• Categories
  • Archives

Where Is Obama’s Pledge of Equal Partnership in LatAm? Brazil Wants to Know

Obama and Lula exchange gifts Despite many credible reports of violent crackdowns against supporters of ousted president, Mel Zelaya, the de facto government of Honduras has managed to hold presidential elections that came off better than most observers had expected.

The easy victor was the conservative Nationalist Party candidate, Porfirio Lobo. The United States quickly recognized the election results.

Yet, amid general rejoicing that the worst may be over, many Hondurans fear that the coup's success represents a threat to the future stability of a democratic state. If the few dozen men who hold the strings of power and wealth can escalate one of the nation's recurring political brawls into the overthrow of an elected president, how can future democratic leaders dare to challenge the culture of wealth and impunity that has made Honduras one of the most corrupt, crime-ridden, and unjust nations in the world?

In order to have any chance of success in restoring peace, order, and democracy to Honduras, President Lobo will require the help and support of the entire hemisphere, not just the United States. Yet most governments of Latin America will not recognize the validity of the Honduran elections.

While this may change over time, divisions in the hemisphere will linger because the Obama administration forgot that, in the eyes of Latin America, the United States was not negotiating in Honduras for itself alone, but as the diplomatic spearhead of a hemispheric coalition seeking a prompt and definitive return to constitutional rule.

Instead, Washington diplomats fell into their traditional stance in Central America, acting as the dominant power arbitrating disputes between rival factions of a client state.

When the coup occurred five months ago, President Obama condemned it as "illegal" and stated "it would be a terrible precedent if we start moving backward into the era in which we are seeing military coups as a means to political transition."

Despite this presidential guidance, Washington diplomats spent the next several months placating those who had carried out the coup, and pleading with them to restore President Zelaya, if only for a symbolic few days, in order to gain international support for the coming presidential election.

When the handful of political and military mediocrities who engineered the Honduran coup refused to yield on the key point of restoring the constitutional president, our negotiators collapsed. Without consulting either with the Organization of American States or with leading hemispheric partners, the United States sold out Zelaya and agreed to recognize the results of the elections, regardless of who sat in the presidential chair.

Then, having achieved the exact contrary of their declared objectives, the diplomats returned to Washington to explain how defeat equals victory.

As President Lula of Brazil watched the United States botch the straightforward challenge of restoring constitutional order to Honduras, he publicly criticized President Obama for "ignoring Latin America."

Here Lula was not implying that Obama had turned his back on individual countries of the region, but that he had reneged on his pledge, made at the Summit of the Americas, to seek an "equal partnership" with Latin America, one in which the United States did not dictate terms.

Lula, and other Latin American democratic leaders, understood that by "equal partnership" Obama meant a sharing of responsibility and joint action with other American states to safeguard the future of democracy in the hemisphere. Unfortunately, in the case of Honduras, our diplomats apparently did not get Obama's message.

Robert E. White, a former U.S. ambassador to El Salvador and Paraguay, is president of the Center for International Policy.

Tags:

  • Show Comments (0)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Ads

You May Also Like

Brazil’s Zero Hunger Offers 39-cent Meals

Brazil’s Minister of Social Development and Hunger Alleviation, Patrus Ananias, announced April 19 that ...

Brazil Drafts Taxi Drivers and Hotels for Kid Prostitution Crackdown

The state of Pernambuco, which, according to Brazil's Ministry of Tourism, ranks fourth among ...

Brazil Lula’s Popularity Tumbles 10 Percentage Points

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s popularity declined from 59.9% in July to ...

Brazil Greenlights Transgenics and Stem Cell Research

Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies ended the controversy over the cultivation of genetically modified seeds ...

Brazil Has Already US$ 2.1 Billion Surplus for This Month

Exports in Brazil reached US$ 3.011 billion last week and imports amounted to US$ ...

Having Learned from US Mistakes China Goes Soft to Win Brazil and LatAm’s Hearts

On November 5, 2008, the Chinese government released a policy paper on Latin America ...

Brazil’s Family Planning Offers Condoms to 13 Year Olds

Saying this will guarantee the sexual and reproductive health rights of the population, yesterday, Brazil’s Ministry ...

3,000 Mayors in Brazil’s Capital in Search of More Funds

Tuesday, April 25, the 9th March to BrasÀ­lia in Defense of Municipalities (9ª Marcha ...

Brazilian Popular Culture Gets Boost from WSF

Based on the debates at the World Social Forum, which gets underway tomorrow, January ...

Brazil and Tunisia to End Visa Requirements Between Both Nations

The need for greater cultural interaction between Brazil and Tunisia was one of the ...