A Democratic congressman this week used a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall to criticize President Obama for failing to nominate a U.S. ambassador to a key European human rights panel.
Rep. Alcee L. Hastings of Florida urged Mr. Obama to find time to fill the ambassadorship to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
“I’m disappointed that the administration has still not yet nominated an ambassador to one of the pre-eminent human rights organizations,” said Mr. Hastings, co-chairman of the congressional version of the OSCE, the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
“For a president who so strongly supports international engagement and reinvigorating multilateral institutions, I expected better.”
Mr. Hastings added that he hopes Mr. Obama will nominate an ambassador to the 56-nation OSCE before the end of the year.
Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, chairman of the congressional panel, called on the United States “to renew its commitment to human rights, not as a personal belief of any political leader or simply an administration policy but as a moral obligation of our country to uphold international law and universal principles.”
The Maryland Democrat joined other panel members, including the ranking Republican, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, for the commemoration of the fall of the Wall at the Newseum, which displays the largest section of the Wall outside of Germany.
Ambassadors Klaus Scharioth of Germany and Cosmin Vierita of Romania also attended the event, along with House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, who chaired the congressional commission in 1989 when Germany tore down the Berlin Wall.
A former Latin American ambassador says he is saddened by the decline of the Organization of American States (OAS), which, he fears, is dominated by the socialist policies of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
“The OAS should be a powerful vehicle for defending democracy and promoting regional cooperation,” Jaime Daremblum said in an analysis of the organization. “Yet it has been weakened and corrupted by poor leadership and structural deficiencies.”
Mr. Daremblum, Costa Rica’s ambassador to the United States from 1998 to 2004, blamed OAS Director-General Jose Miguel Insulza for “embracing a communist dictatorship” in Cuba, which was suspended from the OAS in 1962.
“While the Cuba embargo has become a clause celebre for the Latin American left, the anti-democratic policies of Hugo Chavez and his populist cronies have been greeted with a collective shrug,” said Mr. Daremblum, director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the Hudson Institute.
He criticized the OAS for suspending Honduras, after the Supreme Court ordered the removal of Manuel Zelaya from the presidency of the Central American nation following his conviction on violating the constitution.
Mr. Daremblum complained that the OAS is in “danger of becoming irrelevant” also because of its structural problems. The OAS operates on the basis of consensus among more than 30 members nations, regardless of the size of the country.
“In other words, regional giants and economic powerhouses such as Brazil and Mexico wield the same voting power as tiny island-nations,” Mr. Daremblum said.
“The OAS makes decisions by consensus, meaning that a tyranny of the minority can paralyze its operations.”
Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.