The question that comes to mind here regarding the recent coup in Honduras is, “What role will the US government play in either restoring democracy or in allowing the Honduran military to rule?” As most readers know, the history of US support for coups in Latin America is a long and shameful one. Now that one has taken place during the Obama Administration, we wonder what will distinguish his reaction to it from that of past US presidents.
The Bush Administration supported the last attempted Latin American coup against an irritant of the US, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, in 2002. Bush’s support backfired when the coup was overturned quickly and decisively by Chavez’ supporters, earning the US further condemnation in the region. Even stated opposition to coups by the US has historically been halfhearted and sometimes merely a show for international audiences.
In fact, the joke question one hears frequently in those parts is, “Why has there never been a military coup in the United States?” The answer is, “Because the United States is the only country in the Americas without a US Embassy.” Militaries across the region have always taken the pulse of US diplomats before acting to overthrow their governments by coup. It appears that in Honduras as well, the military calculated that, at worst, the US will not act decisively against their actions.
So will Obama let the Honduran coup pass into record, even while the country’s neighbors have united to shut down trade and called for the restoration of the elected President? What means would the US employ to convince the Honduran military, which has historically lived on aid from the US, that their coup must be reversed? Will the Administration put its prestige on the line to stand on the side of democracy in its own backyard, even as it is powerless to do so on the other side of the globe in Iran?
We're interested to see.
(Bill Kavanagh cross-posts at Buck Naked Politics.)