The situation in Honduras has settled over the last several months. A new president has been elected and despite intense international pressure and constant ridicule by the United States, the Honduran government remained steadfast in its decision to keep corrupt Honduran President Manuel Zelaya out of office. But the U.S. remains firmly in Zelaya’s corner.
Under a U.S. brokered deal, the Honduran congress agreed to vote on whether to reinstate Zelaya until his term ends in January. However, in order to ensure the November presidential elections weren’t tampered with or influenced by Zelaya’s reinstatement, the Honduran congress decided to delay the vote until after the elections (the US brokered deal did not include a deadline so the delay was completely legal under the agreement).
Last Sunday, in what was widely reported to be peaceful election process, Porfirio Lobo–an early critic of Zelaya–was elected President of Honduras. Four days later, acting in accordance with the agreement, the Honduran congress voted overwhelmingly (111 to 14) not to reinstate Zelaya.
But, unfortunately, the US wasn’t done yet insulting the Hondurans. Immediately after the election, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela said“We’re disappointed by this decision since the United States had hoped that Congress would have approved his return.” He then added this condescending nugget of advice to the government of Honduras: “Important work remains to re-establish a democratic and constitutional order in Honduras and promote national reconciliation in the wake of the June 28 coup d’etat as the status-quo remains unacceptable.”
The interim Honduran government (put in place after the ouster of Zelaya) has been nothing but above board during this entire crisis. A civilian government was put in place immediately after Zelaya’s ouster–not the military. They have met with the United States and other governments trying to broker a deal on behalf of Zelaya. They have taken the insults and chidings hurled at them from other nations. They have accepted the pulling out of financial aid and other types of assistance. They have allowed Zelaya to hole up inside the Brazilian Embassy and have endured his attempts to rouse civilian unrest. They have obeyed the arrangements set forth in the agreement brokered by the United States and they have held peaceful, democratic elections. They have honored the provisions in the agreement to vote on Zelaya’s reinstatement.
The Obama administration must stop embarrassing itself on the Honduran question. Supporting the reinstatement of a corrupt, leftist, anti-American, Castro-loving, Chavez-imitating, increasingly dictatorial, Latin American ruler diminishes what America stands for worldwide. Obama’s strategy on Honduras has gained nothing for the U.S. and in the process alienated nearly every other politician in Honduras, and libeled the Honduran Supreme Court, most members of the Honduran Congress and nearly every member of the Honduran military.
But perhaps most important is that the situation in Honduras offered the U.S. a unique opportunity to send a message to the citizens of Venezuela, Brazil, Cuba and other leftist Latin American countries with rulers pursuing Zelaya-like agendas that the United States continues to stand for freedom, transparency, rule of law and accountability for all elected officials.
As Obama likes to say…it would have made for a wonderful “teachable moment.”