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Crafty_Dog
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« on: March 10, 2008, 11:05:11 AM »

Woof All:

Although the Spanish language forum has various threads for politics and economics in Latin America, this forum has only a thread specificallty on Mexico-US and one on Venezuela.  Latin America was my region of specialization for my International Relations major in college, and I have retained my interest in the region, particularly Mexico.   So, with this thread we begin a catch all thread for anything in the region wihich is not Mexico or Venezuela: 

Marc
==============

WSJ

The Chávez Democrats
March 10, 2008; Page A14
What is it about Democrats and Hugo Chávez? Even as the Venezuelan strongman was threatening war last week against Colombia, Congress was threatening to hand him a huge strategic victory by spurning Colombia's free trade overtures to the U.S.

This isn't the first time Democrats have come to Mr. Chávez's aid, but it would be the most destructive. The Venezuelan is engaged in a high-stakes competition over the political and economic direction of Latin America. He wants the region to follow his path of ever greater state control of the economy, while assisting U.S. enemies wherever he can. He's already won converts in Bolivia and Ecuador, and he came far too close for American comfort in Mexico's election last year.

Meanwhile, Colombian President Álvaro Uribe is embracing greater economic and political freedom. He has bravely assisted the U.S fight against narco-traffickers, and he now wants to link his country more closely to America with a free-trade accord. As a strategic matter, to reject Colombia's offer now would tell everyone in Latin America that it is far more dangerous to trust America than it is to trash it.

 
Yet Democrats on Capitol Hill are doing their best to help Mr. Chávez prevail against Mr. Uribe. Even as Mr. Chávez was doing his war dance, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus was warning the White House not to send the Colombia deal to the Hill for a vote without the permission of Democratic leaders. He was seconded by Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel, who told Congress Daily that "they don't have the votes for it, it's not going to come on the floor," adding that "what they [the White House] don't understand it's not the facts on the ground, it's the politics that's in the air."

Mr. Rangel is right about the politics. No matter what U.S. strategic interests may be in Colombia, this is an election year in America. And Democrats don't want to upset their union and anti-trade allies. The problem is that the time available to pass anything this year is growing short. The closer the election gets, the more leverage protectionists have to run out the clock on the Bush Presidency. The deal has the support of a bipartisan majority in the Senate, and probably also in the House. Sooner or later the White House will have to force the issue.

 
Our guess is that Messrs. Baucus and Rangel understand the stakes and privately favor the accord. The bottleneck is Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is refusing to allow a vote under pressure from her left-wing Members. These Democrats deride any link between Hugo Chávez and trade as a "scare tactic," as if greater economic prosperity had no political consequences. "President Bush's recent fear-mongering on trade shows just how desperate he is to deliver one final victory for multinational corporations," declared Illinois Democrat Phil Hare, who is one of Ms. Pelosi's main trade policy deputies.

These are the same Democrats who preach the virtues of "soft power" and diplomacy, while deriding Mr. Bush for being too quick to use military force. But trade is a classic form of soft power that would expand U.S. and Latin ties in a web of commercial interests. More than 8,000 U.S. companies currently export to Colombia, nearly 85% of which are small and medium-sized firms. Colombia is already the largest South American market for U.S. farm products, and the pact would open Colombia to new competition and entrepreneurship.

Which brings us back to Mr. Chávez and his many Democratic friends. Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd's early support helped the strongman consolidate his power. Former President Jimmy Carter blessed Mr. Chávez's August 2004 recall victory, despite evidence of fraud. And then there are the many House Democrats, current and former, who have accepted discount oil from Venezuela and then distributed it in the U.S. to boost their own political fortunes. Joseph P. Kennedy II and Massachusetts Congressman Bill Delahunt have been especially cozy with Venezuela's oil company. If Democrats spurn free trade with Colombia, these Democratic ties with Mr. Chávez will deserve more political scrutiny.

Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are both competing for union support. But if they wanted to demonstrate their own Presidential qualities, they'd be privately telling Ms. Pelosi to pass the Colombia pact while Mr. Bush is still in office. That would spare either one of them from having to spend political capital to pass it next year.

Instead, both say they oppose the deal on grounds that Mr. Uribe has not done more to protect "trade unionists." In fact, Mr. Uribe has done more to reduce violence in Colombia than any modern leader in Bogotá. The real question for Democrats is whether they're going to choose Colombia -- or Hugo Chávez.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.

And add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2008, 11:31:07 AM »

The FARC Files
By MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY
March 10, 2008; Page A14

Colombia's precision air strike 10 days ago, on a guerrilla camp across the border in Ecuador, killed rebel leader Raúl Reyes. That was big. But the capture of his computer may turn out to be a far more important development in Colombia's struggle to preserve its democracy.

Reyes was the No. 2 leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which has been at war with the Colombian government for more than four decades. His violent demise is a fitting end to a life devoted to masterminding atrocities against civilians. But the computer records expose new details of the terrorist strategy to bring down the government of Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, including a far greater degree of collaboration between the FARC and four Latin heads of government than had been previously known. In addition to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, they are President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega and Bolivian President Evo Morales.

 
AP 
A face-to-face encounter between Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Colombian President Álvaro Uribe at last week's Rio Group Summit.
Mr. Chávez is said to have been visibly distressed when told of the death of Reyes, a man he clearly admired. He also may have realized that he played a role in his hero's death, since it was later reported that the Colombian military had located the camp by intercepting a phone call to Reyes from the Venezuelan president.

Mr. Chávez rapidly ordered 10 battalions to the Colombian border. Should the Colombian military cross into Venezuela in search of FARC, he warned, it would mean war. That may have seemed like an unnecessary act of machismo. But the Colombia military has long claimed that the FARC uses both Ecuador and Venezuela as safe havens. Now it had shown that it wasn't afraid to act on that information.

There is a third explanation for Mr. Chávez's panic when he learned of the strike: He was alarmed about the possibility that his links with Reyes would be exposed. Sure enough, when the Colombian national police retrieved Reyes's body from Ecuador, it also brought back several computers from the camp. Documents on those laptops show that Mr. Chávez and Reyes were not only ideological comrades, but also business partners and political allies in the effort to wrest power from Mr. Uribe.

The tactical discussions found in the documents are hair-raising enough. They show that the FARC busies itself with securing arms and explosives, selling cocaine, and otherwise financing its terrorism operations through crime. In a memo last month, for example, a rebel leader discussed the FARC's efforts to secure 50 kilos of uranium, which it hoped to sell to generate income. In the same note, there is a reference to "a man who supplies me material for the explosive we are preparing, his name is Belisario and he lives in Bogotá . . ."

Though it is far from clear, Colombian national police speculated from this that a dirty bomb could be in the making. An April 2007 letter to the FARC secretariat lays out the terrorists' effort to acquire missiles from Lebanon. When Viktor Bout, allegedly one of the world's most notorious arms traffickers, was arrested in Thailand on Thursday, the Spanish-language press reported that he was located thanks to the Reyes computer files.

The maneuvers of thugs seeking power are no surprise. The more significant revelation is the relationship between the FARC and Mr. Chávez, Mr. Correa, Mr. Morales and Mr. Ortega. All four, it turns out, support FARC violence and treachery against Mr. Uribe.

According to the documents, Mr. Chávez's friendship with the FARC dates back at least as far as 1992, when he was in jail for an attempted coup d'etat in Venezuela and the FARC sent him $150,000. Now he is returning the favor, by financing the terrorist group with perhaps as much as $300 million. But money is the least important of the Chávez gifts. He is also using his presidential credentials on behalf of the FARC.

The FARC puts a lot of effort toward discrediting Mr. Uribe in the court of world opinion. A September letter from a rebel commander to "secretariat comrades" reads: "As to the manifesto, I suggest adding the border policy and making it public by all means possible to see if we can stop all the world from supporting uribismo [the agenda of Mr. Uribe] in the October elections." He then proposes a "clandestine" meeting between one rebel and Mr. Chávez in Caracas to discuss "our political-military project." Mr. Chávez, the rebels say in a later document, suggested that the FARC videotape any Colombian military strikes in the jungle for propaganda purposes.

In January, FARC leader Manuel Marulanda (aka "Sureshot") wrote to Mr. Chávez: "You can imagine the happiness that you have awoken in all the leaders, guerrillas, the Bolivarian Movement of New Colombia [and] the Clandestine Communist Party with the plan you put forth . . . to ask for the analysis and approval of recognizing the FARC as a belligerent [therefore legitimate] force."

The documents also show why it was a good idea for Colombia not to ask Ecuador for permission before moving against the FARC camp -- even though in the past it had done so when tangling with the rebels at the border. A January memo reports on a FARC meeting with the Ecuadorean minister of security, who said that Mr. Correa is "interested in official relations with the FARC" and has decided not to aid Colombia against the rebels. "For [Ecuador] the FARC is an insurgent organization of the people, with social and political proposals that it understands," the memo reads.

It also says Mr. Correa plans to increase commercial and political relations with North Korea, and that he requests that one of the FARC's hostages be released to him next time, so as to "boost his political efforts." A Feb. 28 letter from Reyes summarizes a meeting with an emissary of Mr. Correa: "He explained the proposal of Plan Ecuador, which seeks to counteract the damaging effects of Plan Colombia [the joint U.S.-Colombian effort against terrorism]."

Where do Bolivia and Nicaragua fit into this collaborative effort? An Oct. 4 letter from a rebel to FARC leader Marulanda reports that a Venezuelan minister has agreed that if there is a FARC summit, "Chávez would come with Ortega, Evo and Correa." All three, the letter said, are with Chávez to the death.
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Juan
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« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2008, 04:59:18 PM »

I'm not sure if this article goes in this thread but I'll put in here.  All I can say is I was shocked when I heard this.... but at the same time I shouldn't be surprised.

Five Cuban soccer players defect in U.S.: report
 
Links to this article 
Reuters
Wednesday, March 12, 2008; 11:12 PM

MIAMI (Reuters) - Five members of the Cuban Under-23 national soccer team have defected in the United States while visiting the country for an Olympic qualifier, local media said on Wednesday.

A report on the Web site of the Miami Herald newspaper said the players abandoned their team after a match against the United States near Tampa Bay, Florida, on Tuesday night. The match ended in a 1-1 draw.

Team captain Yenier Bermudez, goalkeeper Jose Manuel Miranda, defender Erlys Garcia Baro, midfielder Yordany Alvarez and defender Loanni Prieto hatched the plan back in Cuba but told no one. Not even their families knew of their intent to defect, the Miami Herald said.

It said they spent Wednesday in Lake Worth, a town near Palm Beach about an hour's drive north of Miami, while trying to figure out how to begin a new life away from their communist-ruled homeland.

In a telephone interview with the Herald on Wednesday night, Bermudez was quoted as saying he and his teammates were feeling hopeful.

"We knew when we got to the United States what our plan was. It's something the five of us talked about a lot, so we were ready when the time came," he said.

"Of course, we're nervous because we're young, have no family here, and we don't yet know the way of life here, but we hope the Cuban and American communities will help us get started," Bermudez added.

The Herald said the five planned to seek political asylum in the coming days, and then begin their quest for jobs in professional soccer.

"Of course, my heart will be in Cuba with my family, but I want to have the freedom to better my life, to play professional soccer, to be the best I can be, and for that we had to make this sacrifice," Bermudez was quoted as saying
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JDN
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« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2009, 08:07:49 PM »

Attention - Captainccs  (sorry, I did not know where to post; further, unfortunately, I don't speak Spanish so I cannot go to the Spanish forum)
And while we may disagree sometimes, you seem bright and often have good opinions, so...

You said today;
It is important to stress that the people of Palestine elected HAMAS, they back HAMAS, and therefore they are as responsible as HAMAS for the suffering they are inflicting on themselves.

Change the words; insert Chavez where you say Hamas.

Now I am not saying that Chavez is a terrorist (?), nor nearly as terrible as the Hamas, but... to be honest I am not a big fan of the guy.  Yet he was freely elected (and trying hard it seems for
another (illegal) term.  But my point is that he was freely elected.  I mean I don't like Bush for numerous reasons, but I respect him and respect the office.  And of course, he was freely elected
and reelected and despite the polls,  gracefully with honor will retire this month.  If you have time, could you enlighten me as to why Chavez was freely elected and again reelected?  Maybe you are a fan of his? 
Or maybe not, but I don't get it.  I am told (my good friend of mine is Ecuadorian) that Venezuela is a rich and beautiful country; why elect and reelect a guy like this???  I am not looking for a fight; only education. 


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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2009, 01:22:46 AM »

Hugo Chávez's coalition-building efforts suffered a setback yesterday when the Honduran military sent its president packing for abusing the nation's constitution.

It seems that President Mel Zelaya miscalculated when he tried to emulate the success of his good friend Hugo in reshaping the Honduran Constitution to his liking.

But Honduras is not out of the Venezuelan woods yet. Yesterday the Central American country was being pressured to restore the authoritarian Mr. Zelaya by the likes of Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega, Hillary Clinton and, of course, Hugo himself. The Organization of American States, having ignored Mr. Zelaya's abuses, also wants him back in power. It will be a miracle if Honduran patriots can hold their ground.

 
Associated Press
 That Mr. Zelaya acted as if he were above the law, there is no doubt. While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite, the power to open that door does not lie with the president. A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress.

But Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. Chávez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.

The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused.

Calculating that some critical mass of Hondurans would take his side, the president decided he would run the referendum himself. So on Thursday he led a mob that broke into the military installation where the ballots from Venezuela were being stored and then had his supporters distribute them in defiance of the Supreme Court's order.

The attorney general had already made clear that the referendum was illegal, and he further announced that he would prosecute anyone involved in carrying it out. Yesterday, Mr. Zelaya was arrested by the military and is now in exile in Costa Rica.

It remains to be seen what Mr. Zelaya's next move will be. It's not surprising that chavistas throughout the region are claiming that he was victim of a military coup. They want to hide the fact that the military was acting on a court order to defend the rule of law and the constitution, and that the Congress asserted itself for that purpose, too.

Mrs. Clinton has piled on as well. Yesterday she accused Honduras of violating "the precepts of the Interamerican Democratic Charter" and said it "should be condemned by all." Fidel Castro did just that. Mr. Chávez pledged to overthrow the new government.

Honduras is fighting back by strictly following the constitution. The Honduran Congress met in emergency session yesterday and designated its president as the interim executive as stipulated in Honduran law. It also said that presidential elections set for November will go forward. The Supreme Court later said that the military acted on its orders. It also said that when Mr. Zelaya realized that he was going to be prosecuted for his illegal behavior, he agreed to an offer to resign in exchange for safe passage out of the country. Mr. Zelaya denies it.

Many Hondurans are going to be celebrating Mr. Zelaya's foreign excursion. Street protests against his heavy-handed tactics had already begun last week. On Friday a large number of military reservists took their turn. "We won't go backwards," one sign said. "We want to live in peace, freedom and development."

Besides opposition from the Congress, the Supreme Court, the electoral tribunal and the attorney general, the president had also become persona non grata with the Catholic Church and numerous evangelical church leaders. On Thursday evening his own party in Congress sponsored a resolution to investigate whether he is mentally unfit to remain in office.

For Hondurans who still remember military dictatorship, Mr. Zelaya also has another strike against him: He keeps rotten company. Earlier this month he hosted an OAS general assembly and led the effort, along side OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, to bring Cuba back into the supposedly democratic organization.

The OAS response is no surprise. Former Argentine Ambassador to the U.N. Emilio Cárdenas told me on Saturday that he was concerned that "the OAS under Insulza has not taken seriously the so-called 'democratic charter.' It seems to believe that only military 'coups' can challenge democracy. The truth is that democracy can be challenged from within, as the experiences of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and now Honduras, prove." A less-kind interpretation of Mr. Insulza's judgment is that he doesn't mind the Chávez-style coup.

The struggle against chavismo has never been about left-right politics. It is about defending the independence of institutions that keep presidents from becoming dictators. This crisis clearly delineates the problem. In failing to come to the aid of checks and balances, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Insulza expose their true colors.
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Freki
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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2009, 08:09:27 AM »

The trend toward socialism is growing throughout the world.  The 1980's saw the pendulum of political opinion swing to the right with the fall of the USSR.  Now I fear it is swing back the other way!  The loss of freedom around the world and the associated suffering will only increase until the people once again learn the hard lessons of the past.  The real tragedy of this trend is it is stronger in the USA than ever before, the check of a free country championing the cause of freedom is not in place anymore.  Case in point is the government's response to Iran and President Zelaya's attempt to subvert the constitution of Honduras. 

Freki


By PAUL KIERNAN, JOSE DE CORDOBA and JAY SOLOMON
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- Honduran soldiers rousted President Manuel Zelaya from his bed and exiled him at gunpoint Sunday to Costa Rica, halting his controversial plan to stay in power but spurring fresh concerns about democratic rule across Latin America.


 
Honduran soldiers blocked a street near the residence of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya in Tegucigalpa on Sunday.
"I was awakened by shots, and the yells of my guards, who resisted for about 20 minutes," Mr. Zelaya said, describing the predawn raid of his home to reporters at the San José airport in Costa Rica, where he was flown against his will. "I came out in my pajamas, I'm still in my pajamas....When (the soldiers) came in, they pointed their guns at me and told me they would shoot if I didn't put down my cellphone."

Mr. Zelaya called the action a kidnapping, and said he was still president of Honduras. The U.S. and other countries condemned the coup. President Barack Obama said he was "deeply concerned" and called on all political actors in Honduras to "respect democratic norms." Venezuela President Hugo Chávez, an ally of the Honduran president and frequent nemesis of the U.S., said he would consider it an ''act of war" if there were hostilities against his diplomats. "I have put the armed forces of Venezuela on alert," Mr. Chávez said.

Central American leaders called a summit including the ousted president for Monday in Managua, Nicaragua to deal with the crisis, and the U.N. General Asembly planned to meet.

In Honduras, television stations were off the air, electricity was out in parts of the capital, and military jets streaked overhead, recalling Latin America's long history of military coups and dictatorships.

Later in the afternoon, Honduras's Congress formally removed Mr. Zelaya from the presidency and named congressional leader Roberto Micheletti as his successor until the end of Mr. Zelaya's term in January. Mr. Micheletti and others said they were the defenders, not opponents, of democratic rule.

"What was done here was a democratic act," Mr. Micheletti, who was sworn in as president Sunday afternoon, said to an ovation. "Our constitution continues to be relevant, our democracy continues to live."


 
Supporters of Honduras's President Manuel Zelaya demonstrate in front of a tire bonfire in Tegucigalpa.
Mr. Micheletti is a member of Mr. Zelaya's Liberal party. But he had opposed his plans for a referendum that could have led to overturning the constitution's ban on re-election, allowing Mr. Zelaya to potentially stay in power past January, when his term ends.

Mr. Zelaya has been locked in a growing confrontation with his country's Congress, courts, and military over his plans for the referendum -- planned for Sunday -- that would have asked voters whether they want to scrap the constitution, which the president says benefits the country's elites.

Honduras' Supreme Court had ruled the vote was illegal and the military had refused to take its usual role of distributing ballots, but Mr. Zelaya fired the chief of the army last week and pledged to press ahead.

There were no reports of violence Sunday, but tensions were high. Soldiers surrounded the presidential palace, keeping at bay a group of several hundred protesters who gathered to support the ousted president. The demonstrators burned tires and chanted slogans in favor of Mr. Zelaya. A 9 p.m. curfew was imposed, but in the evening the protesters, many carrying sticks and rocks, began adding chain-link fences to the burning tires as barricades to try to block the military from moving to break up the demonstrations.

"I love Zelaya, he's a good president," said Esther Ortiz, a 46 year old doctor, as she helped block off a street by the palace. "The oligarchy is just mad because Zelaya raised the minimum wage."

Honduras, one of Latin America's poorest countries, was a staging area for the U.S.-backed Nicaraguan Contra rebels during the 1980s. The country of about eight million people subsists on exports of bananas, shrimp, coffee, apparel and remittances from Hondurans in the U.S.

The Obama administration and members of the Organization of American States had worked for weeks to try to avert any moves to overthrow President Zelaya, said senior U.S. officials. Washington's ambassador to Honduras, Hugo Llorens, sought to facilitate a dialogue between the president's office, the Honduran parliament and the military.

The efforts accelerated over the weekend, as Washington grew increasingly alarmed.

 Honduran President Overthrown
0:54
Soldiers stormed the house of leftist President Manuel Zelaya in a predawn raid Sunday, arresting him and removing him from power amid a growing crisis over Mr. Zelaya's plans to try to get re-elected. Video courtesy Fox News.
"The players decided, in the end, not to listen to our message," said one U.S. official involved in the diplomacy. On Sunday, the U.S. embassy here tried repeatedly to contact the Honduran military directly, but was rebuffed. Washington called the removal of President Zelaya a coup and said it wouldn't recognize any other leader.

The U.S. stand was unpopular with Honduran deputies. One congressman, Toribio Aguilera, got a burst of prolonged applause from his colleagues when he urged the U.S. ambassador to reconsider his stand. Mr. Aguilera said the U.S. didn't understand the danger that Mr. Zelaya and his friendships with Mr. Chavez and Cuba's retired dictator Fidel Castro posed.

Retired Honduran Gen. Daniel López Carballo justified the move against the president, telling CNN that if the military hadn't acted, Mr. Chávez would eventually be running Honduras by proxy. It was a common view Sunday.

"There was no coup d'etat in Honduras," wrote Mariela Colindres, a 21-year-old Honduran who is studying at Indiana University, in an email. "An official who was subverting legality and had violated the Constitution was removed. Everything was done legally and this does not imply a rupture in the constitutional order."

The U.S. has a controversial history of backing coups in Latin America. It began promoting democracy strongly after the end of the Cold War, but in 2002 it hesitated in condemning a brief coup against Mr. Chávez and was sharply criticized by other Latin nations. Mr. Chávez came back to power and radicalized his posture against the U.S. Since then, he periodically claims the U.S. wants to oust him in a coup.

Mr. Zelaya's move to try to stay in power through the ballot box has become increasingly common in Latin America. Other leftist Latin American leaders like Venezuela's Mr. Chavez, Ecuador's Rafael Correa and Bolivia's Evo Morales have used referendums for a similar purpose. The temptation to stay in power isn't limited to leftists, either: Colombia's right-wing President Alváro Uribe is trying to change the constitution to allow him a third term.


 
At a Sunday news conference in Costa Rica, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, ousted at gunpoint by the army hours earlier, denounced his exile as a kidnapping.
Latin America analysts said the Honduran coup will complicate President Obama's efforts to re-engage a region where anti-Americanism has flourished in recent years. They said Mr. Chavez is likely to seize on the crisis to depict Central America as under attack by capitalist forces.

As a result, analysts said Mr. Obama will need to aggressively call for the reinstatement of President Zelaya, despite U.S. concerns that he is seeking to mirror Mr. Chavez's campaign to secure limitless rule.

"It's very important for the U.S. to come out against the coup and make the point that the U.S. supports democracy unequivocally," said Kevin Casas-Zamora, Costa Rica's former vice president and a senior fellow at Washington's Brookings Institution. "This would prevent Chavez from stealing the show."

Mr. Casas-Zamora and other regional analysts said the coup raised questions about just how much influence Washington actually has in Central America, given the Obama administration's failed effort to avert it.

Both sides of the Honduras crisis traded allegations on Sunday. The secretary of Honduras' congress, José Alfredo Saavedra, showed reporters what he said was a resignation letter signed by Mr. Zelaya. The letter cited the crisis and "insuperable health problems" in resigning. Mr. Zelaya said the letter was a fake.

The ousted president called on unions, workers and peasant and indigenous organizations to demonstrate peacefully for his return. "I ask the people of Honduras to be calm, but for them to defend their democracy and rights," he said.

Write to Paul Kiernan at paul.kiernan@dowjones.com, José de Córdoba at jose.decordoba@wsj.com and Jay Solomon at jay.solomon@wsj.com
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2009, 04:20:00 PM »

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was detained by military forces in the early hours of June 28, transported to a military base just outside Tegucigalpa and flown to Costa Rica on a military aircraft.

In a media interview from Costa Rica, where he is reportedly seeking asylum, Zelaya called his ouster a “kidnapping” and called on his supporters to resist the action peacefully. Zelaya supporters burned tires in front of the presidential palace to protest his ouster, and there were reports of security forces using tear gas to dispel protesters.

In a brief radio announcement, the Honduran Supreme Court said it ordered the army to remove the president to “defend the rule of law.” The Honduran Congress is expected to approve the president of Congress, Roberto Micheletti, to serve as interim president, and presidential elections slated for Nov. 29 will proceed on schedule, according to the country’s electoral court.

The details of Zelaya’s expulsion to Costa Rica are unclear, but Zelaya’s comments and his transportation on a military aircraft suggest he was forced to go there. It isn’t clear if the terms of his expulsion require him to stay in Costa Rica and not seek refuge with allies in Nicaragua, El Salvador or Venezuela. In response to the military action, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced he would take steps to “defeat” the coup against Zelaya, while the government of Ecuador announced it would not recognize the interim government of Honduras.

Zelaya’s ouster is not, in and of itself, necessarily a significant event. While there hasn’t been a coup in Latin America for some time, such an event is not exactly unheard of. There have been initial protests, and the next several days should show the extent to which Zelaya is supported by the populace. There could be marches and unrest among his supporters, particularly rural laborers and unions. One early flash point could be the military’s seizing materials for a referendum on possible constitutional reforms scheduled for June 28 — it was this referendum that triggered the army’s move against Zelaya, after the Supreme Court declared the reforms unconstitutional.

The question is whether Venezuela or other allies of the left-leaning Zelaya act on their pledges to resist the coup, and how those actions manifest themselves. While there were rumors (from possibly biased sources) of the movement of Venezuelans and Nicaraguans into Honduras in recent days, at the moment there does not appear to be any physical action being taken by Zelaya’s allies. This situation, however, will need to be closely monitored in the coming days and weeks.
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Boyo
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« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2009, 05:20:30 PM »

Well chavez ,castro and obama have all stated their verbal support of the imprisoned zelaya.

boyo
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captainccs
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« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2009, 10:05:18 PM »

Attention - Captainccs  (sorry, I did not know where to post; further, unfortunately, I don't speak Spanish so I cannot go to the Spanish forum)
And while we may disagree sometimes, you seem bright and often have good opinions, so...


Hello JDN!

Sorry about not replying sooner but I only found out about this thread today.

Quote
You said today;
It is important to stress that the people of Palestine elected HAMAS, they back HAMAS, and therefore they are as responsible as HAMAS for the suffering they are inflicting on themselves.

Change the words; insert Chavez where you say Hamas.

So true. So sad!

Quote
Now I am not saying that Chavez is a terrorist (?), nor nearly as terrible as the Hamas, but... to be honest I am not a big fan of the guy.  Yet he was freely elected (and trying hard it seems for
another (illegal) term.  But my point is that he was freely elected.  I mean I don't like Bush for numerous reasons, but I respect him and respect the office.  And of course, he was freely elected
and reelected and despite the polls,  gracefully with honor will retire this month.  If you have time, could you enlighten me as to why Chavez was freely elected and again reelected?  Maybe you are a fan of his? 
Or maybe not, but I don't get it.  I am told (my good friend of mine is Ecuadorian) that Venezuela is a rich and beautiful country; why elect and reelect a guy like this???  I am not looking for a fight; only education. 

I am most definitively not a fan of Chavez.

Chavez got elected in 1998 because president Caldera gave him a pardon and let him out of jail. He should still be in jail for the coup he staged in 1992.

Chavez got elected in 1998 because for 45 years the so called "democracy" ruined the country and people were looking for a Messiah. There was this idea that a military man might be the saviour based on the very successful government of General Marcos Perez Jimenez from 1948 to 1958. While I definitively approved of Perez Jimenez I was not ready for a military government and I told my friends as much when they talked about the benefits of a coup. There are no quick solutions.

The first Chavez election is easy to understand, people were sick and tired of the status quo. Important national figures like Arturo Uslar Pietri were proposing non-democratic solutions. Our democracy was a mess but slowly improving but in the end it died. You might want to read:

Uslar Pietri, Venezuelan Democracy's Undertaker

By the time people realized that they didn't want Chavez, the damage was done: the military was purged, the congress was packed by Chavez allies as was the supreme court. Elections were rigged. People who signed for the recall referendum were blacklisted.  Chavez used the oil wealth to illegally promote himself. The opposition news channels were shut down. Opposition  reporters were persecuted or murdered. And the tale of woes goes on.

Venezuela is  a rich and beautiful country but more important, Venezuelans are a lovely and noble people. On our marina website I have collected cruising logs by people who have visited our country. I think you'll find it interesting reading:

Bahia Redonda Cruising Logs

By necessity the above is just a very brief synopsis but I think it paints a true picture.
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« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2009, 11:25:24 AM »

Geopolitical Diary: Venezuela and the Honduran Coup
June 29, 2009
Military forces arrested Honduran President Manuel Zelaya at his home early Sunday morning, marking a sea change for the country. Prior to the coup, Zelaya had been attempting to call a national referendum on whether to change the constitution. Though Zelaya still had backing from many leftist organizations in the country, he lacked the support of the Congress, the Supreme Court and the military — all of which maintained that his actions were unconstitutional. His decision to go forward with the referendum in the face of such strong opposition pushed the situation to a climax, ending with his exile to Costa Rica.

The situation has prompted howls of objections, particularly from leftist leaders in Latin America — with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the forefront. Though Chavez’s promises of a military response following the arrest of Zelaya — a fellow leftist — have made headlines, his ability and will to intervene are both extremely constrained. Chavez himself has mentioned limits to his willingness to intervene in the situation, declaring that hostilities would be inevitable if the Honduran military violated the sanctity of the Venezuelan embassy or murdered the Venezuelan ambassador.

Chavez likes to link Venezuela to any and all leftist leaders in the region and to rattle sabers when any of those leaders are threatened. The Honduran coup, however, is deeply entrenched in domestic politics, and Chavez’s ability to take serious action is limited by uncertainties in the political situation he faces in Venezuela. Just as in a 2008 incident between Colombia and Ecuador (when Colombian forces crossed the border in pursuit of members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), Chavez can make statements but is not able to put substantial forces into play.

There have been isolated and unsubstantiated reports that Venezuelan and Nicaraguan personnel might have been supporting Zelaya in Honduras as hostilities were intensifying, but there is nothing to suggest that any kind of meaningful troop presence or interference was a factor in the day’s events. Indeed, sources in Venezuela have revealed that even Venezuelan military personnel lack confidence in the country’s ability to leverage the troop transport aircraft that would be required to establish a meaningful force in Honduras.

Because even Chavez is unable to intervene effectively, the situation in Honduras remains localized. The military immediately turned control of the country over to the Congress, which appointed its leader as the interim head of state. Therefore, it does not seem likely that this situation will turn into a military grab for power — a fact that should bring sighs of relief to a region where the destructive military dictatorships of the 1970s and 1980s are remembered well.

This also should not be read as a symbolic or tide-turning failure of the Latin American left, which is far from being a united ideological bloc. With center-leftists leading successful regimes in Brazil and Chile, the myth of a rising, unified wave of extreme leftism in Latin America is just that. Though the coup in Honduras could invigorate opposition movements in leftist-led countries throughout the region — particularly in countries like Venezuela, which are experiencing serious economic difficulties due both to populist excesses and the troubled global economy — it should not be taken as a part of a larger trend. If other governments in Latin America fall, it will be a result of their own spiraling, domestic dramas rather than a domino effect from Sunday’s events in relatively isolated Honduras.

The fact is that regional cohesion in Latin America is very difficult to achieve. With massive geographic barriers separating Latin American countries and the economic challenges facing each leader, there are enormous obstacles to functional cooperation and pressing concerns to attend to at home. Ultimately, the challenges facing Latin American countries in 2009 might lead to military intervention, as in Honduras. But regime stability very often depends on domestic factors — and all the leftist alliances in the world cannot save a leader who rejects the authority of every other branch of his government.
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« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2009, 11:36:43 AM »

Many foreign observers are condemning the ouster of Honduran President Mel Zelaya, a supporter of Hugo Chavez, as a "military coup." But can it be a coup when the Honduran military acted on the orders of the nation's Supreme Court, the step was backed by the nation's attorney general, and the man replacing Mr. Zelaya and elected in emergency session by that nation's Congress is a member of the former president's own political party?

Mr. Zelaya had sacked General Romeo Vasquez, head of the country's armed forces, after he refused to use his troops to provide logistical support for a referendum designed to let Mr. Zelaya escape the country's one-term limit on presidents. Both the referendum and the firing of the military chief have been declared illegal by the Honduran Supreme Court. Nonetheless, Mr. Zelaya intended yesterday to use ballots printed in Venezuela to conduct the vote anyway.

All this will be familiar to members of Honduras' legislature, who vividly recall how Mr. Chavez in Venezuela adopted similar means to hijack his country's democracy and economy. Elected a decade ago, Mr. Chavez held a Constituent Assembly and changed the constitution to enhance his power and subvert the country's governing institutions. Mr. Zelaya made it clear that he wished to do the same in Honduras and that the referendum was the first step in installing a new constitution that would enhance his powers and allow him to run for re-election.

No one likes to see a nation's military in the streets, especially in a continent with such painful memories of military rule. But Honduras is clearly a different situation. Members of Mr. Zelaya's own party in Congress voted last week to declare him unfit for his office. Given his refusal to leave, who else was going to enforce the orders of the nation's other branches of government?

--John Fund
WSJ
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« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2009, 11:57:17 AM »

Nelson Bocaranda is a Venezuelan news commentator frequently on the money with his "Runrunes." On Twitter:

"Anótenlo:Poco a poco cambia percepción "golpe" hondureño.Ni Europa ni USA bloquearán.IFotos izquierda radical junto a Zelaya réstanle apoyo"

"OJO: Washington,México,Ottawa,NYC ,Londres y Madrid intensifican conversaciones telefónicas para evaluar caso Honduras con visión NO GOLPE"

"A favor del nuevo gobierno que CONSTITUCION no se violó tras sacar a Zelaya quien promocionó a Micheletti hace 1 año como presidenciable"

"Cristina Kirchner acaba de anunciar que acompañara a Zelaya en su regreso.Chávez la llamó para que sirviera -como mujer- de amparo al grupo"

This promises to be an interesting showdown. In Venezuela we had the misfortune of allowing Jimmy Carter to call a stolen referendum "fair." With Zelaya cooler heads might just realize that what Honduras did was quite legal when they deposed a president who was breaking the law even after being told that he was breaking the law.

The issue is that the Constitution of Honduras says that there is no presidential reelection and that this clause cannot be amended. This clause is what makes the referendum called by Zelaya subversive! The referendum is anti-constitutional.

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« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2009, 09:12:27 AM »

As military "coups" go, the one this weekend in Honduras was strangely, well, democratic. The military didn't oust President Manuel Zelaya on its own but instead followed an order of the Supreme Court. It also quickly turned power over to the president of the Honduran Congress, a man from the same party as Mr. Zelaya. The legislature and legal authorities all remain intact.

We mention these not so small details because they are being overlooked as the world, including the U.S. President, denounces tiny Honduras in a way that it never has, say, Iran. President Obama is joining the U.N., Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez and other model democrats in demanding that Mr. Zelaya be allowed to return from exile and restored to power. Maybe it's time to sort the real from the phony Latin American democrats.

 
Associated Press
 
People against the return of ousted Honduras President Manuel Zelaya participate in a rally at the central park in Tegucigalpa, Tuesday, June 30, 2009.
The situation is messy, and we think the Hondurans would have been smarter -- and better off -- not sending Mr. Zelaya into exile at dawn. Mr. Zelaya was pressing ahead with a nonbinding referendum to demand a constitutional rewrite to let him seek a second four-year term. The attorney general and Honduran courts declared the vote illegal and warned he'd be prosecuted if he followed through. Mr. Zelaya persisted, even leading a violent mob last week to seize and distribute ballots imported from Venezuela. However, the proper constitutional route was to impeach Mr. Zelaya and then arrest him for violating the law.

Yet the events in Honduras also need to be understood in the context of Latin America's decade of chavismo. Venezuela's Hugo Chávez was democratically elected in 1998, but he has since used every lever of power, legal and extralegal, to subvert democracy. He first ordered a rewrite of the constitution that allowed his simple majority in the national assembly grant him the power to rule by decree for one year and to control the judiciary.

In 2004 he packed the Supreme Court with 32 justices from 20. Any judge who rules against his interests can be fired. He made the electoral tribunal that oversees elections his own political tool, denying opposition requests to inspect voter rolls and oversee vote counts. The once politically independent oil company now hires only Chávez allies, and independent television stations have had their licenses revoked.

Mr. Chávez has also exported this brand of one-man-one-vote-once democracy throughout the region. He's succeeded to varying degrees in Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina and Nicaragua, where his allies have stretched the law and tried to dominate the media and the courts. Mexico escaped in 2006 when Felipe Calderón linked his leftwing opponent to chavismo and barely won the presidency.

In Honduras Mr. Chávez funneled Veneuzelan oil money to help Mr. Zelaya win in 2005, and Mr. Zelaya has veered increasingly left in his four-year term. The Honduran constitution limits presidents to a single term, which is scheduled to end in January. Mr. Zelaya was using the extralegal referendum as an act of political intimidation to force the Congress to allow a rewrite of the constitution so he could retain power. The opposition had pledged to boycott the vote, which meant that Mr. Zelaya would have won by a landslide.

Such populist intimidation has worked elsewhere in the region, and Hondurans are understandably afraid that, backed by Chávez agents and money, it could lead to similar antidemocratic subversion there. In Tegucigalpa yesterday, thousands demonstrated against Mr. Zelaya, and new deputy foreign minister Marta Lorena Casco told the crowd that "Chávez consumed Venezuela, then Bolivia, after that Ecuador and Nicaragua, but in Honduras that didn't happen."

It's no accident that Mr. Chávez is now leading the charge to have Mr. Zelaya reinstated, and on Monday the Honduran traveled to a leftwing summit in Managua in one of Mr. Chávez's planes. The U.N. and Organization of American States are also threatening the tiny nation with ostracism and other punishment if it doesn't readmit him. Meanwhile, the new Honduran government is saying it will arrest Mr. Zelaya if he returns. This may be the best legal outcome, but it also runs the risk of destabilizing the country. We recall when the Clinton Administration restored Bertrand Aristide to Haiti, only to have the country descend into anarchy.

As for the Obama Administration, it seems eager to "meddle" in Honduras in a way Mr. Obama claimed was counterproductive in Iran. Yet the stolen election in Iran was a far clearer subversion of democracy than the coup in Honduras. As a candidate, Mr. Obama often scored George W. Bush's foreign policy by saying democracy requires more than an election -- a free press, for example, civil society and the rule of law rather than rule by the mob. It's a point worth recalling before Mr. Obama hands a political victory to the forces of chavismo in Latin America
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« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2009, 03:23:47 PM »

Chavez seen behind unrest in Peru

By Kelly Hearn (Contact) | Monday, July 6, 2009

 
QUILLABAMBA, Peru | A national strike by thousands of rain-forest Indians is spawning accusations of a proxy war involving Venezuela and an emboldened peasant movement seeking to undermine Peru's pro-U.S. president.

For more than two months, thousands of natives have been protesting land reforms issued by President Alan Garcia. The laws -- required by a U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement -- open vast tracts of rain forest to private energy and agriculture investment.

In April, natives angered by the new laws donned war paint and grabbed spears, overran roads and rivers, seized control of jungle oil facilities and blocked rural airports.

Mr. Garcia initially said that the protesters would not force his hand. But he backtracked after a June 5 confrontation in the oil-rich Amazon region of Bagua left more than 30 police and protesters dead.

Congress voted down two of the laws on June 18, handing Mr. Garcia a defeat and the natives a new sense of power.

Mr. Garcia, who appoints the prime minister, also has agreed to name a replacement for Prime Minister Yehude Simon. On Friday, Mr. Simon said he planned to step down this week in response to criticism of the government's handling of the protests, Reuters news agency reported. Mr. Simon had indicated in mid-June that he would resign, but had not set a date.

Human rights groups say dozens of protesters were killed or are missing and are not accounted for in the official toll.

Opposition parties have blamed Mr. Simon for the violence. He was appointed in October after a corruption scandal led to a major government reshuffle.

His resignation would force the entire Cabinet to offer to step down, but Mr. Garcia is not expected to replace heads of key departments, such as the Finance Ministry. Mr. Garcia has not yet indicated who would replace Mr. Simon.

The conflict has threatened to slow Mr. Garcia's push to attract billions of dollars in foreign investment.

Critics say the president's investor-friendly policies have not done enough to lift incomes in a country where 36 percent of a population of 29 million live in poverty.

Still, many here have questioned how rain-forest peasants, who live hand to mouth, found the resources to strike for weeks.

Fingers have been pointing at Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has been promoting socialist policies in this strategic region known for cocaine and energy resources.

Peruvian Congressman Edgar Nunez told The Washington Times last month that the congressional committee he heads has hard evidence that Mr. Chavez funded protesters through a network of grass-roots groups called "casas de ALBA." He declined to describe the evidence, saying only that investigations are ongoing.

Venezuela's government denies supporting the network.

Mr. Garcia, however, has accused his former presidential rival and Chavez acolyte, Ollanta Humala, of working with Venezuela's president to convince Indians to carry out what many in Peru see as acts of domestic terrorism.

Mr. Humala narrowly lost the presidency to Mr. Garcia in 2006. He embraced a Chavez-style populist platform including promises to nationalize oil, gas and mining. He is set to make another presidential run in 2011.

"Its obvious that the natives are being manipulated," said Roberto Ugarte, owner of a hotel not far from Cuzco, a major tourist attraction. "And its obvious that Chavez and Humala are involved. Our economy is working well, and now they want to change it."

Alvaro Vargas-Llosa, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Independent Institute, agreed.

"I give credibility to claims that they are involved," he said.

"Past experience shows that Humala, and more widely, the Chavez government, are heavily involved in efforts to destabilize outlying provinces and further an anti-democratic cause based on vaguely nationalist and very anti-democratic ideas."

Many say that Perus estimated 500,000 natives -- increasingly hemmed in and clamoring for their share of Amazonian oil and gas projects -- have found new organizations and resolve that will help Mr. Humala.

"This is the first time Indians have worked together and made a change," said Vincent Alagon, a Peruvian peasant who was interviewed recently standing near a flaming effigy of Mr. Garcia in the jungle town of Quillabama. "Alan Garcia is a murderer and a thief. We will make Humala president."

Mr. Vargas-Llosa said that natives are being manipulated and lack the organization and national agenda needed to make real political change.

"Natives have long been ignored by a government, so they respond when people come around with offers to help," he said. The protesters are being "bamboozled."

He added, "What these people really want is the opposite of what Chavez and Humala stand for. They want to own things, to exploit the rain forest themselves and to have property rights."

He said the Garcia presidency wont be the same following the protests.

"For the remainder of his term, he will have to take a defensive posture rather than a proactive one," Mr. Vargas-Llosa said.

Emboldened natives are likely to keep up demands for schools, roads, clinics and a seat at the oil-and-gas table.

While Mr. Humalas National Party has denied giving funding to protesters, many Peruvians - especially wealthy elites - think that Humala loyalists help protesters by dipping into local government checkbooks made fat by oil and natural-gas royalties.

For example, in the town of Quillabamba, native political organizers from an Indian federation called COMARU were openly given rides in government vehicles.

On June 11, a truck bearing a regional government seal carried native protesters to a planning meeting near the Urubamba River town of Ivochote in southeastern Peru.

Prohibited by a pending state of emergency, the meeting was held in a remote building where participants laid plans to take over a pumping facility on a natural-gas pipeline on June 15. The action was canceled at the last minute owing to progress in government negotiations.

The mayor of Convencion, which receives millions of dollars in royalties from the U.S.-backed Camisea Natural Gas Project, is a Humala loyalist named Hernan de la Torre. Mr. la Torre did not show up at a scheduled interview this month and failed to answer questions left on his voicemail about the government vehicles.


http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jul/06/peru-indians-demands-seen-as-stoked-by-chavez/print/
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« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2009, 10:18:54 PM »



http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2009/07/03/
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« Reply #15 on: July 08, 2009, 10:28:25 AM »

"North Korea launches a missile and it takes Barack Obama and the UN five days to respond. Iran holds fraudulent elections, kills protesters and it takes weeks before Barack Obama can stand up and say that he is 'concerned' about the situation. Then the people of Honduras try to uphold their constitution and laws of the land from being trampled by a Chavez-wanna be and it takes Barack Obama one day to proclaim that this was not a legal coup." --radio talk-show host Neal Boortz

"There was an attempted coup in Honduras, but it was Zelaya who initiated it, not his opponents." --columnist Mona Charen

"If Honduras is hung out to dry, if America suspends trade and economic aid, the forces arrayed against liberty in Latin America will have won a major victory. On the other hand, if Honduras is not abandoned now, those Iran-supporting, America-hating, liberty-loathing forces will have suffered a major defeat." --columnist Dennis Prager
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« Reply #16 on: July 11, 2009, 09:08:54 AM »

By DAVID LUHNOW, JOSé DE CóRDOBA AND NICHOLAS CASEY
Tegucigalpa, Honduras

In the tile-roofed presidential palace near downtown Tegucigalpa, a man sits behind a long wooden desk claiming to be the country’s president. But in the eyes of the international community, Roberto Micheletti took charge through an old-fashioned coup.

Nearly two weeks ago, on June 28, his predecessor, Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, was rousted from bed by soldiers and sent out of the country in his pajamas. Mr. Micheletti, next in line for the presidency as head of congress, was sworn in later that day.
Tied to wealthy business interests and brought to power by the military, the provisional government brings back memories of the coup in which Chilean Augusto Pinochet tore down the Socialist project of Salvador Allende in 1973. On the streets of Tegucigalpa nowadays, some protesters have scrawled graffiti that merges the names of Mr. Pinochet and their new, unelected leader: “Pinocheletti.”

In Mr. Micheletti’s take on events, it was his government who avoided another, slow-motion coup—by Mr. Zelaya himself. Mr. Micheletti’s supporters say Mr. Zelaya was a dictator in the making, a modern-day caudillo, or strongman, who wanted to rewrite Honduran law to stay in power, perhaps indefinitely.

To understand what is happening in Honduras today, it helps to know a bit more about Latin America’s long love affair with caudillos, how these larger-than-life but power-hungry men damaged their countries, and why so many people are terrified that they are making a comeback.

Some argue that Latin America’s single most important—and colorful—contribution to political science is the caudillo. A Spanish word, caudillo is derived from the Latin capitellum or small head, and refers to a military or political leader. Spain’s Gen. Francisco Franco, adopted the title Caudillo de España por la Gracia de Dios (by the Grace of God) and ruled the nation from the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939 until his death in 1975.
Caudillismo is so deeply rooted it has spawned its own literary genre. Discerning readers see Fidel Castro as the model for the aging, cow-obsessed strongman in Gabriel García Márquez’s “The Autumn of the Patriarch,” who wanders alone dragging his outsize testicles over the floors of his presidential palace. Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, in his novel “The Feast of the Goat,” portrayed the precariousness of life in the Dominican Republic under the rule of the predatory and brutal right-wing caudillo, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo.

The cast of caudillos in Latin American history includes such characters as Antonio López de Santa Anna, who was Mexico’s president on seven separate occasions in the mid-1800s. He signed away Texas’ independence from Mexico after being captured the day after the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836, and once buried a leg he lost in battle with full military honors.


Caudillos come in all ideological stripes. Mr. Pinochet, whose famous photograph in sinister dark glasses was taken soon after his coup, became the iconic image of the right-wing Latin American military dictator. These days, most caudillos are leftist. Mr. Castro, el Comandante or el Caballo (the Horse), has the dubious distinction of being the longest-lived caudillo in Latin American history, owing his record-breaking stretch in power more to caudillismo than Marxismo. He’s passed on the torch to Hugo Chávez, the populist caudillo from Caracas, Venezuela.

Caudillos first arose in the difficult birth of Latin American republics from Spanish colonies. Most were landowners or military men who had their own private armies. Because the wars of independence in the early 19th century destroyed most institutions of Spanish colonial rule, the governments in these new states were too weak to resist takeover. In some cases, young states couldn’t raise enough money for a standing army.

Many of Latin America’s most famous caudillos became dictators. But as Latin American societies evolved and political arenas became more important than military battlegrounds in the mid- to late-1800s, caudillos became politicians. While a dictator usually relies on brute force to keep power, modern caudillos use a combination of personal magnetism, patronage—and sometimes, selective brute force.

In Latin America, the strength of the caudillo weakened the region’s institutions. Political parties centered on caudillos often collapsed after the caudillo’s death and never professionalized. As a result, Latin Americans seem perennially ready to trust their fate to a providential “man on horseback” who comes to their nation’s rescue, rather than on the ability of the nation’s institutions to provide security and prosperity.

Outsize personality—and outright megalomania—is a common characteristic of caudillos. In the 18th century, José Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia, who ruled Paraguay for a quarter-century, shut the country off from the outside world, appointing himself head of the country’s Catholic Church and taking the title of El Supremo, providing material for yet another great Latin American novel, Augusto Roa Bastos’s “Yo, el Supremo.”


In the 20th century, few had bigger egos than Rafael Trujillo, who ruled the Dominican Republic from 1930 to 1961. Known as El Jefe, Mr. Trujillo took power at age 38, wearing a sash with the motto Dios y Trujillo, or “God and Trujillo.” Even churches were forced to emblazon the motto. A few years later, the capital, Santo Domingo, was renamed Ciudad Trujillo. Fond of wearing comic-opera military uniforms with 18th-century-style plumed hats, Mr. Trujillo was as brutal as he was outlandish, murdering thousands of Haitian immigrants as well as torturing and killing political opponents; he fed some of them to the sharks.

While arms made the man in the 19th century, in the 20th, most caudillos have been careful to present themselves as champions of the people, wrapped either in the mantle of revolution—like Fidel Castro—or in that of democracy. Argentina’s Juan Domingo Perón used populism to endear himself to the nation’s poor, known as descamisados, or “shirtless ones.”

Even today, Perónismo, the movement created by Mr. Perón and his wife Eva—who combined glamour and handouts to the poor to become a secular saint venerated by Argentines—is still the dominant political current in Argentina. The legacy of Mr. Perón’s free-spending populist philosophy has led Argentina into periodic economic crises. When prices for Argentine exports like beef are high, for instance, Perónist governments have spent the windfall like a drunken sailor, leading to a cash crunch when prices eventually head south.
Mr. Perón, like many other caudillos, sought additional legitimacy by preserving the forms of democracy, if only on paper. He won presidential elections, but his regime was hardly democratic: Perónists controlled the legislature, the courts, the bureaucracy, labor unions and the media. Anyone who got too far out of line faced arbitrary arrest.

Even the Dominican Republic’s brutal Mr. Trujillo made a big show of not running for re-election in 1938 to observe democratic principles, although he continued to be the country’s de facto leader and later returned to win two more elections, in 1942 and 1947. In 1952, he stepped aside in favor of his brother and again continued to call the shots until his assassination in 1961.

 
On June 28, the Honduran president was forced out of the country in his pajamas, after he pushed for a referendum that would amend the constitution to allow him to run for re-election.

 
The Honduran head of congress was sworn in as Mr. Zelaya’s replacement immediately after Mr. Zelaya’s ouster. He has vowed to hold already scheduled elections in November and to hand over power in January.

 
The Bolivian president, a former leader of a militant coca leaf growers’ union, won a referendum that allowed him to rewrite the constitution, overturning a ban on re-election.

As far as the U.S. was concerned, the cause of democracy in Latin America often took a back seat to fighting Communism during the Cold War. For years, the U.S. either looked the other way or supported coups with the aim of preventing the spread of Communism in the hemisphere. Military coups became almost ritual. In the 1970s, Honduras endured so many coups that the capital was jokingly called Tegucigolpe, for the Spanish word golpe, or coup.

The end of the Cold War radically changed politics in Latin America. As civil wars and guerrilla insurrections in Central America ran out of steam, pampered military establishments suffered deep budget cuts. The U.S. and the rest of the world made it clear that coups would not be tolerated anymore. The Organization of American States, which represents 34 countries throughout the hemisphere, adopted a democracy clause in its charter in 2001. By that point, Cuba remained as the only non-democracy.

While democracy has spread throughout Latin America, caudillos never vanish, they just adapt to changing times. Gone is the old-fashioned military coup, replaced with a new strategy for power that could be called “coup by stealth,” or “coup by democratic means.”

The primary architect of this new blueprint is Mr. Chávez, a strongman with one foot grounded in the past and the other firmly placed in the future of caudillismo. In 1992, Mr. Chávez, then a lieutenant colonel with a mish-mash of leftist, nationalist and fascist ideas, led an old-fashioned coup in an attempt to overthrow the government of Carlos Andrés Pérez. It failed, and Mr. Chávez was jailed.



Upon release, he was persuaded to forgo the bullet for the ballot box. In 1998, he was elected president, riding a wave of popular disgust against the deep corruption of the country’s existing political parties and institutions. In a nation where institutions never developed because of caudillos, another “man on horseback” had come to save the country. Once in power, he moved to insure he would never leave.
Using the tools of democracy—referendums and elections—Mr. Chávez has subverted democracy and become a new, modern caudillo. He has won referendums over the years that have allowed him to rewrite the constitution, twice, to his specifications, including ending constitutional restrictions on term limits, thus allowing him to run for re-election indefinitely. He has gutted the courts, shut down and gagged the media and purged the army; he exercises total control over the congress. Venezuela still holds elections, but it is far from a full democracy.


Mr. Chávez shares with old caudillos a military background, a populist bent and a cult of personality. He is a mixture of messianic preacher, traditional authoritarian Latin American military man and utopian dreamer with notions of “21st-Century Socialism.” Even after a decade in power marked by rampant spending, corruption and crime, Mr. Chávez maintains a strong, almost mystical bond with many of Venezuela’s poor, who see in him a reflection of themselves.

Mr. Chavez has publicly said he plans to stay in power until 2019, 2021 or 2030.

The Chávez blueprint for power is now being imitated by other caudillos in the making. Bolivian President Evo Morales, a former leader of a militant coca leaf growers’ union who led street riots that helped topple two Bolivian leaders, also won a referendum that allowed him to rewrite the constitution. One change: overturning a ban on re-election. Ecuador’s Rafael Correa has used a constitutional rewrite to get term limits lifted, too. Both men used populism and disappointment with existing political parties to cast themselves as their nation’s saviors.


When democracy took root in Latin America in the 1980s and ’90s, nearly every country opted to bar re-election as a way to ensure caudillos would never return. These restrictions have been chipped away, by right-wing leaders, too. In Colombia, conservative president Álvaro Uribe has already changed the constitution once to get re-elected and is mulling a third term now.

Honduras, weary of a parade of generals who overstayed their welcome, was among the Latin nations that barred re-election when it ended military dictatorships and became a democracy in 1981. Since then, nearly every sitting president has toyed with the idea of re-election. None has pushed the idea more openly than Mr. Zelaya.

The son of a conservative rancher, Mr. Zelaya took power four years ago as a centrist. In the past two years, the Stetson-hat-wearing, ballad-singing president has hewn increasingly to the left, finding a soulmate in Mr. Chávez. The Venezuelan president began shipping Honduras cut-rate oil, and Honduras responded by joining Mr. Chávez’s regional trade and political pact, which also includes Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua.


He then took another page from the Chávez blueprint, pushing for a referendum and constitutional rewrite on re-election. The country’s courts, congress and other institutions lined up against Mr. Zelaya, but he vowed to challenge them all, with the people at his back. Shortly before his ouster, when the army refused to take part in the election, the president led a mob to a nearby base to seize the ballots.

Did all this make Mr. Zelaya a caudillo in the making? The world may never know because the Honduran power brokers decided not to take any chances. In booting out Mr. Zelaya at gunpoint, they showed what little faith they had in the country’s institutions to check Mr. Zelaya’s ambitions.

Some argue they acted rashly. “The Pinochets of the world supported the type of people who sent Zelaya out in his pajamas,” says Peter Kornbluh, an analyst at the National Security Archive, a Washington nonprofit, and author of books on dictators including Messrs. Pinochet and Castro. In ousting a democratically elected leader, the Honduran establishment strayed further from democracy than Mr. Zelaya did in attempting to stay, he says.

 
While the provisional president, Mr. Micheletti, has taken power in an undemocratic fashion, few Hondurans worry that he will want to stay on. Mr. Micheletti has vowed to hold already-scheduled elections in November, hand over power in January and limit his own presidential aspirations to six months in power.

Angel Nuñez, a 30-year-old Tegucigalpa taxi driver, thinks Mr. Micheletti did the right thing. “Zelaya wanted this place to be Cuba, he wanted absolute power in this country,” he says. Pushing the ex-president aside was the only way to stop “a man who got to thinking he was above the law.”

Domingo Díaz, a 63-year-old social worker, says he’s lived through so many Central American takeovers he’s lost both his count and his interest in them. “No one respected the law,” he said on a recent rainy day. “History will repeat itself,” he says, “but this time I don’t fear it.”
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« Reply #17 on: July 11, 2009, 11:00:36 AM »

By DAVID LUHNOW, JOSé DE CóRDOBA AND NICHOLAS CASEY
Tegucigalpa, Honduras


To understand what is happening in Honduras today, it helps to know a bit more about Latin America’s long love affair with caudillos, how these larger-than-life but power-hungry men damaged their countries, and why so many people are terrified that they are making a comeback.
 


Let's not forget that the three most important "Caudillos" of the 20th century were not Latin Americans. They were the German-Austrian Fuhrer, Adolph Hitler; the Italian Duce, Benito Mussolini and the longest lived one, the Spanish "Caudillo," Francisco Franco por la gracia de dios.

Let's also not forget that many Latin American Caudillos had the full backing of American administrations: Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, a.k.a. Chapita, was FDR's SOB. Fulgencio Batista of Cuba had the full backing of America. The CIA helped depose Allende and put Pinochet on the throne (rumors have it that Fidel Castro had Allende murdered when he showed a willingness to talk to the enemy).  Now Chavez and Zelaya seems to be Obama's SOBs even though they are not even pro-American.

While most of the Caudillos were "larger-than-life but power-hungry men [who] damaged their countries" not all did. In 1928 Juan Vicente Gomez, the Venezuelan Caudillo, was seen as harmful by the Venezuelan Left. Modern writers see Gomez as the man who unified Venezuela by suppressing the minor war-lords who were tearing the country apart. Gomez was also a very skillful international diplomat who turned the British gun boats away by stealth and who kept Venezuela neutral during WWI. One of the best government Venezuela has had in the 20th Century was by "dictator" General Marcos Perez Jimenez. He was replaced by the so called "democracy" that led to the election of Hugo Chavez Frias.

When people see elections they assume democracy. It often is very far from democracy. From 1958 to 1998 what we had in Venezuela was a party dictatorship where we didn't elect our representatives at all, we just ratified the ones proposed by the various parties. The downside of this process is that the representatives are not beholden to the people but to the party hacks who make up the lists. It is no wonder then that when CAP managed to gain not only the presidency but majorities in both houses of our Congress, the Congress abdicated its law making powers and allowed CAP to govern by presidential decree.

The irony is that the same people who thought it was a wonderful idea with CAP think it is quite horrible when Chavez does the exact same thing!

Understanding Caudillos is just a small part of the story. Caudillos, be they right, left or center, will do away with separation of powers and will rule as autocrats and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Obama should not be backing Caudillos just because they were democratically elected.  Would Obama back Hitler today? I believe an important precedent was set at the Nuremberg trials, following orders (or the established order) was not admissible as a defense. The American Independence itself was the breaking of the established order, the colonials disobeyed the law of their own sovereign. This is why the knee-jerk reaction of reinstating someone just because at one point he was elected is nor a good idea at all.



Without a doubt, Franco was the smartest of the three European Caudillos of the 20th century. There is a story of Hitler, Mussolini and Franco signing a joint declaration. Hitler signs first, "Adolph Hitler, God's envoy." Mussolini, not willing to be upstaged signs "Benito Mussolini, God's true envoy." Franco is the last one to sign: "Francisco Franco, I didn't send anyone!"
 
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« Reply #18 on: July 13, 2009, 07:14:11 AM »

"Let's also not forget that many Latin American Caudillos had the full backing of American administrations: Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, a.k.a. Chapita, was FDR's SOB. Fulgencio Batista of Cuba had the full backing of America. The CIA helped depose Allende and put Pinochet on the throne (rumors have it that Fidel Castro had Allende murdered when he showed a willingness to talk to the enemy).  Now Chavez and Zelaya seems to be Obama's SOBs even though they are not even pro-American."

Never in question.  As for Allende, he won with 36% of the vote and IIRC within 18 months created 1,000% inflation shocked shocked shocked in pursuit of his marxist goals.  A man like that tends to have LOTS of enemies.
  As for Chavez, to me it makes more sense to say that BO is his bitch than Chavez his SOB-- and that Zelaya's , , , gratitude runs towards Chavez, not BO.


===============================
In a perfect world former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya would be in jail in his own country right now, awaiting trial. The Honduran attorney general has charged him with deliberately violating Honduran law and the Supreme Court ordered his arrest in Tegucigalpa on June 28.

But the Honduran military whisked him out of the country, to Costa Rica, when it executed the court's order.

His expulsion has given his supporters ammunition to allege that he was treated unlawfully. Now he is an international hero of the left. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Cuban dictator Raúl Castro, and Venezuela's Hugo Chávez are all insisting that he be restored to power. This demand is baseless. Mr. Zelaya's detention was legal, as was his official removal from office by Congress.

If there is anything debatable about the crisis it is the question of whether the government can defend the expulsion of the president. In fact it had good reasons for that move and they are worth Mrs. Clinton's attention if she is interested in defending democracy.

Besides eagerly trampling the constitution, Mr. Zelaya had demonstrated that he was ready to employ the violent tactics of chavismo to hang onto power. The decision to pack him off immediately was taken in the interest of protecting both constitutional order and human life.

 
Associated Press
 Two incidents earlier this year make the case. The first occurred in January when the country was preparing to name a new 15-seat Supreme Court, as it does every seven years. An independent board made up of members of civil society had nominated 45 candidates. From that list, Congress was to choose the new judges.

Mr. Zelaya had his own nominees in mind, including the wife of a minister, and their names were not on the list. So he set about to pressure the legislature. On the day of the vote he militarized the area around the Congress and press reports say a group of the president's men, including the minister of defense, went to the Congress uninvited to turn up the heat. The head of the legislature had to call security to have the defense minister removed.

In the end Congress held its ground and Mr. Zelaya retreated. But the message had been sent: The president was willing to use force against other institutions.

In May there was an equally scary threat to peace issued by the Zelaya camp as the president illegally pushed for a plebiscite on rewriting the constitution. Since the executive branch is not permitted to call for such a vote, the attorney general had announced that he intended to enforce the law against Mr. Zelaya.

The Americas in the News
Get the latest information in Spanish from The Wall Street Journal's Americas page.
A week later some 100 agitators, wielding machetes, descended on the attorney general's office. "We have come to defend this country's second founding," the group's leader reportedly said. "If we are denied it, we will resort to national insurrection."

These experiences frightened Hondurans because they strongly suggested that Mr. Zelaya, who had already aligned himself with Mr. Chávez, was now emulating the Venezuelan's power-grab. Other Chávez protégés -- in Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua -- have done the same, refusing to accept checks on their power, making use of mobs and seeking to undermine institutions.

It was this fondness for intimidation that prompted Mr. Zelaya's exile. Honduras was worried that if he stayed in the country after his arrest his supporters would foment violence to try to bring down the interim government and restore him to power.

It wouldn't be a first. Bolivia's President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada was removed in 2003 using just such tactics. Antigovernment militants, trained by Peruvian terrorists and financed by Venezuela and by drug money from the Colombian rebel group FARC, had laid siege to La Paz. As the city ran short on supplies, Mr. Sánchez de Lozada issued a decree to have armed guards accompany food and fuel trucks. The rebels, who had dynamite and weapons, clashed with the guards. Sixty people died. The president was pressured to step down.

Mr. Sánchez de Lozada told me by telephone last week that he only presented a letter of resignation to the Bolivian Congress when the U.S. threatened to cut off aid if he left the country without doing so. He signed under duress but the letter was then used by the international community to endorse what was in effect a brutal Venezuelan-directed overthrow of the democracy.

The fact that the Organization of American States and the U.S. never defended the Bolivian democracy cannot be lost on the Hondurans or the chavistas. You can bet that Venezuela will try to orchestrate similar troubles in an attempt to bring condemnation to the new Honduran government. Honduran patriots have better odds against that strategy with Mr. Zelaya out of the country, even if Washington and the OAS don't approve.

Write to O'Grady@wsj.com
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« Reply #19 on: July 21, 2009, 10:34:15 AM »

I see that Hillary made a phone call to the Honduran president telling him he better negotiate with the wannabe strongman that they threw out or we will cut off all sorts of aid. 

I'm so glad we elected His Glibness and no longer interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.
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« Reply #20 on: July 21, 2009, 04:51:05 PM »

Had there been an OAS back in 1776, the 13 colonies would have been ordered to reinstate King George III.

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« Reply #21 on: July 24, 2009, 12:28:43 PM »

Video explaining why Zelaya was removed:

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« Reply #22 on: July 25, 2009, 12:30:17 AM »

From Petrostate To Narcostate

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, July 24, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Hemisphere: A congressional report released last week left little doubt that Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is turning his country into a narcotraffickers' paradise. So why isn't Venezuela an international pariah?



A new report released last Monday, "U.S. Counternarcotics Cooperation With Venezuela Has Declined," by the Government Accountability Office, offers the harshest assessment yet about Venezuela's rising role in Latin America's drug trade.

The GAO said that state corruption, Chavez's aid to Colombia's FARC guerrillas, and Venezuela's refusal to cooperate with U.S. law enforcement agencies add up to trouble — an outlaw narcostate in the making and trouble for the U.S. on the horizon.

"The findings of this report have heightened my concern that Venezuela's failure to cooperate with the United States on drug interdiction is related to corruption in that country's government," said Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., who commissioned the report.

No kidding. But instead of taking the natural course of action from such a report and treating Venezuela like a dank, despicable narcostate it deserves to be treated as, the U.S. is going out of its way to make nice with Chavez, restoring diplomatic ties as of July 1, in the mere hopes that dialogue will persuade him to cut it out.

That misreads the situation, because what's happening isn't a consequence of weakness — it's a result of will.

For one thing, this isn't about a few low-level Venezuelan officials on the take from traffickers.

The GAO report says that Venezuela's government corruption is worst at the top. Three top Chavista officials, including a former interior minister and a sitting chief of military intelligence, were named as actual drug "kingpins."

The report also warned systematic corruption in Chavez's National Guard, which controls airports and seaports, is the U.S.' biggest worry. That too links to the top.

Chavista officials in the past had used oil money to reward cronies and ensure loyalty. As the oil cash dries up, it's being replaced with illegal drug cash.

The GAO report cites low-level officials pleading with U.S. investigators for more drug cooperation, but their pleas have been rebuffed by Chavez's men at the top.

As a result, cocaine trafficking through Venezuela has surged fourfold over the last five years, along with criminal chaos in Venezuela's streets and countryside.

That's a problem for us and every country in the region as the cash and corruption have spread.

Already, all the countries in ALBA, Chavez's alliance of ruined democracies, show signs of infection. Bolivia has had its U.S. trading privileges cut off for noncooperation in the drug war. Its coca output is on the rise.

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa has just been named on a new FARC tape captured by Colombian police as taking payoffs from the terrorists.

Honduras' deposed leader, Mel Zelaya, has been accused by the government that threw him out of having ties with traffickers. It doesn't help that Honduras is a lily pad for traffickers moving contraband from Venezuela to the U.S.

Then there's Chavez's own ties to narcoterror. A captured computer from FARC chieftain Raul Reyes in 2008 revealed that Chavez offered FARC $300 million in oil cash, plus safe haven, passports, and medical care.

To date, Chavez has suffered no consequences for this aid to drug-dealing terrorists who now control 60% of Colombia's cocaine trade.

It's part of a disturbing pattern. Based on the inaction following each new revelation about Chavez's drug involvement, there are never any consequences.

In the past, the U.S. cut narcostates off at the knees, fast. In 1994, when the new president of Colombia, Ernesto Samper, was caught on tape taking cash from the Cali Cartel, the U.S. ended aid and treated him as a pariah.

When Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega cut a money-laundering deal with the Medellin Cartel in 1989, the U.S. sent in the Marines.

That's what makes this unwillingness to confront Chavez so strange. If nothing is done, we'll pay for it.

The U.S. will set up three to five de facto military bases in Colombia in coming years, largely to fight the cocaine trade Chavez fuels.

It's not a sign of confidence. It's a hunkering down for war based on ineffective policy. It would be far better to quit pretending Chavez is a small "d" democrat who can be negotiated with, and take stronger action now.

This would sure beat a war. But it has to start with a reality check about Venezuela's metamorphosis into a dangerous narcostate.


http://www.ibdeditorial.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=333327767981821
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« Reply #23 on: July 25, 2009, 12:44:44 AM »

Video: Hillary surprised to discover would-be Honduran dictator is “reckless”
POSTED AT 9:15 PM ON JULY 24, 2009 BY ALLAHPUNDIT   
SHARE ON FACEBOOK |    PRINTER-FRIENDLY

Yeah, turns out that the Chavez stooge who was going to rig an illegal national referendum to extend his term his president — the stooge we’re supporting — isn’t above strolling across the border and back into Honduras despite the risk that poses of inciting a civil war. Which isn’t the first time he’s tried to make a dramatic, potentially catastrophic return from exile. I guess we should be rooting for him. He’s our guy, no?

I’m assuming Hillary’s statement here is a none-too-subtle signal that they’re inching away from backing Zelaya going forward, but with The One, who knows? Exit question: Between the ObamaCare meltdown, Gatesgate, and now this reminder of one of his worst foreign policy decisions so far, is this the toughest week Obama’s had as president? Has any other week even been close?

Hillary  video here
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« Reply #24 on: July 26, 2009, 09:21:21 PM »

The Path Forward for Honduras
Zelaya’s removal from office was a triumph for the rule of law.
By ROBERTO MICHELETTI

One of America’s most loyal Latin American allies—Honduras—has been in the midst of a constitutional crisis that threatens its democracy. Sadly, key undisputed facts regarding the crisis have often been ignored by America’s leaders, at least during the earliest days of the crisis.

In recent days, the rhetoric from allies of former President Manuel Zelaya has also dominated media reporting in the U.S. The worst distortion is the repetition of the false statement that Mr. Zelaya was removed from office by the military and for being a “reformer.” The truth is that he was removed by a democratically elected civilian government because the independent judicial and legislative branches of our government found that he had violated our laws and constitution.

Let’s review some fundamental facts that cannot be disputed:

• The Supreme Court, by a 15-0 vote, found that Mr. Zelaya had acted illegally by proceeding with an unconstitutional “referendum,” and it ordered the Armed Forces to arrest him. The military executed the arrest order of the Supreme Court because it was the appropriate agency to do so under Honduran law.

• Eight of the 15 votes on the Supreme Court were cast by members of Mr. Zelaya’s own Liberal Party. Strange that the pro-Zelaya propagandists who talk about the rule of law forget to mention the unanimous Supreme Court decision with a majority from Mr. Zelaya’s own party. Thus, Mr. Zelaya’s arrest was at the instigation of Honduran’s constitutional and civilian authorities—not the military.

• The Honduran Congress voted overwhelmingly in support of removing Mr. Zelaya. The vote included a majority of members of Mr. Zelaya’s Liberal Party.

• Independent government and religious leaders and institutions—including the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the Administrative Law Tribunal, the independent Human Rights Ombudsman, four-out-of-five political parties, the two major presidential candidates of the Liberal and National Parties, and Honduras’s Catholic Cardinal—all agreed that Mr. Zelaya had acted illegally.

• The constitution expressly states in Article 239 that any president who seeks to amend the constitution and extend his term is automatically disqualified and is no longer president. There is no express provision for an impeachment process in the Honduran constitution. But the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision affirmed that Mr. Zelaya was attempting to extend his term with his illegal referendum. Thus, at the time of his arrest he was no longer—as a matter of law, as far as the Supreme Court was concerned—president of Honduras.

• Days before his arrest, Mr. Zelaya had his chief of staff illegally withdraw millions of dollars in cash from the Central Bank of Honduras.

• A day or so before his arrest, Mr. Zelaya led a violent mob to overrun an Air Force base to seize referendum ballots that had been shipped into Honduras by Hugo Chávez’s Venezuelan government.

• I succeeded Mr. Zelaya under the Honduran constitution’s order of succession (our vice president had resigned before all of this began so that he could run for president). This is and has always been an entirely civilian government. The military was ordered by an entirely civilian Supreme Court to arrest Mr. Zelaya. His removal was ordered by an entirely civilian and elected Congress. To suggest that Mr. Zelaya was ousted by means of a military coup is demonstrably false.

Regarding the decision to expel Mr. Zelaya from the country the evening of June 28 without a trial, reasonable people can believe the situation could have been handled differently. But it is also necessary to understand the decision in the context of genuine fear of Mr. Zelaya’s proven willingness to violate the law and to engage in mob-led violence.

The way forward is to work with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. He is proposing ways to ensure that Mr. Zelaya complies with Honduras’s laws and its constitution and allows the people of Honduras to elect a new president in the regularly scheduled Nov. 29 elections (or perhaps earlier, if the date is moved up as President Arias has suggested and as Honduran law allows).

If all parties reach agreement to allow Mr. Zelaya to return to Honduras—a big “if”—we believe that he cannot be trusted to comply with the law and therefore it is our position that he must be prosecuted with full due process.

President Arias’s proposal for a moratorium on prosecution of all parties may be considered, but our Supreme Court has indicated that such a proposal presents serious legal problems under our constitution.

Like America, our constitutional democracy has three co-equal and independent branches of government—a fact that Mr. Zelaya ignored when he openly defied the positions of both the Supreme Court and Congress. But we are ready to continue discussions once the Supreme Court, the attorney general and Congress analyze President Arias’s proposal. That proposal has been turned over to them so that they can review provisions that impact their legal authority. Once we know their legal positions we will proceed accordingly.

The Honduran people must have confidence that their Congress is a co-equal branch of government. They must be assured that the rule of law in Honduras applies to everyone, even their president, and that their Supreme Court’s orders will not be dismissed and swept aside by other nations as inconvenient obstacles.

Meanwhile, the other elements of the Arias proposal, especially the establishment of a Truth Commission to make findings of fact and international enforcement mechanisms to ensure Mr. Zelaya complies with the agreement, are worthy of serious consideration.

Mr. Zelaya’s irresponsible attempt on Friday afternoon to cross the border into Honduras before President Arias has obtained agreement from all parties—an attempt that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appropriately described as “reckless”—was just another example of why Mr. Zelaya cannot be trusted to keep his word.

Regardless of what happens, the worst thing the U.S. can do is to impose economic sanctions that would primarily hurt the poorest people in Honduras. Rather than impose sanctions, the U.S. should continue the wise policies of Mrs. Clinton. She is supporting President Arias’s efforts to mediate the issues. The goal is a peaceful solution that is consistent with Honduran law in a civil society where even the president is not above the law.

Mr. Micheletti, previously the president of the Honduran Congress, became president of Honduras upon the departure of Manuel Zelaya. He is a member of the Liberal Party, the same party as Mr. Zelaya.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204886304574311083177158174.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
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« Reply #25 on: July 30, 2009, 07:48:08 AM »

Miami Herald Editorial

Hugo Chávez's temper tantrums aren't fooling anyone
OUR OPINION: Tale of Swedish weapons shows Chávez link to FARC guerrillas


Over the years, Venezuela's Hugo Chávez has displayed a predictable pattern of behavior whenever one of his hare-brained schemes goes awry: The clearer the evidence of wrongdoing, the more false indignation he exhibits and the louder he complains.

No wonder, then, that he is throwing another diplomatic tantrum over the exposure of his connections to Colombia's leftist guerrillas, known by the acronym FARC. Weapons recovered from the FARC by Colombia's armed forces have been traced to Sweden, which sold them to Venezuela in the 1980s.

Sweden wants an explanation. The Swedish-made anti-tank AT-4 weapons were sold to Venezuela with the clear understanding that the government would be the ``end user'' -- i.e., that they would not be passed on to anyone else.

Mr. Chávez's reaction has been to recall his ambassador from Colombia and threaten economic reprisals against that country. He claims the whole thing is a set-up designed to embarrass his government.

If that were the case, it could be determined readily enough: Allow Swedish investigators to inspect the weapons and have Mr. Chávez order responsible officials in his government to answer questions about the arms trail. We won't hold our breath.

The connections between the Chávez government and the FARC have been clear ever since the discovery of documents taken from guerrilla computers last year. On the basis of that evidence, the U.S. Treasury Department has accused three top Chávez government officials of helping the FARC with weapons, finances and drug-trafficking.

This episode adds to the growing body of evidence that Mr. Chávez's government is in league with the FARC. His temper tantrums aren't fooling anybody.


http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/editorials/story/1163410.html
 
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« Reply #26 on: August 02, 2009, 09:37:49 AM »

Chavez Closes Down Broadcasters in War Against Venezuela Media

"What we are witnessing is the most comprehensive assault on free speech in Venezuela since Chavez came to power," said Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. "With the exception of Cuba, Venezuela is the only country in the region that shows such flagrant disregard for universal standards of freedom of expression."

By Jeremy Morgan
Latin American Herald Tribune staff

CARACAS – Any doubts that the government was determined to crack the whip and gain the upper hand in its war with the more independently-minded private media were dispelled by an abrupt order from Infrastructure and Housing Minister Diosdado Cabello on Friday evening.

Cabello announced that 34 broadcasting stations, mainly radio but also a few television transmission centers, were to be shut down because President Hugo Chávez’s government was revoking their licences.

At the breakfast hour the following day, the stations went off the air amid a widespread assumption that they’d never be heard from again – or at least as long as El Comandante (as friend and foe alike refer to him, albeit from very different perspectives) is in residence at the presidential palace, Miraflores.

Cabello controls the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel), which had sent out the necessary notices of closure following his announcement. The stations duly went off the air, most of them playing the national anthem as they saw themselves out.

Some stations announced that they would continue on the Internet, which the government is likely to find much more difficult to control. That said, the number of households equipped with computers and access to the Internet in Venezuela is relatively small – and more or less non-existent among the poorer classes who make up the ballast of Chávez’s power base.

The president of the National College of Journalists, William Echeverria, said that broadcasters could continue if they adopted a creative approach. “Here, they can close a radio transmitter but they can’t close down a different way of thinking,” he declared. “Who is the Venezuelan state to determine which radio station one should listen to?”

Cabello’s order had a partial effect on Globovisión, the privately-owned 24-hour news station which has long been at odds with the Chávez regime, and as such, has become the target of increasingly hostile actions on behalf of by the government. Chávez himself has openly threatened to close the channel, but so far has yet to do so.

Globovisión President Guillermo Zuloaga, who faces trial on charges including “generic usury” after a raid in which a fleet of cars was found at a residence he owns in east Caracas, said the government was “trying to shut up information.”

Zuloaga went on to suggest that Cabello’s measure was not in accordance with the Bolivarian Constitution adopted by referendum at Chávez’s behest in 1999, and he warned that closing down broadcasters and other steps taken by the government wouldn’t work in the end.

“Sooner or later, all these acts will be punished in one way or another,” Zuloaga said. “If this is a government with popular support, why are they trying to shut down the news instead of promoting it?”

Beatriz Adrían, a journalist at Globovisión, said five of the channel’s transmission stations had been affected by Conatel’s instruction, which had been delivered that morning. Information was being distorted from day to day, she said, calling on the citizenry to make its feelings known.


A few hours after the stations had shut, the National College of Journalists duly issued a statement calling on the people to protest against the government’s “despotic decision.” But the journalists were already a bit behind the curve on this story.

Not long after midnight Friday, reports coming into the capital spoke of sporadic, small-scale protests in the states of Zulia and Mérida, and a gathering outside CNB, a radio station in a middle class district of the capital. Some people in Chuao banged saucepans.

Unsurprisingly, it was journalists and broadcasters who held center stage during the early protests. Radio veteran Raiza Instúriz de Belfort took a particularly gloomy view.

“We’re in a dictatorship, they’re shutting us up,” she declared. “The future is pretty Black. I think freedom of expression already isn’t going to exist.” And then she added: “We will continue defending Venezuelan democracy as we have up to this moment.”

There was a poignant moment from Laura Castellanos, a journalist who said it was the second time her media workplace had been closed by the government. She once worked for Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV), a private channel whose licence was abruptly revoked by Chávez in 2007.

“I’ve got two children,” she said. “What do I do now? They already shut RCTV, and now CNB. As you have to look for food, so do we and every time they shut the door to us.”

Opposition leaders got into the act on Saturday morning. Metropolitan Mayor Antonio Ledezma – who’s had more than his fair share of trouble at the hands of the government since he won office by ousting the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) at the elections last November – said the closure order showed that the president was fearful of freedom of expression.

Instead, Ledezma continued, what the government should be doing was attending to serious issues such as problems in the state health system. Closing down broadcasters wasn’t going to stop the Venezuelans from “commenting about the disgrace” at maternity clinics, he said.

The liberal conservative party, Primero Justicia, picked up this last point, calling on the government to “dedicate its time to improving the quality of life of the Venezuelans,” claiming that the closure would affect all the people.

Carlos Melo, a former oil industry employee who was sacked for his role in the two-month strike orchestrated by the Opposition against Chávez around the turn of 2002-03, condemned the enforced shut-down as a “dictatorial, anti-democratic process.”

Andrés Velásquez of Causa R, a small leftist party that once briefly sided with Chávez, went more than one step further. He called Cabello’s move “an act of fascism.”

Opposition Mayor Gerardo Blyde of the Baruta municipality in the south of the city laid into what he called “a certain blow against freedom of expression.” He pointed to the coincidence between the timing of the closure order and the hurried passage of the Media Crimes Law through a second debate on Friday.


The Radio Broadcasting Chamber questioned the procedure used to close down the stations. This had consisted solely of an order from Cabello, and as this left no right to defense it violated the law, the chamber argued.

International human rights organizations were also appalled. "What we are witnessing is the most comprehensive assault on free speech in Venezuela since Chavez came to power," said Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. "With the exception of Cuba, Venezuela is the only country in the region that shows such flagrant disregard for universal standards of freedom of expression."

A polling company did a snap survey and claimed that 84% of its sample had been against shutting down broadcasters. Within the total, it added, 67% of the president’s own supporters or chavistas felt the same way.


http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=340546&CategoryId=10718

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« Reply #27 on: August 02, 2009, 09:45:14 AM »

Chavez accused of gagging media

There is a video worth watching at this BBC website


Venezuelan opposition groups have protested against a decision to take 34 radio stations off the air, calling it an attack on freedom of speech.

As the stations stopped broadcasting on Saturday, staff said the move was aimed at giving more space to media that support President Hugo Chavez.

More than 200 other radio stations are expected to close in coming weeks.

The government says the stations are in breach of the rules for failing to hand in their registration papers on time.
The move to close the stations comes as the arguments over control of the media in Venezuela are becoming increasingly bitter, the BBC's Will Grant reports from the Venezuelan capital Caracas.

This week a tough new media law was proposed under which journalists could be imprisoned for publishing "harmful" material.

The opposition mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, said the closure of the stations showed the government was "scared of freedom of expression".

Opposition politician Juan Carlos Caldera said the government had "turned into a mutilator of rights".
But Diosdado Cabello, head of the national regulator and public works minister, said there was no evidence that the closures were against the law, adding that they were part of efforts to make the media more democratic.

"When we - the national government, the revolutionary government - took the decision to democratise the radio-electrical spectrum... we were speaking seriously," he said.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8180109.stm
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« Reply #28 on: August 05, 2009, 11:20:04 PM »

U.S. Decides Not to Impose Sanctions on Honduras


By DAVID LUHNOW and JOSE DE CORDOBA

The U.S., in an apparent softening of its support for ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, won't impose economic sanctions on Honduras and has yet to decide whether Mr. Zelaya's removal from office constitutes a coup.

A letter from the State Department to Sen. Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, states that the U.S. "energetically" opposes Mr. Zelaya's June 28 ouster. But the letter also expresses the harshest criticism yet of Mr. Zelaya's own actions that preceded his removal from office, including trying to change Honduras's constitution to potentially stay in power.

"We energetically condemn the actions of June 28. We also recognize that President Zelaya's insistence on undertaking provocative actions contributed to the polarization of Honduran society and led to a confrontation that unleashed the events that led to his removal," Richard Verma, the assistant secretary for legislative affairs, said in the letter, reviewed Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal.

The letter went on to say that U.S. policy wasn't aimed at supporting one person in particular, a reference to Mr. Zelaya, but to supporting the Honduran people's aspirations for democracy.

With Washington unwilling to take drastic steps such as sanctions to restore Mr. Zelaya to power, it seems increasingly unlikely that the leftist politician will return to his seat, analysts said. Honduras's interim government, backed by much of the country's establishment and middle class, appears unwilling to have Mr. Zelaya back, and Washington seems in no mood to force the issue.

"In Honduras, Washington's wavering will be seen as a sign that the government can wait it out until the elections and that the costs they are bearing for international isolation, while considerable, are preferable to the risks of allowing Zelaya to return, even for a limited time and with his authority curtailed," said Michael Shifter at the Inter-American Dialogue, a nonpartisan think tank on hemispheric affairs in Washington.

A State Department spokesman, who was unaware of the letter to Mr. Lugar's office, said "there has been no decision to soften the policy on Honduras." He added that the administration still supports a return of Mr. Zelaya to power, as called for in the mediation plan by Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias. The Supreme Court of Honduras has ruled that Mr. Zelaya's return as president would be illegal.

Analysts said the administration is staking out a middle ground, sending a message to Latin America that coups are unacceptable while not giving too much support to Mr. Zelaya, whose close relationship to Venezuela's populist leader Hugo Chávez has raised hackles among U.S. Republicans. Elected as a centrist, Mr. Zelaya took a sharp left turn in the past two years and became an outspoken critic of U.S. policy.

Sen. Lugar had asked the administration to explain its policy on the Honduran political crisis, warning that otherwise the Senate might delay confirmation of the top Latin America post in the State Department.

"I'm glad to see the State Department is finally beginning to walk back its support for Manuel Zelaya and admit that his 'provocative' actions were responsible for his removal," said Sen. Jim DeMint, another Republican member of the foreign relations committee.

A spokesman for Mr. DeMint said the move wasn't enough for the senator to lift his hold on the confirmation hearings for Arturo Valenzuela to become assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.

Write to David Luhnow at david.luhnow@wsj.com and Jose de Cordoba at jose.decordoba@wsj.com


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124952525314809919.html
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« Reply #29 on: August 17, 2009, 11:40:25 AM »

Hugo Chávez took a break last week from lobbying Washington on behalf of deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to travel to Quito, Ecuador, for a meeting of South American heads of state.

There he launched a virulent assault on the U.S. military, reiterated his commitment to spreading revolution in the region, and threatened the continent with war. Mr. Zelaya was by his side.

The Venezuelan's tirade against the U.S. and its ally Colombia raised the question yet again of what the U.S. could possibly be thinking in pushing Honduras to reinstate Mr. Zelaya. He was removed from office by the Honduran Congress in June because he violated the country's constitution and willfully incited mob violence.

But that's not the only thing that made him unpopular at home. He also had become an important ally of Mr. Chávez and was quite obviously being coached to copy the Chávez power grab in Venezuela by undermining Honduras's institutional checks and balances.

If Honduras has been able to neutralize Mr. Chávez, it's something to celebrate. A Chávez-style takeover of institutions in Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua has quashed political pluralism, free speech and minority rights in those countries. There is now a heavy presence of Cuban state intelligence throughout the Venezuelan empire. Mr. Zelaya literally has become a fellow traveler of Mr. Chávez, leaving no doubts about the course he would put Honduras on if given the chance.

View Full Image

Getty Images
 
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez salutes Raul Castro while Argentine President Cristina Kirchner looks on in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 11.
.Among the theories making the rounds about Mr. Obama's motivations in trying to force Honduras to take Mr. Zelaya back, there is the hypothesis that this administration is tacking hard to the left. Mr. Obama has expressed the same views on Honduras as Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.), who holds that the interim government must be forced to reinstate Mr. Zelaya and who has, over more than two decades in office, consistently allied himself with socialist causes in Latin America.

The Americas in the News
Get the latest information in Spanish from The Wall Street Journal's Americas page.
.As a U.S. senator, Mr. Kerry has the luxury of treating Latin America like his playground, as Democrats have done for decades, foisting on it ideas that Americans reject. Venezuelans still recall how Connecticut's Chris Dodd played the role of chief Chávez cheerleader in the Senate while the strongman was consolidating power.

But Mr. Obama is the president and commander in chief, and millions of people in this hemisphere are counting on the U.S. to stand up to Venezuelan aggression. Playing footsie under the table with Mr. Chávez on Honduras while the Venezuelan is threatening the peace isn't going to fly in a hemisphere that prefers liberty over tyranny.

Both Colombian and U.S. officials allege that the Venezuelan National Guard and high-ranking members of Mr. Chávez's government are in cahoots with criminal enterprises that run drugs in South America. The evidence suggests an alliance between the terrorist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)—the largest exporter of cocaine from that country—and members of Mr. Chávez's cabinet. There is also evidence in documents and video captured from the FARC that the rebels have influence at high levels of the Ecuadoran government.

The cocaine business is a big revenue raiser for the terrorist organization and for its business partners on the continent. This is why Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has agreed to allow U.S. drug-surveillance planes to use Colombian military bases.

In Quito, Mr. Chávez flew into a rage about that agreement. "The U.S. is the most warlike government in the world," he told his South American peers and Mr. Zelaya. "The Yankee military pays no mind to its president," he said, artfully exempting Barack Obama from blame. "In Colombia [the U.S. military] has immunity. They can rape women, they can kill and they can destroy in every direction. You can't do anything to them. It's horrible."

The military-bases agreement is far more limited than what Mr. Chávez claimed, but he wasn't about to miss an opportunity to ratchet up the tension. "The winds of war are starting to blow," he warned.

His counterparts didn't buy it. Colombia was not condemned in Quito, largely because key members of the group didn't want their own sovereign decisions subject to continental review. But Mr. Chávez is not going away. He has pledged to continue with efforts to destabilize surviving democracies.

Honduras remains a target. Argentina is also in his sights. In an interview with the Argentine daily La Nación, he spoke of his alliance with Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner. "We are going to work to reinforce the Caracas-Buenos Aires axis, which is a central axis," Mr. Chávez said. "Like the Caracas-Quito axis, the Caracas-Buenos Aires axis is fundamental for the integration."

The U.S. war on drugs has been a colossal failure because of the large cocaine market in the U.S. The tragedy—beyond the violence it creates—is that criminal enterprises, flourishing because of U.S. customers, wreak havoc on frail institutions. That's bad enough. But the Obama administration pours salt in that gaping wound by refusing to support the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement our ally has asked for, and now by backing Mr. Chávez's Honduran pawn.
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« Reply #30 on: August 17, 2009, 11:59:38 AM »

Quote
The Venezuelan's tirade against the U.S. and its ally Colombia raised the question yet again of what the U.S. could possibly be thinking in pushing Honduras to reinstate Mr. Zelaya. He was removed from office by the Honduran Congress in June because he violated the country's constitution and willfully incited mob violence.


I think Ms. Clinton misplaced her thinking cap a long time ago... cheesy


Quote
The cocaine business is a big revenue raiser for the terrorist organization and for its business partners on the continent. This is why Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has agreed to allow U.S. drug-surveillance planes to use Colombian military bases.


Legalize drugs and the problem goes away. Have Americans learned nothing from Prohibition?

As it is, the War on Drugs fuels the drug trade.
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« Reply #31 on: August 25, 2009, 07:57:17 AM »

Hugo Chávez took a break last week from lobbying Washington on behalf of deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to travel to Quito, Ecuador, for a meeting of South American heads of state.

There he launched a virulent assault on the U.S. military, reiterated his commitment to spreading revolution in the region, and threatened the continent with war. Mr. Zelaya was by his side.

The Venezuelan's tirade against the U.S. and its ally Colombia raised the question yet again of what the U.S. could possibly be thinking in pushing Honduras to reinstate Mr. Zelaya. He was removed from office by the Honduran Congress in June because he violated the country's constitution and willfully incited mob violence.

But that's not the only thing that made him unpopular at home. He also had become an important ally of Mr. Chávez and was quite obviously being coached to copy the Chávez power grab in Venezuela by undermining Honduras's institutional checks and balances.

If Honduras has been able to neutralize Mr. Chávez, it's something to celebrate. A Chávez-style takeover of institutions in Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua has quashed political pluralism, free speech and minority rights in those countries. There is now a heavy presence of Cuban state intelligence throughout the Venezuelan empire. Mr. Zelaya literally has become a fellow traveler of Mr. Chávez, leaving no doubts about the course he would put Honduras on if given the chance.

Among the theories making the rounds about Mr. Obama's motivations in trying to force Honduras to take Mr. Zelaya back, there is the hypothesis that this administration is tacking hard to the left. Mr. Obama has expressed the same views on Honduras as Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.), who holds that the interim government must be forced to reinstate Mr. Zelaya and who has, over more than two decades in office, consistently allied himself with socialist causes in Latin America.

As a U.S. senator, Mr. Kerry has the luxury of treating Latin America like his playground, as Democrats have done for decades, foisting on it ideas that Americans reject. Venezuelans still recall how Connecticut's Chris Dodd played the role of chief Chávez cheerleader in the Senate while the strongman was consolidating power.

But Mr. Obama is the president and commander in chief, and millions of people in this hemisphere are counting on the U.S. to stand up to Venezuelan aggression. Playing footsie under the table with Mr. Chávez on Honduras while the Venezuelan is threatening the peace isn't going to fly in a hemisphere that prefers liberty over tyranny.

Both Colombian and U.S. officials allege that the Venezuelan National Guard and high-ranking members of Mr. Chávez's government are in cahoots with criminal enterprises that run drugs in South America. The evidence suggests an alliance between the terrorist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)—the largest exporter of cocaine from that country—and members of Mr. Chávez's cabinet. There is also evidence in documents and video captured from the FARC that the rebels have influence at high levels of the Ecuadoran government.

The cocaine business is a big revenue raiser for the terrorist organization and for its business partners on the continent. This is why Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has agreed to allow U.S. drug-surveillance planes to use Colombian military bases.

In Quito, Mr. Chávez flew into a rage about that agreement. "The U.S. is the most warlike government in the world," he told his South American peers and Mr. Zelaya. "The Yankee military pays no mind to its president," he said, artfully exempting Barack Obama from blame. "In Colombia [the U.S. military] has immunity. They can rape women, they can kill and they can destroy in every direction. You can't do anything to them. It's horrible."

The military-bases agreement is far more limited than what Mr. Chávez claimed, but he wasn't about to miss an opportunity to ratchet up the tension. "The winds of war are starting to blow," he warned.

His counterparts didn't buy it. Colombia was not condemned in Quito, largely because key members of the group didn't want their own sovereign decisions subject to continental review. But Mr. Chávez is not going away. He has pledged to continue with efforts to destabilize surviving democracies.

Honduras remains a target. Argentina is also in his sights. In an interview with the Argentine daily La Nación, he spoke of his alliance with Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner. "We are going to work to reinforce the Caracas-Buenos Aires axis, which is a central axis," Mr. Chávez said. "Like the Caracas-Quito axis, the Caracas-Buenos Aires axis is fundamental for the integration."

The U.S. war on drugs has been a colossal failure because of the large cocaine market in the U.S. The tragedy—beyond the violence it creates—is that criminal enterprises, flourishing because of U.S. customers, wreak havoc on frail institutions. That's bad enough. But the Obama administration pours salt in that gaping wound by refusing to support the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement our ally has asked for, and now by backing Mr. Chávez's Honduran pawn.
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« Reply #32 on: August 31, 2009, 12:12:13 PM »

In light of Glenn Beck's report of the FCC Czar referring to Chavez"s "wonderful revolution" (or something like that) the following is subject to sinister interpretations , , ,
===========
If the Obama administration were a flotilla of ships, it might be sending out an SOS right about now. ObamaCare has hit the political equivalent of an iceberg. And last week the president’s international prestige was broadsided by the Scots, who set free the Lockerbie bomber without the least consideration of American concerns. Mr. Obama’s campaign promise of restoring common sense to budget management is sleeping with the fishes.

This administration needs a win. Or more accurately, it can't bear another loss right now. Most especially it can't afford to be defeated by the government of a puny Central American country that doesn't seem to know its place in the world and dares to defy the imperial orders of Uncle Sam.

I'm referring, of course, to Honduras, which despite two months of intense pressure from Washington is still refusing to reinstate Manuel Zelaya, its deposed president. Last week the administration took off the gloves and sent a message that it would use everything it has to break the neck of the Honduran democracy. Its bullying might work. But it will never be able to brag about what it has done.

View Full Image

Reuters
 
Supporters of Honduran President Roberto Micheletti (August 24.). The U.S. continues to implement punitive measures against the country.
.The most recent example of the Obama-style Good Neighbor Policy was the announcement last week that visa services for Hondurans are suspended indefinitely, and that some $135 million in bilateral aid might be cut. But these are only the public examples of its hardball tactics. Much nastier stuff is going on behind the scenes, practiced by a presidency that once promised the American people greater transparency and a less interventionist foreign policy.

To recap, the Honduran military in June executed a Supreme Court arrest warrant against Mr. Zelaya for trying to hold a referendum on whether he should be able to run for a second term. Article 239 of the Honduran constitution states that any president who tries for a second term automatically loses the privilege of his office. By insisting that Mr. Zelaya be returned to power, the U.S. is trying to force Honduras to violate its own constitution.

It is also asking Hondurans to risk the fate of Venezuela. They know how Venezuela's Hugo Chávez went from being democratically elected the first time, in 1998, to making himself dictator for life. He did it by destroying his country's institutional checks and balances. When Mr. Zelaya moved to do the same in Honduras, the nation cut him off at the pass.

For Mr. Chávez, Mr. Zelaya's return to power is crucial. The Venezuelan is actively spreading his Marxist gospel around the region and Mr. Zelaya was his man in Tegucigalpa.

The Honduran push-back is a major setback for Caracas. That's why Mr. Chávez has mobilized the Latin left to demand Mr. Zelaya's return. Last week, Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández joined the fray, calling for Honduras to be kicked out of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (Cafta). Mr. Fernandez is a close friend of Mr. Chávez and a beneficiary of Venezuela's oil-for-obedience program in the Caribbean.

The Americas in the News
Get the latest information in Spanish from The Wall Street Journal's Americas page.
.Mr. Obama apparently wants in on this leftie-fest. He ran for president, in essence, against George W. Bush. Mr. Bush was unpopular in socialist circles. This administration wants to show that it can be cool with Mr. Chávez and friends.

Mr. Obama's methods are decidedly uncool. Prominent Hondurans, including leading members of the business community, complain that a State Department official has been pressuring them to push the interim government to accept the return of Mr. Zelaya to power.

When I asked the State Department whether it was employing such dirty tricks a spokeswoman would only say the U.S. has been "encouraging all members of civil society to support the San Jose 'accord'"—which calls for Mr. Zelaya to be restored to power. Perhaps something was lost in the translation but threats to use U.S. power against a small, poor nation hardly qualify as encouragement.

Elsewhere in the region there are reports that U.S. officials have been calling Latin governments to demand that they support the U.S. position. When I asked State whether that was true, a spokeswoman would not answer the question. She would only say that the U.S. is "cooperating with the [Organization of American States] and [Costa Rican President] Oscar Arias to support the San José accord."

In other words, though it won't admit to coercion, it is fully engaged in arm-twisting at the OAS in order to advance its agenda.

This not only seems unfair to the Honduran democracy but it also seems to contradict an earlier U.S. position. In a letter to Sen. Richard Lugar on Aug. 4, the State Department claimed that its "strategy for engagement is not based on any particular politician or individual" but rather finding "a "resolution that best serves the Honduran people and their democratic aspirations."

A lot of Hondurans believe that the U.S. isn't using its brass knuckles to serve their "democratic aspirations" at all, but the quite-opposite aspirations of a neighborhood thug.
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« Reply #33 on: September 22, 2009, 08:34:53 AM »

"The Supreme Court of Honduras has constitutional and statutory authority to hear cases against the President of the Republic and many other high officers of the State, to adjudicate and enforce judgments, and to request the assistance of the public forces to enforce its rulings."

—Congressional Research Service, August 2009


Ever since Manuel Zelaya was removed from the Honduran presidency by that country's Supreme Court and Congress on June 28 for violations of the constitution, the Obama administration has insisted, without any legal basis, that the incident amounts to a "coup d'état" and must be reversed. President Obama has dealt harshly with Honduras, and Americans have been asked to trust their president's proclamations.

Now a report filed at the Library of Congress by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides what the administration has not offered, a serious legal review of the facts. "Available sources indicate that the judicial and legislative branches applied constitutional and statutory law in the case against President Zelaya in a manner that was judged by the Honduran authorities from both branches of the government to be in accordance with the Honduran legal system," writes CRS senior foreign law specialist Norma C. Gutierrez in her report.

Do the facts matter? Fat chance. The administration is standing by its "coup" charge and 10 days ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went so far as to sanction the country's independent judiciary. The U.S. won't say why, but its clear the court's sin is rejecting a U.S.-backed proposal to restore Mr. Zelaya to power.

View Full Image

Martin Kozlowski
 .The upshot is that the U.S. is trying to force Honduras to violate its own constitution and is also using its international political heft to try to interfere with the country's independent judiciary.

Hondurans are worried about what this pressure is doing to their country. Mr. Zelaya's violent supporters are emboldened by the U.S. position. They deface some homes and shops with graffiti and throw stones and home-made bombs into others, and whenever the police try to stop them, they howl about their "human rights."

But it may be that Americans should be even more concerned about the heavy-handedness, without legal justification, emanating from the executive branch in Washington. What does it say about Mr. Obama's respect for the separation of powers that he would instruct Mrs. Clinton to punish an independent court because it did not issue the ruling he wanted?

The Americas in the News
Get the latest information in Spanish from The Wall Street Journal's Americas page.
.Since June 28, the U.S. has been pressuring Honduras to put Mr. Zelaya back in the presidency. But neither Mrs. Clinton's spurious "rule of law" claims or the tire iron handed her by Mr. Obama to use against this little country have been effective in convincing the Honduran judiciary that it ought to abandon its constitution.

It seems that Mrs. Clinton is peeved with the court because it ruled that restoring Mr. Zelaya to power under a proposal drafted by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias is unconstitutional. Thus, the State Department decided that in defense of the rule of law it would penalize the members of the Supreme Court for their interpretation of their constitution. Fourteen justices had their U.S. visas pulled.

Since the U.S. already had yanked the visa of the 15th member of the court, the one who signed the arrest warrant for Mr. Zelaya, this action completed Mrs. Clinton's assault on the independence of a foreign democracy's highest court. The lesson, presumably, is that judges in small foreign nations are required to accept America's interpretation of their own laws.

Thousands of readers have written to me asking how all this can happen in the U.S., where democratic principles have been recognized since the nation's founding. Many readers have written that they are "ashamed" of the U.S. and have asked, in effect, "How can I help Honduras?" A more pertinent question may turn out to be, how can they help their own country?

In its actions toward Honduras, the Obama administration is demonstrating contempt for the fundamentals of democracy. Legal scholars are clear on this. "Judicial independence is a central component of any democracy and is crucial to separation of powers, the rule of law and human rights," writes Ahron Barak, the former president of the Supreme Court of Israel and a prominent legal scholar, in his compelling 2006 book, "The Judge in a Democracy."

"The purpose of the separation of powers is to strengthen freedom and prevent the concentration of power in the hands of one government actor in a manner likely to harm the freedom of the individual," Mr. Barak explains—almost as if he is writing about Honduras.

He also warns prophetically about the Chávez style of democracy that has destroyed Venezuela and that Hondurans say they were trying to avoid in their own country. "Democracy is entitled to defend itself from those who seek to use it in order to destroy its very existence," he writes. Americans ought to ask themselves why the Obama administration doesn't seem to agree.
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« Reply #34 on: September 25, 2009, 10:40:00 AM »

It seems there really is no rest for the weary Hondurans. Nearly three months after the country's major legal institutions determined that former President Manual Zelaya had committed treason with his Hugo Chavez-esque grab for power, the tiny nation is still being pressured to allow Zelaya to resume his role as leader.

Now, Zelaya, likely aided by Venezuela's Chavez, has snuck back into the Honduran capitol of Tegucigalpa where, from the safety of the Brazilian embassy, he has called for his supporters to converge on the city with "peaceful" demonstrations. And they have done so, despite interim President Roberto Micheletti's declaration of a curfew, roadblocks and a closed airport. Meanwhile, Zelaya bizarrely complains of assassination attempts by "Israeli mercenaries" who he claims are using toxic gases and high-frequency radiation to torture him. Apparently, the "gas" has gone to his head.

The Obama administration has repeatedly ignored Honduras' right to self-determination with measures that make the Left's cry of "American imperialism" during the Bush years seem like child's play. The U.S. State Department has cut off vital aid to Honduras and has denied its citizens U.S. visas, all to make it bend to the will of Obama, Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro. "It is imperative that dialogue begin," Hillary Clinton declared, and "that there be a channel of communication between President Zelaya and the de facto regime in Honduras." Memo to Hillary: Zelaya is no longer president, his legal term in office has expired, and the "de facto regime" is a legitimate transitional government until elections can take place.

Regardless, the U.S. State Department has declared that it will not recognize the outcome of the upcoming elections on Nov. 29 unless Zelaya is returned to power.
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« Reply #35 on: October 05, 2009, 07:29:36 AM »

Sometimes I ask myself if Hitler wasn't right when he wanted to finish with that race, through the famous holocaust, because if there are people that are harmful to this country, they are the Jews, the Israelites.

David Romero Ellner

Executive Director

Radio Globo, Honduras, Sept. 25, 2009

Meet one of Honduras's most vocal advocates for the return of deposed president Manuel Zelaya to office. He's not your average radio jock. He started in Honduran politics as a radical activist and was one of the founders of the hard-left People's Revolutionary Union, which had links to Honduran terrorists in 1980s. A few years ago he was convicted and served time in prison for raping his own daughter.

Today Mr. Romero Ellner is pure zelayista, hungry for power and not ashamed to say so. This explains why he has joined Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and Mr. Zelaya in targeting Jews. Mr. Chávez has allied himself with Iran to further his ability to rule unchecked in the hemisphere. He hosts Hezbollah terrorists and seeks Iranian help to become a nuclear power. He and his acolytes cement their ties to Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by echoing his anti-Semitic rants.

The Honduras debate is not really about Honduras. It is about whether it is possible to stop the spread of chavismo and all it implies, including nuclear proliferation and terrorism in Latin America. Most troubling is the unflinching support for Mr. Zelaya from President Barack Obama and Democratic Sen. John Kerry—despite the Law Library of Congress review that shows that Mr. Zelaya's removal from office was legal, and the clear evidence that he is Mr. Chávez's man in Tegucigalpa. On Thursday, Mr. Kerry took the unprecedented step of trying to block a fact-finding mission to Honduras by Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, who is resisting Mr. Obama's efforts to restore Mr. Zelaya to power.

View Full Image

Associated Press
 
Venezuela's Hugo Chávez embraces Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
.Mr. Zelaya, recall, was arrested, deposed and deported on June 28 because he violated the Honduran Constitution. He snuck back into the country on Sept. 21 and found refuge at the Brazilian Embassy in the capital. Mr. Romero Ellner's calumny against Jews was a follow-up to Mr. Zelaya's claim that he was being "subjected to high-frequency radiation" from outside the embassy and that he thought "Israeli mercenaries" were behind it.

The verbal attack on Jews from a zelayista is consistent with a pattern emerging in the region. Take what's been going on in Venezuela. In the earliest years of Chávez rule, a Venezuelan friend, who is a Christian, confessed his fears to me. "In his speech, he always tries to create hate between groups of people," my friend told me. "He loves hate speech."

For a decade, Venezuelans have been force-fed the strongman's view of economic nationalism laced with this divisive language. Venezuelans are encouraged to seek revenge against their neighbors. Crime has skyrocketed.

The Jewish community has been targeted as Mr. Chávez's relationship with Mr. Ahmadinejad has blossomed. In 2004, I reported on a police raid at a Jewish school for young children in Caracas. The pretext was a "tip" that the school was storing weapons. No weapons were found, but the community was terrorized.

In recent years, Venezuela and Iran have signed joint ventures estimated to be worth $20 billion. There are similar pacts, estimated at $10 billion, between Iran and Venezuelan satellite, Bolivia. Both South American countries accused Israel of genocide in Gaza in 2008 and cut diplomatic ties. Mr. Chávez's tirades against Israel during that time emboldened his street thugs. In January 2009, vandals broke into a temple in Caracas and desecrated the sacred space with graffiti calling for the death of Jews.

The Americas in the News
Get the latest information in Spanish from The Wall Street Journal's Americas page.
.New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau recently gave a speech to the Brookings Institution in which he said "Iran and Venezuela are beyond the courting phase. We know they are creating a cozy financial, political and military partnership, and that both countries have strong ties to Hezbollah and Hamas."

Iran has courted Honduras as well. When Mr. Zelaya was still in power, the Honduran press reported that his foreign minister Patricia Rodas met with high-ranking Iranian officials in Mexico City. That raised plenty of eyebrows in Central America.

Neither Venezuela nor Honduras has any history of anti-Semitism. But with Mr. Chávez importing Mr. Ahmadinejad's despicable ideology and methods, an assault on the Jewish community goes with the territory.

Honduras recognizes that it was a mistake to deport Mr. Zelaya after he was arrested. But it argues that fears of zelayista extremism and use of violence as a political tool in the months leading up to June 28 provoked desperation. Mr. Romero Ellner—whose radio station was closed down by the government last week—provided exhibit A with his remarks. If the U.S. State Department is opposed to the exile, let it call for Mr. Zelaya to be put on trial now that he is back in Honduras. It has no grounds to demand that democratic Honduras restore an anti-Semitic rabble rouser to power.
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« Reply #36 on: October 05, 2009, 10:51:11 PM »

 This is a long vid ,24mins.  It has interviews with the current President and Supreme court Justice of Honduras that are well worth hearing.  Come November 29th things will heat up in Honduras.

PJTV Video: "Obama and Chavez and Castro, Oh My.  The Truth About the Honduran Coup & Our President's Wrong Move"

http://www.pjtv.com/v/2497
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« Reply #37 on: October 06, 2009, 04:36:34 AM »

The BO Administration's policy on Honduras is so wrong and so stupid as to challenge the assumption of good faith. angry
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« Reply #38 on: October 06, 2009, 09:19:35 AM »

I was watching a PJTV vid about Mark Lloyd, Obama's diversity czar, who praised Chavez's democratic revolution.  The man was drooling over Chavez and his seizing of the media in Venezuela.  This is indicative of the atmosphere in the white house.  Honduras is in real trouble with Obama's administration and the people who voted them in should be ashamed.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2009, 03:18:30 PM by Freki » Logged
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« Reply #39 on: October 06, 2009, 09:39:19 AM »

I hope the Tea Parties and the Town Hall Meetings will lead to throwing out the bums. Apparently Obama is far down in the opinion polls already.

I have watched American politics from a distance for over 50 years and never before have I sensed such a revolutionary fervor in America. Obama had the bad luck of getting elected just as the American taxpayer was being robbed blind to pay for the excesses of the fat cat Wall Street bankers. Don't get me wrong, I'm a free market capitalist through and through but there is no excuse for the abuse the financial system was subjected to by these Wall Street bankers aided and abetted by their cartel, the Fed.

As Crafty Dog knows, most of my investments are in the American stock market so that, while not an American taxpayer, I still have a large vested interest in the well-being of the American economy. Also, no friend of Chavez can ever be a friend of mine. It is utterly disgusting to see Obama in bed with Chavez, Morales, Correa, Zelaya, Castro and Ortega. These people are the scum of Latin America.

But I have faith, as Winston Churchill said: "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else."

Denny Schlesinger
 
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« Reply #40 on: October 06, 2009, 10:29:56 AM »

Honduras:  More fitting with his professed foreign policy philosophy, that the U.S. doesn't have all the answers, would have been wise to not comment on Honduras instead of taking the wrong side and making things worse.

"...while not an American taxpayer..."  - Denny, don't worry, most people here don't pay US taxes either.  sad

The Winston Churchill quote is just perfect ("You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.")  - People were ready for hope and change but not necessarily choosing the sharp left turn that they got. 

"It is utterly disgusting to see Obama in bed with Chavez, Morales, Correa, Zelaya, Castro and Ortega. These people are the scum of Latin America."   - Add Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, Van Jones, Valerie Jarrett and the ACORN organization to the foreign friends list and people should get a feel for where the guy is coming from, as well-meaning as he might be.  I wish more people here were clear on that.

After the Obama exuberance finishes winding down we are really only returning to an evenly and more angrily divided nation IMHO.
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« Reply #41 on: October 10, 2009, 09:37:55 AM »

By JIM DEMINT
Tegucigalpa

In the last three months, much has been made of a supposed military "coup" that whisked former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya from power and the supposed chaos it has created.

After visiting Tegucigalpa last week and meeting with a cross section of leaders from Honduras's government, business community, and civil society, I can report there is no chaos there. There is, however, chaos to spare in the Obama administration's policy toward our poor and loyal allies in Honduras.

That policy was set in a snap decision the day Mr. Zelaya was removed from office, without a full assessment of either the facts or reliable legal analysis of the constitutional provisions at issue. Three months later, it remains in force, despite mounting evidence of its moral and legal incoherence.

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Associated Press
 
Honduras's ousted President Manuel Zelaya
.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.

When I asked Ambassador Llorens why the U.S. government insists on labeling what appears to the entire country to be the constitutional removal of Mr. Zelaya a "coup," he urged me to read the legal opinion drafted by the State Department's top lawyer, Harold Koh. As it happens, I have asked to see Mr. Koh's report before and since my trip, but all requests to publicly disclose it have been denied.

On the other hand, the only thorough examination of the facts to date—conducted by a senior analyst at the Law Library of Congress—confirms the legality and constitutionality of Mr. Zelaya's ouster. (It's on the Internet here .)

Unlike the Obama administration's snap decision after June 28, the Law Library report is grounded in the facts of the case and the intricacies of Honduran constitutional law. So persuasive is the report that after its release, the New Republic's James Kirchick concluded in an Oct. 3 article that President Obama's hastily decided Honduras policy is now "a mistake in search of a rationale."

The Hondurans I met agree. All everyone seemed to want was a chance to make their case, or at least an independent review of the facts.

So far, the Obama administration has ignored these requests and instead has repeatedly doubled down. It's revoked the U.S. travel visas of President Micheletti, his government and private citizens, and refuses to talk to the government in Tegucigalpa. It's frozen desperately needed financial assistance to one of the poorest and friendliest U.S. allies in the region. It won't release the legal basis for its insistence on Mr. Zelaya's restoration to power. Nor has it explained why it's setting aside America's longstanding policy of supporting free elections to settle these kinds of disputes.

But these elections are the only way out—a fact even the Obama administration must see. The Honduran constitution prohibits Zelaya's return to power. The election date is set by law for Nov. 29. The elections will be monitored by international observers and overseen by an apolitical body, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, whose impartiality and independence has been roundly praised, even by Ambassador Llorens.

America's Founding Fathers—like the framers of Honduras's own constitution—believed strong institutions were necessary to defend freedom and democracy from the ambitions of would-be tyrants and dictators. Faced by Mr. Zelaya's attempted usurpations, the institutions of Honduran democracy performed as designed, and as our own Founding Fathers would have hoped.

Hondurans are therefore left scratching their heads. They know why Hugo Chávez, Daniel Ortega and the Castro brothers oppose free elections and the removal of would-be dictators, but they can't understand why the Obama administration does.

They're not the only ones.

Mr. DeMint, a Republican senator from South Carolina, is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
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« Reply #42 on: October 13, 2009, 11:52:18 AM »

What Does the State Department Not Want Us to Know about Honduras?

Posted by Ian Vasquez

Senator Jim DeMint from South Carolina recently traveled to Honduras and found—no surprise—a peaceful country and broad support for the ouster of President Zelaya among members of civil society, the supreme court, political parties and others. In an op-ed in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal, DeMint describes his trip in light of Washington’s continuing support of Zelaya and its condemnation of what it calls a “coup.” U.S. policy is mystifying since the ousted president’s removal from office was a rare example in Latin America of an institutional defense of democracy as envisioned by the constitution and interpreted by the Supreme Court that ruled that the president be removed. (For independent opinions on the case, see here and here.)

However, the Senator reports a legal analysis at the State Department prepared by its top lawyer that apparently has informed Washington’s policy but that has not been made public nor even released to DeMint despite his repeated requests. In the interest of democracy and transparency, the State Department should immediately release its legal report. Maybe then we (which includes much of the hemisphere) will be less mystified about what is driving Washington policy toward Honduras. Or at least we’ll have a better insight on the administration’s understanding of democracy.

http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2009/10/13/what-does-the-state-department-not-want-us-to-know-about-honduras/
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« Reply #43 on: October 27, 2009, 09:01:22 AM »



If Honduras manages to preserve its democracy despite U.S. pressure to abandon it, the tiny Central American country may wind up thanking Nicaragua's Danny Ortega, of all people.

Last week, President Ortega inadvertently provided the best defense yet of the Honduran decision this summer to remove Manuel Zelaya from the presidency. Nicaragua has a one-term limit for presidents, and Mr. Ortega's term expires in 2011. However, the Nicaraguan doesn't want to leave, and so he asked the Sandinista-controlled Supreme Court to overturn the constitutional ban on his re-election.

Last week the court's constitutional panel obliged him. The Nicaraguan press reported that the vote was held before three opposition judges could reach the chamber in time for the session. Three alternative judges, all Sandinistas, took their place and the court gave Mr. Ortega the green light. Mr. Ortega has decreed that the ruling cannot be appealed.

This is classic strong-man stuff on Hugo Chávez's Venezuela model. Mr. Ortega's approval rating is in the low-30% range and he'd have a hard time winning a fair election against a united opposition. But he controls the nation's electoral council, and in the 2008 municipal races—the most important elected checks on the president—the council refused to provide a transparent accounting of the vote tally. It also blocked international and local observers, and the vote was marred by claims of widespread fraud. The international community watched all this but did nothing. And now Mr. Ortega is taking the next chavista step toward indefinite rule.

Hondurans deposed Mr. Zelaya because he was showing similar designs on changing their constitution to be able to run again and stay in power. Hondurans have to live in Mr. Ortega's neighborhood, and their action against Mr. Zelaya may well have saved them from Nicaragua's fate.
============
No doubt we can look forward to strong denunciations from our President and our Secretary of State.
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Freki
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« Reply #44 on: October 27, 2009, 09:41:23 AM »

Disturbing article Crafty

From the hip.......we have problems brewing...the next war just maybe down south...or maybe the war in the east will spill into the south.  Just look to who chaves is buddying up with to see where this is going.  Our government is encouraging this fester.  One of the real dangers lies with the communist strongmen ties to the drug trade and our nonexistent border here in Texas and the south. Mexico is terrible now but will crumble if drugs are pumped into it through easy access enabled by these strongmen.
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« Reply #45 on: October 30, 2009, 11:25:31 AM »

The US continues its meddling ways against Honduran democracy and in alliance with Chavez's ally/pawn.  WTF?

Stratfor:

Honduras: The U.S. Brokers a Deal
Stratfor Today » October 30, 2009 | 1525 GMT



ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images
Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya (L) and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon on Oct. 30 after talksAfter months of political deadlock, interim Honduran President Roberto Micheletti and ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya came to a compromise late on Oct. 29. The agreement represents a breakthrough for the two parties and for international mediation led (in this round) by the United States, which had sent U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon to the Central American nation to help hammer out a compromise.

According to Micheletti, the concord has eight points of agreement, which include turning control of the armed forces over to the Supreme Electoral Council, guaranteeing international and domestic recognition of presidential elections scheduled for Nov. 29 and the elimination of all sanctions against Honduras by foreign powers. The deal also grants the possibility that Zelaya could return to office and finish the last three months of his term.

While the deal looks solid on the surface, the details have left room for maneuvering. Essentially, in order to return, Zelaya will have to be approved by both the Supreme Court and the Congress -- two bodies that resoundingly rejected him and supported his ouster in the first place. Even if Zelaya does get back into the presidential position, it appears that he will not have command of the military. These weakened powers are likely why Zelaya hopes that he will gain congressional approval (not to mention the collective need for an end to the imbroglio), and it may indeed be sufficient.

It would appear that this agreement has allowed Zelaya to save face while still guaranteeing the validity of the upcoming election that was critical for the interim government, and that the United States had threatened not to recognize. But there are stumbling blocks ahead. If Zelaya fails to be approved by the Congress and the Supreme Court, it is possible that things will not go as planned, with the state's stability in the balance.
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« Reply #46 on: November 30, 2009, 01:35:57 AM »

Unless something monumental happens in the Western Hemisphere in the next 31 days, the big regional story for 2009 will be how tiny Honduras managed to beat back the colonial aspirations of its most powerful neighbors and preserve its constitution.

Yesterday's elections for president and Congress, held as scheduled and without incident, were the crowning achievement of that struggle.

National Party candidate Porfirio Lobo was the favorite to win in pre-election polls. Yet the name of the victor is almost beside the point. The completion of these elections is a national triumph in itself and a win for all people who yearn for liberty.

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Casting a vote in Tegucigalpa, Nov. 29
.The fact that the U.S. has said it will recognize their legitimacy shows that this reality eventually made its way to the White House. If not Hugo Chávez's Waterloo, Honduras's stand at least marks a major setback for the Venezuelan strongman's expansionist agenda.

The losers in this drama also include Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Spain, which all did their level best to block the election. Egged on by their zeal, militants inside Honduras took to exploding small bombs around the country in the weeks leading to the vote. They hoped that terror might damp turnout and delegitimize the process. They failed. Yesterday's civic participation appeared to be at least as good as it was in the last presidential election. Some polling stations reportedly even ran short, for a time, of the indelible ink used to mark voter pinkies.

Latin socialists tried to discredit Honduran democracy as part of their effort to force the reinstatement of deposed President Manuel Zelaya. Both sides knew that if that happened the electoral process would be in jeopardy.

Mr. Zelaya had already showed his hand when he organized a mob to try to carry out a June 28 popular referendum so that he could cancel the elections and remain in office. That was unlawful, and he was arrested by order of the Supreme Court and later removed from power by Congress for violating the constitution.

It is less well-known that as president, according to an electoral-council official I interviewed in Tegucigalpa two weeks ago, Mr. Zelaya had refused to transfer the budgeted funds—as required by law—to the council for its preparatory work. In other words, he didn't want a free election.

Mr. Chávez didn't want one either. During the Zelaya government the country had become a member of Mr. Chávez's Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), which includes Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. If power changed hands, Honduran membership would be at risk.

Last week a government official told me that Honduran intelligence has learned that Mr. Zelaya had made preparations to welcome all the ALBA presidents to the country the night of his planned June referendum. Food for a 10,000-strong blowout celebration, the official added, was on order.

ALBA has quite a bit of clout at the Organization of American States (OAS) these days, and it hasn't been hard for Mr. Chávez to control Secretary General José Miguel Insulza. The Chilean socialist desperately wants to be re-elected to his OAS post in 2010. Only a month before Mr. Zelaya was deposed, Mr. Insulza led the effort to lift the OAS membership ban on Cuba. When Mr. Zelaya was deposed, Mr. Insulza dutifully took up his instructions sent from Caracas to quash Honduran sovereignty.

Unfortunately for him, the leftist claims that Honduras could not hold fair elections flew in the face of the facts. First, the candidates were chosen in November 2008 primaries with observers from the OAS, which judged the process to be "transparent and participative." Second, all the presidential candidates—save one from a small party on the extreme left—wanted the elections to go forward. Third, though Mr. Insulza insisted on calling the removal of Mr. Zelaya a "military coup," the military had never taken charge of the government. And finally, the independent electoral tribunal, chosen by congress before Mr. Zelaya was removed, was continuing with the steps required to fulfill its constitutional mandate to conduct the vote. In the aftermath of the elections Mr. Insulza, who insisted that the group would not recognize the results, presides over a discredited OAS.

The Americas in the News
Get the latest information in Spanish from The Wall Street Journal's Americas page.
.At least the Obama administration figured out, after four months, that it had blundered. It deserves credit for realizing that elections were the best way forward, and for promising to recognize the outcome despite enormous pressure from Brazil and Venezuela. President Obama came to office intent on a foreign policy of multilateralism. Perhaps this experience will teach him that freedom does indeed have enemies.

Almost 400 foreign observers from Japan, Europe, Latin America and the U.S. traveled to Honduras for yesterday's elections. Peru, Costa Rica, Panama, the German parliament and Japan will also recognize the vote. The outpouring of international support demonstrates that Hondurans were never as alone these past five months as they thought. A good part of the world backs their desire to save their democracy from chavismo and to live in liberty.

Write to: O'Grady@wsj.com
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« Reply #47 on: November 30, 2009, 08:45:33 PM »

Honduras' Way Out


Americas: If anything proved there never was a crisis in Honduras, it was the peaceful, purposeful, high-participation election there Sunday. Against all odds, Hondurans showed the way out with democracy.

Elections in distressed countries are often dramatic events — think of El Salvador's long voting lines in 1994 at the end of its civil war as voters desperately sought democracy, or the bullets Colombians defied from FARC terrorists who vowed to mow down voters in 2002, not to mention the spectacular elation of purple fingers at the first elections in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Honduras' election Sunday wasn't like that.

Although the turnout, at 62%, was 20% higher than the last election, it was an otherwise calm, serious, almost boring event. European Parliament observers called it transparent. It above all illustrated that elections are nothing new to Hondurans, whose constitutional democracy has been firmly in place since 1982.

Still, this was no ordinary election. It was a blazing star lighting the way out of a complicated crisis completely created from abroad.

Leaders of leftist and anti-democratic states led by Hugo Chavez's Venezuela besieged the tiny country with a legitimacy crisis for five months, falsely painting the ordinary workings of the Honduran constitution as a military coup. They demanded the return of ex-president Mel Zelaya, a Chavez ally thrown out on June 28 for illegally trying to extend his term, prohibited by the constitution.

They got their pals in the Organization of American States to suspend the tiny country as a nondemocracy and make it a pariah.

They also created chaos: smuggling in the exiled Zelaya to Brazil's embassy in Tegucigalpa to whip up mobs in orgies of looting.

The pro-Zelaya groups set off trash can bombs and fired Russian grenade launchers at the Supreme Court ahead of the election to discourage participation. They're also suspected of killing relatives of Honduran officials in the government to create terror.

The U.S. went along with this for a couple of months, cutting $30 million in aid, pulling visas of Honduran officials, instituting a travel advisory, and threatening to not recognize the Nov. 29 election. It sided with the tyrannical multilateralism led by Hugo Chavez, not with the democracy of small, struggling nations.

But not even U.S. sanctions could break the Hondurans.

To win back goodwill, they accepted an Oct. 30 deal brokered by the U.S. and Costa Rica that left open the possibility Zelaya might be allowed to return, but left the decision to Honduran government.

But their biggest impact came in the calm, serious election they held, devoid of any big scandals. This is what democracies do.

The U.S., to its credit, is now supporting it. That realism began earlier than generally reported, with an Aug. 4 State Department letter to Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana. Our sources say it was crafted by then-Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon, who laid out the U.S. role: a "negotiated solution" (signed Oct. 30), no "crippling economic sanctions" and a strategy "not based on supporting any particular politician or individual."

Mixed signals from the National Security Council and political appointees at State obscured the U.S. shift. But now the U.S. is about to to endorse the election as fair, in essence reversing its earlier stance.

That's realism and it's accompanied by a growing stream of nations also embracing it: Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Peru, followed by Germany, Japan, France, the Czech Republic, and Poland.

There also are signals that Spain, Russia and China will follow, and a State Department source says they are expected aboard soon.

It all leaves Chavez and his Bolivarian vassal states, as well as Brazil and Argentina, politically isolated. As they vow not to accept the election without Zelaya, they're watching their allies peel away.

Now, they face diplomatic irrelevance. After all, if they can't accept Honduras' democratic election with a completely new president in the most peaceful of democratic transitions, then what do they want? And whose election is it?

All of this is happening for one reason: Hondurans insisted on standing by their constitution — both in ousting Zelaya and bringing in a new president to replace him. They should be proud for standing up for the rule of law, a rare thing these days. And they did it their way, with great courage that will be remembered.

http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=513847&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3a+EditorialRss+(Editorial+RSS)
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« Reply #48 on: January 04, 2010, 11:22:31 AM »

By SUSAN KAUFMAN PURCELL
Until recently, the Obama administration assumed that Brazil and the United States were natural allies who shared many foreign policy interests, particularly in Latin America. Brazil, after all, is a friendly democracy with a growing market economy and Western cultural values.

It will soon be the fifth largest economy in the world. It recently discovered billions of barrels of petroleum in the deep waters off its coast and is an agricultural powerhouse. It has also made significant progress in eradicating poverty. It therefore seemed only natural to expect that as Brazil became "more like us," it would seek to play a more active and constructive role in this hemisphere, and that U.S. and Brazilian political and security interests would largely coincide.

This now seems like wishful thinking. On a number of important political and security issues, Washington and Brasilia recently have not seen eye to eye. Nor has Brazil shown much leadership in tackling the important political and security challenges facing the region.

One example is Brazil's role in UNASUR (Union of South American Nations). At a September meeting in Quito focused on regional security issues, topics not discussed included the multibillion-dollar arms race in the region, the granting of sanctuary and other forms of aid by Venezuela to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Colombian narco-guerrilla group, and the growing nuclear cooperation between Iran and Venezuela. Instead, Brazil joined UNASUR in criticizing Colombia for having agreed to allow the U.S. to use seven of its military bases for counterterrorist and counter narcotics activities inside Colombia.

The fact that Colombia has been under attack by an armed guerrilla group supported by some members of the Union was not considered relevant to the organization's decision to criticize Colombia for seeking help from Washington. Furthermore, none of the democratic countries in South America, including Brazil, has offered military or even rhetorical support to besieged Colombia.

Another example is Brazil's changing position concerning the importance of democratic governance. Both Brazil and the U.S. initially opposed the Honduran military's removal from office of the democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya, despite the fact that Mr. Zelaya had violated Honduras's constitution.

Brazil's interest in democracy in Honduras does not, however, extend to Cuba. Only weeks earlier, Brazil voted in the Organization of American States to lift the membership ban on Cuba—a country that has not held a democratic election in 50 years. This decision contradicted the organization's democratic charter.

Brazil also has never tried to mobilize support against Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's use of democratic institutions to systematically destroy that country's democracy. On the contrary, Brazil's President Lula da Silva is supporting Venezuela's efforts to join Mercosur (a South American customs union), despite rules that limit membership to democratic countries.

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Brazilian President Lula da Silva, right, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
.Finally, there is the issue of Brazil's apparent lack of concern regarding Iran's increasing penetration into Latin America through Venezuela. There are now weekly flights between Caracas and Tehran that bring passengers and cargo into Venezuela without any customs or immigration controls. Venezuela has also signed agreements with Iran for transferring nuclear technology, and there is speculation it is giving Iran access to Venezuelan uranium deposits.

Instead of expressing concern over Iran's activities in Latin America, Brazil is drawing closer to Tehran and hopes to expand its $2 billion bilateral trade to $10 billion in the near future. President Lula recently hosted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Brazil. He reiterated his support for Iran's right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful uses, while insisting that there is no evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

Several conclusions can be drawn from Brazil's behavior. First, Brazil wants to prevent the U.S. from expanding its military involvement in South America, which Brazil regards as its sphere of influence. Second, Brazil much prefers working within multilateral institutions, rather than acting unilaterally.

Within these institutions, Brazil seeks to integrate all regional players, achieve consensus and avoid conflict and fragmentation—all worthy goals. But these are procedural, rather than substantive, goals.

The Americas in the News
Get the latest information in Spanish from The Wall Street Journal's Americas page.
.Stated differently, Brazil's multilateral efforts in the region seem to value the appearance of leadership over finding real solutions to the growing political and security threats facing Latin America. These conclusions do not imply that the U.S. and Brazil have no overlapping interests, or that they cannot work together to solve particular regional or even global issues. They do mean Washington may need to rethink its assumptions regarding the extent to which Brazil can be relied on to deal with political and security problems in Latin America in ways that are also compatible with U.S. interests.

Ms. Purcell is the director of the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami.
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« Reply #49 on: January 04, 2010, 11:56:26 AM »

Did Ms. Susan Kaufman Purcell think Brazil would be an American puppy dog? If so, she certainly does not know or understand Brazil.

Brazil is and has always been Brazil centric. As far as they are concerned, Brazil is the center of the Universe.

I want to share a personal story. I was in Rio, I think it was 1975, for a sailing championship. By a strange coincidence, they discovered offshore oil for the first time and it was sensational news for them. As I was riding down the elevator the next morning, a very excited lift-boy asked me if I had heard the great news. Yes, I had. Then he asked me where I was from. Venezuela. Did we have oil? Yes, we did. But enough to be self sufficient?

It's not as if venezuela was half way around the world away from Brazil, we share many miles of border. Yet this lift-boy was totally clueless about us, about the fact that, back then, Venezuela was a major oil producer and oil exporter.  As far as Brazilians are concerned, the Maracana stadium is the greatest in Brazil and Brazil is the greatest in the World.

Maracana stadium Rio de Janeiro

As for Brazil's support of democracy in Honduras, that's pure hogwash! Lula was defending fellow socialist, fellow traveler Zelaya, not democracy. Why some Americans think everyone thinks like they do is quite beyond me. They should travel more, get to know the real world.

Denny Schlesinger
 
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Denny Schlesinger
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