Secretary Clinton has not yet agreed to make such a declaration but is expected to make a decision regarding it shortly.
If she does wind up agreeing with the opinion being offered by her underlings in the state Department, the designation of a government that came to power under a “military coup” will cut off $150 million in U.S. funding to Honduras.
Personally, I must question the aid we are giving to this impoverished Central American nation during a time when our nation is in the midst of tough economic times of its own and racking up trillions in debt. That is not to suggest that I would automatically discount extenuating circumstances in the area of humanitarian aid that could be crucial to our national interests or pivotal to security and stability in the Americas and the hemisphere and I do have reason to believe that this is money well spent. But I still question the amount and its exact purposes.
However, I would not reduce or cut aid to Honduras for the reasons that Secretary of State Clinton is being given.
Designating the events that transpired and led to the legal removal of Manuel Zelaya from office as a military coup is totally inappropriate and uncalled for.
The military deposed Zelaya after being at odds with other branches of government, including the judiciary, over a referendum that Zelaya was illegally conducting. He was seeking to overturn limits to his time in office. The Honduran Supreme Court deemed the referendum and the way in which it was proposed as unconstitutional. Additionally the Honduran Congress voted not to hold it.
The situation could be compared to a U.S. President who was impeached or at the end of his term decided to stay in office for a few extra years and refused to leave the White House. If he refused to abide by our laws and to leave the Oval Office, he would probably not be personally removed by the incoming President. It is more than likely that a member of the military would escort him out and if that didn’t work they would probably have to forcibly remove him or her.
The fact is that article 293 of the Honduran Constitution states “No citizen who has already served as head of the Executive Branch can be President or Vice-President. Whoever violates this law or proposes its reform as well as those that support such violation directly or indirectly, will immediately cease in their functions and will be unable to hold any public office for a period of 10 years.”
It was ruled by an independent Supreme Court that Zelaya’s attempt to stay in power was not allowed and deemed an act against the nation’s Constitution. This was a proper decision and it should be noted that the article speaks about intent and states that removal takes place “immediately” without any mention of trial or impeachment actions.
Upon the Supreme Court‘s decision, Roberto Micheletti, the President of the Congress, was elected Interim President of Honduras by the Congress and sworn in as the provisional president. For the process that took place to be called a military coup is a breach of ethical conduct on the part of the United States and doing so is also irresponsible and disengenuous.
Although we all have an impressions of Banana Republics in, especially in the Caribbean and Americas, the actions carried out by Honduras’s Congress and Supreme Court were not reminiscent of such clown like governments. They followed their nation’s Constitution, something that President Manuel Zelaya was not prepared to do.
For the United States to call the constitutional actions and constitutional election, by the Honduran Congress, of a provisional president, a coup, flies in the face of what a nation that gave birth to democracy should decide.
By designating the government of Roberto Micheletti as one that was installed by a military coup and cutting off the $150 million that has been appropriated to Honduras will severely handicap the already impoverished nation even more. But in addition to that money, $215 million in grant funding from the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation to Honduras would also have to end should Hillary Clinton make the determination that a military coup took place.
None of this will stabilize democracy in Central America. It will simply help drive Honduras further under the influence of such enemies of democracy as Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega and the heads of a few actual Banana Republics.
U.S. law bars aid “to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree.” I stand by that law but I do not stand by any determination that considers what happened in Honduras a military coup. What occurred here was a constitutional chain of events that ultimately required members of the military to carry out the constitutionally required removal of a President who tried to exceed the limits of his powers and influence.
What happened in Honduras was not a coup. After the Supreme Court properly deemed Zelaya to be in violation of the nation’s Constitution, the military abided by the ruling and carried out their job, thus preserving the Constitution. Should such actions be condemned and depicted as a violent overthrow?
For members of the State Department to deem the provisional Honduran government of Roberto Micheletti anything but official and go along with the wishes of Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and other antagonist of democracy makes me question the judgment and values of the Obama State Department. I must question their commitment to democracy and the rule of law. All of which the United States should stand as a beacon of.
If Secretary of State Hillary Clinton follows through on the advice of her colleagues at State and if President Obama agrees with that decision, I will be mortified and will question if our own government has not in and of itself become a Banana Republic.