The Obama administration’s pressure on Honduras to reinstate Zelaya continues: The US is now threatening to cut off aid to Honduras. Since Honduras is part of CAFTA, currently any cuts in aid are ameliorated by that; Monica Showalter asked during Tuesday’s State Department briefing:
QUESTION: Okay. I found it interesting. There was a letter sent to – sent to the Senate that said that it was unlikely that big trade sanctions would be made on Honduras. I wanted to ask, and this is sort of a technical question, is that due to the structure of CAFTA, which is a six nation treaty? Like for instance, if you cut one off, you’d have to cut all six off? Does it have to do with that or does it have to do with perhaps the interconnectedness of industries through Central America, and if you disrupted one you might disrupt them all?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: It has to do with the provisions in CAFTA.
QUESTION: It does have to do with CAFTA, okay – how it’s structured?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Right.
QUESTION: Okay, thank you.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: The binding agreement with CAFTA.
QUESTION: Exactly. Okay, thanks.
However, now the Dominican Republic is asking that Honduras be suspended from CAFTA
before the November election.
“I can propose an infallible formula for returning President Zelaya to power — suspending Honduras from CAFTA,” the Dominican Republic’s Fernandez said at an event late on Wednesday in Santo Domingo. “Just do that and I’m telling you Zelaya will be back in two or three weeks,” Fernandez said.
From Reuters via Memeorandum:
U.S. State Department staff have recommended that the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya be declared a “military coup,” a U.S. official said on Thursday, a step that could cut off as much as $150 million in U.S. funding to the impoverished Central American nation.
The official, who spoke on condition he not be named, said State Department staff had made such a recommendation to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has yet to make a decision on the matter although one was likely soon.
Washington has already suspended about $18 million aid to Honduras following the June 28 coup and this would be formally cut if the determination is made because of a U.S. law barring aid “to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree.”
The official said that $215 million in grant funding from the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation to Honduras would also have to end should Clinton make the determination that a military coup took place.
About $76 million of that money has already been disbursed and a second U.S. official said this implied that the remaining roughly $139 million could not be given to Honduras should the determination be made.
Diplomats said that the United States had held off making the formal determination to give diplomacy a chance to yield a negotiated compromise that might allow for Zelaya’s return to power.
At the Thursday State Department briefing (h/t Dick)
QUESTION: P.J., on Honduras, is President Zelaya coming here next week? And is there anything else new on the —
MR. CROWLEY: I have not heard what President Zelaya is – has any travel plans to the United States. I wouldn’t rule it out. We obviously have taken stock of the recent OAS delegation in his trip to Honduras. We’re very mindful of the judgment that at least has been set up to this point by the de facto regime, but they have no plans to agree to the San Jose Accords. We still think that that is the right process to help to resolve this situation. And we are evaluating our options based on the activity this week. And I think we’ll make some decisions in the next couple of days.
QUESTION: I’m sorry. Decisions on further sanctions?
MR. CROWLEY: On further steps. Obviously, the position that the de facto regime has taken, you’ve already seen that it’s having consequences, not just in actions that the United States has made, actions that others in the region have made or are beginning to make. But we are very – we’ll obviously watch very closely this week. The OAS delegation went there this week, made what we thought was a very direct offer and a treaty to Honduras, to the de facto regime, that they should sign on to the San Jose Accords. They’ve made it categorical that they have…as far as their position today is, they have no plans to do that. And we are now evaluating, based on what we have heard since the delegation has come back to the OAS, and we’re consulting within the OAS. We’re taking that – stock of that, and we’ll make some decisions here very soon.
QUESTION: P.J., on the same subject?
MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Would these additional actions be just by the United States or collectively with some other countries?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’m sure – obviously, what Honduras has done has obviously already had consequences, including their suspension from the OAS, and there are implications from that. But I would say that probably collectively, I think the Central American Bank for Economic Integration has frozen credit as a result of the current situation. The United States has suspended its visa processing as a result of what’s happened. And we obviously have our other steps that we can take and there are consequences from that – those steps. But given the de facto regime’s refusal this week to meet the demands of the OAS delegation, we will make some judgments based on that, and we’ll announce them very shortly.
As reader Bill McDonnell said the other day,
The USA is literally “Kicking Honduras’ Butt” for following its own Constitution, Congress, and Supreme Court and replacing the former Chavez Sympathizer with the Constitutional next in line.
Hondurans ask, in an open letter that their laws and Constitution be respected.
Last month Humberto Fontova interviewed president Roberto Micheletti, who said,
“We see ourselves as David against Goliath. But we’re a brave and honorable people, a democracy, we’re defending our democratic constitution–so we will never let Zelaya return.”
Here’s the video of the interview (in Spanish)
Micheletti’s proposals have been ignored:
Mr. Micheletti, in his latest plan, said he would resign only if Mr. Zelaya agreed to resign as well, leaving the presidency to the next in line. That would be Jorge Rivera, the president of the Supreme Court, which supported Mr. Zelaya’s ouster. Mr. Micheletti made an identical offer last month, and it went nowhere.
But Mr. Micheletti did offer a few sweeteners on Thursday. He said international observers would be welcome to monitor the next presidential election, which is scheduled for the end of November. He also said that he would support a congressional amnesty plan, which would free both Mr. Zelaya and those who ousted him from any criminal liability for their political acts.
Why? Because the Obama administration is hell-bent on reinstating a man who unlawfully tried to extend his term in power, by every means possible, including having ballots printed and brought in from Chavez’s Venezuela. Zelaya was ousted by the country’s own Supreme Court.
The White House has turned a deaf ear to Hondurans:
The Obama administration is telegraphing the message that a country’s own Supreme Court‘s rulings mean nothing at all.
That does not bode well for us, does it?
Honduras versus Venezuela: who is the real democracy?
Honduras, a libertarian perspective.
The Honduran ‘coup’ is a victory for constitutionalism and a setback for Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez.
Ed Morrissey is rather more optimistic than I.