Obama Still Lost In Honduras

Juan Carlos Hidalgo, via The Liberty Papers:

The Obama administration is threatening not to recognize the result of Honduras' presidential election in late November unless Manuel Zelaya returns to the presidency beforehand.

The presidential poll was already scheduled prior to Zelaya's (constitutional) removal from office last June. The candidates had already been selected by their parties through an open primary process. The current civilian interim president, Roberto Micheletti, is not running for office and plans to step down in January as stipulated by the Constitution. Both major presidential candidates supported the ouster of Zelaya. The political campaign is playing out in an orderly manner, and there's a significant chance that the candidate from the opposition National Party will win the presidency. The independent Electoral Tribunal is overseeing the process.

And yet the U.S. Department of State is signaling that it won't recognize the result of the poll in the name of defending Zelaya's return to power.

I am still really, really scratching my head over this.  I suppose such efforts of the US to ignore due process in Latin America have occured in the past to support a pro-American regime, but Zelaya is if anything anti-American and explicitly aligned with Hugo Chavez.  This simply makes no sense.   As Quincy of the Liberty Papers writes

The Obama Administration has been going out of its way to be on the wrong side of both the law and morality when it comes to Honduras. Obama has his first chance to rebuke the shameful history of the US being propping up dictators in Latin America and what does he do? He goes out of his way to prop up a would-be dictator who had neither the support of the people nor of the Honduran Constitution. He's laid sanctions on the Honduran people. He refuses to recognize the legal, constitutional government of a country.

Agreed.  Shameful.  If Zelaya gets away with this, expect to see a rash of Latin American leaders attempting to overstay their terms as president.

  • Ed Fargler

    I don't know what is so surprising about this. Obama is very much pro-Chavez so the support for Zelaya shouldn't be shocking. Does this make Obama anti-American? Sadly, I have been coming to this conclusion as of late. Everyone get their pacifiers ready, the nanny state is a comin'!

  • DrTorch

    I suspect this is practice for 2012, or perhaps earlier: What does it take to keep a dictator in office?

    Don't be surprised if a few countries refuse to recognize the next president, should Obama's exit be less than graceful.

  • dave smith

    But polls in Europe show resounding support for Obama! Let the tyrants live!!! (I'll bet that would sound good in Latin.)

  • Me again

    It's already happening.

    Costa Rican President Calls for New Constitution
    Posted by Juan Carlos Hidalgo
    President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica has joined the trend in Latin America of calling for a new constitution that would expand executive powers and get rid of “unnecessary checks” on the president’s authority. Although Arias has less than 9 months left in office and can’t run for reelection, his brother and current minister of the presidency — a primer minister of sorts — has openly said he’s interested in running for president in 2014. A new constitution with expanded executive powers would fit him just fine.

    Arias’ call has been received with broad skepticism. La Nación, Costa Rica’s leading newspaper, said that trying to make the government more efficient through a constitutional convention was like “killing a mouse with cannon fire.” The newspaper also said that the idea of dismantling the checks and balances on executive power sounds like an effort to create an “imperial presidency.” Maybe we should send our colleague Gene Healy to study the case.
    However, the most disturbing aspect of Arias’ call was his harsh criticism of the media. Borrowing from the script of Rafael Correa in Ecuador and Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Arias described news outlets as “corporations interested in making a profit” that don’t necessarily pursue the “public good.” He asked the media to “tone down” its criticism of government officials, and said that journalists “should understand their role within a higher framework.” He complained that news outlets claim to represent the public interest, without any control or accountability.
    That a politician with a thin skin complains about media criticism is hardly news. However, the fact that Arias did it while calling for a new constitution that would change the institutional and legal framework of Costa Rica (including the role of the media) should be interpreted as a threat to freedom of the press.

    Most people outside Costa Rica see Arias as an accomplished democrat who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to bring peace to Central America during the 1980s. Most recently he attempted to mediate the conflict in Honduras after Manuel Zelaya was (legally) removed from office. However, many people in Costa Rica fret about what they perceive as an increasingly controlling style of governing by Arias and his brother, intimidating the media, bullying the opposition, crowding key government posts with allies and cronies, and now hoping for a dynastical succession in 2014.

  • Huskercr

    I am stunned by the complete lack of coverage by the MSM on this issue, apparently they are still largely in la-la-land regarding their adoration and idolization of Obama and are failing to see his Honduras policy for the travesty that it is. We can only pseculate on what the administration's motives are, but it seems to boil down to they are (i) hopelessly naive and misunderstand the consittutional reality in Honduras, or (ii) they harbor a strong preference for populist dictators over constitutional process, or even more frighteningly, (iii) they naively believe that a democratically elected government is not bound by the law of the land.

  • perlhaqr

    Our president is a communist asshole. Sorry to be so blunt, and I'm sure that many will simply dismiss me as a racist wingnut for saying it, but hey, it's true. Why is any of this really that surprising?

    Goddamn, the Crazy Years are really going to suck. And they've only just begun!

  • nom de guerre

    obama is the reason i've been holding my nose and voting for the bland, gutless, moronic pseudo-republicans the GOP has been trotting out since 1989. as bad, as statist, as corrupt as the GOP is - driving us towards a high cliff at 50 mph and assuring us we're going backwards, *away* from the cliff - the dems are at least twice as bad. (they're driving us towards the cliff at **100 mph** while assuring us, neo-like, that "there is no cliff".) so we passed on juan mcamnesty, who would have been spectacularly bad, and we got lightworker hopeychange: who's only one of the 3 worst presidents in history, and this after only 6 months.

    you hate to call the president of the united states a commie asshole, but really, what other description fits? who else would be backing zelaya? the constitution of the honduras is crystal clear: the prez only gets one term. should the prez take ANY steps to gain another term, the prez is immediately fired. that's exactly what happened. and obama is doing his level best to undermine the honduran government and people, and using great pressure to allow the hard-left-heading-towards-commieville zelaya to keep his job. why?

    because he's a commie asshole, and ciu bono?, that's why. what other conclusion can a reasonable person come to? (none of the above changes the fact the GOP is merely democrat-lite, BTW. watch as they do their level best to ignore palin in 2012, and trot out another useless plastic big-government fool like romney. rah team rah.)

  • Dunque

    Actually Perlhaqr I think he's a fascist although the two are not as far apart as one might presume in the popular lexicon.

  • Richard Lee Dechert

    My reply to Juan:

    As you may know, on 7/1/09 the OAS General Assembly voted "To condemn vehemently the coup d’état staged against the constitutionally established Government of Honduras. . . . [and] To declare that NO GOVERNMENT arising from this unconstitutional interruption will be recognized. . . ." [Emphasis added]

    Given that unanimous binding vote, we shouldn't be shocked by our State Department's declaration that the U.S. won't recognize the government that arises from elections conducted by the interim Micheletti government. See my statement on them in the message to Secretary of State Clinton.

    Regards.

    --------

    "Zelaya should agree to return to Honduras and be duly adjudicated for his alleged crimes. Only then can his guilt or innocence be legally established and Honduras' Constitutional crisis be properly resolved. Zelaya continues to reject that."

    Dear Secretary of State Clinton,

    The above quote is the essence of my enclosed "RESOLUTION." In 1953 and 1954 I served on Air Force bases that supported the CIA's "Operation PBSuccess" that overthrew the democratically elected Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman and created the worst torture-terror regime in the modern history of the Western Hemisphere. Since then restoring the "rule of law" to U.S. foreign affairs in general and Latin American affairs in particular has been a primary goal of my "peace and justice" activism.

    Therefore, as you and your department determine whether or not President Zelaya was deposed by a "military coup," please carefully consider my "RESOLUTION."

    Respectfully,

    Richard Lee Dechert
    1855 Furness St. N., #310
    Maplewood, MN 55109
    USAF 1952-1960

    ======

    HONDURAS' CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS: A PROPER RESOLUTION

    [Please note that the text preceded by an *asterisk was added after I sent this to Secretary of State Clinton on 9/1/09. It is now based on over 800 reports and comments.]

    As a longtime activist in Latin American affairs, I've reviewed over 700 reports and comments on Honduras' Constitutional crisis from a wide range of perspectives. In my judgment the Supreme Court--supported by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, Attorney General and democratically elected National Congress--had strong "probable cause" to arrest and detain President Manuel Zelaya for treason, abuses of office and other crimes.

    As prescribed by the Constitution, President of Congress Roberto Micheletti (a leader of Zelaya's Liberal Party) was appointed to replace him as interim President (by a 122-6 vote) until the November 29, 2009 national elections are held and his term ends in January 2010.

    Zelaya's right to defend himself in a due-process proceeding was abruptly circumvented when military officers responsible for executing the Supreme Court's order to arrest and detain him violated the order (and a Constitution that prohibits expatriation of Honduran citizens) by forcibly expelling him to Costa Rica. However, the Court recently ruled that its 15-0 order must still be enforced and Micheletti's interim appointment was Constitutional.

    Unfortunately if not tragically, the officers' illegal expulsion has been erroneously conflated with the Court's legal order, and both have been treated by the U.S., OAS, UN and other parties as a "military coup," even though the U.S. Department of State has correctly not decreed that.

    Therefore, instead of circumventing the Court's order by being arbitrarily restored to the Presidency as the U.S.-supported OAS Resolution demands and Oscar Arias' San José Accord proposes, Zelaya should agree to return to Honduras and be duly adjudicated for his alleged crimes. Only then can his guilt or innocence be legally established and Honduras' Constitutional crisis be properly resolved. Zelaya continues to reject that.

    The officers who expelled him should also be duly adjudicated along with the pro-Micheletti and pro-Zelaya forces who have violated the civil and human rights of Honduran citizens and foreign nationals. If Micheletti's interim government does not curtail violations by army, police and other pro-Micheletti forces, even stronger economic and diplomatic sanctions should be applied by the U.S., OAS, UN and other international actors. Pro-Zelaya forces must also curtail their violations.

    Moreover, Venezuela (supported by Cuba, Nicaragua and other cohorts) must end the blatant intervention in Honduras' internal affairs that has exacerbated the crisis and violated the OAS and UN Charters. *Zelaya's encampment at Ocotal in northern Nicaragua triggered political conflict and physical violence between Nicaraguans who support or oppose Zelaya, with the latter claiming his calls for insurrection in Honduras have violated Nicaragua's constitutional neutrality.

    As for the national elections, they will not be "free and fair" unless all candidates and their supporters can freely access the media, hold meetings and rallies, and otherwise conduct their campaigns without coercion or disruption. *Since Zelaya was illegally expelled, those conditions have often not prevailed; and the OAS General Assembly, including the US Representative, has declared that "no government arising from this unconstitutional interruption will be recognized."

    In short, ALL parties to the crisis must resolve it by honoring the rule of law, not just the ones we may politically or ideologically favor.

  • Richard -

    Your analysis is in depth, but it hangs on one absolutely wrong-headed premise: The man is the government. There is no "Zelaya Government", nor is there a "Micheletti Government". There is the Honduran Government, operating under the Honduran Constitution.

    The Constitution has not changed, the laws have not changed, the legislature has not changed, the judiciary has not changed, even most of the executive has not changed. The only change has been the removal of *one* officer, Manuel Zelaya, who happened to be the president. Calling the Honduran Government "interim" shows a complete lack of respect for the constitutional edifice built by the Hondurans as a bulwark against just the sort of dictator Zelaya was positioning himself to be. The President of Honduras is interim, but the government is most certainly not.

    I will grant that Zelaya should be brought back to Honduras as a prisoner accused of crimes against the constitutional government of Honduras. He deserves due process with regard to his own punishment, not to his continuation in office. Under the Honduran Constitution, the National Congress was within its power to remove Zelaya from the office and appoint Micheletti in his place.

    Moreover, all candidates who are *eligible under the Honduran Constitution* are currently campaigning for the November election. Not recognizing the election because Zelaya, who is *not* eligible to run again cannot participate from his hideout in Nicaragua is a crime against the Honduran people and their legitimate government that our State Department and President have no business committing. Think about it. The equivalent is someone calling our November 2008 election illegitimate because our Constitution prevented George W. Bush from running for office again.

    We have a Administration and State Department that could call the repressive sham of an election in Iran legitimate, even after repeated, documented murders of reform supporters. When confronted with a government and an election operating within the bounds of Honduras' Constitution, the Obama Administration and State Department go out of their way to punish the Honduran people.

    Why the difference in attitudes from Washington? The only reason I can think of is that Obama really does believe that the man is the government, and any subversion of Zelaya is a subversion of the legitimate government of Honduras. If Zelaya is the Honduran government in Obama's mind, then just how does Barack see himself?

  • tomw

    To be more blunt about the Zelaya brouhaha, I would label our current TOTUS an a**-kissing a**hole. He has brown spots on his nose from the rectal pore of Hugo Chavez. Ditto Sec of State.
    I offer no reason other than his total awe for Chavez' regime. One can hope that the Maracaibo wells continue their reduced production, and the shrinking of Chavez' budget to buy voters.
    tom

    Does it make a bit of sense to me? No. Unless there are puppet strings we have yet to perceive.