Monday, July 27, 2009

Yanqi (help me) go home

Honduran police on Sunday stopped Manuel Zelaya's wife, Xiomara Castro, as she tried to get to the border with Nicaragua and join her husband.

This is rich: Zelaya criticizes Secretary of State Clinton for not interfering enough.

President Manuel Zelaya stepped up a growing war of words with Washington, too, accusing the Obama administration of not acting forcefully enough to restore him to power.

And Micheletti's camp criticizes the North American administration for supporting Zelaya. As do right-wingers, of course.

Mary Anastasia O'Grady, the Wall Street Journal's resident Latin American right-winger criticizes: Mr. Zelaya appeared somewhat disappointed that his theatrical re-entry did not provoke a shoot-out. A few hours later he jumped back into Nicaragua where Sandinista President Daniel Ortega has given him shelter.


If Mr. Zelaya keeps this up, the crisis could drag on. But however the standoff is resolved, it is likely to be remembered as a defining moment for U.S. Latin America policy under Barack Obama.


Mr. Obama’s insistence that Mr. Zelaya be restored to power has strengthened the image of an arrogant and patronizing Uncle Sam disconnected from the region’s reality.

Funny how that works in the collective mind: the same exact words are used by the left for the directly opposite viewpoint.

Hondurans might be more amenable to an Obama democracy lecture if the U.S. showed any interest in standing up to Mr. Chávez and his antidemocratic allies or any grasp of the dangers they present. Instead, since taking office in January the American president has embraced the region’s bad actors only to be subsequently embarrassed by revelations that his new “friends” are actually enemies of liberty and peace.

Embraced? He has stopped being hostile, yes. O'Grady simply supports the Bush doctrine, and considers all else wrong and dangerous.

Having established that making nice with the region’s troublemakers is a priority, Mr. Obama now wants Mr. Zelaya—who was endorsed by the FARC last week—reinstated. If Honduras does not comply, the U.S. is threatening to freeze assets and revoke the visas of interim government officials.

Posturing and diplomacy?

Some Washington watchers figure this bizarre stance is due to the fact that Mr. Obama is relying heavily on White House Counsel Gregory Craig for advice on Latin America.

Some, not all.

Mr. Craig was the lawyer for Fidel Castro—er, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, the father of Elian Gonzalez—during Bill Clinton’s 2000 repatriation to Cuba of the seven-year-old. During the presidential campaign when Mr. Craig was advising Mr. Obama, the far-left Council on Hemispheric Affairs endorsed Mr. Craig as “the right man to revive deeply flawed U.S.-Latin America relations.” In other words, to pull policy left.

Er? Craig is supposed to be soft on communism, then, a dupe.

There is plenty of speculation that Mr. Obama is making policy off of Mr. Craig’s “expertise.” It is not too much to believe. Indeed, if all policy is now being run out of the White House, as many observers contend, then the views of the White House counsel may explain a lot.

Off of? May? Back on the border, meantime, the minuet continues.

Mr. Zelaya did get one piece of good news over the weekend. On Saturday, Honduras's military said in a statement that it would abide by whatever legal solution was reached by civilian powers, leaving the door open to a return by the man it ousted.

But the exiled president, a close ally of Venezuela's populist Hugo Chávez, didn't seem hopeful on Sunday. As he sat with aides and journalists in Nicaragua, a few hundred yards from the Honduran border, he called on U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to stop "avoiding the issue" and to pressure what he called the "dictatorship" in Honduras.

Curious he uses the term dictatorship.

"Secretary Clinton should confront the dictatorship with force," he said, according to Reuters. He said he wasn't sure he would attend a meeting with U.S. officials about the crisis in Washington on Tuesday.

So the US should intervene, confronting the government in Honduras with force? O, that would be really smart, and play well. Would Chávez perhaps loan that force a helicopter, or two? For his friend's sake, of course.

Ousted Honduras President Manuel Zelaya talks to his supporters upon his arrival at the land border between Nicaragua and Honduras on Saturday. Mr. Zelaya returned for a second day to Honduras' land border to put pressure on the coup leaders.

Negotiations backed by the U.S. and overseen by Costa Rican President Óscar Arias appear to have hit a stalemate. Honduras's interim government, led by Roberto Micheletti, a former head of Congress, said it would step down and accept a third person to act as interim leader for the remainder of Mr. Zelaya's term. But Mr. Zelaya's camp wants him to return to power and finish his term.

Women carried food for supporters of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya at a military road blockade in El Paraiso Sunday.

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