Commentary: Will Cuba return to OAS?

Now that the hemisphere's diplomats have opened the door for the readmission of Cuba to the OAS, the question is whether Cuba is ready to come in from the cold. Don't bet on it.

As a practical matter, the decision changes very little. Acting by consensus after some hard bargaining behind closed doors, the Organization of American States lifted the 1962 suspension of Cuba, but it made clear that returning to the fold would mean accepting "the practices, purposes and principles of the OAS." That should be easy enough for most countries – but not for Cuba.

The reason that Cuba was drummed out of the OAS to begin with is that it had forsaken all pretense of abiding by the democratic principles that led to the founding of the organization. For decades, it sought to sabotage democratic governments throughout the hemisphere, a practice that continued until the Cold War ended and its Soviet patron disappeared.

Today, it remains the only country in the hemisphere whose leaders have never faced – and dare not face – a democratic election. The government routinely tramples on human rights and denies the most basic political freedoms, from free expression to the right of assembly and all forms of dissent.

The Obama administration is right to claim that engagement is a better policy than isolation, but we would have preferred stronger, enforceable conditions to readmit Cuba. This compromise ignores a totalitarian regime's strangulation of its people's basic human rights for 50 years. Cuba owes its isolation not to any maneuvering or machiavellian schemes emanating from Washington, but rather its own anti-democratic stance. That makes Cuba the odd man out, and Fidel and Raul Castro doubtless prefer it that way.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Miami Herald.