The majority of the House Committee on Foreign Relations passed an amendment proposing legislation to cut all US funding to the Organization of American States (OAS). One key argument used by leading representatives of the proposal, Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Congressman Connie Mac (R-FL), is that the OAS is supportive of regimes that had shown to be uncooperative with the US war on terrorism such as Venezuela under the government of its strongman Hugo Chavez. The argument shows lack of judgement in understanding the structure of the OAS, and the challenges that diplomacy has in a multilateral context. Instead of reviewing efficient strategies to leverage US influence in the region, and at the OAS Permanent Council, based on its funding or other economic diplomatic measures; it takes the barbarian approach or sentencing the OAS to a shut-down.
The US Senate has taken a completely different approach, and has pledged to balance the US budget without shutting down a vital organization for the Inter-American system such as the OAS. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that President Obama would veto any legislation cutting all funding to the OAS or the United Nations.
The issue is not trivial. The OAS programs are depended from US funding in a ratio of 50% or more. Ordinary contributions from member States are not sufficient to fund the OAS, and the measure proposed by the US House would jeopardize the future of the OAS at a time when democracy, hemispheric security and socioeconomic development require coherent and efficient multilateral action.
An interesting analysis from Leopoldo Martinez, our Executive Director and Senior Fellow on the subject can be read by clicking on this link.