Martes, 21 de julio de 2009
 
Senator Blocks Obama Diplomat Nominee Over Honduras (Update2)
 

By Joshua Goodman

July 21 (Bloomberg) -- Senator :S:d1">Jim DeMint delayed confirmation of President :S:d1">Barack Obama’s nominee for the top U.S. diplomatic post for Latin America over dissatisfaction with the administration’s handling of the Honduran political crisis.

In a letter dated today, the South Carolina Republican asked Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman :S:d1">John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, to postpone voting to confirm :S:d1">Arturo Valenzuela as assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs until the committee’s next business meeting.

DeMint also asked Kerry to temporarily block the nomination of :S:d1">Thomas Shannon, who currently occupies that post, as ambassador to Brazil.

A copy of the letter was obtained by Bloomberg News.

Obama “rushed to side” with Cuba’s :S:d1">Fidel Castro and Venezuelan President :S:d1">Hugo Chavez in calling the June 28 overthrow of Honduran President :S:d1">Manuel Zelaya a coup “before getting the facts,” DeMint said in an e-mailed statement. “Now it’s clear that the people of Honduras were defending the rule of law.”

DeMint was among 17 Republican lawmakers who complained to Secretary of State :S:d1">Hillary Clinton over her refusal to meet in Washington with representatives of the interim government named by Honduras’s congress after Zelaya was ousted by the military at gunpoint.

Valenzuela defended the White House’s decision to condemn the overthrow as a coup and suspend aid to Honduras, Central America’s third poorest nation, at the foreign relations panel’s hearing on his nomination.

‘Classic Coup’

“In my studies of military coups in Latin America, this was a classic military coup,” he said at the July 9 hearing.

When pressed by DeMint about whether Honduras’s military acted to defend the constitution against abuses by Zelaya, Valenzuela said “I don’t want to get into some of the details of this. I’m not familiar myself with all of the details.”

DeMint said Valenzuela’s responses were unsatisfactory. “Mr. Valenzuela told me he didn’t even know the facts in Honduras,” DeMint said in the statement today. “Yet, everyday Zelaya’s own statements reveal his true desire to be a Chavez- style dictator advocating violence in order to return to power.”

DeMint also said that Shannon, in his State Department post, “has still failed to show a clear understanding of Honduras’s fight to defend democracy.”

‘Insurrection’ Planned

Zelaya said July 19 that his supporters were organizing an “insurrection” to return to power, as negotiations mediated by Costa Rican President :S:d1">Oscar Arias stalled.

Honduras’s institutions and business groups remain united in support of Zelaya’s overthrow. The Supreme Court ruled that Zelaya violated the constitution by trying to hold an illegal poll on whether people support his proposal to change the constitution. The court issued a sealed arrest order for the president on June 26, two days before his overthrow.

Zelaya also ignored a court order that said he couldn’t fire the head of the military for refusing to oversee the survey, and stormed a military base with a mob of civilians to “liberate” the ballots.

:S:d1">Eric Farnsworth, the Washington-based vice president of the Council of the Americas, said the Senate may delay action on the nominations until after its month long summer recess, which begins August 7.

‘Open Question’

“It’s an open question what DeMint really wants,” he said in a telephone interview. “If the goal is to change the course of policy on Honduras,” the battle over the nominations “could be extended.”

The Chilean-born Valenzuela is director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University. He previously served President :S:d1">Bill Clinton as the White House’s top national security adviser on Latin America.

In the July 8 letter DeMint and 16 other Republican senators sent to Clinton, they complained about her refusal to meet with envoys of acting Honduran President :S:d1">Roberto Micheletti earlier this month in Washington.

“Given the turbulent history of Latin America, we can understand, but disagree with, the rush to label the events of June 28th a coup d’etat,” the senators wrote in the letter. “While you have already met with Mr. Zelaya, we find it discouraging that you are unwilling to meet with Honduran officials that have simply followed their constitution.”

Representative :S:d1">Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican, met today with Shannon and State Department legal advisers to request that the U.S. restore $20 million in assistance to Honduras that was suspended following Zelaya’s ouster.

“It is deeply troubling that, after so much time, energy and effort has been expended by the U.S. to help the Honduran people consolidate and strengthen their democratic institutions, the U.S. position appears to remain focused on Zelaya’s political and personal future,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement following the meeting.

To contact the reporter on this story: :S:d1">Joshua Goodman in Rio de Janeiro [email protected]

Last Updated: July 21, 2009 18:11 EDT

Tags: OBAMA HONDURAS

Publicado por Corazon7 @ 19:34
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