October 2011, David Rosnick
This paper has to do with a question that is important for the future of the Hemisphere: namely, what to do about the Organization of American States (OAS)? On February 23, 2010, heads of state from throughout Latin America and the Caribbean met in Cancún and formed a new organization: the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). It has the same membership as the OAS, but without the United States and Canada, and it includes Cuba.
The new organization is expected to have another summit meeting in December, and this paper is written for that meeting. Although some have maintained that CELAC is not meant to displace the OAS, it will inevitably – if it succeeds – do that to some degree. This paper shows that an organization independent of Washington’s influence is both necessary and desirable, especially for the furtherance of democracy in the Hemisphere.
Although this paper is by its nature rather technical, the basic issues are not complicated. It calls into question, in a very serious manner, the conduct of the OAS in its unprecedented action that reversed the electoral result of the first round in Haiti’s most recent election. As has been noted previously, this decision was not based on statistical inference from the electoral data. This paper goes further, and shows that the OAS decision was inconsistent with the electoral data. If the OAS decision was made for political reasons – as appears to be the case – it raises serious questions about the OAS as an independent arbiter of electoral or other disputes that arise in the hemisphere. It also indicates that the hemisphere may need a new multilateral organization to safeguard the rights of people in Latin America and the Caribbean to freely choose their own governments, and to democracy and self-determination more generally.