Sunday, July 04, 2010

Liberty For All

Hon. Hillary Clinton, Secretary

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street NW

Washington, DC 20520

RE: Your July 3 speech to the Community of Democracies in Krakow

Dear Madam Secretary,

On this, our Independence Day, a day we commemorate winning our sovereignty in a revolution, I must write in response to news coverage of your speech yesterday to the Community of Democracies in Krakow.

At this speech you warned of a “steel vise” applied by numerous governments against activists and civic groups advocating for democracy. You warned an audience of European leaders about crackdowns on dissent. You named a few offenders, such as China, Russia, Cuba, and Iran. You also named Venezuela, Egypt, Zimbabwe, and the Congo.

It is interesting that you did not mention Honduras, and so shortly after the first anniversary of the bloody coup there. It is fair to say we tacitly supported the Honduran coup of 28 June 2009. That event certainly featured, in your own words, “the steel vise in which governments around the world are slowly crushing civil society and the human spirit.” Following the coup, elections were conducted amid curfews, tightly controlled media, and continued oppression of civil activists. Against the majority of Latin American nations, you have been actively campaigning for recognition of the new Honduran government. (Your only takers are Peru and Columbia. Porfirio Lobo even had to cancel his visit to the EU-Latin America and Caribbean Summit in May.)

This sort of hypocrisy should not surprise me anymore, but it does. It takes my breath away that my government, while working hard to help launder a violent and repressive coup in Honduras, is lecturing Europe on the “steel vise” of intolerant governments.

There is still an atmosphere of terror and repression in Honduras, where nine journalists have been murdered along with dozens of non-violent democratic activists. The steel vise is there in force, and you, Madam Secretary, are exerting yourself to get other countries to recognize that very government.

And you made this speech on the eve of Independence Day, when we are encouraged to reflect with gratitude on liberty and democracy. It is, simply, stunning.


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