CNN's Ines Ferré advanced the conservative claim that President Obama is siding with Latin American leaders in opposing Manuel Zelaya's ouster in Honduras, without noting that the European Union and the UN secretary-general have also condemned the ouster.
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On the July 6 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, correspondent Ines Ferré advanced the conservative claim that President Obama is siding with Latin American leaders in opposing the June 28 ousting of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. Ferré uncritically reported that Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) "says that in joining Bolivia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, the U.S. is quote 'serving as an echo chamber ... not helpful to our political, economic, or security interests in the region.' " Earlier in her report, Ferré stated that "one of Zelaya's biggest supporters is Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez." But at no point did she point out that the European Union and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon have also condemned the ouster.
As Media Matters for America has documented, several media conservatives, including Fox News contributors Charles Krauthammer and Bill Kristol, Wall Street Journal editorial board member Mary Anastasia O'Grady, and Internet gossip Matt Drudge, have advanced the claim that Obama is siding with Chavez and the leadership of Cuba without noting that the European Union has also condemned Zelaya's ouster. The Hill similarly advanced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's (R-GA) claim that "the obama administration has joined castro and chavez" in opposing Zelaya's removal from office.
On June 28, Obama released the following statement on the situation in Honduras:
I am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Honduras regarding the detention and expulsion of President Mel Zelaya. As the Organization of American States [OAS] did on Friday, I call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Any existing tensions and disputes must be resolved peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference.
At a June 29 joint press availability with Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, Obama stated: "All of us have great concerns about what's taken place there. President Zelaya was democratically elected. He had not yet completed his term. We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the President of Honduras, the democratically elected President there. In that we have joined all the countries in the region, including Colombia and the Organization of American States." He later stated: "So we are very clear about the fact that President Zelaya is the democratically elected President, and we will work with the regional organizations like OAS and with other international institutions to see if we can resolve this in a peaceful way."
On June 29, the European Union posted on its website a "Declaration by the Presidency, on behalf of the European Union, on Honduras," which states:
On 28 June Foreign Ministers of the European Union strongly condemned the military actions which were directed against democratically elected President Zelaya and part of his cabinet and have violated the constitutional order of Honduras. The EU urges the immediate release of all detained governmental representatives and calls on all relevant parties and institutions to refrain from violence and to strive to find a swift and peaceful solution to the current situation. This should be in accordance with the existing constitutional order of Honduras, the principles of rule of law and democracy.
And on June 28, the office of the spokesperson for the UN secretary-general issued a release stating that Ban "condemns the arrest today of the constitutional President of the Republic. He urges the reinstatement of the democratically elected representatives of the country." From the statement:
The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the latest developments in Honduras. He expresses his strong support for the country's democratic institutions and condemns the arrest today of the constitutional President of the Republic. He urges the reinstatement of the democratically elected representatives of the country and full respect for human rights, including safeguards for the security of President Zelaya, members of his family and his government. He calls on all Hondurans to engage peacefully and in the spirit of reconciliation to resolve their differences.
The Secretary-General welcomes the prompt diplomatic efforts of the Organization of American States, whose Permanent Council is holding a special meeting this morning. He trusts that international and domestic efforts will succeed in the promotion of a peaceful solution to the crisis through democratic means.
From the July 6 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:
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FERRÉ: More clashes in Honduras' capital over the military ousting of leftist President Manuel Zelaya. At least one person died and two were injured Sunday when pro-Zelaya protesters called for his return, a demand Washington supports.
IAN KELLY (State Department spokesman): We're very focused on our common goal, which is a restoration of a democratic order.
FERRÉ: Yet one of Zelaya's biggest supporters is Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez; their relationship has focused mainly on cheap oil for Honduras. It was Chavez who provided the plane that tried to take Zelaya home on Sunday. The military blocked the landing. Zelaya says it's not just about him returning to power.
ZELAYA (through a translator): It is the people who choose and not the military, nor the elites, nor the politicians, but the people who choose whomever they want to govern them.
FERRÉ: Zelaya was ousted by the military eight days ago after pressing ahead with a plan to hold a referendum on allowing him to run for a second term, something the country's Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional. This professor of Latin American studies says Zelaya was testing the limits of democracy.
PATRICIO NAVIA (New York University professor): He was elected democratically, but he was not governing democratically. In fact, he was doing a number of things that undermine democratic institutions. But after he was pushed aside by the military on Sunday morning, he all of a sudden became a victim and a champion of democracy.
FERRÉ: The ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee says that in joining Bolivia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, the U.S. is quote "serving as an echo chamber ... not helpful to our political, economic, or security interests in the region." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet Zelaya tomorrow, the most senior U.S. official to do so since his ouster.
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FERRÉ: And Chavez has asked President Obama to clarify his stance on the coup, even though the president has already condemned it. At the same time, Chavez says the Honduran army's intervention is supported by, quote, "the Yankee empire."
LOU DOBBS (host): And the Chavez strategy in Central and South America proceeds?
FERRÉ: Well, their strategy is to gain -- I mean, to keep Honduras as their ally. I mean, that's what they want. And also, one of the experts I was talking to is saying that he wants to test to see how far the OAS can actually go. What can they do? Because if they don't do anything, then that means that, in other occasions, other leaders could do other things then. There'll be no --
DOBBS: And there's no history of the OAS having done anything, is there?
FERRÉ: Well, the OAS has actually just -- they have suspended --
DOBBS: I mean in concrete action?
FERRÉ: Right. Exactly.
DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much, Ines Ferré. Thank you.