On June 28th 2009, the elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya was kidnapped in his pajamas and flown to Costa Rica.
On August 7, 2009, 15 members of the U.S. Congress sent a letter to President Barack Obama requesting that he make a public statement. They asked Obama to announce that there was in fact a coup against the democratically elected president of Honduras.
State Department cables released by WikiLeaks shows that Hillary Clinton and her department had no intention of restoring the democratically elected president of Honduras.
Hillary admits her role in the deteriorating situation in the Latin American country, stating she needed to “manage a very difficult situation [in Honduras].”
In Clinton’s own memoir, Hard Choices, she’s quoted as saying:
“We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of Zelaya moot.”
Subsequently, that admission was deleted from the paperback version of her book…along with thousands of her emails.
Via Common Dreams:
“A number of Clinton emails show how, starting shortly after the coup, Hillary Clinton and her team shifted the deliberations on Honduras from the Organization of American States (OAS) – where [President] Zelaya could benefit from the strong support of left-wing allies throughout the region – to the San José negotiation process in Costa Rica. There, representatives of the coup regime were placed on an equal footing with representatives of Zelaya’s constitutional government, and Costa Rican president Oscar Arias (a close U.S. ally) as mediator. Unsurprisingly, the negotiation process only succeeded in one thing: keeping Zelaya out of office for the rest of his constitutional mandate.”
The emails provide strong evidence that the State Department had in fact no intention of pursuing a resolution to the crisis at the OAS. In the weeks that followed, a regional tug-of-war took place, with various OAS member governments trying to keep Honduras on the agenda at the OAS, and get members to agree to stronger measures against the coup regime, and the U.S. only showing interest in the Costa Rica mediation.
Predictably, the coup regime only seemed to be interested in making the negotiations drag on indefinitely. On August 18th, an email from Kelly acknowledged that the “de factos” were engaging in “a deliberate delaying tactic designed to move the country toward elections without Zelaya.”
President Zelaya was interviewed on July 29, 2015 and said this about Clinton:
“I interacted with Secretary Clinton publicly on several occasions, especially when she was here in Honduras in 2009, one month before the coup d’état, and sanctions against Cuba that the OAS had imposed 40 years earlier were lifted. The decrees against Cuba were repealed, and that was the beginning of getting rid of the blockade. It began in Honduras.”
“Secretary Clinton had many contacts with us. She is a very capable woman, but she is very weak in the face of pressures from groups that hold power in the United States, the most extremist right-wing sectors of the U.S. government, known as the hawks of Washington. She bowed to those pressures. And that led U.S. policy to Honduras to be ambiguous and mistaken.”
But Clinton was reluctant to take more decisive measures, despite some of her closest advisors urging her to do so. Anne-Marie Slaughter, then director of Policy Planning at the State Department, sent an email to Clinton on August 16 strongly urging her to “take bold action” and to “find that [the] coup was a ‘military coup’ under U.S. law,” a move that would have immediately triggered the suspension of all non-humanitarian U.S. assistance to Honduras.
In her email, Slaughter correctly diagnosed the region’s deep disappointment with the administration’s handling of the Honduran crisis:
“I got lots of signals last week that we are losing ground in Latin America every day the Honduras crisis continues; high level people from both the business and the NGO community say that even our friends are beginning to think we are not really committed to the norm of constitutional democracy we have worked so hard to build over the last 20 year [sic].”
“The current stalemate favors the status quo; the de facto regime has every incentive to run out the clock as long as they think we will have to accept any post-election government. I urge you to think about taking bold action now to breathe new life into the process and signal that regardless what happens on the Hill, you and the president are serious.”
The “hard choices” taken by Clinton and her team didn’t just damage U.S. relations in Latin America – they contributed to the enormous damage done to Honduras. In the years following the coup, economic growth has stalled, while poverty and income inequality have risen significantly. Violence has spiraled out of control, with murders increasing 50% after the coup.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government has increased military assistance to Honduras, despite alarming reports of killings and human rights abuses by increasingly militarized Honduran security forces. Many Congressional Democrats have asked for a complete suspension of security assistance while human rights violations continue with impunity. But neither the Clinton nor Kerry State Departments have heeded their call.
Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan explains how the U.S. Democratic presidential candidate backed regime change in Honduras: