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July 1, 09

NEWS / Military Coup in Honduras Reminiscent of “Dark Past,” Obama Says

By Stephen Kaufman
Staff Writer

Washington The June 28 coup against Honduran President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales is not legal and Zelaya should be allowed to return home and serve out the remainder of his term, President Obama says.

In remarks with Colombian President Alviro Uribe at the White House June 29, Obama said Central and Latin American countries have made enormous progress in establishing democratic traditions over the past 20 years, and the events in Honduras are reminiscent of a dark past.

It would be a terrible precedent if we start moving backward into the era in which we are seeing military coups as a means of political transition rather than democratic elections, Obama said.

Obama acknowledged that the United States has not always stood as it should with emerging democracies in the region, but, in recent years, U.S. political leaders have recognized that we always want to stand with democracy, even if the results dont always mean that the leaders of those countries are favorable toward the United States.

He said his administration is continuing to work with international organizations including the Organization of American States to resolve the crisis in a peaceful way.

The United States stands on the side of democracy, sovereignty, and self-determination, and the people of each country must make decisions on their own about their leadership, Obama said.

Whats ultimately most important is that the people feel a sense of legitimacy and ownership, and that this is not something imposed on them from the top [and] does not involve manipulations of the electorate or rigging of the electoral process or repression of opposition voices, he said.

At the State Department, spokesman Ian Kelly said June 30 that all U.S. assistance to Honduras is currently under review and the departments Office of the Legal Adviser is assessing the facts on the ground in Honduras to determine whether or not the funds cutoff provision applies to these circumstances. (See Honduran Crisis Must be Resolved Peacefully and Lawfully.)

What occurred in Honduras, Kelly said, was inconsistent with the principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. The document, which is binding on all 34 OAS member states, says an unconstitutional interruption of the democratic order constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to its governments participation in the OAS.

We think that President Zelaya is the democratically elected, constitutional president of Honduras and should be allowed to serve out the rest of his term, Kelly said.


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