SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday firmly opposed allowing Cuba to rejoin the Organization of American States unless it adopts democratic reforms, an isolated stand that prompted Honduras to label the U.S. embargo on Cuba a "day of infamy."
President Obama's top diplomat heard multiple complaints from fellow envoys as others at the group's annual general assembly demanded immediate action to rescind Cuba's nearly 50-year-old suspension without conditions.
Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, the host of the meeting, urged that the 1962 resolution that suspended Cuba's membership be revoked, calling its Cold War-era passage and the imposition of the U.S. embargo on Cuba a "day of infamy" and a grave injustice.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said the United States was using the OAS as a tool of repression. He said Cuba's 1962 suspension was due to the support of former Latin American dictators "imposed and used by the Yankees."
Earlier, Clinton told Caribbean leaders that she and Obama "do look forward to the day when Cuba can join the OAS."
"But we believe that membership in the OAS must come with responsibilities, and we owe it to each other to uphold our standards of democracy and governance that have brought so much progress to our hemisphere," she said. She expressed hope that a "common way forward" could be found despite U.S. demands that Cuba's reentry be tied to the release of political prisoners, respect for basic human rights, and steps toward democratic pluralism.
The United States is largely alone in the OAS in demanding conditions. Almost all other members are calling for Cuba to be allowed to rejoin the 34-nation group without conditions, even though Cuba has expressed no interest in rejoining.