Saturday, October 31, 2009

Zelaya to Return to Power in Honduras
Mike Rappaport

In sad news, the United States's pressure on Honduras appears to have finally resulted in the reinstatement of former President Zelaya to office.  In my view, and I have never seen anything that argues persuasively to the contrary, Zelaya was legally removed from office by the Supreme Court of Honduras (although he appears to have been illegally, while sensibly, removed from the country).  I can only hope that he does not somehow manage to keep power or that his example is not used by other would be dictators to seize power.  Unfortunately, it appears that President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua has recently used illegitimate means to displace term limits.  

According to the New York Times, Latin American experts portray the development as a breakthrough by President Obama.  Yes, this is exactly the kind of breakthrough we can expect from our President.

Update: Various people have said that the arrangement is no big deal and that it is face saving for Obama/Hillary.  I certainly consider this to be a significant possibility, but it is by no means certain.  Political dynamics and violence are unpredictable.  But, more importantly, that Honduras had to agree to this, given the situation, is nonetheless outrageous.  When a largely innocent man is treated like a criminal, even if he is ultimately released from jail before trial, it is something to bemoan.  The same is true of an innocent country -- especially in a region where the real criminals, like Ortega and Chavez, are getting away with murder.

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Mike Rappaport


I'm not as pessimistic as you are. My sense is that the Hondurans are successfully running out the clock. The deal is subject to approval by the legislature, and the election will come soon. It will be difficult for the US govt to maintain its pro-Zelaya charade indefinitely in the face of overwhelming Honduran popular opposition. We could reinstate Zelaya as we did Aristede in Haiti but that would probably require force, and I don't think Obama would go that far. The Hondurans may be betting that we will declare victory and go home as soon as we can achieve some kind of face-saving outcome. Of course I could be wrong: maybe Obama will keep pressuring the Hondurans. In that case they and eventually we are in for a very rough time.

Posted by: Jonathan | Oct 31, 2009 2:36:53 AM

I'd guess Jonathan's right. Zelaya will probably try to make a play to get his term extended (ala Ortega) but will hopefully fail and I doubt the Obama administration will be much interested in helping him along. Or at least we can hope...

Posted by: Bryan | Oct 31, 2009 5:35:57 AM

Their congress also has to approve the deal and it sounds like there's a chance they might just tell everyone to bugger off. That would a be heart warming rejection of "The One's" smart diplomacy.

Posted by: john knox | Oct 31, 2009 6:54:51 AM

It is nothing short of astonishing that Obama employs the very attitude he decried in conservatives: changing the world. Didn't he promise to cooperate with whatever regime is out there? He did not support Iranian reformers, but effectively reinstated Honduras' president.

Posted by: Alex - Israeli Uncensored News | Oct 31, 2009 12:24:30 PM

Mike, in response to your update, I agree that the whole thing is outrageous. OTOH it also serves as the clearest indication so far, in a revealed-preferences way, of Obama's values. That's not unhelpful information.

Let's hope that Obama seizes the opportunity to walk away, rather than doubling down.

Posted by: Jonathan | Nov 1, 2009 4:21:11 AM

This congress of bad actors has done Honduras a favor in sharpening understandings there. And Zelaya is at best borderline sane. The Obots, even assuming the worst motives, are very careless in choosing their friends.

Posted by: james wilson | Nov 1, 2009 10:56:41 AM