The Organization of American States once served the noble purpose of promoting the spread of democracy in the Western Hemisphere. But over the last eight years the Obama administration used the OAS to pressure Latin American nations to embrace leftist social innovations such as abortion and gay marriage.
In an op-ed, Sen. Mike Lee says Pres. Trump and the new leaders at the State Department should put an end to the OAS’s practice of “ideological colonialism” as part of their larger project of rebalancing America’s foreign policy.
While the OAS has proven useful in opposing Communism and dictatorships like the ones in Cuba and Venezuela, some of its recent activities have contradicted its founding principle. The organization has pressured Latin American nations to adopt social policies favored by progressive elites, not their own people. Such initiatives, aided by U.S. funding, ignore the cultures of these countries and ultimately alienate their people from the United States.
The OAS exerts pressure on countries through the resolutions of the General Assembly, executive actions of the Secretary General’s office, and rulings of the Inter-American Court. The OAS has also used the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to force alien cultural practices on Latin American countries, including formal recommendations promoting abortion in countries whose legal, cultural and religious practices defend life.
It has even promoted abortion in countries party to the American Convention on Human Rights, which protects human beings from the moment of conception. Countries like Paraguay took measures in 2016 to strengthen and protect their own pro-life standards in reaction to pressure coming from the OAS and IACHR.
The IACHR hasn’t stopped with promoting abortion. In comments on the 2016 case Duque vs Colombia, the IACHR stated that Colombia’s – at the time – traditional definition of marriage reflected, “an obtuse and stereotyped understanding of what a family is.” Provocations like that serve no useful purpose for the United States, and indeed hinder constructive engagement with the family-oriented countries of Latin America.
As U.S. senators, we are alarmed that U.S. taxpayer dollars are being spent overseas to advocate for political issues that aren’t even settled here at home. In 2017, the United States could spend $41.9 billion on foreign assistance. It is our responsibility to ensure that money is spent to further U.S. interests, not to promote an agenda that many foreigners and Americans alike find repugnant. The OAS’s recent actions amount to ideological colonialism and our neighbors – in Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Paraguay and Uruguay – have protested the intrusion.