In a masterful political move, the new Honduran government withdrew from the OAS this weekend and its leaders told the OAS Secretary General that they thought he was in Honduras to deliver the impeached President for arrest. Obama officials are reportedly seething and looking for a way out of this political crisis that they, in essence, have created. So, in less than a month, the Obama Administration has pushed a democracy out, Honduras, and lobbied to get a dictatorship, Cuba, back in as a member of the OAS. Not their finest hour.
Facilitated by the Obama Administration’s Latin America advisors, the Bolivarian anti-American Axis of the Americas has had a good week. From the meddling at the Organization of American States (OAS) and its approval of a specious resolution condemning Honduran democratic processes, as well as the equally fallacious statements by unnamed administration officials of a coup d’etat, the U.S. has cravenly turned its back on ally. For some reason yet unknown, the Obama Administration has allowed Cuba, Venezuela, and the rest of the Latin American left to control this process.
People who insist on calling recent events a military coup have no idea what they are talking about. By all accounts from the current Honduran leaders (including a close to absolute majority of the Congress and the Supreme Court), as well as noted outside observers, the events that gave rise to the new government were legal and constitutional. This is not a case of a military official using the military to topple a democracy, as in the case of Cuba and Venezuela, but rather the military was ordered to act in defense of democracy and rule of law. And, even if it were the current government, judged customary international law norms (not to be confused with new age globalism), would be legitimate.
Freedom is not easy, it is hard. The Honduran people know a thing or two about this. It has been building a democracy since the 1980s in a part of the world where these things are anything but easy. Honduran leaders understood, however, that freedom trumps totalitarianism and socialism any day. In doing so, Honduras committed a political mortal sin in the eyes of Latin America’s cadre of leftists: it chose to ally itself with the United States.
During the Cold War, Honduras backed U.S. efforts to stem the growth of Marxists governments in El Salvador and Nicaragua. The U.S. is Honduras’ main trading partner, while Honduran ex-pats send close to a billion dollars a year of remittances to their relatives. Since at least the 1960s, the U.S. military has worked with the Honduran military. The Soto Cano military base has been operational since at least the 1980s. An economically poor country, it still found the means to sacrifice several hundred of its finest soldiers to assist in the global war on terrorism. They have cooperated in counter-narcotics and anti-gang efforts.
No relationship is perfect, none ever is. Yet the acts of the past few weeks that culminated in a constitutional change in government were not a coup in the flavor of coups that took place in the 1960s and 1970s – far from it. One would think that Obama’s Latin America advisors would understand these nuances. If they do, to characterize the recent change in government as a military overthrow is tantamount to political negligence. It harms U.S. economical, political, and security interests. The Obama Administration was quick to react and it never gave constitutionally-elected Congressional leaders an opportunity to explain its side of the story. They paid short shrift to the Supreme Court decrees. This is not how one treats an ally.
Unless a resolution can be found for this matter consistent with Honduran law, it will be the Obama Administration that will set back the growth of Honduran democracy. It seems to have an extreme obsession for meddling in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state through international organizations such as the OAS. In the process, it is making things easier for the enemies of freedom to further weaken rule of law and democratic institutions throughout the hemisphere.
The U.S. can be a good and trusted partner for freedom and democracy around the world, or we can be an obstacle. We can help advance freedom’s promise, or as we are doing in Honduras, muddle it, so much so, that people simply give up and resign themselves to the status quo. The Honduran people do not want to become another Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, or Nicaragua. Hondurans want to keep their country free and independent of external meddling by these countries, the UN and the OAS. On our Fourth of July weekend, the Obama Administration should be focusing on that reality. It needs to support rule of law and freedom.