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Thursday, September 3, 2009

U.S. Continues Applying Pressure to Honduras for Upholding its Constitution

The US continues its support for potential Central American Marxist dictators. Ratcheting up the financial pressure, the State Department is cutting off all non-humanitarian aid to the country.

From hondurasnews.com: "At the end of US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s meeting with Mr. Manuel Zelaya, former President of Honduras, the State Department announced today it will stop $22 Million in Non-Humanitarian Aid to Honduras, and stated that 'Restoration of the terminated assistance will be predicated upon a return to democratic, constitutional governance in Honduras.'"

That last line is loaded with unintentional humor, of course. After all Zelaya was removed by the military under orders from the Honduran Supreme Court and with the blessings of the Honduran legislature. This occurred soon after Zelaya illegally attempted to change the Constitution to stay in power. "Return to democratic, constitutional governance" indeed...

The post goes on: "In addition to the terminated $22 million, as much as $200 million in Millennium Challenge funds could be halted as well. Mrs. Clinton is the chairperson on the board, who will discuss its funds earmarked for Honduras in next week’s meeting."

Meanwhile, Hugo Llorens, the US ambassador to Honduras, was gracious enough to do an interview with Global Exchange a group founded by Medea Benjamin co-founder of CODEPINK. (h/t Gateway Pundit for info and links).

"While awaiting the arrival of United States Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens to a meeting at the US embassy in Tegucigalpa Friday morning, Deputy Mission Chief Simon Henshaw spoke to an American human rights delegation from Global Exchange. The meeting had been organized by Andrés Conteris, founder of Democracy Now! en Español, who had managed to get me into the embassy despite the fact that I was not on the list and that my shoes set off the metal detector.

"In response to Global Exchange’s concern for current human rights violations in Honduras such as police beating of marchers opposed to the coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya on June 28, Henshaw announced that the delegation was 'preaching to the converted' and that 'we condemn the [coup] regime and think they’re thugs.' Henshaw’s subsequent declaration that 'the first issue is that [the Honduran coup] was a coup and that it was a military coup and that it was wrong' suggested that the US State Department had finally reached a consensus on the nature of the events of June 28 after debating for 48 days whether the coup was military. The consensus was called into question with the arrival of Ambassador Llorens and his exchange with Joe Shansky of Democracy Now! en Español:

"LLORENS: It’s a clear-cut case of a coup.

"SHANSKY: Military coup.

"LLORENS: Well, whatever you call it.

"Llorens went on to explain that—regardless of whether you called it a coup, a military coup, or a coup d’état—'it’s horrible,' and that coup President Roberto Micheletti was comparable to Napoleon given the zeal with which he had grabbed the Bible and sworn himself in as president of Honduras. As for why Napoleonic behavior had not triggered the freeze in US aid required by Section 7008 of the US Foreign Operations Law, Llorens momentarily supplanted the discussion of millions of dollars flowing into Honduras courtesy of US-funded Millenium Change Corporation (MCC) with a discussion of how the joint US-Honduran military base at Soto Cano had been shut down [emphasis mine]."

So the US ambassador is suggesting that the man who took over Honduras with the consent of the Honduran legislature and Supreme Court is involved in a coup and is "Napoleon given the zeal..." This would merely be embarrassing if the injustice and ramifications of the US's response to the Honduras situation were not so dire.

UPDATE: William A. Jacobson over at Legal Insurrection is keeping tabs on the Honduras issue. He's got some good links I will share as well.
OpenMarket.org points out that these sanctions being imposed are without any legal merit.

"The Obama Administration formally cut off aid to the impoverished nation of Honduras today, and announced other impending sanctions, to pressure the country to accept the return of its ex-president and would-be dictator. The Administration did this even though its legal basis for doing so had been debunked and abandoned.

"Earlier, the State Department planned to cut off aid to Honduras based on the false claim that its removal of ex-president Manuel Zelaya was a 'military coup.' But this claim was easily debunked, because Honduras replaced the ex-president with a civilian successor (a Congressman installed by Honduras’s Congress), who is backed by a democratically-elected legislature and a unanimous vote by the country’s supreme court. (Indeed, the Honduras Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant for the former president’s arrest, which soldiers duly carried out, and recently issued a ruling reaffirming that the ex-president’s removal from office was valid. The Obama Administration retaliated against Honduras for this ruling by imposing travel sanctions against the Honduran people). Moreover, Honduras’ removal of its ex-president was legal.

"Now, the State Department more or less admits that admits that there was no military coup, citing 'the participation of both the legislative and judicial branches of government' in the president’s removal.

"But while its original justification for cutting off the aid has disappeared, the Obama Administration was determined to cut off aid anyway, logic be damned. The Associated Press now reports that 'the Obama administration on Thursday cut off all aid to the Honduran government over the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya, making permanent a temporary suspension of U.S. assistance put in place after he was deposed in June.'

"U.S. sanctions are causing suffering, malnutrition, and widespread unemployment in Honduras, blocking needed projects such as the construction of orphanages."

Hans Bader's article in the Portland Examiner
will start to give an idea of the plight of the Honduran people. And as he points out "Right now, all the left-wing groups that complained about U.S. interference in Latin America in the 1980s are hypocritically demanding that the U.S. interfere in Honduras to force it to accept the return of its would-be dictator. (Latin American dictators like Cuba’s Castro, who usually complain about any American presence in Latin America, are now demanding that America force the return of Zelaya to power).

"All their past rhetoric about imperialism was disingenuous. There could be no more obvious example of imperialism than the Obama Administration trying to force Honduras’s legislature, courts, and people to accept the return of its bullying ex-president, and Obama’s claim that his removal was 'illegal,' when it has been upheld his country’s highest court, and was expressly mandated by Article 239 of the Honduras Constitution (which Article 272 gave the military the authority to enforce)."

Obama Brand Imperialism: no apologies are forthcoming-- at least not from him.

UPDATE 2: And the US looks like it's not going to recognize Honduras' election results in November per the Washington Post.

As Jacobson points out, this is coming from an administration that does not refuse to recognize Iran's fraudulent election nor condemn its violently repressive aftermath.

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