What’s the Obama administration thinking?
A close ally of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez sits barricaded in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, having been lawfully convicted of attempting a slow-motion coup in the country. Paid bands of his rent-a-thugs are terrorizing and looting the city.
And the Obama administration is effectively cheering them on.
It all began this summer when Honduras President Manuel Zelaya was deposed and deported following his attempt to subvert the country’s constitution.
In a part of the world where strongmen — or caudillos — too often use democratic means to gain power but then refuse to relinquish it, Honduras’ Constitution strictly prohibits changing its presidential term-limit provision.
By all accounts — including a report issued recently by the independent Congressional Research Service — Honduran authorities acted legally and constitutionally in ordering and carrying out the ouster.
Zelaya ignored repeated rulings by the country’s Supreme Court that his actions were illegal, and he was only arrested and deported after the high court (on which a majority of the justices are from Zelaya’s party) ruled it necessary.
Another reason Honduran officials acted so quickly and decisively against Zelaya is his close relationship with Chavez.
Under Zelaya, Honduras had entered into an anti-American alliance with Chavez called the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas. Its reason for being is to oppose United States “hegemony” and create Latin American authoritarian governments on the model of Fidel Castro’s Cuba.
The Obama administration’s reaction to Honduras’ attempt to stand athwart this anti-democratic tide in Latin America has been shocking and inexplicable.
Perhaps most inexplicable has been the Obama administration’s pronouncement that it will not accept the results of the presidential election scheduled for November as long as Zelaya is denied the presidency.
The Obama administration should reverse itself and announce that it will accept the results of the November elections. If they refuse to do so, the Senate should support Sen. Jim DeMint’s, R-S.C., effort to block confirmation of Obama’s assistant secretary of state for Latin American affairs until the administration changes its mind.
Without the backing of the U.S., Zelaya and his thuggish followers will be less emboldened. The elections can proceed peacefully. The rule of law can prevail in Honduras. And we can stop asking ourselves, what is the Obama administration thinking?
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has published 19 books, including 10 fiction and nonfiction best-sellers. He is the founder of the Center for Health Transformation and chairman of American Solutions for Winning the Future. For more information, visit www.newt.org. His exclusive column for The Examiner appears Fridays.