Anyone Think Insulza is Doing a Good Job?

Sunday, July 26, 2009
Apparently not.

In today's Washington Post, Edward Schumacher-Matos, a former editor and Latin America reporter with The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, writes:

The tiny country of Honduras is providing a lesson in humility on the frailty of democracy and the limits in making it work. The secretary general of the Organization of American States, José Miguel Insulza, hasn't listened and may soon lose his job.

He deserves to.

Honduras's de facto government has been surprisingly hardheaded in defying the OAS, the Obama administration and most world governments by refusing to allow the return of Manuel Zelaya, the deposed president. The equally hardheaded Zelaya has ignored widespread pleas for patience. Saturday, he set up camp on the Nicaraguan border, across from Honduras, and has threatened to return by force. Central America could be thrust back into war.

It's a crisis that should never have happened. In the weeks before Zelaya's ouster, American diplomats behind the scenes tried to encourage moderation as the Honduran president sought recklessly to push through a constitutional referendum that might lead to his reelection. The Supreme Court, the National Congress, the president's own attorney general, the human rights ombudsman and the electoral commission all ruled that the referendum violated the constitution, which clearly outlaws even consideration of a presidential reelection.

Then, the OAS sent in three election observers. Their very presence gave legitimacy to Zelaya's efforts. The Congress asked the OAS mission to leave; it didn't. Empowered, Zelaya then resorted to mob rule by sending supporters to invade a military base and seize the ballots that the electoral commission refused to distribute. The Supreme Court ordered the army to arrest the president. The army did so and sent him into exile.

Insulza then further inflamed the situation by emotionally declaring the ouster a military coup -- "rape," he called it -- and leading an unconditional charge to restore the president. He went so far as to fly in an escort plane as Zelaya tried to return to the country -- an attempt that set off riots at the Tegucigalpa airport and led to the only death in the crisis.