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JFP News 8/11: 16 House Dems Call for Increased Pressure on Honduras Coup

Just Foreign Policy News
August 11, 2009


Obama, You Do Have a Button to Reverse the Coup in Honduras
"I can't press a button and suddenly reinstate Zelaya," Obama said. But Obama does have a button he has not pressed: canceling U.S. visas of coup leaders, as called for by 16 Democratic Members of Congress.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/291

Letter: 16 Members of Congress call on Obama to take further measures against Honduran coup regime
http://grijalva.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=13&sectiontree=5,13&itemid=413

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U.S./Top News

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Mr. Obama, You Do Have a Button to Reverse the Coup in Honduras

The good news is that Latin American criticism of the Obama Administration's failure to pressure the coup regime in Honduras has reached the level that Obama himself can no longer ignore it. The bad news is that Obama's response so far seems to be to stay the course: talk left, act right.

Reuters reports:

President Barack Obama said on Friday that he has no quick way to resolve the political crisis in Honduras, where supporters of a coup are refusing to let ousted President Manuel Zelaya return to power.
...
"I can't press a button and suddenly reinstate Mr. Zelaya," Obama said.

Actually, Mr. Obama, you do have a button. You're probably right that it won't "suddenly" reinstate Mr. Zelaya. What's much more likely is that pressing your button would make the coup regime much more likely to accept the compromise proposal put forward by the Costa Ricans to allow President Zelaya's reinstatement. Since your Administration sponsored the Costa Rican process, it seems natural that you would do something to make it work. Why not press your button and see what it does?

Sixteen Democratic Members of Congress - Representatives Raul Grijalva, Jim McGovern, John Conyers, Jose Serrano, Chaka Fattah, Mike Honda, Barbara Lee, Jesse Jackson, Jim Oberstar, Dennis Kucinich, Bill Delahunt, Jan Schakowsky, Donna Christensen, Sheila Jackson Lee, Sam Farr, and Linda Sanchez - have urged you to freeze U.S. assets and suspend U.S. visas of coup leaders in Honduras. Why haven't you already done so, or even threatened to consider it?

South American Leaders Reject Elections Under Honduras Coup Regime

Just Foreign Policy News
August 10, 2009


Honduran Coup Decree Shows Coup "Justification" Was After the Fact
Supporters in the U.S. of the coup in Honduras have frequently made two claims to justify it which are demonstrably false, which have nonetheless been widely accepted in the U.S., because they have been largely unchallenged in the U.S. media: the Honduran Congress authorized Zelaya's removal, and the basis for that removal was Article 239 of the Honduran Constitution, which forbids someone from being President if he has already been President, and says that anyone who advocates changing this provision will cease to be President. But the coup decree of the Honduran Congress is now online. The document never mentions Article 239.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/289

The Minimum Wage and the Coup in Honduras
The coup in Honduras - and the at best grudging and vacillating support in Washington for the restoration of President Zelaya - has thrown into stark relief a fundamental fault line in Latin America and a moral black hole in U.S. policy toward the region: What is the minimum wage which a worker shall be paid for a day's labor?
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/287

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Honduran Coup Decree Shows Coup "Justification" Was After the Fact

Supporters in the U.S. of the coup in Honduras have frequently made two claims to justify it which are demonstrably false, which have nonetheless been widely accepted in the U.S., because they have been largely unchallenged in the U.S. media: the Honduran Congress authorized Zelaya's removal, and the basis for that removal was Article 239 of the Honduran Constitution, which forbids someone from being President if he has already been President, and says that anyone who advocates changing this provision will cease to be President.

The actual decree of the Honduran Congress is attached. Note the following.

1) the document never mentions Article 239.

2) the document is dated "MIERCOLES 1 DE JULIO DEL 2009," i.e. Wednesday, July 1, 2009, three days after the coup on Sunday, June 28.

So: 1) the decree of the Honduran Congress, which is being cited as justification for it, was produced when the coup was already three days old, and 2) this decree never mentioned Article 239.

Note that President Zelaya didn't advocate any change to term limits. He proposed a nonbinding referendum on whether there should be a constitutional convention. Even had the nonbinding referendum been successful, there is no plausible scenario in which it would have led to a change in this provision of the constitution prior to the scheduled November election in which Zelaya was to be replaced and in which he was not a candidate. At most it would have resulted in a binding referendum for a constitutional referendum on the same November ballot on which Zelaya would have been replaced. So the claim that President Zelaya was "trying to extend his term" is not only false, but logically impossible.

JFP News 8/7: the Minimum Wage and the Coup in Honduras

Just Foreign Policy News
August 7, 2009


The Minimum Wage and the Coup in Honduras
The coup in Honduras - and the at best grudging and vacillating support in Washington for the restoration of President Zelaya - has thrown into stark relief a fundamental fault line in Latin America and a moral black hole in U.S. policy toward the region: What is the minimum wage which a worker shall be paid for a day's labor?
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/287

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1) A new national poll indicates that support among Americans for the war in Afghanistan has hit a new low, CNN reports. Fifty-four percent say they oppose the war in Afghanistan, up 6 points from May. Three-quarters of Democrats oppose the war; nearly two-thirds of Republicans support it.

2) The Obama administration has backed away from its call to restore ousted Honduran President Zelaya, McClatchy reports, based on the letter the Administration sent to Senator Lugar. Some 1,000 pro-Zelaya demonstrators protested outside the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa after the State Department letter was made public in the Honduran media.

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The Minimum Wage and the Coup in Honduras

The coup in Honduras - and the at best grudging and vacillating support in Washington for the restoration of President Zelaya - has thrown into stark relief a fundamental fault line in Latin America and a moral black hole in U.S. policy toward the region.

What is the minimum wage which a worker shall be paid for a day's labor?

Supporters of the coup have tried to trick Americans into believing that President Zelaya was ousted by the Honduran military because he broke the law. But this is nonsense. A Honduran bishop told Catholic News Service,

 

"Some say Manuel Zelaya threatened democracy by proposing a constitutional assembly. But the poor of Honduras know that Zelaya raised the minimum salary. That's what they understand. They know he defended the poor by sharing money with mayors and small towns. That's why they are out in the streets closing highways and protesting (to demand Zelaya's return)"

This is why the greedy, self-absorbed Honduran elite turned against President Zelaya: because he was pursuing policies in the interests of the majority. The Washington Post noted in mid-July,

 

To many poor Hondurans, deposed president Manuel "Mel" Zelaya was a trailblazing ally who scrapped school tuitions, raised the minimum wage and took on big business.

In a statement condemning support for the coup by U.S. business groups, the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation expressed its concern that under the coup regime, there are

 

JFP News 8/6 - Juan Cole: The Folly of a Gas Embargo on Iran

Just Foreign Policy News
August 6, 2009


Mousavi's Gas Embargo on Iran?
In serious contention for Dumbest Washington Consensus for September is the idea of cutting off Iran's gas imports to pressure Iran to stop enriching uranium. A majority of Representatives and Senators have signed on to legislation that seeks to block Iran's gas imports, a top legislative priority for the so-called "Israel Lobby." But it's a stupid idea for many reasons, not least of which is that it would be an albatross around the neck of opposition politicians in Iran.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/284

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1) Writing for Informed Comment, Juan Cole adds to yesterday's list of reasons why trying to impose a gas embargo on Iran is a really dumb idea: Iran could play spoiler for the US withdrawal from Iraq and can make trouble for the US in Afghanistan; Iraqis would line up to smuggle gas into Iran; the Iranian opposition inside Iran opposes forceful Western intervention.

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JFP News 8/5 - Softening U.S. Support for President Zelaya?

Just Foreign Policy News
August 5, 2009


Mr. Mousavi's Gas Embargo on Iran?
In serious contention for Dumbest Washington Consensus for September is the idea of cutting off Iran's gas imports to pressure Iran to stop enriching uranium. A majority of Representatives and Senators have signed on to legislation that seeks to block Iran's gas imports, a top legislative priority for the so-called "Israel Lobby." But it's a stupid idea for many reasons, not least of which is that it would be an albatross around the necks of opposition politicians in Iran.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/284

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) The State Department responded to Republican criticism it has been too supportive of President Zelaya, Reuters reports. Reuters and Senator DeMint interpreted the State Department's letter as softening or "walking back" U.S. support for Zelaya.

2) President Barack Obama and top U.S. military commanders are under pressure from influential senators and civilian advisers to double the size of Afghan security forces, Bloomberg reports.

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Mr. Mousavi's Gas Embargo on Iran?

In serious contention for Dumbest Washington Consensus for September is the idea of cutting off Iran's gas imports to pressure Iran to stop enriching uranium. A majority of Representatives and Senators have signed on to legislation that seeks to block Iran's gas imports, a top legislative priority for the so-called "Israel Lobby." But it's a stupid idea. Let us count the ways.

One: there is no indication that Russia and China will go along with it. Even Europe is split, Reuters reports. Turkey is also likely to be unenthusiastic - a country that has good relations with Iran, has a long border with Iran, and is currently on the UN Security Council. A U.S.-sponsored gas embargo on Iran isn't likely to have much impact if Russia, China, Turkey and half of Europe aren't cooperating - after all, it's not the U.S. that's exporting gas to Iran - unless it is imposed by force.

Two: Iran has threatened to retaliate against a U.S.-sponsored gas embargo by stopping its oil exports to the West. There is a historical precedent that ought to give Americans and Britons some pause: when Britain wanted to punish the democratically elected Mossadegh government for nationalizing Iran's oil, Britain imposed an embargo on Iranian oil exports, enforced by the British Navy. Fine, Mossadegh said, we don't care. Let it stay in the ground. When the embargo failed, the British tried to overthrow Mossadegh in a coup. When that failed, the British asked the U.S. to intervene, and the CIA and British intelligence overthrew Mossadegh. How does returning to the British colonialism script for Iran fit in with the whole outreach to the Muslim world thing?

JFP News 8/4 - OAS Mission to Pressure Coup Leaders

Just Foreign Policy News
August 4, 2009


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Summary:
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1) Costa Rican President Arias said an OAS mission will travel to Honduras in a new effort to pressure coup-installed leaders to restore ousted President Zelaya, AP reports. OAS secretary-general Insulza said the OAS would meet Wednesday to organize the diplomatic mission, which he said he hoped would include foreign ministers. Honduras' Congress pledged to consider granting Zelaya amnesty if the two sides agree to it. the near-unanimous vote suggested Congress would not stand in the way of a compromise, AP says.

2) The US and Israel are discussing the feasibility of curbing Iran's imports of gasoline, Reuters reports. An Israeli official said US policymakers were concerned Iran's response could have implications for global oil markets. Iran has threatened to retaliate against a cutoff of its gasoline imports by stopping its crude oil exports to Western countries. Iran could also disrupt oil tanker traffic through the Strait of Hormuz. Diplomats said Obama could have a hard time convincing Russia and China to go along with any fuel sanctions on Iran. Other diplomats noted that the EU is split on the idea of targeting Iran's energy industry. Diplomats say Turkey would also have difficulty supporting such measures.

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