Freedom Matters for Honduras

The Obama administration and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can no longer be considered a “neutral broker” in the current state of affairs in Honduras. Here’s why.

For the past few days, the Administration and Secretary Clinton have cautiously opted out of the negotiations in Costa Rica. In fact, the State Department hammered the point that “we need to support the Arias mediation effort because it’s the best way to go forward.”

Day after day, the message from the State Department has been that we should let the negotiators negotiate and ultimately accept the outcome from the Arias talks. But in what seems to be Secretary Clinton’s first conversation with Honduran President Roberto Micheletti since the removal of Mr. Manuel Zelaya, Secretary Clinton joined the likes of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and other leaders in the region and warned President Micheletti of serious consequences if he did not back down and allow Mr. Zelaya to return to power.

A party who calls itself a neutral broker does not make phone calls in the heat of negotiations and place ultimatums on one of the negotiating sides. It is increasingly apparent that the Administration is really not a neutral broker, but instead a friend of the “thugocrats,” or caudillos, in the region who seek nothing more than to be leaders for life.

Our nation’s legitimacy as the leader of the free world comes into question when we accept the Administration’s argument that by joining the thugocrats, we neutralize their anti-American rhetoric and leave them deflated and without an enemy to fight.

What is more alarming is that the Organization of American States (OAS), the sole organization in the hemisphere that should have helped avoid this crisis, has been hijacked not only by these cowardly caudillos, but also by a man who, by all accounts, seeks to only prolong his political career. I am speaking, of course, of Secretary General José Insulza.

Secretary General Insulza was the first one to come out of the gates claiming that Mr. Zelaya’s removal was a “military coup.” Secretary General Insulza is the same man who applauded Cuba’s entrance to the OAS – despite a democracy clause – and who also fought for and ensured Honduras’ expulsion from the organization.  He not only embraced the leftist strongmen of Latin America, but joined them as they attempted to override the constitution of Honduras and the will of the Honduran people.

Most of us have seen the images of Mr. Zelaya’s Venezuelan jet flying over the airport in Tegucigalpa. What most of us do not know is that Secretary General Insulza’s jet was right behind it, circling and cheering on a man who broke several laws and stood against every branch of the Honduran government.

There is an inconceivable amount of pressure being exerted against the people of Honduras at this time. The European Union cut all of its budgetary spending for Honduras. The United States has paused its spending in the country. And the countries that answer to Mr. Chavez have stopped all trade with Honduras.

Instead of punishing the people of Honduras for following their constitution, the United States should restart all of its aid. Honduras has been a steadfast ally of the United States, exemplified by the fact that it sent troops to Iraq. We should not treat our friends in this manner.

The trouble with the Obama Administration’s past actions is how it patronized a sovereign nation that did nothing more than follow its own constitution and laws. There will be plenty of time to debate whether flying Mr. Zelaya out of Honduras actually saved lives or not, but the fact is that the people of Honduras did exactly what their constitution mandates. For the Administration to immediately call this a “coup” was both irresponsible and reckless.

Secretary Clinton and the Administration should have taken more time to analyze the facts and get a better understanding of Honduran law before it joined with the likes of Mr. Chavez and demanded Mr. Zelaya’s reinstatement.  The people of Honduras should be the ones who make that decision.

One option would be a coalition-form of government that would administer the inner-workings of Honduras until early elections are called, when a new president would be elected.

As for the United States, we should restart all aid to Honduras immediately.

I believe that Mr. Zelaya should return to Honduras – in handcuffs. Mr. Zelaya broke the law, and unless the Obama Administration believes Mr. Zelaya is above the law, he should face a judge and the people of Honduras as any normal citizen would.

I plan to travel to Honduras this weekend to find a peaceful, democratic resolution to the crisis.  The people of Honduras deserve our support more than ever right now.