What will Clinton say to ousted Honduran president?
Manuel Zelaya, July 5, 2009 Secretary Clinton will be meeting with Manuel Zelaya, the ousted Honduran president, this afternoon in what will be the highest level of interaction between Zelaya and the Obama administration since his June 28 ouster. What will Clinton say to him? Senior U.S. officials declined to tell the Washington Post ...
Secretary Clinton will be meeting with Manuel Zelaya, the ousted Honduran president, this afternoon in what will be the highest level of interaction between Zelaya and the Obama administration since his June 28 ouster.
What will Clinton say to him? Senior U.S. officials declined to tell the Washington Post what Clinton would say, other than reiterating the need for democratic and constitutional order in Honduras.
Clinton could threaten to pull the plug on U.S. aid, which is conditioned on Honduras’s maintaining its democratic system. Last week she implied that if the rule of law was reestablished in a “relatively short period of time,” aid to the country wouldn’t be in jeopardy. More than a week has passed since the coup, and two Zelaya supporters were killed Sunday, so it doesn’t look as if Honduras is meeting the conditions for aid.
The Obama administration still recognizes Zelaya as the official president of Honduras (and not Roberto Micheletti, the de facto president), so perhaps the U.S. government foresees Zelaya’s return to power. Clinton could perhaps suggest that he be returned to power if he meets certain demands, such as behaving lawfully and in line with the Honduran Constitution. Large chunks of Honduran society don’t want him back as president, though (not surprising given that he was taking illegal steps in an attempt to stay in office), so that idea probably won’t go over well in Honduras.
Clinton can insist on democratic and constitutional order, but how do you operationalize that? Should Zelaya be reinstated (because was unlawfully removed in a coup)? If he is reinstated, should Hondurans then go through the official democratic process of removing him from office if they so strongly want him out? Does it make sense to reinstate a man who didn’t want to follow the rule of law? Does it make sense to recognize a new president who didn’t follow the rule of law to get to power?
Clinton has a lot to think about between now and her afternoon meeting.
Photo: Oscar Galdamez/AFP/Getty Images
Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009-2016 and was an assistant editor from 2007-2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP
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