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Analysis: OAS meets in time of turmoil
UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL ^ | April 25, 2005 | Les Kjos

Posted on 04/25/2005 11:08:17 PM PDT by hedgetrimmer

MIAMI -- The first regular session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States on U.S. soil in 30 years is occurring during a time of turmoil for the organization.

It's not likely to be helped by a frosty welcome from its hosts.

The city of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is suddenly displaying a cold shoulder, and some officials are regretting the invitation to the OAS.

It's yet another problem for the organization, which is struggling to select its leader and at the same time is involved in a number of squabbles throughout the hemisphere.

Fort Lauderdale is spending more than $6.7 million on security measures to protect residents against protesters, and many local officials resent it.

"This conference isn't even here and I hate it. It's been a pain in my side since I found out about it," Commissioner Cindy Hutchinson told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Nikki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the dissenters are hurting the area's reputation. She also points out that the event will provide $40 million for the area's economy.

But City Manager George Gretsas said the city's general fund won't get any of that money and he has other problems that need his attention and the county's money.

Meanwhile, organizations that plan to protest at the meeting are threatening lawsuits against the city's plans for security measures. The city already has banned protesters from carrying glass bottles, sticks for signs or balloons filled with anything other than air or helium.

The law was passed 4-1 by the City Commission last week.

"We'll be seeing you in federal court. You should be ashamed of yourselves," Robert Ross, an attorney for the Florida-based progressive Lake Worth Global Justice Group, said after the measure was passed.

The commission meeting was attended by representatives from the Green Party, the Sierra Club and the ACLU, who opposed every security plan.

Commissioners set aside more than $2.5 million of the $6.7 million to buy riot-control equipment for police. The hope is that the federal government will pay at least part of the bill, but there are no guarantees, and that has commissioners worried.

The protesters are mostly focused on the Free Trade Area of the Americas, which has still not been approved. The FTAA appears to be in trouble in any event, because Brazil, one of the largest economies in the hemisphere, said last week it was no longer on its agenda.

The meeting June 5-7 is likely to be the first for the new secretary-general of the OAS, and nobody is sure who that will be. The next vote is set for next Monday in Washington.

Vying for the post are Chilean Interior Minister Jose Miguel Insulza and Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Ernest Derbez.

Insulza and Derbez tied at 17-17 five times during voting April 11, and the vote was postponed until next week. It takes 18 votes to be elected.

Causing the two-way deadlock was former Salvadoran President Francisco Flores, who withdrew his candidacy three days before the last vote.

All but three of the Caribbean Community's 15 voting members of the OAS are believed to be in the Insulz camp along with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The Venezuelan support, however, is believed in some quarters to be more of a minus than a plus.

There is also the possibility another third candidate will be nominated to replace Flores who would likely break the tie.

The United States is supporting the more conservative Derbez. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is leading the U.S. delegation and is expected to be in Santiago, Chile, for three days at a meeting before the vote. She had already planned to attend the conference on democracy, but many believe she extended her visit to provide more time to lobby for Derbez.

This could be the first time the United States has failed to get its candidate for the post elected.

But the United States still holds the purse strings, providing two-thirds of the OAS budget. That is sure to have an impact.

For all the politics, acting Secretary-General Luigi Einaudi said the selection process reflects "the organization's potential and its role in the quest for hemispheric consensus."

He said the process attested to the democracy he said is at work in the hemisphere and said he was proud of the free and open spirit that was demonstrated.

Meanwhile, the OAS is involved in a stewpot of other issues across its broad landscape.

The OAS decided last week to send a high-level mission to Ecuador. The country has ousted its third president in recent years, and its new leaders are likely to have more trouble because of the nation's fragmented political parties and corruption.

Ecuador has had seven presidents in 10 years. The OAS said the mission will try to strengthen the South American country's democracy.

Bolivia is also experiencing a political crisis, and Einaudi has issued a statement expressing confidence in President Carlos Mesa.

The OAS is also deeply involved in Haiti, coordinating the registration of voters for the elections scheduled for this fall.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: brownshirts; cafta; derbez; ftaa; globalism; hemispheric; integration; nafta; oas; trade
But the United States still holds the purse strings, providing two-thirds of the OAS budget.

Time to cut funding and repudicate this "foreign entanglement".
1 posted on 04/25/2005 11:08:18 PM PDT by hedgetrimmer
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To: hedgetrimmer

OAS debates situation in Ecuador

Saturday, April 23, 2005 (Washington DC):

For the second successive day, the Organisation of American States (OAS) debated Ecuador's current crisis and the possible solution that could help reinstate peace in the divided country.

Panamanian OAS representative Aristides Royo proposed on Friday, sending a multi-member mission to Ecuador in order to assess the situation first hand.

A vote on the proposal was delayed as members awaited Portuguese and English translations of the original Spanish documents.

These types of delays stirred criticism from Ecuador's High Council, which arrived in Washington from Quito on Friday.

Political unrest

Former OAS representative Blasco Pena Herrera said the lack of leadership and the stalling of the election of a new Secretary General may have contributed to the lack of attention given to the political unrest in his country.

Former Ecuador President Lucio Rodriguez was ousted from office and has been taking political refuge in the Brazilian embassy in the Ecuadorean capital of Quito.

Gutierrez claims his removal from office by Congress violated the country's constitution.

Many of Gutierrez's opponents have demanded he be tried for human rights abuse and violent repressions.

Ecuador's interim government has said it would allow him to seek asylum in Brazil, but not immediately.(AP)

Under what authority does the OAS send missions to a sovereign nation? What authority do they have to act in any way?

2 posted on 04/25/2005 11:13:16 PM PDT by hedgetrimmer
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