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Secretary of State Colin Powell, in the Chilean capital of Santiago, appealed to fellow Organisation of American States foreign
Monday to take a stand against Cuba's crackdown against dissidents. There is
within the OAS to take up the issue, without also dealing with the U.S. economic embargo against the Fidel
Mr. Powell's policy address to the OAS General Assembly included some of the Bush administration's
strongest to date of the Cuban crackdown, and an appeal to OAS member countries to stand
against what he termed the "depredations of the hemisphere's only dictatorship."
Seventy-five prominent Cuban dissidents were given long
terms in April on subversion and treason charges, and three men were executed after a summary trial for trying to hijack a ferry boat to the United States.
Deploring the crackdown by the Castro , the Secretary of State said the Cuban people "increasingly look" to the OAS for help in
their fundamental freedoms, and he reminded delegates of OAS commitments under it’s 2001
of support for hemisphere-wide democratization.
"The Inter-American Democratic Charter declares that the peoples of the Americas have a right
to . It does not say that the peoples of the Americas, except Cubans, have a right to democracy. I commend the OAS members who stood by their principles and the Cuban people by supporting the recent
on human rights in Cuba on the floor of the [OAS] Permanent Council.
My looks forward to working with our partners in the OAS to find ways to hasten the
inevitable transition in Cuba."
The condemning Cuba, sponsored by Canada, Chile and Uruguay, was presented in the OAS Permanent Council last month, but it has been
by only half of the organization's
Most Caribbean member states have not
the measure, arguing among other things, that Cuba's human rights record should not be debated, as long as the Castro
is suspended from the OAS, which it has been for
A senior OAS official told reporters many members of the
are ready to debate the issue of Cuba, but in a balanced way that includes the U.S. economic embargo and efforts to isolate the
government in Havana.
In his policy speech, Mr. Powell also welcomed the agreement late last month for an August 19 referendum on the
future of controversial Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. He congratulated OAS Secretary-General Cesar Gaviria for his months of work in mediating the accord, and said the United States is committed to
with the OAS and the so-called "group of friends" of Venezuela to bolster implementation of
Mr. Powell announced a million dollar U.S. special grant, on top of $70 million in U.S. humanitarian aid to Haiti
this , to assist a special OAS mission trying to improve
for long-delayed elections there.
He said the government of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has failed to fulfil OAS resolutions for an electoral
to the Caribbean country's political impasse. He said if it has not laid the necessary groundwork for elections
by , then the OAS should "re-evaluate" its role in that country.
The OAS ministers have agreed to call a special summit-level
of the organization, to be held in Mexico in , to deal with threats to the region's democratic institutions posed by the protracted economic slump and financial crises in key member states