WASHINGTON -- It took the Obama administration eight days to figure out whether Iranians being gunned down for protesting a fraudulent election and demanding basic civil liberties deserved to be acknowledged by the president of the United States. It took the O-Team less than eight hours to side with Cuba's Fidel Castro, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega over the ouster of Manuel Zelaya in Honduras.
As we now have come to expect, Mr. Obama got it wrong again, but this time, nobody noticed. The U.S. news media, preoccupied with the sudden demise of Michael Jackson, ignored the event in Central America. For those who care about things more important than the passing of a "pop music legend," here's the rest of the story:
Manuel Zelaya, a wealthy rancher and agribusiness executive and a self-described "poor farmer," won a four-year term as Honduran president in November 2005, with 49.8 percent of the vote. Article 374 of the Honduran Constitution bars the nation's chief executive from serving consecutive terms. Apparently, one term wasn't enough for Zelaya, a protege of Venezuela's strongman, Hugo Chavez, and Nicaragua's phobic anti-American leader, Daniel Ortega.
Late last year, as the Honduran economy tanked and unemployment grew to nearly 28 percent, Zelaya forced Elvin Santos, the country's elected vice president, to resign and began holding conversations with Chavez and Ortega on how to hold on to power. In lengthy Chavez-like populist speeches, he denounced the U.S. and wealthy landowners and linked himself with leftists in the Honduran labor movement. On March 23, he issued an executive decree directing a national referendum on a Venezuela-style constituent assembly to rewrite the country's constitution in time for presidential and legislative elections in November. The Obama-Clinton State Department was mute about all of this.
Unfortunately for Zelaya's aspirations, the Honduran Constitution requires that amendments be passed by a two-thirds vote of the country's unicameral Congress during two consecutive sessions. By late May, the Honduran Congress, the Honduran Supreme Court, the commissioner for human rights, and the Honduran electoral tribunal all had overwhelmingly declared the referendum unconstitutional. Zelaya ignored the people's representatives, had ballots printed in Venezuela, and announced that the vote would take place June 28. Again, the O-Team was silent.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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