, as pointed by Serbin, “the OAS Charter formally endorsed the principles of non-intervention, juridical equality, and the peaceful resolution of disputes of states… to ensure institutional frameworks for dialog and the peaceful resolution of internal disputes, and the development of hemispheric security mechanisms to keep stability and peace in the region.”
These fallacious arguments have been used to define the priorities of the U.S. politics and dependent national economies, enforcing illegality in the hemispheric strategy of power, subordinating all social aspects and where the OAS, playing safe, has conditioned not only economic aid but also agreements and any sort of negotiations; it has enabled laws not for the region’s shared good but for the convenient purpose of geopolitical and military dynamics of capitalist reproduction.
A Necessary Timeline
It’s worth recalling that though it’s true that Washington devises the OAS actions to have the needed support and votes to ensure its continental policy, this is also possible thanks to alliances among local groups of power in each country –local vassal oligarchies and/or bourgeoisie– addressing policies towards a subjugated State.
Amidst the shadows of the OAS, in 1962, they decided to exclude Cuba, which was demanding sovereignty and political independence. This country is “accused” of communism by the Inter-American System and declared a threat for the continent. Since then, they have imposed the most brutal economic blockade and the OAS Council has demanded its member states to break diplomatic relations with the island, exposing their flagrant violation to the principle of non-intervention, their “double standard” and lack of congruence with the principles over which they created the organization: “The U.S. hegemony in the region defined the OAS defense of democracy in anti-communist terms,” Lopez said.
During its development, the OAS revealed its real function at the orders of the U.S. service and, with its complicity, unipolar States detached Brazil from Latin America in 1964, through a military coup against President Joao Goulart to attach Brazilian industries and resources to the U.S. military–industrial complex. In 1965, they did the same in the Dominican Republic, a country they also “decided to separate” from the communist danger, breaking the term of then President Juan Bosh, democratically elected; the OAS limited to send its Inter-American Peace Force, made up by U.S. Marines. In this timeline of violations to international law, they destroyed the Chilean process in 1973 by overthrowing President Salvador Allende, a coup d’état also backed by the CIA. In 1982, the organization kept silent during the Malvinas War between Argentina and the United Kingdom, the same as during the U.S. invasion of Grenada in 1983. In 1989, they carried out the Operation Just Cause –according to George H. Bush–, justifying their invasion of Panama, causing death and destruction in the Central American country. In 2002, it barefacedly backed the failed coup d’état staged by the U.S. Administration against Venezuela, as well as subsequent destabilization attempts, threats and blockade being experienced in this country.
Impossible to forget is the OAS “indecision” in 2004 (militarily busy from then on), when a coup d’état was launched against president-elect of Haiti, Jean Bertrand Aristide. U.S. Ambassador James B. Foley stated that the President had “voluntarily resigned.” In 2006, the organization highlighted the performance of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, also known as MINUSTAH, that was actually condemned for violating human rights in that country. In this neocolonial deployment and arguing “humanitarian aid,” the 2010 Haiti earthquake paved the way for the reoccupation of the Caribbean island by installing the Southern Command Headquarters. Likewise, the OAS has not rejected the presence of U.S. military bases in Colombia, which reactivated the Fourth Fleet in 2008, as well as the maintenance of its military bases system at the Greater Caribbean Basin.
The United States has laid siege on Latin America with its military network: Panama, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Peru, Haiti, and Honduras, just to mention some countries. Its strategic areas are Central America and the Caribbean, where the greatest amount of military bases can be found, projecting an evil imperial geopolicy without condemnation from the OAS.
In the last decade, the coup in Honduras of constitutional president Manuel Zelaya in 2009, organized at the U.S. Embassy and at the Palmerola military base, with terrible consequences for democracy. Today imperialism maintains this county in violence and in social decomposition with almost 60% of the population living in a state of poverty thanks to privatization and the loss of the most elementary rights, such as respect for life itself.
The OAS Mission
With a renewed strategy and with connivance of the OAS, the imperial power has forced legislative decisions in Latin American parliaments: the juridical legislative coup d’état to President Fernando Lugo in Paraguay, resulting in his destitution and political trial; in 2016, when Brazil’s chamber of deputies passed a political trial against President Dilma Rousseff, along with persecuting and imprisoning Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
On the one hand, the OAS is working on political coercion and repression of economic policies contrary to unilateralism, seeking to boost and practice the U.S. values and ideologies in Latin America and the Caribbean. On the other hand, as the forum to legitimate U.S. interventions in the region’s domestic affairs.
The OAS has focused its political actions in two specific areas: defending democracy and the defending sovereignty as main dimensions of Inter-American relations system basing on the principles of non-intervention and self-determination. The two areas are constituted in the storyline devised by the United States’ capitalist expansion strategy, destroying advances of national States.
It is evident then that the OAS has never represented the region and headed by Luis Almagro, lackey of the U.S. Administration, the organization is revealing its true submissiveness and partiality to U.S. regional interests, its neocolonial vocation, its imperial interpretation of democracy, sovereignty, freedom and human rights.
The OAS takes a stance of neutrality towards the violent repression undertaken by Ecuador’s Lenin Moreno against the demonstrations carried out by poor and indigenous sectors, headed by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), who opposed neoliberal measures ordered by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), demanding to retract Decree 883 establishing an increase on oil prices.
Chile’s Mapuche indigenous people, students, and women are demanding deep transformations in this country’s economic model; they are tired of huge inequality, lack of employment and opportunities, where pensions, health and education are privatized, and the social majorities have no possibilities of having access to it. The brutal response of rightist Sebastian Piñera has not even been called into question by the OAS. Almagro has stayed out of the terrible repression committed by the Carabineros force, leaving over 200 boys and girls under 30 blind; incidences of torture and sexual abuse against women are ignored in a country where one percent of the population has 30 percent of its wealth, while the poorest 50 percent has access only to 2.1 percent.
The OAS goal of serving the meddling policies of the Washington Administrations on call has been reaffirmed with the coup d’état of President Evo Morales Ayma (who denounced an ongoing coup d’état 15 days before it was staged), forced to resign his post following a media campaign of electoral fraud long before the October elections were held. The OAS, in collaboration with an oligarchic fascist and racist far right, the Church, soldiers’ “suggestion,” and doubtlessly the U.S., plotted against a Government elected through popular vote.
Three days after Evo’s resignation, the OAS hypocrisy and Almagro’s cynicism backed the usurpation of the self-proclaimed president in a parliament without quorum on behalf of democracy; immediately recognized of course by Donald Trump, who said: “I praise the performance of the Armed Forces and the preservation of democracy,” evidencing a huge setback in the democratic building of Bolivia and the region..”
Self-proclaimed Jeanine Añez, member of the opposition alliance Democrat Unity, set up a de facto government filled with political hatred, seeking to destroy everything linked to the Movement to Socialism (MAS) as if they could erase people’s memory and the significant advances of the Morales Administration, well known by the international community. Añez legitimized lethal bullets and point-blank shootings to preserve “order,” releasing the Armed Forces from any penal responsibility through her supreme decree 4078, repressing and aiming without mercy at the indigenous peoples, the social and cultural majority of the Pluri-national State of Bolivia. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) noted that after usurping the presidency, in six days of de facto government, she already is responsible for 23 deaths and 715 injured, besides hunting MAS leaders. The fascist government does not want testimonies of their cruel dictatorship and the OAS is keeping a deadly silence.
Respect for the other and respecting differences are not part of the “democratic” principles of the fascist far-right they represent. On the contrary, racism and contempt have arisen, criminalizing indigenous peoples and justifying repression under the argument of “hunting criminals,” inciting hatred, violence and even worse, producing evidence for the “settling of scores.”
Let’s make it clear then that we are not talking of “a struggle of machos” neither about restoring democracy, we are talking of a coup d’état backed by the OAS. Neither this organization nor Almagro have been able to provide conclusive evidence of the “alleged irregularities” in the October elections. On the contrary, this evil evaluation has been called into question by institutions such as the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR); let’s not forget that Bolivia is rich in lithium, oil and gas, and has a significant geostrategic location in Latin America.
It’s time for the OAS to disappear from the Latin American and Caribbean stage, it has lost its legitimacy and credibility, if it ever had it. It’s necessary to recover the essence of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), without the U.S. intervention or its annex organization. It’s clear that dictatorships are not measured by years but facts.
Translation by Resumen Latinoamericano, North America Bureau