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Obama Vs. Democracy By: Ralph Peters
New York Post | Wednesday, September 09, 2009


President Obama's State Department waited until the cusp of Labor Day weekend before publicly backing Latin America's dictators in their assault on democracy.

Our thug-worshiping diplomats figured they'd slip it by us. With the nation focused on barbecues and the beach, they announced that, if Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez's client, Manuel Zelaya, isn't returned to power in Honduras, the United States won't recognize the results of that country's upcoming free elections.

Why was former president Zelaya driven from his would-be throne in Tegucigalpa? He tried to subvert Honduras' Constitution and set himself up as president-for-life.

In June, the elected legislators and the Honduran Supreme Court had enough. As Zelaya aligned with Chavez, the Castro regime, Nicaraguan caudillo Daniel Ortega and other extreme leftists, the Honduran government gave the would-be dictator the boot.

Acting under legal orders, the army peacefully arrested Zelaya and shipped him out of the country. No murders, no Chavez-style imprisonments.

It was not a military coup. An elected congress and interim president, not a general, run the country today.

But the Obama administration has decided that this "violation" is so dreadful that we won't even recognize future free elections in Honduras.

Well, President Obama's taste in elections is finicky:

* He'll recognize the utterly bogus results of Afghanistan's corrupt election.

* He initially blessed the results of Iran's rigged election. (He was for it before he was against it.)

* He hasn't spoken one word of criticism as Chavez continues to strangle Venezuelan democracy.

* He hasn't questioned the divisive, racist politics of Presidente Evo Morales in Bolivia.

* He hasn't demanded free elections in Cuba -- instead, he's easing up on the Castro regime.

But we're going to show those wicked Hondurans, by George! They can't boot out a crazy leftwing president just because he's trying to subvert their Constitution.

Honduras is a small country. But the principle and precedent loom hugely. Have we abandoned democracy entirely? In favor of backing anti-American dictators?

This is beyond madness.

Did our president's (self-avowed) Marxist friends convince him that Che Guevara really was a hero?

Just because the Bush administration tried to spread democracy doesn't mean that defending democracy is a bad idea. At present, free elections are under siege south of the Rio Grande -- from narco-gangs in Mexico, from Venezuelan-backed Marxist terrorists in Colombia, from the kleptocrat Kirchner-family regime in Argentina and from Castro clones in Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Hugo Chavez is not only buying extensive weaponry from Russia, but distributing arms to the FARC terrorists in Colombia next door and equipping the Bolivian military for a confrontation with Chile -- while accusing the United States of plotting multiple invasions.

Chavez has murdered, kidnapped, jailed and tortured political opponents. He's seized control of the economy (and not just health care), wrecking it in the process. Dissent has been crushed, with even old comrades of Chavez jailed without trial on trumped-up charges. Venezuela's media, once vibrant and free, has been destroyed.

This is the guy with whom our president's siding on the Honduras crisis.

But if Obama thinks that handing over a "little" country he couldn't find on a map is going to win him enduring applause and cooperative friends in Latin America, he's crazy. What he's actually doing is frightening our friends. If democratic governments south of the border can't rely on US support, to whom can they turn?

The increasingly left-wing tone from the White House may be satisfying to ideological activists, but it's doing tremendous damage to the cause of freedom in our hemisphere.

What's next? Will Obama withdraw support for democratic Colombia? After Honduras, is El Salvador next? Will we be complicit in turning back Latin America's political clock by 50 years?

For shame.



Ralph Peters is a New York Post Opinion columnist and the author of "Looking For Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World."


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