Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has announced that he will be visiting Honduras today to meet with the de facto regime of acting Honduran President Roberto Micheletti in sheer defiance of the position taken by the US government and international community. Not a single nation has recognized Micheletti’s government, but Washington Note’s Steve Clemons explains that DeMint is intent on taking Honduran matters into his own hands:
Jim DeMint is acting on behalf of, in cahoots with, and against the foreign policy of the United States of America in encouraging post-coup Honduran government officials defy the United States. He is encouraging a political leadership which has no legitimacy and which not recognized by other democracies in the region — while the ousted President makes cell phone UN General Assembly statements from a couch-bed in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa.
The Logan Act forbids “unauthorized citizens” from negotiating with foreign governments. In a 1936 Supreme Court ruling, Justice Sutherland wrote that “the President alone has the power” and “the Senate cannot intrude, and Congress itself is powerless to invade it.”
Since former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was seized by the military at gunpoint and exiled in his pajamas back in June, the Obama administration — together with the United Nations, European Nations, and the Organization of American States — has collectively addressed the delicate political situation in Honduras by putting pressure on Micheletti’s government to reach a peaceful and democratic solution. So far, the US has cut all non-humanitarian aid to the de facto government and revoked the visas of all civilian and military officials who backed the June 28 coup. The Obama administration is also making a deliberate effort to repair critical relations with Latin America by reversing Washington’s “historic tendency” of welcoming and backing coups waged against democratically-elected leaders, such as Zelaya, who are critical of the U.S.
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) attempted to block approval of DeMint’s self-described “fact-finding trip,” citing the defiant role DeMint has taken in attempting to alter US policy on Honduras by brazenly blocking the confirmations of Arturo Valenzuela, Obama’s nominee to be assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, and Thomas A. Shannon Jr., the nominee to be ambassador to Brazil. However, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) interfered and appealed to the Defense Department to provide an airplane for DeMint and his delegation, which the Pentagon allowed. DeMint will be joined by US Reps. Aaron Schock (R-IL), Peter Roskam (R-IL), and Doug Lamborn (R-CO). Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) will be visiting Honduras on Monday. Ros-Lehtinen and the congressmen plan on meeting with Micheletti, members of the Honduran Supreme Court, election officials, and Honduran business and civic leaders. However, they are snubbing Zelaya who recently returned to Honduras and took refuge in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa.
Perhaps the public relations firm Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter & Associates — which Micheletti’s regime hired to “bolster its image in Washington” — helped convince DeMint to overlook the fact that Micheletti has suspended constitutional guarantees to civil liberties, including freedom of assembly and freedom of the press. Meanwhile, the U.N. Human Rights Council has unanimously called for an immediate end to all human rights violations in Honduras on behalf of the de facto government.
Wesley Denton, a spokesman for DeMint, told Talking Points Memo that the Senator is not attempting “to intervene in support of the military coup in Honduras.” Denton explained:
“Sen DeMint did not announce that to the New York Times, they did not get that from our office. They did not speak to staff members from our office that I know of — they certainly did not talk to me…He’s not in support of any particular politician. He supports democracy, the rule of law and the constitution of Honduras, and he wants to see a quick resolution to the crisis, one that allows the Honduran people to resolve it through a democratic and transparent process.”