OAS revokes 47-year-old ban on Cuba

SAN PEDRO SULA: The Organisation of American States cleared the way for Cuba’s possible return to the group by lifting a 47-year ban on the communist-run country, a move backed by Washington despite initial objections.

The vote by acclamation on Wednesday to revoke a 1962 measure suspending the island from the body not only toppled a Cold War landmark but was the latest sign of the end of Cuba’s isolation in a region increasingly governed by leftist leaders.

Even traditional US ally El Salvador this week restored ties with Cuba, meaning that every country in the hemisphere except for the United States has re-established relations. The US embargo also remains deeply unpopular in Latin America.

“At this meeting today we have washed away a stain that had affected us all,” said Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, whose leftist Sandinista party returned to power in 2006.

The decision was made by consensus, meaning the United States accepted it, though Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had lobbied personally for requiring Cuba to make democratic reforms and improve respect for human rights. Still, Clinton applauded the final vote. “Many member countries originally sought to lift the 1962 suspension and allow Cuba to return immediately, without conditions,” Clinton stated. “The right approach was to replace the suspension which has outlived its purpose after nearly half a century with a process of dialogue and a future decision that will turn on Cuba’s commitment to the organisation’s values,” she added.