Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Honduras is heating up! Zelaya to met with Clinton tomorrow

It looks like Honduras is about to heat up again! As you may or may not know, President Zelaya had been in Washington D.C. this week meeting with the Organization of American States.

According to reports from the AP, Zelaya said Tuesday that he received assurances from the permanent council of the Organization of American States that they will NOT recognize his country's upcoming elections. Zelaya said the election would be viewed as a fraud by the international community.

"The countries have expressed today that they are willing to accept neither the electoral process nor the result of the elections nor who wins under an illegitimate de facto government."
Back on June 28th, read the post on it here, Honduran Military soldiers flew Zelaya into exile at gunpoint. Although there has been tons of pressure internationally to restore Zelaya to power, including the suspension of millions of dollars in U.S. military and development aid, the interim government is remaining firm.

OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza said the members remained unanimous in backing Zelaya.

Tomorrow, Thursday, Zelaya is to meet with Secretary Clinton to discuss the best way to move forward on the situation in Honduras. A few, but not many, details were giving in the press briefing with State's Ian Kelly yesterday.

Here is a bit of the back and forth on the Secretary's upcoming meeting with President Zelaya. The press sure is feisty!

MR. KELLY: ...On Thursday, Secretary Clinton plans to meet with [Zelaya] to discuss the best way forward on the situation in Honduras.

QUESTION: Does she expect to make the determination at that point?

MR. KELLY: Well, we still haven’t made the determination. I think you know the issues that are being considered here, but I can’t give you an exact time when that determination will be --

QUESTION: I understand the issues that are being considered. It’s been more than two months now since the events transpired -- so one would – would think that one would have had enough time to judge whether it was a military coup.

MR. KELLY: Right. Well, we have taken the actions that we would be required to take if that determination is made, and that is that we have suspended assistance that goes directly to support the Government of Honduras. And you know what the issue at hand is a – it’s a provision of the Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 2009.

QUESTION: Before you launch into the whole explanation of what exact – we already know what it -- exactly it is. What is the holdup? MR. KELLY: We – as I said – as I’ve said many times, we have – there are a number of diplomatic activities going on. We are – we have done what we have to do under the law, and that is not to provide assistance to the Government of Honduras if the Secretary decides to make this determination. But she hasn’t made the determination yet.

QUESTION: Can you follow up on that? I mean, one big exception to that, as I understand it, is the grant money from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which would also be – could be implicated in such a decision.

QUESTION: And it’s my understanding that the MCC has so-called notwithstanding authority, so their aid is not automatically cut off? Their board has to make -- an affirmative decision to do so.

MR. KELLY: I think that’s right, Arshad.

QUESTION: And that’s more than a hundred – I think it’s something like 111 – well, it’s more. But it’s more than $100 million that would have to be scrutinized and that’s much bigger than the 18 – about 18.4, I think, that’s already been suspended. So in a way, there’s a big, big chunk of money out there that’s going to have to be – on which decisions are going to have to be made.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. You’re right. I mean, in the case of the Millennium money and the Challenge Corporation, it is something that will have to be decided by the board. Of course, Secretary Clinton is a member of that board, and so we’ll see about what exactly we have to do with both the USAID – with the USAID programs, military programs, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation programs.

QUESTION: One other thing on this. I mean when, in response to Matt’s question, you said that there are a number of diplomatic activities that are underway, are we to understand it is the case that it is solely a question of the diplomacy, that – in other words, the hope that you can find a diplomatic solution, that is holding off the determination? Or are there other factors, perhaps within the U.S. Government, that are holding it up?

MR. KELLY: As I’ve already suggested, of course, it is a – it’s not just a decision that affects the Department of State and the Agency for International Development. There’s a number of other – another – a number of other avenues that we have to go down, including briefing Congress. We need to – we have to coordinate with the Department of Defense. All along, in this whole conflict that we’ve had around Honduras, we’ve had to, as well, coordinate with the Organization of American States and with our partners in the region. So there is quite a bit of coordination that has to go on.

QUESTION: And regarding the DOD, would this affect Soto Cano Air Base – Soto Cano Air Base, excuse me – would such a cutoff have any effect on that air base and U.S. use of it?

MR. KELLY: Well, obviously, the Department of Defense is best positioned to answer that question. As I understand it, it will – I mean, the military – I shouldn’t say that the determination will affect programs. The suspension has already affected a number of programs that the U.S. military runs. Soto Cano is a – it’s not our base. It’s a Honduran base. Again, you really should – you should get the nitty-gritty details on this from the Department of Defense, but I think that they have suspended their programs except for the kind of activities that you would need to support a base – guarding the perimeter and provisions and activities like that. But please do try and get those kinds of details from DOD.

QUESTION: Can you walk us through what this meeting on Thursday will look like, what kind of access we’ll have to it, what kind of readout there will be?

MR. KELLY: Well, we haven’t determined the arrangements yet for the press. I am – I feel confident that there will be some kind of – that there will be – it will be closed to the press. I mean, there will be some – you will have some kind of engagement with the two principals, but it hasn’t been determined. In terms of readout, of course we’ll be happy to give you a readout.

QUESTION: Will we be able to actually ask them questions?

MR. KELLY: That hasn’t been determined yet, so I can’t give you an answer to that yet.


Stacy said...

We need to cut off all aid to Honduras, period. The US can't send the message that it's ok to use the military to resolve disputes- let Zelaya answer to a court of law where he also gets to present evidence- ultimately this isn't about Hugo Chavez or about who is left wing or right wing (unfortunately the media and some politicians have turned it into that)it's about following a procedure if one suspects abuse of power on the part of a duly-elected President. That's my opinion, at least.

jeffkramerak said...

great, now the hundurans are gonna come all to the USA to take over and try to make the USA a little Honduras, this will never end, and they will cont. to expect us to learn Spanish instead of them learning English. A stop must be put to this...Terrible.

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