PANAMA CITY – The government of Panama will do “as much as would be useful” to help Cuba rejoin the Organization of American States and normalize relations in the hemisphere, the country’s deputy minister for Multilateral Affairs and Cooperation, Maria Luisa Navarro, told Efe.
Following the diplomatic success that the recent Summit of the Americas meant for Panama, where for the first time in 50 years the presidents of Cuba and the United States sat down at the same table, the Panamanian government believes it is time for the island to become an “active part” of the OAS.
“If Cuba continues to participate in the next Summits of the Americas, as we hope, it has to reincorporate itself into the organization,” Navarro said in an interview with Efe two days after taking part in this week’s OAS General Assembly in Washington.
Cuba was expelled from the OAS in 1962, three years after the victory of Fidel Castro’s Cuban Revolution. In 2009 the organization raised the suspension, but up to now Havana has shown little inclination to return to the fold.
In fact, Havana has always been very critical of the OAS, which it has considered a tool of U.S. “imperialism.”
On numerous occasions the Cuban government has said it would never rejoin that organization, and has always felt more comfortable in forums like the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or Celac, where all the countries of the Americas are represented except the United States and Canada.
“The matter of Cuba coming back to the OAS will depend on the organization, its member countries and the island itself. Cuba must be willing to resume the dialogue,” Navarro said.
During the OAS General Assembly, the Panamanian government showed its willingness to act as an intermediary in normalizing hemispheric relations.
“As part of our foreign policy we will promote talks and be ready to help solve any peaceful conflict that may arise in the hemisphere,” the deputy minister said.
Navarro also spoke of the need to relaunch the OAS and make it more influential because “it is the only forum that unites north and south.”
“One of the delegations (at the OAS Assembly) said the institution now has to trim a tree that has too many branches and that it’s up to the new secretary-general to find the most robust branches and chop off all the rest. That will make the tree much stronger and able to keep growing,” she said.