Sunday, armed soldiers awakened the President of Honduras and ran him out of the country in his bedclothes. The president, Manuel Zalaya, is now living in Costa Rica.
President Obama has spoken out against the ousters of the president saying:
“We do not want to go back to a dark past,” Mr. Obama said, in which military coups override elections. “We always want to stand with democracy,” he added.
The intrigue continues when considering the past history of the United States in such matters:
According to the NY Times:
The United States has a history of backing rival political factions and instigating coups in the region, and administration officials have found themselves on the defensive in recent days, dismissing repeated allegations by President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela that the C.I.A. may have had a hand in the president’s removal.
Obama administration officials said that they were surprised by the coup on Sunday. But they also said that they had been working for several weeks to try to head off a political crisis in Honduras as the confrontation between Mr. Zelaya and the military over his efforts to lift presidential term limits escalated.
The United States has long had strong tie
s to the Honduras military and helps train Honduran military forces. Those close ties have put the Obama administration in a difficult position, opening it up to accusations that it may have turned a blind eye to the pending coup. Administration officials strongly deny the charges, and Mr. Obama’s quick response to the Honduran president’s removal has differed sharply from the actions of the Bush administration, which in 2002 offered a rapid, tacit endorsement of a short-lived coup against Mr. Chávez.
This situation certainly bears watching. It has the potential to blow up in many faces and the response so far seems quite different from the usual responses from the United States. President Zalaya is considered leftist. Fidel Castro and Chavez have both called for a return to power for Zalaya.
The Obama adminstration has been watching the crisis build for several weeks. Zalaya wanted a referendum to lift the term limit restrictions on the presidency. Secretary of State Clinton was there in early June. She had been annoyed with the man’s unreasonable demands. You really need to read the time line of events in the link. The saga is too long for the blog.
Should President Obama take the same stand that Chavez and Castro take? Is the U.S. complicit in the military operation? What really is our past history? Have we meddled, as a nation? How come President Obama spoke out immediately about the Honduras coup but not the Iranian protests?
Full story in the New York Times.
[UPDATE: 7/6/09 Deposed President Zalaya attempted to fly back to Honduras today from Dulles Airport after meeting with OAS. His plane was not permitted to land. The runways were blocked by tanks and military. His supporters were tear gassed and it is thought some were shot. ]