Tags: Ros | Lehtinen | honduras

Ros-Lehtinen Rips Obama on Honduras

Sunday, 05 Jul 2009 12:37 PM

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Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is taking issue with the Obama administration over "concerns about the U.S. approach to human rights, democratic principles, rule of law, and constitutional institutions" as a result of the crisis in Honduras.

The Honduran army forced President Maneul Zelaya from office a week ago, sparking an outcry from the Organization of American States and other nations. Zelaya's ouster came as he was working to revise the Honduran constitution, and the country's new rulers have threatened to arrest him on nearly 20 charges, including treason.

President Barack Obama has said the United States will "stand on the side of democracy" to resolve the conflict, insisting that Zelaya is still the rightful Honduran leader.

"It would be a terrible precedent if we start moving backwards into the era in which we are seeing military coups as a means of political transition rather than democratic elections," he said last week. "The region has made enormous progress over the last 20 years in establishing democratic traditions. ... We don't want to go back to a dark past."

In a letter to Obama, Ros-Lehtinen slams the administration's "mypoic" approach, saying "the U.S. stance from the onset appears to have been focused on supporting one individual, President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales, irrespective of the Honduran constitution, rule of law, and democratic institutions. ... [T]here has been no apparent attempt by the U.S to discern the truth about the status of democratic and constitutional order in this Central American country, before making summary conclusions and issuing condemnations based on incomplete information."

Ros-Lehtinen says the Honduran crisis actually began in March, when Zelaya issued an executive order to hold a referendum on extending his term in office. Ros-Lehtinen says that move was unconstitutional. She also points to Zelaya's attempt in June to force "government employees to participate in the 'Public Opinion Poll to convene a National Constitutional Assembly,' which would have reportedly triggered Article 239 of the Honduran constitution requiring he be relieved of his duties and office. The U.S. failed to respond. This marked a serious failure in U.S. diplomacy and democracy advocacy. As such, many would argue, that the U.S. is complicit in the escalation of the constitutional crisis in Honduras."

Ros-Lehtinen ends the letter expressing the hope that the Obama administration "will not have the U.S. response hinge on unconfirmed reports and accusations by sources with a vested interest in ensuring a particular outcome that may, or may not, be in the interest of the United States."

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