Saturday, August 1, 2009

Honduras: Why Obama Backs the Wrong Horse

Could it be because he is trying to emulate Hugo Chavez and the other "Presidents for Life" in Latin America?

Posted by Shaul Ceder, June 30, 2009.

This was written by Jack Kelly and it appeared in the Jewish World Review.

Manuel Zelaya, a Hugo Chavez wannabe, was elected president of Honduras in November, 2005. He wanted to serve a second term. But there was a difficulty. Under the constitution of Honduras, the president may serve only a single four year term.

Mr. Zelaya proposed to circumvent that difficulty by holding a popular referendum on whether he should be allowed to run for a second term. But there was a difficulty with that, too. The constitution of Honduras provides only one way for the constitution to be amended. That is by a two-thirds vote of all the members of the national congress in two consecutive regular annual sessions.

The supreme court of Honduras ruled the referendum was unconstitutional, and the national congress passed a law forbidding referenda within 180 days of a national election. (Honduras' next is this November.) But Mr. Zelaya pressed on. When the army — acting on an order from the supreme court — refused to distribute ballots for the referendum (which had been printed in Venezuela), the president fired its chief of staff. The supreme court unanimously declared the firing illegal, and Honduras' attorney general asked congress to oust the president.

Push came to shove on Sunday (6/18). The army, acting on a warrant issued by the supreme court, arrested Mr. Zelaya and sent him into exile (in his pajamas, to Costa Rica). This was described as a "coup" by the news media, and was denounced by, among others, Hugo Chavez, who threatened military action to restore Mr. Zelaya to power, and the Obama administration.
It's the administration's view the coup was an "illegal and illegitimate act that cannot stand," officials, briefing on background, told journalists. Mr. Zelaya must be returned to power, they said.

"Knowing trouble was brewing in Honduras over several weeks, the Obama administration warned power players there, including the armed forces, that the United States and other nations in the Americas would not support or abide a coup," the AP quoted "officials" as saying. "They said Honduran military leaders stopped taking their calls."

It seems more accurate to say that Mr. Zelaya, with Venezuelan help, was trying to execute a coup against the Honduran constitution than to accuse the military — which was acting on orders from the supreme court and with the support of the legislature (124 of 128 deputies in the unicameral congress endorsed Mr. Zelaya's removal Sunday afternoon) — of having done so.

Daniel Lopez Carballo, a retired Honduran general, told CNN that if the military hadn't acted, Mr. Chavez, the Venezuelan dictator, would have been running Honduras by proxy.
Typically in a coup, the military seizes control of the government. But the military quickly surrendered power to an acting president — from Mr. Zelaya's own party — chosen by the national congress.

The streets of Tegucigulpa were quiet after Mr. Zelaya's removal, perhaps because not many Hondurans like him. In a Mitofsky poll taken in April, Mr. Zelaya had an approval rating of 25 percent, the lowest of 18 regional leaders.

So Mr. Obama is intervening on the wrong side. But if you take him at his word (a dangerous thing to do), the wonder is that he is intervening at all. This is the guy, you'll remember, who was so concerned about being perceived as "meddling" in Iran's internal affairs that he, alone among Western leaders, refused to denounce the blatantly stolen election in Iran, or to express support for those who protested the theft.

Mr. Obama is now doing with regard to Honduras what he has refused to do with regard to Iran: organizing an international coalition to pressure the country to reverse course. Why threaten Honduras, but not Iran? Honduras is no threat to us. Iran is. A large majority in Iran oppose the government's brutality. Apparently, a large majority in Honduras support what the army has done.

There is a disturbing consistency to Mr. Obama's apparent inconsistency on Honduras and Iran. In both the case where he has intervened, and in the case where he hasn't, he has taken the side of anti-American dictators (in Mr. Zelaya's case, a wannabe dictator) over the vast majority of their people.

"We're getting a close look at Obama's priorities, and they are hideously out of step with democracy and the rule of law," said Web logger Ed Morrissey.


Obama’s Kerenskyism, Honduras and the Chavist Abyss
By Armando Valladares July 30, 2009

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