As Scott discussed here, the Obama administration has decided to cut off all non-humanitarian aid to Honduras in an attempt to pressure the country’s interim government to accept the return of its deposed president. The deposed president, Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, is a friend of Hugo Chavez who illegally sought to emulate Chavez’s ascent to permanent one-man rule.
The ouster of Zelaya has widely been referred to as a coup, and Hans Bader notes that the State Department initially signaled its intention to cut off aid to Honduras on that basis. But, says Bader, the State Department now “more or less admits that there was no military coup, citing ‘the participation of both the legislative and judicial branches of government’ in the president’s removal.”
A coup is an unconstitutional overthrow of a legitimate government by a small group. It’s difficult to see how the ouster of Zelaya meets this definition inasmuch as the Supreme Court has upheld its legality and the Democratically elected Honduras has selected a civilian successor. No wonder the State Department, and even left-liberal analysts, have been unable to conclude that was illegal (by contrast, Zelaya’s exile may well not have been legal, however).
On what grounds has the Obama administration decided to inflict suffering, malnutrition, and widespread unemployment on Honduras? The answer, I believe, is that Obama likes Zelaya’s left-wing approach to governing and, in addition, wants to send a signal to those in Nicaragua who might be contemplating action against the similarly left-wing, similarly dictatorial Daniel Ortega. Ortega certainly has ever reason to feel emboldened as he uses vote fraud, arbitrary arrests and intimidation to expand his power.
And Hugo Chavez too must be delighted to see the U.S. government doing all it can to perpetuate the rule his anti-democratic, anti-American allies. He probably figures that Obama read that lefty, Amerca-bashing book Chavez gave him.
I figure that Obama didn’t need to.
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