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Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2010

Location: Washington, DC



Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. I thank the gentleman from Illinois for his time.

Mr. Speaker, as he explained, our motion to recommit would reduce the United States' contribution to the Organization of American States by $15 million and instead direct that funding to NED, the National Endowment for Democracy, for democracy promotion programs.

Recent events call into question the commitment of the OAS to its historic values of democracy and human rights.

The OAS on Cuba? In spite of hundreds of political prisoners languishing in jail, having committed no crime but speaking on behalf of freedom; in spite of there being no elections; in spite of there being only one political party allowed to operate in Cuba, the Communist Party; in spite of no labor unions allowed to operate; no human rights respected, what did the OAS do? It passed a resolution lifting the 1962 suspension of Cuba from the OAS.

Regarding the events in Honduras, the OAS ignored President Zelaya's ongoing constitutional violations and remained silent when the Honduran Supreme Court acted, when the Attorney General decided, when the Human Rights Ombudsman decided, when the National Congress voted, all declaring his referendum illegal.

The United States is footing 60 percent of the entire budget bill for the OAS while that organization pursues an agenda of appeasement toward repressive governments in the hemisphere. The hard-earned dollars of your constituents go to fund this sham.

There are clearly much better uses of U.S. taxpayer funds in order to advance an agenda of freedom and democracy. The National Endowment for Democracy has a long record of fighting for fundamental freedoms, for democracies around the world. The $15 million will be better spent by NED to support dissidents and those struggling to advance freedom in the countries of the Americas.

A few examples of the OAS actions, I wish I had more time, but in February, following the attack of a prominent synagogue in Venezuela which highlighted the growing anti-Semitic campaign facilitated and tolerated by the Chavez regime, the then U.S. Ambassador to the OAS called for a condemnation. What did the OAS do? Nada. They did nothing. And the Secretary General expressed confidence in the system of Chavez and their investigation of the incident.

What about Nicaragua? In November of 2008, during their municipal elections, the OAS again did nada, nothing about reports that thousands of Sandinista supporters wielding homemade rocket launchers continued to arrive in Managua from all over the country gathering outside the Supreme Electoral Council's building to demand a final verdict on the elections. The OAS also did nada, nothing about the destruction of three opposition radio stations in the city of Leon during these municipal elections.

U.S. taxpayer funds are better spent supporting the work of the bipartisan National Endowment for Democracy that helps strengthen democratic institutions around the world. Let's help NED do something. Let's stop the OAS from doing nada.


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