State Department Officials Challenge Administration Policy on Honduras, Signal Moves Towards Recognizing November Elections

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Dan Beeton, 202-239-1460

State Department Officials Challenge Administration Policy on Honduras, Signal Moves Towards Recognizing November Elections

WASHINGTON - Although the official
policy of the Obama administration is that it will not recognize next
month's elections in Honduras if democracy is not restored first, it
became clear last week that some State Department officials are
undermining this position and signaling that the U.S. could accept the
results of the November 29 elections as valid. A Time Magazine
article on Friday cited the comments of anonymous U.S. diplomats and an
email that signal that officials in the State Department are
undermining the official position toward the elections.

"The Obama administration should immediately and forcefully clear up
any doubts about its position on the November 29 elections," Center for
Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) Co-Director Mark Weisbrot
said. "The stated position supports democratic institutions, civil
liberties, and the rule of law, but some State Department officials
seem ready to sacrifice all of this.

"These diplomats inexplicably suggest that elections being carried out
under an illegal dictatorship that has suspended civil rights, raided and shut
down independent media outlets, and continues to brutally beat and
arrest peaceful demonstrators would somehow be legitimate. They are
looking for a way to reverse the Obama administration's position and
recognize these elections, without isolating the United States from the
rest of the hemisphere."

On September 28, State Department officials representing the United
States blocked
the Organization of American States (OAS
) from adopting a
resolution on Honduras that would have refused to recognize Honduran
elections carried out under the dictatorship. This also appears to
contradict the stated position of the Obama administration not to
recognize such elections, and also its willingness to work with the
OAS. On September 2, State Department spokesperson Ian Kelly answered
a question
on the U.S. position on the November elections by
saying, "We're still focused on our main goal, which is the restoration
of the democratic and constitutional order; in other words, the return
of President Zelaya. We're still trying to do whatever we can to try
and reach that end. But we will want to work very closely with our
partners in the OAS and the region."

While the coup regime in Honduras claims to have lifted an emergency
decree suspending constitutional rights, media reports and eyewitness
accounts continue to note ongoing crackdowns on pro-Zelaya
demonstrations. The regime was also widely
condemned
for shutting down the broadcasts of independent media
outlets such as Radio Globo and Canal 36.

A growing list of countries and international bodies, such as UNASUR,
have decided not to recognize the planned November 29 elections, and
the European Union has announced it will not send observers to monitor
what it considers an invalid process. The UN also announced
it will not provide electoral assistance.

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The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

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