Though the Obama administration has insisted that it is determined to see democracy restored in Honduras, it has been slow to take real measures aimed at pressuring the coup regime. It wasn’t until late last week that the State Department finally decided to cancel the visas of key coup leaders like de facto president Roberto Micheletti and terminate roughly 15% of US aid to Honduras. These meek and overdue steps stand in striking contrast with the US government’s response to other recent coups, like those of Madagascar and Mauritania, where the US was quick to suspend the totality of its major Millennium Challenge aid programs.
The reasons for the administration’s foot-dragging on Honduras are not clear but many suspect that high-paid lobbyists working for pro-coup Honduran businesses have played a significant behind-the-scenes role. It also appears likely that the administration has partly caved under the intense pressure exerted by ultra right-wing Republicans like Connie Mack of Florida, Dana Rohrabacher of California and Senator De Mint of South Carolina.
Regardless of what the reasons may be, it is high time for the US administration to stop its dilly-dallying and show Honduras and the world that it is serious about upholding democratic rule in the region. This means that unambiguous measures must be taken, such as freezing the US-based assets of the coup regime, cutting off all forms of non-humanitarian assistance and making a clear determination that a military coup has taken place. If the US fails to act decisively to reverse this coup, our neighbors will understandably begin to doubt that real change has come to US policy towards Latin America.