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Contentions

Petty Power

Today, five nations in Latin America commemorated 188 years of independence: El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Honduras. Secretary of State Clinton issued five press releases (one with respect to each country) conveying regards on behalf of the people of the United States.

To the people of El Salvador, she offered “warm wishes and congratulations.” The people of Guatemala got “warm congratulations”—not wishes and congratulations, but still nice. To the people of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, she simply extended “congratulations”—apparently not warm ones.

And to the people of Honduras, she sent neither congratulations (much less warm ones) nor even warm wishes—just “greetings.” And, she noted, “worry and sadness”:

On behalf of the people of the United States, I send greetings to the people of Honduras as they commemorate 188 years of independence. . . . The turmoil and political differences that have [recently] divided Honduras are a source of worry and sadness. I remain hopeful that the spirit of Francisco Morazán, a founder and visionary leader of Honduras, will help return your nation to a democratic path that will unite and inspire, rather than divide and discourage, and rebuild the ties of solidarity that have characterized your relationship with the Americas.

When your Supreme Court enforces your constitution, and your military forces obey their orders, and your Congress virtually unanimously chooses the successor president, and the new head of state is a member of the prior president’s party, and representatives of religious and civil society tell the Organization of American States they support the actions of their government, and the previously scheduled presidential elections will be held on time, in about two months, with international observers welcome, you have—in the view of the Obama administration—abandoned the “democratic path.”

And you can kiss the warm wishes and congratulations about the past 188 years goodbye.


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