Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich.
A congressman from Michigan is grilling President Barack Obama about his open advocacy for the ousted president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, including whether the U.S. knew of Zelaya’s alleged narcotics trafficking.
Zalaya was taken by members of the Honduras military from his home on June 28 and put on a plane to Costa Rica. They accused him of attempting to violate their own nation’s constitutional limitation to one term for a president.
While President Obama has condemned the action as a “coup,” the military quickly stood down and in place of Zalaya a member of his own political party was named by legislators to replace him.
Since then there have been arguments over Zalaya’s actions, the military’s response, and whether the result still is a democratic system.
Now Rep. Thaddeus McCotter has written to Obama, questioning the president’s “personal, public demands” that Zelaya be returned to power in light of the accusations against him.
“We write to seek your explicit personal assurances that U.S. intelligence or law enforcement agencies have no information implicating officials of the Honduran administration of Manuel Zelaya, including Mr. Zelaya himself, in the transit of illegal narcotics through Honduran territory or in any other ties to drug trafficking,” McCotter said in his recent letter to the White House.
“On June 30, the Associated Press published an accusation by a current Honduran official that Mr. Zelaya’s government ‘allowed tons of cocaine to be flown into the Central American country on its way to the United States,'” McCotter wrote.
He continued, explaining the report quoted Honduran Foreign Minister Enrique Ortez, “Every night, three or four Venezuelan-registered planes land without the permission of appropriate authorities and bring thousands of pounds … and packages of money that are the fruit of drug trafficking. … We have proof of all of this. Neighboring governments have it. The DEA has it.”
The congressman said because of Obama’s insistence Zelaya must be restored to power, “We believe you must assume personal responsibility for ensuring that our government is not aware of any information that suggests that Mr. Zelaya or his associates have been complicit in the trafficking of cocaine or any other illegal substances to the United States.”
While Zelaya has demanded he be returned to power, and Obama, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and the Castro brothers of Cuba have joined in his demand, a delegation of lawmakers from Honduras also has approached the U.S. with another side of the story.
Columnist Pat Buchanan described the situation.
“The ouster had been ordered by the Supreme Court and approved by the Congress, as Zelaya was attempting an illegal referendum to change the Honduran constitution so he could run for another term,” he said, describing it as a “bloodless transfer of power to the civilian legislator first in line for the presidency.”
He quoted Roberto Micheletti, the lawmaker named caretaker president to finish Zelaya’s term this year.
“We have established a democratic government, and we will not cede to pressure from anyone. We are a sovereign country,” Micheletti said. He said the those who have ousted Zelaya simple want the nation’s constitution followed.
In fact, Reuters has reported Honduran officials have expressed a willingness to bring forward the scheduled Nov. 29 presidential election to resolve the issue.
Buchanan wrote, “the folks who put Zelaya aboard that plane are friends of the United States. … Why are Obama and [Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton meddling in the affairs of a friendly country, to dump over a friendly government, to reinstate a friend of Hugo’s, whose goal is to bring Honduras into his anti-American ‘Bolivarian Revolution?”
“Obama is coming off as one who shares the international left’s view of the United States,” he wrote.
On the Canada Free Press, commentator Cliff Kincaid explained the big picture.
“I continue to receive messages from Honduran citizens upset at the international media for their distorted coverage of the situation in the Central American country. The people support the ouster of Manuel ‘Mel’ Zelaya, who is considered a puppet of Venezuelan Communist ruler Hugo Chavez. They are mystified that an American president would want to return this Chavez puppet to power in Honduras.”
He cited one Honduran’s testimony: “The recent action taken by our Congress is highly supported by several organizations in support of peace and democracy: the State General Attorney, the Supreme Court, the Armed Forces, the private organizations and especially many young people. Mr. Zelaya broke the law on several occasions even after the Supreme Court stated that it was illegal. He had no respect for our laws and our Constitution.
“I’d also like to say that I am shocked by Mr. Obama’s comments. Doesn’t he know Mr. Zelaya is allied with Chavez?” continued the Honduran. “Doesn’t he know that Mr. Zelaya wants to do in Honduras what Chavez did in Venezuela, Morales has done in Bolivia, Correa has done in Ecuador, Ortega in Nicaragua, as well as what Castro has done in Cuba?”
McCotter’s letter continued: “We are certain that the American people would be shocked to discover that the United States government is playing or has played any role in restoring to power any official who U.S. intelligence or law enforcement agencies suspect of any ties to the deadly illicit drug trade.”
He said it is wrong for the military to remove any democratically elected president.
“In this case, the situation is much more complicated because the political leader in question was in the process of violating the constitution of his country in order to maintain personal power. Furthermore, Mr. Zelaya was replaced not by a general but by an elected member of the parliament, who was selected by a vote of parliamentarians,” McCotter said.
“The Supreme Court of Honduras, as well as many political people in Mr. Zelaya’s own circle, were opposed to his efforts to eliminate certain constitutional restrictions on his presidency.
“These complications should suggest that the United States be cautious and deliberate in response … In this case the military action that was taken was done so to ensure the constitutional and democratic process in Honduras.”