UNASUR learns the wrong lessons

The US policy on Cuba should be one of engagement, not isolation. We're going to have disputes, we're not going to agree on everything, but that basic willingness to talk with each other should always exist. Sadly, for most of the past five decades of Cuba that hasn't been the case. The Obama administration is moving slowly in that direction, but some of the petty politics of the past remain.

During the meeting earlier this week, UNASUR countries threatened to cancel their meeting with the EU if Honduras was invited. They were willing to sink negotiations between the Europe and Latin America simply because they would not sit at the same table as Honduras. Brazil's leader voted to reinstate Cuba into the OAS and will visit Iran's leader later this month but he will not sit at the same table as Honduras, even at the price of harming LatAm-EU relations. It's a move that sounds far too similar to the US unwillingness to negotiate with Cuba (even as we deal with other less-than-democratic regimes), which has gotten in the way of more important issues.

Unintentionally, in dealing with Honduras, UNASUR's member states are mimicking US policy on Cuba instead of learning from our failures. Worse, UNASUR's attempts to diplomatically isolate Honduras are going to be about as successful as the US policy on Cuba. They're going to harm the people of Honduras, divide the hemisphere and distract from the broader range of issues that need to be addressed.

UNASUR countries have asked the US to engage with Cuba and the US wants South America to engage with Honduras. Maybe, instead of mirroring each other's poor policies, they can start listening to each other's smart recommendations.