Sunday, 6 September 2009

Honduras: Has Obama Sided with Chávez?

by Calvin Tucker
 / September 6th 2009

Has Obama sided with Chávez? That’s certainly the view of the leader of Honduran coup regime Roberto Micheletti, whose spokesman angrily denounced the 30 million dollar cut in US aid announced on Thursday.

Micheletti's spokesman added that Obama's decision “condemned the people that struggle against Marxist expansion in Central America”.

In the rest of Latin America the tougher US stance was welcomed, in particular the proposals to revoke the visas of members and supporters of the regime and the indication that the USA will not recognise the outcome of scheduled elections in November.

Yet despite coming under pressure from senior members of his own party, Obama has so far resisted calls to formally declare that the June 28 overthrow of President Zelaya was military coup.  Were he to do so, the US government would by law be required to make permanent its cuts in aid and suspension of visas.

However, a formal declaration would require ratification by Congress, and some analysts have suggested that Obama is desperate to avoid playing into the hands of right wing Republican lawmakers who are busy echoing the claims of the coup leaders that he has allied himself with Venezuela’s socialist president.

Whilst this may in part account for Obama’s reluctance to issue a declaration, others in his administration- most notably Secretary of State Hilary Clinton- are opposed in principle.

Clinton’s role since the coup has been opaque. She chairs the US government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation, which had continued to fund the regime until Thursday’s announcement prohibited all direct aid. In July, she denounced President Zelaya’s attempt to return to Honduras as “reckless”.  And her confidant Lanny Davis, who was chief fundraiser for her presidential campaign, has since been hired as a public relations spokesman for the coup regime.

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