Paul R. Hollrah, O.E.
Obama's Honduras Blunder
Once again, as he has in every
available opportunity since he usurped the presidency, Barack Obama has
sided with dictators, would-be dictators, and despots, to the detriment
of those who love freedom and justice.
His latest western hemisphere
foreign policy blunder...as opposed to his more recent blunders in
Italy, Russia, and Ghana...involved his unqualified support for the
ousted would-be socialist dictator of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya.
Zelaya was elected to a four year term as president of
Honduras in November 2005 and, under the one-term limit imposed by the
Honduran Constitution, was scheduled to leave office in January 2010.
However, having grown accustomed to the perquisites of office, and being
the newest member of a small but determined club of Latin American
socialist dictators...led by Raul Castro of Cuba, Hugo Chavez of
Venezuela, and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua...Zelaya decided to impose
upon the people of Honduras for an additional term of office, or more.
It was almost as if a
young Marxist of unknown citizenship suddenly decided he’d like to be
President of the United States.
It was a preposterous notion.
Unfortunately, it appears that Zelaya,
himself, was about the only person in Honduras who hungered for four
more years of his leadership. When his proposal to remove the one-term
limit was presented to the Congress and to the Honduran Supreme Court,
it was roundly rejected. But Zelaya was undeterred. He simply ignored
the constitutional amendment process and, instead, launched a campaign
for reelection by national referendum, an effort that was strongly
opposed by every branch of the Honduran government, including the
national Congress, the Supreme Court, and the military...even members of
his own party.
Nevertheless, Zelaya stubbornly proceeded with the
illegal referendum, and just hours before he was to cast a vote for
himself he was taken into custody at his home and flown to exile in
Costa Rica by members of the Honduran military, acting under orders of
the Congress and the Supreme Court. Immediately after his departure,
congressional leader Roberto Micheletti, a reliable democrat and a
friend of the United States, was sworn in as interim president.
Speaking from exile in
Costa Rica, Zelaya told China Economic net that he was "kidnapped with
force, violence, and brutality.” He said that "between eight and ten
hooded and heavily armed soldiers had entered his home and forced him to
board a plane without telling him the destination.” He should have known
that this was not unusual. Throughout history, when it has become
necessary for the people to remove a despotic leader by force, they
rarely provide a travel itinerary or a choice of destinations.
Zelaya complained, "I was in my pajamas and
did not even have socks on…” He apparently failed to consider that, on
his way to exile in Costa Rica, his plane would fly over some 200 miles
of dense jungle and 200 miles of shark-infested Pacific waters. The
Castro/Chavez wannabe should have been happy to arrive in Costa Rica
alive...socks or no socks.
Speaking to reporters in
Costa Rica, Zelaya insisted that he would return to Honduras on Sunday,
July 5, accompanied by
Secretary-General of the Organization of American States
(OAS), the presidents of Argentina and Ecuador, and the head of the U.N.
General Assembly to seek a return to power. In response, interim
president Micheletti warned that, if Zelaya attempted to return he would
be arrested and imprisoned. When Zelaya’s plane attempted to land at the
Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, it was intercepted by Honduran Air Force
planes and turned away.
first hemispheric leaders to speak out against Zelaya’s ouster were
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno
Rodriguez. Chavez threatened that, if a new Honduran government was
sworn in he would "bring them down.” He went on to say that, if the
Venezuelan ambassador in Tegucigalpa was harmed in any way, or if the
Venezuelan embassy was entered, his country would attack Honduras
The OAS, in a sharply-worded ultimatum, "vehemently
condemned” the coup and Zelaya’s "arbitrary detention and expulsion.”
The OAS warned that the Honduran leaders had three days in which to
restore Zelaya to power or face expulsion from the OAS. This
was followed by a U.N. resolution calling on all 192 U.N. member nations
not to recognize any government in Honduras other than Zelaya’s.
All of the "usual
suspects” were present and accounted for.
Finally, after waiting
to take his cues from the communist dictators of Cuba, Venezuela, and
Nicaragua, Obama issued a brief statement. He said, "I
am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Honduras regarding the
detention and expulsion of President Mel Zelaya. As the OAS did on
Friday, I call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect
democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American
Democratic Charter. Any existing tensions and disputes must be resolved
peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference.”
According to an Associated Press report, "Obama declared
that the United States still considers Manuel Zelaya to be the president
of Honduras and assailed the coup that forced him into exile as
‘not legal,’ ”
So the question arises, why would Obama refer to
Zelaya’s ouster as an "illegal coup?” As the AP reports, "The term
‘coup’ is defined as ‘a sudden, decisive exercise of power whereby the
existing government is subverted without the consent of the people.’
When a country’s legally and democratically elected government ‘removes’
an individual, using the processes outlined under it’s Constitution, it
is not a ‘coup,’ but a legally authorized act of State…” similar to
removal via impeachment and subsequent trial.
As a Harvard Law School graduate, as a former Editor of
the Harvard Law Review, as a professor of constitutional law, and as a
practicing lawyer, should we not expect that Obama would understand the
difference? What happened in Honduras was not a coup; it was a
constitutionally authorized preservation of Honduran democracy,
undertaken by the Congress and the Supreme Court, with the cooperation
of the US-trained Honduran military.
In a nutshell, President
Manual Zelaya attempted to subvert the Honduran Constitution in order to
maintain himself in power, and when the Congress and the Supreme Court
declared that his reelection was prohibited under Honduran law it became
necessary to remove him by force. The decision was made by the Congress
and the Supreme Court; the military was simply the tool employed by the
people to secure their freedom.
As the AP explains, the Honduran situation would be
analogous to an American president attempting to serve a 3rd term over
the objections of Congress and the Supreme Court and in direct violation
of our 22nd Amendment. The AP story conjectures that "an
American President attempting to do such a thing would be impeached and
jailed, and that if necessary, the U.S. military would be used by the
Congress and the Supreme Court to "protect and defend” the Constitution.
The report goes on to ask, "But
what about Obama? Why does he relate to these megalomaniacs (Castro,
Chavez, Ortega, and Zelaya) who believe they are omnipotent? Why does he
side with the "repressors” rather than those who stand for freedom? If
Obama can’t distinguish which of the parties in Honduras acted legally
and (which) did not, he doesn’t deserve to hold his office.” Was this an
overt attempt by Obama to legitimize yet another Latin American
Seeing Obama come away empty-handed from the G-8 summit in Italy;
suffering the embarrassment of his patronizing audience with Pope
Benedict XVI in Rome; and watching him get mugged by the former KGB
Colonel, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow; one can only wonder why we have sent
a boy to do a man’s job. However, none of these embarrassments should
come as a surprise when we recall that Obama recently made a speech
before an Arab audience in Egypt in which he hailed Islam for its many
contributions to the development of American culture.
His performance of the last week on the
foreign stage is just one more reason why we cannot afford to have this
fool living in the White House.