Organization of American States

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Organization of American States

(OAS), international organization, created Apr. 30, 1948, at Bogotá, Colombia, by agreement of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Another 15 nations have subsequently joined. The status of permanent observer is now held by 62 additional states and the European Union. The OAS is a regional agency designed to work with the United Nations to promote peace, justice, and hemispheric solidarity; to foster economic development (especially during the 1960s; see Alliance for ProgressAlliance for Progress,
Span. Alianza para el Progreso, U.S. assistance program for Latin America begun in 1961 during the presidency of John F. Kennedy. It was created principally to counter the appeal of revolutionary politics, such as those adopted in Cuba (see Fidel
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); and to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the signatory nations. The general secretariat, formerly the Pan-American UnionPan-American Union,
former name for the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS). It was founded (1889–90) at the first of the modern Inter-American Conferences (see Pan-Americanism) as the Commercial Bureau of the American Republics and changed to
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, located in Washington, D.C, is the permanent body of the OAS.

After 1948, the OAS council set out to enforce the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, known as the Rio TreatyRio Treaty
(Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance), signed Sept. 2, 1947, and originally ratified by all 21 American republics. Under the treaty, an armed attack or threat of aggression against a signatory nation, whether by a member nation or by some other power, will
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 (see also Pan-AmericanismPan-Americanism,
movement toward commercial, social, economic, military, and political cooperation among the nations of North, Central, and South America. In the Nineteenth Century
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). The OAS has repeatedly opposed unilateral intervention in the affairs of member countries. However, the OAS did approve (1965) the U.S. intervention in the Dominican Republic's civil war, though it refused a similar action during the Nicaraguan revolution (1979). Among the many conflicts handled by the council were those between Costa Rica and Nicaragua (1948, 1949, and 1955), when the Nicaraguan regime of Anastasio SomozaSomoza, Anastasio
, 1896–1956, president of Nicaragua (1937–47, 1950–56). After the end (1933) of U.S. military intervention in Nicaragua, he rose to power as head of the national guard.
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 was censured for aiding the attempted overthrow of the Costa Rican regime of José Figueres FerrerFigueres Ferrer, José
, 1906–90, president of Costa Rica (1948–49, 1953–58, 1970–74). He rose to prominence as an outspoken critic of President Calderón Guardia in 1942 and was exiled to Mexico (1942–44).
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; the conflicts between the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo MolinaTrujillo Molina, Rafael Leonidas
, 1891–1961, president of the Dominican Republic (1930–38, 1942–52). Trained by U.S. marines during U.S. occupation of the country, he was army chief in the presidency of Horacio Vásquez, whom he ousted in 1930.
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 and Haiti, Cuba, Guatemala, and Venezuela (1949, 1950, and 1960); the Panamanian-U.S. conflict over control of the Panama Canal in 1964; the Honduras–El Salvador dispute in 1969; elections in El Salvador amid civil war (1984, 1989); the Panamanian-U.S. conflict (1988, 1989) over the involvement in drug trafficking of the dictator Manuel Antonio NoriegaNoriega, Manuel Antonio
, 1938–, Panamanian general. Commander of the Panamanian Defense Forces from 1983, Noriega consolidated the strong-armed rule inherited from Gen. Omar Torrijos Herrera, and became the de facto leader of Panama. A one-time operative for the U.S.
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, and subsequent U.S. invasion (1990); and the Haitian coup overthrowing President Jean Bertrand AristideAristide, Jean-Bertrand
, 1953–, president of Haiti (1991, 1994–96, 2001–4). A radical Catholic priest who defended liberation theology, he worked among Haiti's poor and was part of a group of progressive priests who opposed the Duvalier dictatorship.
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 (1991, 1992).

A nearly five-decade issue for the OAS was its relationship with Cuba after the Cuban revolution (1959). In 1962, Cuba was formally suspended from the organization on charges of subversion. Two years later, a trade boycott was imposed on Cuba, but by the 1990s, practically all member nations except the United States had resumed trade and diplomatic relations with Cuba. In 2009, by which time the United States was the only American nation without relations with Cuba, the OAS's suspension of Cuba was ended, but Cuba, at least initially, rejected rejoining the OAS.

Bibliography

See studies by M. Ball (1969) and R. Scheman (1988).

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