Supporting Democracy — Only when it suits Us

The U.S. has gone halfway around the world to spread democracy.  Too bad, we don’t practice what we preach a little closer to home.

It is unconscionable that freedom loving Americans could be standing toe to toe with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Cuba’s Castro brothers in the effort to undermine the people of Honduras as they fight to keep their country free.

It is incredulous that we are insisting that this poor country reinstate Manuel Zelaya, who was forcibly removed from power on June 29, after he attempted to subvert the constitution and hold a referendum to make himself president for life.

Our stand is inexcusable but understandable.  The world is like a giant chess board.  Every move that is made must be careful watched and evaluated.   Some countries have more value to us than others.  Therefore, they get the lion’s share of our attention.  It is inconvenient when too many little countries, deemed to be of no value, began making moves on their own.   It can shake up the game board and force us to change our foreign policy strategy.   This can be annoying.

That is why many U.S. administrations – both Democrat and Republican –  have in the past propped up dictators and thugs to keep the status quo and to send a message to the countries around us that coups do not pay.  Just ask the people of Haiti.

In 1991, Jean Bertrand Aristide, a man who was democratically elected president of Haiti, began to take the law into his own hands and began a reign of terror as brutal as any the country had seen.    In August of that year  he lost a non confidence vote in the legislature but refused to step down.  In September, he was forcibly removed by the military and fled to the United States.

At the urging of George H. W. Bush, the Organization of American States began enforcing a blockade that wiped out the country’s light industry and destroyed the small but growing middle class.    Bush 41 also gave Aristide access to Haiti’s treasury.

In 1994, President Clinton sent American troops to Haiti to return Aristide to power.  Clinton tried to cajole and bribe Aristide into playing the role of president but he would not cooperate. Aristide remained a de facto dictator until 2004, when he was finally removed to the Central African Republic with the aid of the administration of George W. Bush.

During the Aristide era, the U.S. kept insisting that we had “restored democracy to Haiti.”  In the process, many people needlessly lost their lives and we broke the back of the Haitian economy.

Now, in an effort to keep our Latin American neighbors in check, we are beating up on the poor people of Honduras.  Honduras is the second poorest country in our hemisphere, right behind Haiti.   Don’t we have enough egg on our face?  Have we no shame?

What happened in Honduras on June 28  was a legal, though imperfect.   The Attorney General of Honduras charged Zelaya with violating a number of clauses of the Honduran Constitution.  The Supreme Court backed him up and when Zelaya refused to comply with the court order, a warrant was issued for his arrest.   Yes, the Army removed Zelaya from the country, but only because it feared violence by his Marxist supporters if he was tried in court.

Roberto Micheletti, the former head of Congress was the next in line for the presidency and he was ratified for this office by an overwhelming vote, including the majority of Zelaya’s own party.   All of Honduras’ democratic institutions are fully functioning and intact.

Honduras will hold its scheduled presidential election on November 29 – the one Zelaya was seeking to undermine – and has invited in independent observes from around the globe.   This is not good enough for us.  The Obama Administration is demanding that Honduras reinstate Zelaya as president even though he is not legally eligible to run again.   To further bully Honduras into taking Zelaya back, we cut $30 million in aid, have suspended visas and stood by as Honduras was dumped from the U.N. Human Rights Council by the likes of Nicaragua and Cuba.

This is no way to treat a poor neighbor trying to sustain a democratic government and give its citizens a better life.   In the 1990s, our actions to prop up a democratically elected president turned dictator reduced Haiti from one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere to one of the poorest countries in the world.  Must we do the same to Honduras?

8 thoughts on “Supporting Democracy — Only when it suits Us

  1. Jane,
    After President Obama’s ANTI-American speech before the UN do you really think any decisions that comes from this White House will promote freedom for other countries?

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  2. Jane,
    A great article. I was married to my wife who is Honduran (but now a US Citizen) 21 years ago, and though imperfect as you say, Hondurans love freedom and continue to look to the US as the shining light of freedom on the hill. Even in our imperfection, we still manage to give their people hope.
    As you may or may not be aware, since it doesn’t hit the English speaking news, a stash of computers were confiscated shortly after Zelaya was ousted with the falsified results of the referendum he was trying to make happen against the constitution. It’s a shame we never get to hear that wonderful part of Zelaya’s democratic side.
    Thank you and keep up the fight for the people of Honduras!

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  3. Being born in the United States is not what makes you an American. What we are up against with Zelaya is world Socialism that has at least two distinct and separate levels of governance. One level which is being pitched to the world is something for nothing. Winning the lottery instead of earning your wealth. The next layer is the tyranny at the top that always winds up in control of the respective government. After this poverty comes like a flood. All the good expectation turn out to be illusions.

    Zelaya is backed by a global entity bent of universal control for the express benefit of the controllers. These are the Mafia of governance.
    they have the same drive and the same justification.

    We need to consider the rights of our neighbors first so we can preserve our own rights.

    Does my neighbor have a right to his own earnings? If he has I also have a right to my own earnings. I have a right to accumulate private property and I have a right to use some of that property to help my neighbor.

    If I have capital I have wealth to loan, whether I charge interest or not is my decision. Even when interest is charged it can give the borrower a ramp that he can use to gain a higher level of wealth and provide jobs for those who can use them. Nevertheless, there is not nor can there ever be a right to a job. Neither should I be forced by the government to pay a higher wage than the job is worth to me. If you don’t want to work for that price that is your choice. You can start at the bottom and climb the ladder a rung at a time but, without those rung you can’t get to the top. Since choice is involved this cannot be legislated

    It can be abused from both sides. The labor unions have forced up wages but lost the jobs they sought. Business has depressed wages with the concomitant loss of paying customers. There are natural laws that, when properly honored, gives the greatest lift to our potential prosperity that can be achieved.

    Under Socialism the state has all rights to my property so they can deprive me of my living when and if it suits them to do so. This is part of and inseparable from the total package. The poor are led to believe that the government cares what happens to them but the facts are the government has no such care.
    Richard L. Whitford

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  4. Jane,
    Thank you for this important information. I will share it with others. These are insane times and America’s past apathy has come to roost in our own country. Let us help the Hondurans maintain their democracy despite these recent events. Knowledge is power, thanks for the power, Jane!

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  5. Why for heaven’s sake would we miss an opportunity to interfere with a small country like Honduras?? Perhaps it is that they are running their country democratically. It would not look good for us since we are moving swiftly toward dictatorship.

    Joe S

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  6. Jane, this is a very nice and informative article. Our family does humanitarian work in Honduras, and EVERYONE we have been in contact with since Zelaya was ousted, can’t understand why the Obama administration is siding with people like Chavez and Castro on this matter. I wish I had an answer for them. Your article has given me some insight as to why we may be acting the way we are on this matter. However wrong it may be.

    We have to support our friends in Honduras so they can keep their freedoms, and pursue happiness!

    How can our government be so blind?

    God Bless Our Honduran Friends, and let’s pray that freedom prevails!

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