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April 22, 1998

Mexico today repeated its call for Cuba's full reinstatement in the inter-American system, believing such a move would help advance regional goodwill and usher in a new era in hemispheric relations.

The new Mexican ambassador to the OAS, Claude Heller, in his maiden presentation told a sitting of the OAS Permanent Council that his country rejected any exclusion of states from multilateral fora with external conditionalities for participation being imposed. "We have always been opposed to the illegitimate 1962 expulsion of Cuba, and Mexico favors a full reinstatement in the inter-American system," he added.

"We hope the imagination and political audacity other regions have engaged in the quest for negotiated settlement of seemingly insurmountable conflicts would also be demonstrated in our hemisphere," Ambassador Heller said as he reiterated his government's commitment to the OAS and to continuing to work with member states and the OAS General Secretariat "to pursue its renewal and strengthening."

The Mexican diplomat said while his country supported the strengthening of democratic regimes as a basic institution of the inter-American system, "it does not agree with the position that under the pretext of preserving it, the right to intervention in the internal affairs of states be recognized and hence jeopardize the right to self determination of peoples."

In reply, the United States ambassador, Victor Marrero, asserted that his country looked forward to the day when representatives of a truly democratic Cuban government could be welcomed back to the Organization.

Noting that the Cuban government was characterized by its ongoing repression of human rights, intransigence in the face of democratic changes, and an economic system that had put its people through unnecessary hardships, the US envoy said as long as Cuba did not observe the basic conditions of representative democracy, to discuss its return to a democratic organization from which it had been excluded by its own action, would be counter-productive.

In other matters at today's sitting, the Council also welcomed the new ambassador of Brazil, Carlos Alberto Leite Barbosa, who in his maiden address touched on the new responsibilities taken on by the Organization as a result of the mandate it received from the second Summit of the Americas held in Santiago, Chile at the weekend. "The decisions from Santiago ought to help consolidate the OAS as a political forum with a prominent role on the issues that enable us to take on the challenges of the twenty-first century," said Ambassador Leite Barbosa.

Meanwhile, the OAS Secretary General, CÚsar Gaviria, delivered an oral report on the just-concluded second Summit of the Americas.

The delegates also observed a moment of silence in tribute to the late Mexican writer Octavio Paz. "His death is an irreplaceable loss for all," said the Permanent Council chairman, Trinidad and Tobago's Ambassador Michael Arneaud, referring to the 1990 Nobel Literature Prize winner who died recently.

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