Collateral damage

The Economist, 8/2/11

AS THE United States Congress frantically sought budget cuts that would secure passage of an increase in the debt ceiling last week, Republican lawmakers set their sights on the government’s spending on Latin America. One particularly easy target was the United States’s $48.5m annual contribution to the Organisation of American States (OAS). The American right has long tarred the regional group, led by José Miguel Insulza, a Chilean social democrat, as an ally of hostile leftist regimes—despite the fact that it suspended Cuba for 47 years, and that Mr Insulza’s highest-profile conflicts as its secretary-general have been with Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez. As the House Foreign Affairs Committee debated whether to maintain the funding, David Rivera, a Republican from Florida, called the OAS “an enemy of the US and an enemy to the interests of freedom and security.” By a party-line vote of 22 to 20, the committee voted on July 20th to eliminate payments to the OAS altogether.

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