Obama’s “smart power” a dud in Hondurus
Posted by danishova on July 5, 2009
Great job Barack! From WaPo: “U.S. Misread Scale of Honduran Rift…Zelaya’s Closeness to Venezuela’s Chávez Was Source of Concern for Opponents”
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, July 4 — Although the U.S. government knew for months that Honduras was on the brink of political chaos, officials say they underestimated how fearful the Honduran elite and the military were of ousted President Manuel Zelaya and his ally President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.
Yep, it’s easy to underestimate this kind of fear when (like Obama, his former pastor, and many characters in the Obama Administration) you kinda admire Hugo Chavez, Castro, Ortega, and the rest of the Leftist Banana Republic dictators who make life miserable and fearful for their countrymen.
Rumors were buzzing in the capital that the fight between Zelaya and his conservative opponents had reached the boiling point, but diplomatic officials said the Obama administration and its embassy were surprised when Honduran soldiers burst into the presidential palace last Sunday and removed Zelaya from power.
U.S. diplomats had been trying to broker a compromise and were speaking to both sides hours before the coup. For decades, Washington has trained the Honduran military, and senior U.S. officials say they did not think that the Honduran military would carry out a coup.
The overthrow, and the new Honduran government’s vow to remain in power despite international condemnation, is President Obama’s first test in a region that had grown distant from the United States.
Meanwhile violence erupted as Zelaya tried to land his plane in Honduras (emboldened no doubt by Obama’s steady support and that of the OAS):
Speaking live from the Venezuelan plane carrying him back to Tegucigalpa, Zelaya said he was just minutes away from landing in his high-stakes attempt to return to power.
He asked that soldiers return their allegiance to him, "in the name of God, in the name of the people, and in the name of justice."
But the politicians who ousted him aren’t backing down, and violence broke out among the huge crowd surrounding the airport, with at least one person killed so far. The man was shot in the head by gunfire from inside the airport as people tried to break through a security fence, according to an Associated Press photographer at the scene.
Security forces fired warning shots and tear gas, and some Zelaya supporters threw rocks and set a fire. A van tore through the crowd, with someone shouting to make way for the wounded. A spokesman said the Red Cross was treating about 30 people for injuries, including a woman who had been stabbed.
"I am the commander of the armed forces, elected by the people, and I ask the armed forces to comply with the order to open the airport so that there is no problem in landing and embracing with my people," Zelaya told Venezuela’s Telesur network while en route. "Today I feel like I have sufficient spiritual strength, blessed with the blood of Christ, to be able to arrive there and raise the crucifix."
Yeah, right. You’re a great Christian, just like Uncle Jeremiah Wright and his side-kick, the Rev. Pfleger.
Honduras’ civil aviation director said Zelaya’s plane had been ordered not to enter Honduran air space. Police helicopters hovered over the airport. Commercial flights were canceled, and private planes were met by armed police.
Micheletti also alleged that Nicaragua is moving troops to their border in an attempt at psychological intimidation, and warned them not to cross into Honduras, "because we’re ready to defend our border." Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega called the allegation "totally false."
Time will tell how false that allegation is, won’t it?
Invaluable on the scene reporting with photos from Honduras at Honduras Abandoned.
Ed Morrissey writes about Zelaya’s aborted attempt to land here, and clarifies the Nicaraguan troops claims:
Rumors had Nicaraguan troops approaching the border, presumably in an attempt to reinstall Zelaya by force. Later in the day, though, Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega denied it, and Roberto Micheletti acknowledged that only a few troops “without their commanders” had drifted towards the border. Micheletti warned Nicaragua and other nations not to interfere with what Micheletti deemed an internal matter, or the interference would produce “bloodshed.”