Did Obama do Zelaya’s bidding in revoking visas?

posted at 2:27 pm on July 29, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Earlier today, Dafydd ab Hugh wrote about the weird juxtaposition of arguing for diplomatic contact with the Taliban while revoking visas for Honduran officials after the removal of Manuel Zelaya from office.  The story actually gets even stranger, as The Hill reports.  Apparently, the White House got the notion to revoke the visas from Zelaya himself, who demanded it in a letter to Barack Obama:

The ousted president of Honduras reportedly asked President Obama to revoke the diplomatic visas of members of interim President Roberto Micheletti’s de facto government.

Manuel Zelaya, who was removed from office on June 28 and has now retreated to the mountains of Nicaragua to organize a “resistance,” according to the Central American News Agency, reportedly sent a letter to Obama asking him to ramp up the pressure on the interim government and calling for the “revocation of visas” to those involved in his ouster, and the freezing of bank accounts.

The Zelaya letter reportedly names officials against whom the ousted president wanted action taken, including General Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, the head of the armed forces who was fired by Zelaya on June 25 for refusing to use the military to press forward with a referendum deemed illegal by the country’s highest court. …

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly confirmed at Tuesday’s news briefing that four diplomatic visas had been revoked by the U.S. Kelly did not name names, but the deputy foreign minister of Honduras’s de facto government confirmed that one of the visas belonged to Judge Jose Tomas Arita Valle, the chairman of the 16-member supreme court who signed the ruling ordering the detention of President Manuel Zelaya.

Bear in mind that the Honduran Congress and Supreme Court removed Zelaya from office weeks ago.  Suddenly the US has decided that it would be appropriate to impose travel sanctions on Honduran officials, although the State Department did its best to spin that idea into a maintenance of the status quo.  They claimed that the timing “is what it is,” and denied that it represented a “turning of the screw,” despite the use of these exact same revocations as sanctions against other regimes.  In fact, the US has demanded that UN nations revoke travel visas for a host of Iranian officials over the last several years.

Obviously, this does represent a “turning of the screw,” but Americans have a right to know who ordered it, and why.  Is the hand on the screwdriver Barack Obama’s?  Or is it the hand of a wanna-be tinpot dictator who tried to seize power illegally in Honduras, and wants the US to seize it for him now?


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