This week, from June 6 to 8, the Organization of American States (OAS) will hold its General Assembly with all the region’s foreign ministers and secretaries gathering in
Different country, same divisions, on different sides. As with the outcome at the last OAS General Assembly, some artful diplomacy could produce a positive step that will finally--for the good of regional diplomacy and Honduras--help to move this process along.
Two recent crises have overtaken the U.S.’s broader policy framework and agenda for the region. First, there was the coup in Honduras, now the tragedy in Haiti. The first was a potentially avoidable political train wreck that ended up dividing the hemisphere, the latter, one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the hemisphere’s history and an opportunity to unite the hemisphere.
Together the two countries, whose populations total just under 17 million people, have dominated the U.S. policy agenda in a region with close to 600 million people. In other words, we risk having lost our focus on genuine regional powers such as Brazil and looming political problems such as Venezuela by focusing on the immediate crises of just under 3 percent of the region’s population.
But there is hope. For all its heart-wrenching tragedy, Haiti is an opportunity to forge a broader hemispheric coalition and agenda in a way we failed in Honduras. Creating this historical partnership requires establishing a broad regional framework for monetary pledges, coordination, modalities, and goals of a comprehensive, long-term relief plan for Haiti that builds off Brazil and Chile’s long-standing commitment and the U.S.’s deep pockets and military and humanitarian presence.
Time, though, is running out.