Responses to the Coup d'etat in Honduras on Sunday June 28, with special emphasis on producing English-language versions of commentaries by Honduran scholars and editorial writers and addressing the confusion encouraged by lack of basic knowledge about Honduras.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

US State Department Won't "Hug" President Zelaya...

But boy, do they love Oscar Arias. I enjoy reading the transcripts of press briefings because what they reveal is the real ambiguity of the US position on Honduras. It would be funny if it were not for the fact that it is US ambiguity that supports the delusion by the Micheletti regime that they can hold on, and that once the November elections are held, the world will shrug off the violent overthrow of constitutional order.

But here's the lighter side of yesterday's State Department press briefing; notice that the impression left is that it is Oscar Arias who the US government is pledged to support, presumably against the shocking experience of not being effective as a mediator; when the reporter presses the briefer on why they are not reaching out to Zelaya, things get very very weird. (If you are impatient, just look for the sections set in bold below):

QUESTION: Can you just quickly say what you’re doing to help support
the efforts of Arias, though? I mean, I know you say that you’re
reaching out to Zelaya and his people, but there are – just to
clarify, there are absolutely no discussions with any officials in
the de facto government?

MR. KELLY: I don’t – I wouldn’t say that categorically. I know that
we’re talking quite a bit to the Honduran congress. And as I said
before, we’re urging them to support this – the Arias process and the
San Jose accords. I can’t give you a blow-by-blow of who exactly
we’ve contacted in the government.


QUESTION: Do you think it will be useful for [President Zelaya] to come to
Washington, or do you think not?

MR. KELLY: Well, as I said before, our focus is on what President
Arias is doing. Our energies are focused on that, on supporting him
and helping him and his negotiation efforts. If there is a role that
he thinks that we can play vis-à-vis Mr. Zelaya, of course, we’re
ready to do it.

QUESTION: But I’m unclear, though, because you say that you support –
you recognize President Zelaya as the president. You support his return.

MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But you have no opinion as to whether he should come to the
United States or not? I mean, shouldn’t you be – if he wants to come,
shouldn’t you be giving him like a big, warm hug to show that you
support him?

MR. KELLY: It’s up to him. I mean, what we’ve said is that we would
discourage him from doing anything that would somehow undermine
President Arias. We’ve – the President – I mean, Secretary Clinton
has urged him not to do anything precipitous regarding going into
Honduras absent a political solution. And again, if we can help by
sitting down and talking with Manuel Zelaya, with President Zelaya,
we’re happy to do it. But it’s up to President Zelaya to determine
when he wants to come back here.

QUESTION: It sounds like you don’t support what happened to him and
you support some kind of reversal of what happened, but you don’t
necessarily support him as a political leader.

MR. KELLY: I don’t know why you’re drawing that conclusion.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, you’re not – you’re saying that you support –
you recognize him as president, but at every turn, I mean, you’re not --

MR. KELLY: We have never – we’ve never turned down any requests for a
meeting or a telephone conversation or anything with President Zelaya.

QUESTION: But you’ve made no comment about – like, you know, you’ve
said that he should be returned because you call it part of this kind
of constitutional order and rule of law, but you don’t seem to be
making any strong support for him as an individual.

MR. KELLY: Our support right now is for President Arias, for that
whole process to play out.

QUESTION: But he’s the one that was ousted, though.

MR. KELLY: Sorry?

QUESTION: But Zelaya was the one who --

MR. KELLY: I don’t know – I mean, I think that we have given him – I
don’t know what else we can do to support President Zelaya. We –
every day we call for his return --


MR. KELLY: -- to Honduras and the restoration of the democratic and
constitutional order.

QUESTION: But when he says he wants to come here, you’re not like,
okay, great --

MR. KELLY: I just said if – we’re happy to --

QUESTION: -- you’ll meet with the Secretary of State.

MR. KELLY: -- we’re happy to see him.

QUESTION: He has asked for sanctions to be imposed on specific
people. So this is – are you moving in that direction with the
revocation of the visas?

MR. KELLY: I’m not aware exactly what he said. He’s asking for?

QUESTION: He wrote a letter to President Obama saying that he would
like to see sanctions imposed.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I haven’t seen that letter. But I mean, as I said
before, the revocation of visas is consistent with our policy.

QUESTION: Is this a first step towards more punitive measures?

MR. KELLY: Well, again, we’re still putting our full weight behind
President Arias, and that process has not played out yet.

Well. Glad we got that clarified: the US unambiguously supports a beleaguered Central American President whose democratic credentials have been questioned due to his efforts to change the constitution, eliminate term limits, and return to power.

Just, unfortunately, not the one currently waiting on the Nicaragua border for some sign of actual support, or maybe even that big, warm hug.

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