''Washington Loses Control of the O.A.S.''
The O.A.S., which groups all of the independent states in the western hemisphere - except Cuba - into a loose strategic and economic bloc, has since its inception and until recently functioned as an instrument of Washington's global geostrategies under the general principles of the Monroe Doctrine that exclude extra-hemispheric attempts to control the political systems of states in the region. As the Monroe Doctrine has evolved in response to changing global power configurations, it has come to include the aims of establishing regimes favorable to Washington - preferably, market democracies - throughout the hemisphere and isolating regimes that do not conform to that requisite.
Washington's control of the O.A.S. is most starkly illustrated by the ease with which it got the alliance to expel Fidel Castro's Communist regime in Cuba in 1962 and its ability to foreclose the possibility of sanctioning right-wing dictatorships favorable to Washington's perceived interests in Argentina, Brazil and Chile during the 1970s and 1980s. Although the installation of market democracies is Washington's best-case scenario, it has been willing to embrace authoritarian regimes when it perceives that they are fending off political forces that would establish alternatives to capitalism and cultivate the support of powers outside the hemisphere for their experiments. Even recently, after the adoption in 2001 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which commits O.A.S. members to honoring democratic processes, Washington briefly backed an unsuccessful coup attempt in 2002 against Venezuela's quasi-socialist regime led by President Hugo Chavez.
Washington's hold on the O.A.S. began to falter after its support of the anti-Chavez coup. In 2003, the alliance's General Assembly refused to seat Washington's candidate Rafael E. Martinez on the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, leaving the Commission without a member from the United States for the first time in its history. Even more severe resistance to Washington's desires came in 2004 when an O.A.S. observer mission refused to condemn the vote in a referendum to recall Chavez, which he won by a comfortable margin. Read more