While the White House and the State Department continue to insist that Honduras removed its president Manuel Zelaya in a coup, Senator Jim DeMint decided to do something rather basic — ask the Hondurans what happened. John Kerry attempted to stop DeMint from traveling to Honduras in a bald extortion attempt to get DeMint to lift holds on two Obama administration diplomatic nominees, which DeMint ignored. DeMint writes in today’s Wall Street Journal that Zelaya needed to go, and that the US has backed a megalomaniac intent on seizing complete power:
While in Honduras, I spoke to dozens of Hondurans, from nonpartisan members of civil society to former Zelaya political allies, from Supreme Court judges to presidential candidates and even personal friends of Mr. Zelaya. Each relayed stories of a man changed and corrupted by power. The evidence of Mr. Zelaya’s abuses of presidential power—and his illegal attempts to rewrite the Honduran Constitution, a la Hugo Chávez—is not only overwhelming but uncontroverted.
As all strong democracies do after cleansing themselves of usurpers, Honduras has moved on.
The presidential election is on schedule for Nov. 29. Under Honduras’s one-term-limit, Mr. Zelaya could not have sought re-election anyway. Current President Roberto Micheletti—who was installed after Mr. Zelaya’s removal, per the Honduran Constitution—is not on the ballot either. The presidential candidates were nominated in primary elections almost a year ago, and all of them—including Mr. Zelaya’s former vice president—expect the elections to be free, fair and transparent, as has every Honduran election for a generation.
Indeed, the desire to move beyond the Zelaya era was almost universal in our meetings. Almost.
In a day packed with meetings, we met only one person in Honduras who opposed Mr. Zelaya’s ouster, who wishes his return, and who mystifyingly rejects the legitimacy of the November elections: U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens.
Even if one accepted the Obama administration position that Zelaya was removed improperly, a conclusion that the Congressional Research Service disputes, the elections should be an opportunity to move past the problem. Zelaya couldn’t have been re-elected; the constitution of Honduras forbids presidents from seeking second terms. Zelaya’s own party had already nominated someone else to run in that election, and that candidate and party want the elections to proceed.
The White House opposes these elections, but has shown no reason or evidence that they would be corrupted in any way. All of the normal stakeholders in Honduras back the elections, and Honduras is bringing international monitors as it usually does to verify the reliability of the vote. If the Obama administration truly backed the concept of self-determination, then these elections would be the rational solution to the problem that Barack Obama has mostly created.
At the moment, it appears that Obama values Zelaya more than the rule of law and more than self-determination through democracy. Why?
Update: As Andy McCarthy explains at The Corner, the Obama administration refuses to explain why — and it’s the controversial Harold Koh whose legal opinion has been kept hidden. Shouldn’t the “most open and transparent administration in history” get a little less opaque about why it’s cutting off aid to one of the closest allies we have in the region?