Wednesday, January 6, 2010

US Returns to Honduras, So Is Monroe Doctrine Really Dead?

While the US may have withdrawn the heavy hand of past decades from Honduras, it has not withdrawn completely. A US diplomat is there again, apparently encouraging Micheletti to resign by Jan. 15. Is that so Zelaya can occupy the presidency for the last waning days of his term? The agenda is not clear. Micheletti is correct in saying that Chavez and company will do everything possible to assassinate him, but he will have to give up the presidency soon anyway. He and Zelaya might both do well to seek a new life abroad, though when other Latin American leaders have gone into exile, assassins have often tracked them down in their new refuges. I just hope the whole matter is settled by Feb. when I go to Honduras myself with medical brigades. If any volunteer physicians (or nurses, dentists, pharmacists) are willing to join our Feb. International Health Service brigade or others being held in Honduras throughout the year, please contact me at my e-mail address above. It’s no-frills basic medicine practiced under primitive conditions and everyone pays their own way.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------January 6, 2010
The Yanquis Went Home
The New Republic

Today’s idea: Say adiós to the Monroe Doctrine, under which Washington long called the shots in its own backyard. “For the first time in centuries, the United States doesn’t seem to care much what happens in Latin America.”

[portrait] President James Monroe, of the 1823 doctrine that bears his name.

Latin America | America’s retreat from the Monroe Doctrine began even before the Obama administration decided to sit on its hands in Honduras’s continuing leadership crisis, writes Jorge G. Castañeda in The New Republic. It started with the end of the cold war: The absence of a global rivalry with Soviet Communism sharpened the question of just what were the United States’ national interests in Latin America.

And the answer seems to be: many fewer now. Sure, there are trade accords, immigration worries and the odd military or antidrug collaboration. But since the first President Bush’s invasion of Panama in 1989, there have been “no unilateral military interventions, no coup plots or new embargoes, not even the propping up of decaying regimes.”

Now, “a strange and centrist hemispheric consensus has emerged in support of U.S. indifference,” Castañeda writes, “unless things get nasty.”
“With the rise of Chavismo” — the anti-Americanism of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela — “it isn’t always possible to see the salutary benefits from this new U.S. policy,” he writes. “But they are tangible. It has grown increasingly difficult for certain regimes to blame Washington for their failures.”

January 6, 2010
De Facto President Objects to US Request He Leave

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) -- De facto president Roberto Micheletti responded harshly Wednesday to U.S. suggestions that he resign weeks before a new president takes office on Jan 27. Micheletti has been serving as president since a June coup deposed his long-time political rival President Manuel Zelaya, who later took refuge in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa and remains there.''The U.S. wants me to withdraw on Jan. 15,'' said Micheletti, calling U.S. diplomacy erratic. ''Washington should respect the sovereign decisions of our people.''

U.S. State Department diplomat Craig Kelly is currently in Honduras attempting to reunite leaders in the bitterly divided Central American nation.

Micheletti's interim government has said Zelaya faces arrest on various charges if he leaves the embassy under any terms other than an asylum arrangement in another country. President-elect Porfirio Lobo has hinted that he will be more conciliatory. Lobo says he has invited to his inauguration Latin American leaders -- including Zelaya's leftist allies Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua.
Chavez has lobbied for Zelaya's return to office and urged the international community not to recognize results of Honduras' November election. ''If they don't want to come, oh well,'' Lobo said. ''But we've invited them.''

Meanwhile, Micheletti says he is concerned that Chavez will eventually retaliate against him.''I know I should take precautions because Chavez has the capacity to send assassins to kill me.''

Chavez initially put his military on alert after a coup in Honduras and vowed to do whatever is necessary to restore President Manuel Zelaya to power.
January 5, 2010
US Diplomat Back in Honduras Seeking to Heal Rifts

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- U.S. State Department diplomat Craig Kelly returned to Honduras on Tuesday to make his fourth attempt in five months to reunite leaders in this bitterly divided nation. U.S. Embassy spokesman Michael Stevens said Kelly ''came to make intensive effort to achieve a breakthrough agreement'' during a two-day visit.

Kelly met with ousted President Manuel Zelaya at the Brazilian Embassy, where he has been living since sneaking back into Honduras in late September. Kelly also plans to meet with interim President Roberto Micheletti, who took power after Zelaya was ousted in June and is to cede his position in three weeks, and with the winner of the country's Nov. 29 presidential election, Porfirio Lobo.

''I thank the United States for seeking a solution to Honduras' problem ... and that the United States is interested in having Micheletti leave the post as soon as possible,'' Zelaya told the local Radio Globo station following his meeting with Kelly.

''Kelly assured me that his government does not support Micheletti and is seeking the possibility of the international community recognizing the new government'', Zelaya said, referring to Lobo.''Washington recognizes that I am president of Honduras,'' Zelaya said.

While Zelaya appears to have few remaining options -- even negotiations to fly him out of Honduras to another country have stumbled -- he remained unbowed, calling on supporters in a broadcast speech later to ''not retreat one centimeter in the fight for their rights and social progress.''

Micheletti's interim government has said Zelaya faces arrest on various charges if he leaves the embassy under any terms other than an asylum arrangement in another country. Zelaya's term ends Jan. 27.The Honduran crisis has been one of the biggest diplomatic challenges in Latin America for the Obama administration.State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in Washington that ''we are encouraged by comments by President-elect Lobo,'' who has talked about national reconciliation.

But Crowley said Kelly ''is there to communicate clearly to a variety of parties that there are still things that Honduras has to do'' to restore the constitutional order and mend the divisions caused by the coup. He mentioned a truth commission to sort out responsibilities in the coup, which interim government supporters said was triggered by Zelaya's refusal to obey court rulings against his plan to hold a referendum on changing the constitution. Zelaya says he was illegally removed from office by his opponents. ''Most importantly, you need to have this truth commission that is part of a healing process that has to occur if Honduras is going to, to advance,'' Crowley said.

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