Thursday, July 30, 2009

Americans Travel to Honduras, Divulge Truth

Honduras has joined Israel as a pariah nation. The United Nations has condemned Honduras by a vote of acclamation, and the Organization of American States has suspended it.

The way in which nearly all the world's media portray the legal, Supreme Court-ordered ouster of President Manuel (Mel) Zelaya is one major reason for the universal opprobrium. Because military men took part in the deportation of the sitting president, it has been portrayed as a classic Latin American "military coup," and who can support a military coup?

The lack of context in which this ouster took place has prevented the vast majority of the world's news watchers and readers from understanding what has happened.

I wonder how many people who bother to read the news -- as opposed to only listen to or watch news reports -- know:

-- Zelaya was plotting a long-term, possibly lifetime, takeover of the Honduran government through illegally changing the Honduran Constitution.

-- Zelaya had personally led a mob attack on a military facility to steal phony "referendum" ballots that had been printed by the Venezuelan government.

-- Weeks earlier, in an attempt to intimidate the Honduran attorney general -- as reported by The Wall Street Journal's Mary Anastasia O'Grady, one of the only journalists in the world who regularly reports the whole story about Honduras -- "some 100 agitators, wielding machetes, descended on the attorney general's office. 'We have come to defend this country's second founding,' the group's leader reportedly said. 'If we are denied it, we will resort to national insurrection.'"

-- No member of the military has assumed a position of power as a result of the "military coup."

-- Zelaya's own party, the Liberal Party, supported his removal from office and deportation from Honduras.

-- The Liberal Party still governs Honduras.

The United States is threatening to suspend all aid to one of the three poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere in order to force that country -- against its own laws and with the inevitable violence it would entail -- to allow Zelaya back as president.

Let there be no ambiguity here. Little Honduras was supposed to be the next country to lose its liberties as it joined the anti-American, pro-Iranian Latin American left. But Little Honduras decided to fight back. And this has infuriated Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who will surely attempt to foment violence in Honduras.

Therefore, if you love liberty, you will do whatever you can do help Honduras resist Chavez and his allies, which include the United Nations and Organization of American States.

There are many ways to do that. Buy Honduran goods. Write your representatives in Washington to back the present, law-based Honduran government. And, yes, even visit this friendly beleaguered place. When the world's governments isolate a country, with few exceptions, that's all you need to know about who the good guys are.
Two GOP lawmakers returned from a weekend trip to Honduras with a heightened understanding of the presidential crisis there — and a proposal for its resolution.Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) told The Hill that a presidential candidate from ousted President Manuel Zelaya's own Liberal Party gave the visiting congressmen the proposal, which Bilbray is going to ask the Obama administration to accept.

Under the offer, interim President Roberto Micheletti would voluntarily step down and leadership of the country would go to constitutional succession. However, if Zelaya returned to face charges and was then acquitted, he could return to office.

"The majority of folks think Zelaya should come back to the country, but to stand trial," Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) said.

Mack told The Hill that he found Hondurans to be in "disbelief" at the Obama administration's reaction to the ouster of Zelaya.

"Whether or not [Hondurans] agree on how he was removed all of them agree that he broke the constitution, broke the law," Mack said. "A large majority believe he should not return to Honduras and to power."

Bilbray said the U.S. can't put itself in a position of supporting a president over a country's constitution and the rule of law. "That's a scary place for us to find ourselves, especially considering our history," he said.

"For the [Obama] administration to propose the return of the old president and to put him back into power would really be a slap in the face to constitutional rule," Bilbray said, adding that he believed the administration "jumped the gun" on its assessment of the Honduras crisis.

"I think [Hondurans] were absolutely shocked at the American response."
The United States misinterpreted the facts in Honduras. The Micheletti government is de facto, but it is also de jure. In a formal complaint dated June 26, two days before the military deported Zelaya, the Attorney General of Honduras charged that Zelaya had violated a number of clauses of the Honduran Constitution. Consequently, the Supreme Court issued an order for Zelaya's arrest on the same day.

Micheletti was next in the Constitutional line to the presidency and was ratified in office by an overwhelming vote of the Honduran Congress, a vote that in the U.S. Congress would have been approximately 421 to 12, including all but 3 members of Zelaya's own party. Therefore, the legal Government in Honduras today is Micheletti's, not Zelaya's.

A crime was committed in removing Zelaya: the Legal Advisor of the Honduran Army has acknowledged the illegality of the deportation, since the military was legally authorized only to carry out the Supreme Court's arrest order. The Army said it expelled Zelaya because it feared domestic violence if he was allowed to stay. This violation, however, pales in comparison with the 17 high crimes with which Zelaya has been officially charged. Zelaya should be allowed to return to Honduras and face the charges in a court of law.

Is the Obama administration prepared to accept the consequences of returning an undemocratic, corrupt, and anti-American, even if elected, strongman to power in Honduras? That would put the United States clearly in the same camp as Cuba's Castro brothers, Venezuela's Chavez, and other regional delinquents.
Nobody pushes "dialogue" or "citizen diplomacy" more than the U.S. Department of State. So how can it justify revoking the visas on these Hondurans in what a department spokesman confirmed Tuesday as "a turning of the screw."

The Hondurans targeted are the very ones whose presence would be valuable to the U.S. if it means to understand the constitutional action that necessitated the removal of President Mel Zelaya on June 28. It followed the Honduran constitution to the letter, yet led to the crisis now in mediation talks.

Hondurans targeted include the chief justice of the Supreme Court and the speaker of Congress plus two other officials.

Visas would let them come to the U.S. to explain precisely what happened, getting the word out to the public. This is important. So far, the media and Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez have crudely defined what occurred as a "coup" and claimed Zelaya's removal was all about his left-wing orientation and revenge by the "ruling class."

In reality, Zelaya broke 17 Honduran laws classified as "high crimes." They included holding an unconstitutional referendum, defying the high court, whipping up mobs, taking Chavista cash, robbing the Central Bank and preloading computers with referendum "results" before the illegal referendum was even held.

Like the Stasi revelations in the wake of the Berlin Wall's fall, the information that's come out in the wake of the ouster must be aired, discussed, investigated and resolved.
Instead, the U.S. embassy in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa insists that Zelaya be reseated as president before any other action can take place and granted immunity for his ever more baroque chain of crimes without any dialogue whatsoever.
Equally incomprehensible to many experts on Latin America is Obama's demanding reinstatement of former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, who was deposed by his country's Supreme Court for trying to rig an unconstitutional referendum -- with ballots printed in Venezuela -- to perpetuate his rule. A referendum to evade constitutional term limits is a favored and exported tactic of anti-American Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. Nicaraguan Communist President Daniel Ortega announced plans last week for a referendum which would allow him, like Chavez, to become president for life.

Moises Starkman, a respected Honduran diplomat and technocrat, said of Zelaya's so-far futile efforts to return to Honduras: "This is a showdown which will determine if the Chavista model triumphs or not." My friend Jaime Darenblum, Costa Rica's foremost lawyer who served six years as his country's ambassador in Washington, told the Weekly Standard:

"Zelaya tried to hold an unconstitutional referendum. The Supreme Court rebuked him. Zelaya embraced mob tactics and launched his own coup against democracy. With judicial backing, the army (as well the Congress) moved to stop him. If you want to blame someone, blame Zelaya."

What followed could have passed for comedy. At a leftist summit, Chavez and Cuba's Raul Castro stridently demanded that "democracy" be respected in Honduras! Zelaya has been credibly linked with smuggling planeloads of cocaine which end up in the U.S. He is charged in a case where three of his top officials were caught stealing two million dollars from Honduras' central bank -- in suitcases! -- to fund his election campaign.

Secretary Clinton had the good sense to criticize Zelaya for "reckless" conduct in trying to storm his way back into Honduras. But the Obama Administration is threatening all kinds of sanctions and terminating aid if Zelaya is not restored. Obama has not explained why it is in our country's interest to make another hate-America caudillo a president-for-life in contravention of his country's laws. Nor why he immediately jumped on the Zelaya bandwagon while showing reluctance to "meddle" when the Iranian mullans were shooting peaceful demonstrators. If Obama knows something about Zelaya that regional experts like Starkman and Darenblum don't know, he should explain it. Otherwise, it may be concluded that our President just has a penchant for leftist dictators and that he knows less about Honduras than he knows about Cambridge. .

The briefings I have received at U.S. Southern Command in Florida make vivid the threat to our country of terrorism from the South; Iranian agents are already active in Venezuela and Nicaragua. Do we want to give them another base in Honduras?


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