Jake Tapper reports,
In Russia, President Obama Explains His Support for Ousted President of Honduras
Facing criticism for having backed the “wrong” side in the recent coup in Honduras, President Obama Tuesday tried to explain his advocacy on behalf of ousted President Manuel Zelaya.
“America supports now the restoration of the democratically-elected President of Honduras, even though he has strongly opposed American policies,” the president told graduate students at the commencement ceremony of Moscow’s New Economic School. “We do so not because we agree with him. We do so because we respect the universal principle that people should choose their own leaders, whether they are leaders we agree with or not. “
The president’s remarks came in the midst of a speech in which discussed “America’s interest in democratic governments that protect the rights of their people” and supported Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s call for judicial reforms in his country.
Zelaya is scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington, DC, this week, perhaps as soon as today.
Tapper also quotes Rep. Connie Mack, R-Florida, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee:
“There is little doubt that Zelaya, in his blatant power grab, has moved Honduras down a dangerous path toward less freedom, less security, and less prosperity,” Rep. Connie Mack, R-Florida, recently said. “The United States and our allies in the region must now stand with the Honduran people to ensure the respect of freedom, the rule of law and democracy.”
Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee said that “the Honduran people deserve a government which upholds the constitution and protects their democratic rights. True proponents of democracy and human rights will hold true allegiance to these principles, not to the rulers who undermine them.”
Over in Nicaragua, there’s confirmation on the story that Hunter Smith broke yesterday:
Bala asesina no es de calibre militar. Honduran newspaper El Heraldo reports that the bullet that killed the demonstrator last Sunday is not from a military caliber. Minister of Defense Adolfo Lionel Sevilla also stated that according to the investigation, the bullet’s trajectory would not match the direction of a bullet fired by the armed forces. Hunter has a quick translation at his blog.
Today Mel Zelaya is scheduled to meet with Hillary Clinton in Washington. Before departing Managua, Nicaragua, he told CNN that he’s going to try returning to Honduras a third time but wouldn’t specify when. He also accused the Honduran military of trying to kill him.
Twelve questions at ECrisis.
Here’s an on line petition to Pres. Obama.
Photo added at 2:30P
Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya is to meet behind closed doors Tuesday afternoon with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as both sides laying claim to the Central American country’s government arrive to press their cases in Washington. The State Department said that Clinton was to meet at 1 p.m. with Zelaya, whose aborted attempt to retake the presidency Sunday was met by military force. The conversation may not be to his liking: The fact that Zelaya sought much of his advice from Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez reportedly irked the Obama administration. The meeting with Clinton could signal greater intervention by the United States, which has joined with leaders across the Americas in trying to end the crisis, which began with a predawn raid June 28, and to seek Zelaya’s return to Tegucigalpa. The Organization of American States, which has said that Zelaya’s return isn’t negotiable, is seeking a compromise with Honduran legislators and judges. Several members of the Honduran National Congress and former members of the Honduran judiciary will make their own case at a news conference at 3 p.m. in Washington. The delegation is in Washington for several days of meetings with U.S. policymakers “to clarify any misunderstandings about Honduras’ constitutional process and to discuss the next steps to ensure the preservation of the country’s democratic institutions,” a news release from the group says. The de facto government in Honduras maintains that Zelaya’s ouster was justified because he was flouting the Honduran Constitution and was seeking to overturn presidential term limits that would have removed him from office in six months. Also in town is former Honduran President Ricardo Maduro, who’ll meet with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida. Ros-Lehtinen, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has been critical of Zelaya and the OAS, and she said Monday that “the United States and other responsible nations must shift to a more responsible approach that does not focus on Zelaya but on supporting democratic institutions and the rule of law.”
On the US Senate floor,
Senator Martinez: (3:22 PM) * Spoke on the situation in Honduras.
o SUMMARY “Having stood on the sidelines while Mr. Zelaya overstepped the nation’s constitution, the United States and the international community only speak now. Protecting a sitting president, regardless of their illegal act, sets a dangerous precedent. Instead, U.S. policy should be focused on supporting efforts that uphold the integrity of constitutional order and democratic institutions. In fairness to the Obama administration, this distorted policy is not new…Former President George W. Bush was talked out of having the United States stand visibly in Latin America. The advice was based on the belief by not making the United States an issue, this would allow the United States to stand up for democratic activists. Unfortunately, no country or leader did so. Most importantly, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States passed that idly by year after year, democracy after democracy being dismantled one piece at a time, one institution at a time, saying absolutely nothing.”
Senator Kyl: (3:36 PM) * Responded.
o SUMMARY “You can elect a government which then begins to govern un-democratically, and unfortunately, some of the governments in the southern part of our hemisphere have started out all right with elections and then ended up in a very, very bad way. We certainly didn’t want that to happen to our friends in Honduras, and in fact, the people of Honduras didn’t want that either. People stood by us when we were trying to support forces of freedom who were fighting in Nicaragua. And there was sacrifice on the part of the Hondurans to do that. It is important for us to stand up for our friends. For that, I compliment my colleague from Florida, and again, add my voice to his saying that we hope the discussions that the Secretary of State has called for can produce an appropriate resolution to this issue without any kind of bloodshed or violence.”
Senator Martinez: (3:38 PM) * Responded.
o SUMMARY “There is no more important country in terms of military relations in Central America than Honduras where we have the presence of our military, where we work together in partnership to try to stem the flow of drugs and narcotics into our country. And where we conduct not only training missions, but other important activities with the Honduran military as a partner, and where we are very involved in providing aid and assistance. It would be well for us to hold back any declaration that a coup has taken place that would trigger other events. This is not a traditional military coup where a military group decides to set up a junta. The military people, while they may have acted too strongly, did not seek power for themselves, but establish a constitutional order of succession.”
Senator Kyl: (3:38 PM) * Responded.
o SUMMARY “That is precisely the way I see it, as well, and I hope this clarifies for the American people what’s really going on there and that we can support our friends in Honduras and that relationship that has existed all these years can continue to be the productive one that it has been.”