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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 12, 2009
12:32 PM

CONTACT: Latin American Experts and Academics

Honduran Elections: Over 240 Academics and Experts on Latin America Call on Obama to Denounce Human Rights Abuses by Honduran Dictatorship

Free and Fair Elections Are Possible Only After the Coup is Reversed, They Say

CLAREMONT, Calif. - November 12 - Over 240 academics and experts on Latin America sent a letter to President Obama yesterday urging him to denounce the ongoing human rights violations perpetrated by the coup regime in Honduras ahead of the planned November 29 elections. They also urged him to demand the immediate restitution of President Manuel Zelaya and to support a full three months of electoral campaigning after the coup has been overturned and "debating, organizing, and all other aspects of election campaigns can be conducted in an atmosphere that is free from fear; in which all views and parties are free to make their voices heard - not just those that are allowed under an illegal military occupation." This would mean that this month's elections - which Latin America and the European Union have said they will not recognize - would need to be rescheduled.

"With only days left before the scheduled November 29 elections, the U.S. government must make a choice," the letter states. "It can either side with democracy, along with every government in Latin America, or it can side with the coup regime, and further isolate the United States in the hemisphere."

Last Thursday, the Rio Group, which includes all of Latin America and most of the Caribbean, issued a statement declaring that they would consider the November 29 elections to be illegitimate if Zelaya is not first reinstated.

The current letter continues: "Moreover, the U.S. cannot afford to maintain its deafening silence regarding the innumerable and grave human rights abuses committed by the coup government in Honduras - a silence that has become a conspicuous international embarrassment."

Numerous press reports have described human rights abuses and violations of civil liberties during the three-month period in which electoral campaigning is allowed under Honduran law, including illegal mass arrests, beatings, torture, and shootings by state security forces, attacks on the freedoms of assembly, speech, and of the press. This repression has been widely documented and denounced by Honduran and international human rights organizations, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International.

Despite this, the Obama administration has yet to condemn the human rights violations, or to threaten sanctions or other strong action to force the coup regime to stop them.

Last week, Bertha Oliva, the head of Honduras' most well-known and respected human rights organization, the Committee for Families of the Disappeared and Detained in Honduras (COFADEH), also called on the Obama administration to denounce the "grave human rights violations" in Honduras, and declared that "It's too late to have elections on November 29."

The full text of the letter follows:

_______________________________________

November 11, 2009

President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20500

Cc.: Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State Thomas Shannon, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Dan Restrepo, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Western Hemisphere Affairs, National Security Council

Dear President Barack Obama,

We are writing to urge you to stand with democracy and human rights in Honduras. With only days left before the scheduled November 29 elections the U.S. government must make a choice: it can either side with democracy, along with every government in Latin America, or it can side with the coup regime, and remain isolated. Moreover, the U.S. cannot afford to maintain its deafening silence regarding the innumerable and grave human rights abuses committed by the coup government in Honduras - a silence that has become a conspicuous international embarrassment. The U.S. must forcefully denounce these abuses, and match its words with action as well. It must make the coup regime understand that the United States government will no longer tolerate the violence and repression that the Micheletti government has practiced against the Honduran people since seizing power on June 28, 2009.

Honduras now stands at the edge of a dangerous precipice. The coup regime remains determined - in the absence of significant pressure from the U.S. government - to move forward with the elections, in the hopes that the international community will eventually recognize the results. In so doing, they hope to legitimize their illegal and unconstitutional government.

Free and fair elections on November 29 are already impossible, as more than two-thirds of the campaign period allowed under Honduran law has already passed, under conditions in which freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press have all been under attack throughout the country. This repression has been widely documented and denounced by Honduran and international human rights organizations, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International.

The Rio Group of 23 nations, which includes nearly all of Latin America and much of the Caribbean, had forcefully declared that it will not recognize the November 29th elections if President Zelaya is not first re-instated. Thus the United States is at odds with the rest of the Hemisphere in its stated willingness to recognize these illegitimate elections.

Free and fair elections can only be carried out in a climate in which debating, organizing, and all other aspects of election campaigns can be conducted in an atmosphere that is free from fear; in which all views and parties are free to make their voices heard - not just those that are allowed under an illegal military occupation. We therefore call on the U.S. government to support an electoral process in Honduras that allows for a full three months - as mandated under Honduran law - for electoral campaigning, to take place after the restoration of President Manuel Zelaya. Only in this way can the electoral process achieve legitimacy in both the eyes of the Honduran people and the international community.

In the months that have transpired since the April Summit of the Americas, we are saddened to see that your promise of treating Latin American nations as equals is evaporating. You declared at that time, "I just want to make absolutely clear that I am absolutely opposed and condemn any efforts at violent overthrows of democratically elected governments, wherever it happens in the hemisphere." In remarks that were recorded, cited, and broadcast all over the world, you asserted: "The test for all of us is not simply words, but also deeds." Since then, your government has failed to match these words with deeds regarding the coup d'état in Honduras. As a result, the United States is once again isolating itself in the Americas.   The U.S. must also match its rhetorical commitment to democracy with concrete deeds, and support the immediate restoration of Manuel Zelaya to the presidency of Honduras and full guarantees of a free and fair election.

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Abercrombie New York University

Leisy Abrego, University of California, Irvine

Alexis Aguilar, Salisbury University

Jordi Aladro, University of California, Santa Cruz

Ece Algan, California State University, San Bernardino

Paul Almeida, Texas A&M University

Mark Anderson, University of California, Santa Cruz

Tim Anderson, University of Sydney (Australia)

Tom Angotti, Hunter College/City University of New York

Craig Auchter, Butler University

William Avilés, University of Nebraska at Kearney

César J. Ayala, University of California, Los Angeles

Nikhil Aziz, Executive Director, Grassroots International

Beth Baker-Cristales, California State University, Los Angeles

Teo Ballvé, North American Congress on Latin America

Rosemary A. Barbera, Monmouth University

Francisco J. Barbosa, University of Colorado, Boulder

John Beverley, University of Pittsburgh

Michelle Bigenho, Hampshire College

Maylei Blackwell, University of California, Los Angeles

Andy Bliss, University of California, Berkeley

Aaron Bobrow-Strain, Whitman College

Blasé Bonpane, Office of the Americas

Jules Boykoff, Pacific University

Rachel Brahinsky, University of California, Berkeley

Rosalind Bresnahan, Latin American Perspectives

Laura Briggs, University of Arizona

Sandy Brown, University of California, Berkeley

Joe Bryan, University of Colorado, Boulder

Alicia del Campo, California State University Long Beach

Frankie Cardamone, Prescott College

Barry Carr, University of California, Berkeley

Jennifer Casolo, University of California, Berkeley

Julie A. Charlip, Whitman College

Ronald Chilcote, University of California, Riverside

Aviva Chomsky, Salem State College

George Ciccariello-Maher, University of California, Berkeley

Christopher Clement, Pomona College

Nathan Clough, The University of Minnesota

Fernando Coronil, City University of New York, Graduate Center

Dominic Corva, Sarah Lawrence College

Raymond B. Craib, Cornell University

Altha Cravey, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Julie Cupples, University of Canterbury

Antonia Darder, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign

Juanita Darling, San Francisco State University

Pablo Delano, Trinity College

Guillermo Delgado-P., University of California, Santa Cruz

Jennifer Devine, University of California, Berkeley

Mônica Dias Martins, State University of Ceara, Brasil 

Paul Dosh, Macalester College

Alex Dupuy, Wesleyan University

Jordana Dym, Skidmore College

Marc Edelman, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York

Steve Ellner, University of Oriente (Venezuela)

Ben Ehrenreich, Journalist and Author

Laura Enriquez, University of California, Berkeley

Arturo Escobar, University of North Carolina

Alicia Estrada, California State University, Northridge

Nicole Fabricant, University of South Florida

Mario Fenyo, Bowie State University

Sujatha Fernandes, Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York

Raul Fernández, University of California, Irvine

Ada Ferrer, New York University

John Finn, Arizona State University

Allan Fisher, City College of San Francisco   Bill Fletcher, Jr., BlackCommentator.com

Cindy Forster, Scripps College

Jonathan Fox, University of California, Santa Cruz

Dana Frank, University of California, Santa Cruz

John D. French, Duke University

Gavin Fridell, Trent University, Ontario, Canada

Victoria Furio, Conference Interpreter & Translator

Alberto J. Garcia, California State University, Northridge California

Kim Geron, California State University East Bay

Asher Ghertner, University of California, Berkeley

Shannon Gleeson, University of California, Santa Cruz

Michel Gobat, University of Iowa

Marcial Godoy-Anativia, New York University

Walter L. Goldfrank, University of California, Santa Cruz

Armando González Caban, Latin American Perspectives

Gilbert Gonzalez, University of California, Irvine

Evelyn Gonzalez-Mills, Montgomery College

Jeffrey L. Gould, Indiana University

Daniel Graham, University of California, Berkeley

Laura R. Graham, University of Iowa

Greg Grandin, New York University

Richard Grossman, Northeastern Illinois University

Peter Hallward, Middlesex University (U.K.)

Nora Hamilton, University of Southern California

Zoe Hammer, Prescott College

John L. Hammond, City University of New York

Tom Hayden, Author

Mark Healey, University of California, Berkeley

Daniel Hellinger, Webster University

Adam Henne, University of Wyoming

Luis A. Hernández, School District of Philadelphia

Eric Hershberg, Simon Fraser University

Doug Hertzler, Eastern Mennonite University, Washington Community Scholars' Center

Derrick Hindery, University of Oregon

Raul Hinojosa, University of California, Los Angeles

Katherine Hite, Vassar College

Jen Hofer, poet, translator, interpreter

Aaron Hogue, Salisbury University

Katherine Hoyt, Nicaragua Network

Forrest Hylton, Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá)

Dale L. Johnson, PhD

David Johnson, Xavier University

Susanne Jonas, University of California, Santa Cruz

James Jordan, Campaign for Labor Rights

Gilbert Joseph, Yale University

Nadine Jubb, York University

Karen Kampwirth, Knox College

David Kane, Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns

Chuck Kaufman, Alliance for Global Justice

Robin D. G. Kelly, University of Southern California

Norma Klahn, University of California, Santa Cruz

Sara Koopman, University of British Columbia

Glen David Kuecker, DePauw University

David Kunzle, University of California, Los Angeles

Victoria Langland, University of California, Davis

John Lear, University of Puget Sound

George Leddy, Los Angeles Valley College

Winnie Lem, Trent University

Sidney Lemelle, Pomona College

Deborah Levenson, Boston College

David Lloyd, University of Southern California

Rick Lopez, Amherst College

Tehama Lopez, Duke University

Agnes Lugo-Ortiz, University of Chicago

Sharon Luk, University of Southern California

Sheryl Lutjens, California State University, San Marcos

Milton Ricardo Machuca, Pitzer College

Kathleen A. Mahoney-Norris, Air Command and Staff College

Maya Manzi, Clark University

Greta Marchesi, University of California, Berkeley

Peter E. Marchetti, Researcher, AVANCSO, Guatemala

Lourdes Martinez-Echazabel, University of California, Santa Cruz

Kathleen McAfee, San Francisco State University

Kendra McSweeney, The Ohio State University

Breny Mendoza, California State University, Northridge

Frederick B. Mills, Bowie State University

Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern, University of California, Berkeley

Ellen Moodie, University of Illinois

Stephanie Moore, Salisbury University

Dorinda Moreno, Hitec Aztec Communications/FM Global

Lena Mortensen, University of Toronto Scarborough

Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy

Guillermo Narvaez, University of California-Irvine

Joseph Nevins, Vassar College

Enrique Ochoa, California State University, Los Angeles

Gilda L. Ochoa, Pomona College

Elizabeth Oglesby, University of Arizona

Almerindo E. Ojeda, University of California at Davis

Andrew Orta, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Paul Ortiz, University of Florida

Mark Overmyer-Velázquez, University of Connecticut

Tanalis Padilla, Dartmouth College

Yajaira M. Padilla, The University of Kansas

Pramod Parajuli, Prescott College

Sirena Pellarolo, California State University, Northridge

Anthony Pereira, Tulane University

Héctor Perla, University of California, Santa Cruz

Brandt Peterson, Michigan State University

Adrienne Pine, American University

Martín Plot, California Institute of the Arts

Aaron Pollack, Instituto de Investigaciones Dr. José María Luis Mora

Deborah Poole, Johns Hopkins University

Suyapa Portillo, Pomona College

Margaret Power, Illinois Institute of Technology

Vijay Prashad, Trinity College

Mary Louise Pratt, New York University

Marina Prieto-Carrron, University of Portsmouth

Sean Purdy, Universidade de São Paulo

Kathryn S. Quick, University of California, Irvine

Marie Phillips Rayanne, Prescott College

Marcus Rediker, University of Pittsburgh

Daniel Reichman, University of Rochester

Gerardo Renique, City College of the City University of New York

Kenneth Roberts, Cornell University

William I. Robinson, University of California, Santa Barbara

Dylan Rodríguez, University of California, Riverside

Victor M. Rodriguez, California State University, Long Beach

Cristina Rojas, Carleton University

Sarah T. Romano, University of California, Santa Cruz

Renato Rosaldo, New York University

Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt, University of Maryland

Jan Rus, Latin American Perspectives

Ricardo Daniel Sánchez Cárdenas, Northwestern University

Rosaura Sanchez, University of California, San Diego

Mario Santana, The University of Chicago

Felicity Schaeffer-Grabiel, University of California, Santa Cruz

Ellen Sharp, University of California, Los Angeles

Freya Schiwy, University of California, Riverside

Aaron Schneider, Tulane University

Tammi J. Schneider, Claremont Graduate University

T.M. Scruggs, Professor Emeritus, University of Iowa

Adam Shapiro, Prescott College

Ellen Sharp, University of California, Los Angeles

Kirsten Silva Gruesz, University of California, Santa Cruz

Victor Silverman, Pomona College

Richard Simpson, Stanford University

Julie Skurski, City University of New York, Graduate Center

Darryl A. Smith, Pomona College

John Soluri, Carnegie Mellon University

Dale Sorenson, Director, Interfaith Task Force of the Americas

Rose Spalding, DePaul University

Susan Spronk, University of Ottawa

Richard Stahler-Sholk, Eastern Michigan University

Lynn Stephen, University of Oregon        

William S. Stewart, California State University, Chico

Steve Striffler, University of New Orleans

Estelle Tarica, University of California, Berkeley

Diana Taylor, New York University

Miguel Tinker Salas, Pomona College

Sinclair Thomson, New York University

Steven Topik, University of California, Irvine

Mayo C. Toruno, California State University, San Bernardino

David J. Vázquez, University of Oregon

Jocelyn S. Viterna, Harvard University

Steven S. Volk, Oberlin College

Hendrik Voss, School of the Americas Watch

Christine J. Wade, Washington College

Diana B. Waters, Goddard College

Penny Waterstone, University of Arizona

Jamie Way, Venezuela Solidarity Campaign

Jeffery R. Webber, University of Regina, Canada

Barbara Weinstein, New York University

Mark Weisbrot, Center for Economic and Policy Research

Kimberly Welch, University of Redland

Allen Wells, Bowdoin College

Marion Werner, University of Minnesota

Eliza Willis, Grinnell College

Tamar Diana Wilson, Independent Scholar

Sonja Wolf, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)

Justin Wolfe, Tulane University

John Womack, Harvard University

Megan Ybarra, University of California, Berkeley

Susy Zepeda, University of California, Santa Cruz

Chris Zepeda-Millan, Cornell University

Marc Zimmerman, University of Houston

* Institutions listed only for identification

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