Cuba is not expected to seek to rejoin the Organization of American States anytime soon despite the OAS vote to lift a decades-old suspension, the multinational group's chief said Monday.
OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza told reporters it's likely that "some years" and "a lot of changes in Cuba" will happen before the Cuban government asks to return to the 34-nation organization.
"We hope they will do so, but we don't think that they will do so in the near future," Insulza said in Barbados, where he was holding his first official meeting with the country's new foreign minister.
The OAS voted in June to lift the suspension of Cuba's membership as part of an effort at regional solidarity. Cuba quickly rejected the offer to rejoin the OAS, which it has accused of supporting U.S. hostility toward its communist government.
Insulza said the OAS did not expect Cuba to immediately embrace the group but felt it was important to remove a prohibition on the island's membership — a Cold War relic that he said had become "negative for the organization."
"We succeeded in that; we eliminated that," he said of the lifting of the suspension. "Now the next step belongs to Cuba. They have to ask to return and we have to discuss that in council, with them."
Membership in the OAS gives a country a voice in hemispheric agreements on major issues. The OAS has often tried to mediate solutions to political conflicts and it has offshoots that coordinate health policies and protect human rights.