Doug Book, FloydReports.com
Doug Book, FloydReports.com
Patrick Goodenough, CNSNews.com
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Manuel Zelaya in Washington on September 3, 2009. (State Dept. Photo by Michael Gross)
An agreement signed in Colombia this week allowing the ousted former Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya, to return home and resume political activity without fear of prosecution marks “a great day” for the Honduran people, according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
But in the view of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the accord sets the stage for Zelaya and his leftist ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, to further damage democracy in the small Central American country.
“Hugo Chavez’s handprints are all over this deal,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. “He can’t wait to have Zelaya back in Honduras so he can begin pulling the strings again and undermine that nation’s democracy.”
Clinton, by contrast, said on Monday that the U.S. “commends” the Chavez regime for its role in securing the agreement.
Zelaya was removed from office in June 2009 by the military – acting on the orders of the Supreme Court – and flown to neighboring Costa Rica.
In a move that would have mirrored similar steps taken by Chavez and other Latin American leftists, Zelaya was planning a referendum to convene a constituent assembly, to amend the constitutional one-term limit on presidential power.
As the constitution prohibits such a move and disqualifies from public office anyone who attempts it, the Supreme Court ordered his removal.
Congressional leader Roberto Micheletti, next in the constitutional line of succession, was duly sworn in as interim president, to serve until scheduled presidential elections took place five months later. Porfirio Lobo won that election, and took office in early 2010.
Three months after he was ousted, Zelaya sneaked back into Honduras and sought refuge at the Brazilian Embassy. Lobo later arranged for him to get safe passage out of the country, and he has been living in exile in the Dominican Republic since then.
On Sunday, Zelaya and Lobo signed an accord in the Colombian city of Cartagena that will allow him to return home.
But it also paves the way for a return to politics for Zelaya who, according to Chavez, has not dropped his plans to push for a constituent assembly.
The agreement also is meant to remove the last hurdle to Honduras’ re-entry into the Organization of American States (OAS), a body from which it was ejected over the Zelaya affair.
The Obama administration supported Honduras’ expulsion from the OAS, agreeing with Zelaya’s – and Chavez’ – contention that his ousting amounted to a “coup.”
That stance was a controversial one: Honduras’ constitution limits the presidency to a single, four-year term and outlaws not just extending the limits, but even proposing that they be changed.
Article 239 reads, “Anyone who violates this provision or who proposes its reform, as well as those who support that violation directly or indirectly, will immediately cease to hold their respective positions, and will be disqualified from any public post for 10 years.”
An Aug. 2009 Law Library of Congress report concluded that Zelaya’s ousting – although not his expatriation – was constitutional.
Nonetheless, the Obama administration came down on Chavez’ side of the argument….
Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com
The contrast between the priorities of the developed and developing world was as clear as night and day.
“It is detrimental to not have adequate family planning resources,” a visibly upset US delegate told the room. “Why is there a resistance to acknowledging access to family planning as a necessity?”
The soft-spoken delegate from the small island nation of St. Lucia replied, “How do we get our fertility rate to rise? We were told we needed to reduce our fertility rate –now we have an aging population.”
Both voices spoke out during a UN panel hosted last week by the Holy See, Honduras, and Malta called “Secure Human Development: Marriage, Family, Community.” Laurie Shestack-Phipps, a US representative to the UN, castigated the Holy See and other organizers for not being “comprehensive” in their approach to the panel, specifically mentioning family planning and abortion. She complained further about high fertility rates in the poor countries of Africa.
Shestack-Phipps said, “How can you say that you value family, community, and marriage, but not bring into the picture that both men and women have a right to a healthy life, to be able to avoid unsafe abortion, and have access to the highest attainable standard of reproductive health, and to decide how many children they should have?”
The exchange between Shestack and of St. Lucia points up an irony at the UN. One the one side are rich countries demanding poor countries reduce their fertility rates and the poor countries saying they need higher fertility rates for not just development but survival. Almost half the countries in the world are facing what has come to be known as demographic winter, where fertility rates have fallen so dramatically that populations are rapidly aging.
The US delegate’s castigation on family planning, which ignored the demographic realities and actual desires of developing countries, is a microcosm of the current UN debates on population and development. The documents that guide this year’s Commission on Population and Development admit that most nations have achieved low fertility, yet the UN continues to ask donor nations for more and more money for family planning services and for what the UN euphemistically calls commodities: condoms, pills, and injectibles that prevent pregnancy.