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A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Latin America Experts Call on Clinton to Oppose Early Elections Option in Honduras

Anything Less Than the Urgent Restoration of Zelaya to Office "Would be an usurpation of the will of the Honduran people" They State in Open Letter


Over 35 scholars and experts on
Latin America sent an open letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
today urging against the idea of early elections in Honduras as a
possible resolution of the current crisis resulting from the June 28
military coup d'etat. Stating that "Anything less than the urgent
restoration of President Manuel Zelaya to office would be an usurpation
of the will of the Honduran people," the signers urged Clinton to enact
forceful sanctions on the coup regime to ensure Zelaya's prompt
reinstatement. The signers include Harvard emeritus professor John
Womack; scholar, author, commentator, and filmmaker Saul Landau;
Central America expert Hector Perla, and authors and Central America
experts Greg Grandin and Dana Frank, among others.

"It's supremely important that we not make any concessions to those who
have perpetrated military coups. By doing so, we establish a dangerous
precedent," said Dana Frank, Honduras expert and professor of history
at U.C. Santa Cruz.

The letter also notes that the coup regime has suspended civil
liberties, thus eliminating conditions under which free and fair
elections could take place in the near future. The signers also debunk
the pretext for the coup - Zelaya's supposed plans for reelection - by
pointing out that it would be almost impossible for Zelaya to be
reelected before his successor assumes office next year, and that
Zelaya stated before June 28 that he did not seek reelection.

The full text of the letter follows:


July 9, 2009

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Clinton,

We, the undersigned, are concerned by proposals by some in Washington's
foreign policy circles to push for early elections as a solution to the
crisis instigated by the illegal and anti-democratic coup d'etat in
Honduras. Anything less than the urgent restoration of President Manuel
Zelaya to office would be an usurpation of the will of the Honduran
people. Following resolutions by the United Nations General Assembly
and the Organization of American States calling for Zelaya's immediate
and unconditional return to office, the U.S. must ensure his prompt
restoration by enacting forceful economic sanctions against the regime.

Each day that the illegal coup regime remains in office further
jeopardizes the capacity for Honduras to enjoy free and fair elections
in November, let alone in an earlier time frame. Elections currently
would take place under a coup regime that has suspended civil
liberties, and where the conditions for free elections do not exist.
Such an election would not have international legitimacy. Democracy has
to be restored before a legitimate election can take place. It is also
important to avoid making concessions of any kind to the coup
government, as it would create a terrible precedent, showing other
anti-democratically minded and power hungry individuals that it can be
worthwhile to carry out a military coup in order to advance their
political agendas.

Since illegally seizing office by abducting the president at gunpoint
and putting him on a plane to Costa Rica, the coup regime has suspended
civil liberties and treated the Honduran people as the enemy. They have
revoked freedom of the press by imposing a media blackout, assaulted
and detained journalists, clamped down on protests, detained hundreds
of supporters of President Zelaya, and killed at least two people by
firing on demonstrators.

The regime claims it acted in order to prevent an unconstitutional move
by President Zelaya to extend his term. Yet an examination of the facts
reveals this to be a dubious excuse for an assault on democratic
institutions and the rule of law. President Zelaya's proposed survey
would have been a non-binding poll of public support for an additional
ballot - on whether a constitutional assembly should be created- in the
November elections. The actual question read: "Do you agree that,
during the general elections of November 2009 there should be a fourth
ballot to decide whether to hold a Constituent National Assembly that
will approve a new political constitution?"

Zelaya was not running for reelection in November, nor would he have
been able to. Therefore, Zelaya's successor was always slated to be
elected in November, to be inaugurated in January. Zelaya
had also stated before June 28 that he did not desire reelection
Possible reelection was not the reason the military carried out the
coup. They opposed Zelaya's policies, and they have at times been
honest about their true motives: "It would be difficult for us, with
our training, to have a relationship with a leftist government,"
Honduran army attorney Col. Herberth Bayardo Inestroza explained
following the coup. "That's impossible."

There is one legal, just, and democratic solution to Honduras' current
crisis: the swift restoration of President Zelaya and the imposition of
economic sanctions-trade as well as aid, on the illegal regime. We call
on the U.S. to take the lead in ensuring this outcome.


Marc Becker

Associate Professor of Latin American History
Truman State University*

Blase Bonpane

Office of the Americas

Michael Brun, PhD

Dept. Economics
Illinois State University

Ron Chilcote
Professor Economics

University of California Riverside

Aviva Chomsky
Professor of History and Coordinator, Latin American Studies
Salem State College

Noam Chomsky
Professor of Linguistics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Jaime Concha

Professor of Latin American Literature

University of California, San Diego

Luis Duno Gottberg

Associate Professor, Hispanic Languages and Literature
University, Houston, TX

Steve Ellner
Professor Political Science
University of Oriente, Venezuela

Professor Raul Fernandez
Social Sciences
University of California, Irvine

Dana Frank
Professor of History
University of California, Santa Cruz

James Goldfarb Devine
Professor of Economics

Loyola Marymount University

Greg Grandin
Professor of History

Director of Graduate Studies
New York University

Mark Healey

Assistant Professor of History
University of California, Berkeley

Daniel Hellinger
Professor of Political Science

Webster University

Forrest Hylton

Assistant Professor of Political Science/Int'l. Relations
Universidad de los Andes (Colombia)

Misha Kokotovic

Associate Professor

Department of Literature

UC San Diego

Saul Landau

Professor Emeritus

California State University, Pomona

Jorge Mariscal
Director, Chicano/a-Latino/a Studies
University of California, San Diego

Luis Martin-Cabrera

Assistant Professor of Literature
University of California, San Diego

Gilda L. Ochoa

Associate Professor of Sociology and Chicana/o - Latina/o Studies

Pomona College

Tanalis Padilla

Associate Professor of History
Dartmouth College

Diana Paton

Reader in Caribbean History
Newcastle University, UK

Hector Perla
Assistant Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies

University of California, Santa Cruz

Deborah Poole

Professor, Anthropology

Johns Hopkins University

Suyapa G. Portillo Villeda

CFD Fellow, History Department

Pomona College

Gerardo Renique

Associate Professor, Department of History

City College of the City University of New York

William I. Robinson

Professor of Sociology and
Global and International Studies
University of California-Santa Barbara

Dr. Victor M. Rodriguez

Professor, Department of Chicano and Latino Studies

California State University, Long Beach

Dr. T.M. Scruggs
School of Music
University of Iowa

Victor Silverman

Department of History

Pomona College

Steve Striffler
Doris Zemurray Stone Chair in Latin American Studies

Professor of Anthropology

University of New Orleans

Christy Thornton

Director and Publisher
orth American Congress on Latin America

Miguel Tinker Salas

Professor of History

Pomona College

Mark Weisbrot
Center for Economic and Policy Research

John Womack, Jr.

Professor of History, Emeritus

Harvard University

Stephen Zunes

University of San Francisco

*Institutional affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.