Press Release: 240+ Latin America Experts Pressure Obama on Honduras

For Immediate Release: November 12, 2009

Contact: Dana Frank, 831-600-5525 (California)
Greg Grandin, 347-804-6851 (New York)
Suyapa Portillo, (323) 637-7812 (California)
Miguel Tinker Salas, 909 607 2920 (California)

Honduran Elections: Over 240 Academics and Experts on Latin America Call on Obama to Denounce Human Rights Abuses by Honduran Dictatorship

Free and Fair Elections Are Possible Only After the Coup is Reversed, They Say

Claremont, CA - Over 240 academics and experts on Latin America sent a letter to President Obama yesterday urging him to denounce the ongoing human rights violations perpetrated by the coup regime in Honduras ahead of the planned November 29 elections. They also urged him to demand the immediate restitution of President Manuel Zelaya and to support a full three months of electoral campaigning after the coup has been overturned and "debating, organizing, and all other aspects of election campaigns can be conducted in an atmosphere that is free from fear; in which all views and parties are free to make their voices heard - not just those that are allowed under an illegal military occupation." This would mean that this month's elections - which Latin America and the European Union have said they will not recognize - would need to be rescheduled.

"With only days left before the scheduled November 29 elections, the U.S. government must make a choice," the letter states. "It can either side with democracy, along with every government in Latin America, or it can side with the coup regime, and further isolate the United States in the hemisphere."

Last Thursday, the Rio Group, which includes all of Latin America and most of the Caribbean, issued a statement declaring that they would consider the November 29 elections to be illegitimate if Zelaya is not first reinstated.

The current letter continues: "Moreover, the U.S. cannot afford to maintain its deafening silence regarding the innumerable and grave human rights abuses committed by the coup government in Honduras - a silence that has become a conspicuous international embarrassment."

Numerous press reports have described human rights abuses and violations of civil liberties during the three-month period in which electoral campaigning is allowed under Honduran law, including illegal mass arrests, beatings, torture, and shootings by state security forces, attacks on the freedoms of assembly, speech, and of the press. This repression has been widely documented and denounced by Honduran and international human rights organizations, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International.

Despite this, the Obama administration has yet to condemn the human rights violations, or to threaten sanctions or other strong action to force the coup regime to stop them.

Last week, Bertha Oliva, the head of Honduras' most well-known and respected human rights organization, the Committee for Families of the Disappeared and Detained in Honduras (COFADEH), also called on the Obama administration to denounce the "grave human rights violations" in Honduras, and declared that "It's too late to have elections on November 29."

The full text of the letter follows:

_______________________________________

November 11, 2009

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Cc.:
Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State
Thomas Shannon, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs
Dan Restrepo, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Western Hemisphere Affairs, National Security Council

Dear President Barack Obama,

We are writing to urge you to stand with democracy and human rights in Honduras. With only days left before the scheduled November 29 elections the U.S. government must make a choice: it can either side with democracy, along with every government in Latin America, or it can side with the coup regime, and remain isolated. Moreover, the U.S. cannot afford to maintain its deafening silence regarding the innumerable and grave human rights abuses committed by the coup government in Honduras - a silence that has become a conspicuous international embarrassment. The U.S. must forcefully denounce these abuses, and match its words with action as well. It must make the coup regime understand that the United States government will no longer tolerate the violence and repression that the Micheletti government has practiced against the Honduran people since seizing power on June 28, 2009.

Honduras now stands at the edge of a dangerous precipice. The coup regime remains determined - in the absence of significant pressure from the U.S. government - to move forward with the elections, in the hopes that the international community will eventually recognize the results. In so doing, they hope to legitimize their illegal and unconstitutional government.

Free and fair elections on November 29 are already impossible, as more than two-thirds of the campaign period allowed under Honduran law has already passed, under conditions in which freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press have all been under attack throughout the country. This repression has been widely documented and denounced by Honduran and international human rights organizations, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International.

The Rio Group of 23 nations, which includes nearly all of Latin America and much of the Caribbean, had forcefully declared that it will not recognize the November 29th elections if President Zelaya is not first re-instated. Thus the United States is at odds with the rest of the Hemisphere in its stated willingness to recognize these illegitimate elections.

Free and fair elections can only be carried out in a climate in which debating, organizing, and all other aspects of election campaigns can be conducted in an atmosphere that is free from fear; in which all views and parties are free to make their voices heard - not just those that are allowed under an illegal military occupation. We therefore call on the U.S. government to support an electoral process in Honduras that allows for a full three months - as mandated under Honduran law - for electoral campaigning, to take place after the restoration of President Manuel Zelaya. Only in this way can the electoral process achieve legitimacy in both the eyes of the Honduran people and the international community.

In the months that have transpired since the April Summit of the Americas, we are saddened to see that your promise of treating Latin American nations as equals is evaporating. You declared at that time, "I just want to make absolutely clear that I am absolutely opposed and condemn any efforts at violent overthrows of democratically elected governments, wherever it happens in the hemisphere." In remarks that were recorded, cited, and broadcast all over the world, you asserted: "The test for all of us is not simply words, but also deeds." Since then, your government has failed to match these words with deeds regarding the coup d'état in Honduras. As a result, the United States is once again isolating itself in the Americas.

The U.S. must also match its rhetorical commitment to democracy with concrete deeds, and support the immediate restoration of Manuel Zelaya to the presidency of Honduras and full guarantees of a free and fair election.

Sincerely,
Thomas A. Abercrombie, New York University*
Leisy Abrego, University of California, Irvine
Alexis Aguilar, Salisbury University
Jordi Aladro, University of California, Santa Cruz
Ece Algan, California State University, San Bernardino
Paul Almeida, Texas A&M University
Mark Anderson, University of California, Santa Cruz
Tim Anderson, University of Sydney (Australia)
Tom Angotti, Hunter College/City University of New York
Craig Auchter, Butler University
William Avilés, University of Nebraska at Kearney
César J. Ayala, University of California, Los Angeles
Nikhil Aziz, Executive Director, Grassroots International
Beth Baker-Cristales, California State University, Los Angeles
Teo Ballvé, North American Congress on Latin America
Rosemary A. Barbera, Monmouth University
Francisco J. Barbosa, University of Colorado, Boulder
John Beverley, University of Pittsburgh
Michelle Bigenho, Hampshire College
Maylei Blackwell, University of California, Los Angeles
Andy Bliss, University of California, Berkeley
Aaron Bobrow-Strain, Whitman College
Blasé Bonpane, Office of the Americas
Jules Boykoff, Pacific University
Rachel Brahinsky, University of California, Berkeley
Rosalind Bresnahan, Latin American Perspectives
Laura Briggs, University of Arizona
Sandy Brown, University of California, Berkeley
Joe Bryan, University of Colorado, Boulder
Alicia del Campo, California State University Long Beach
Frankie Cardamone, Prescott College
Barry Carr, University of California, Berkeley
Jennifer Casolo, University of California, Berkeley
Julie A. Charlip, Whitman College
Ronald Chilcote, University of California, Riverside
Aviva Chomsky, Salem State College
George Ciccariello-Maher, University of California, Berkeley
Christopher Clement, Pomona College
Nathan Clough, The University of Minnesota
Fernando Coronil, City University of New York, Graduate Center
Dominic Corva, Sarah Lawrence College
Raymond B. Craib, Cornell University
Altha Cravey, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Julie Cupples, University of Canterbury
Antonia Darder, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign
Juanita Darling, San Francisco State University
Pablo Delano, Trinity College
Guillermo Delgado-P., University of California, Santa Cruz
Jennifer Devine, University of California, Berkeley
Mônica Dias Martins, State University of Ceara, Brasil
Paul Dosh, Macalester College
Alex Dupuy, Wesleyan University
Jordana Dym, Skidmore College
Marc Edelman, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York
Steve Ellner, University of Oriente (Venezuela)
Ben Ehrenreich, Journalist and Author
Laura Enriquez, University of California, Berkeley
Arturo Escobar, University of North Carolina
Alicia Estrada, California State University, Northridge
Nicole Fabricant, University of South Florida
Mario Fenyo, Bowie State University
Sujatha Fernandes, Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York
Raul Fernández, University of California, Irvine
Ada Ferrer, New York University
John Finn, Arizona State University
Allan Fisher, City College of San Francisco
Bill Fletcher, Jr., BlackCommentator.com
Cindy Forster, Scripps College
Jonathan Fox, University of California, Santa Cruz
Dana Frank, University of California, Santa Cruz
John D. French, Duke University
Gavin Fridell, Trent University, Ontario, Canada
Victoria Furio, Conference Interpreter & Translator
Alberto J. Garcia, California State University, Northridge California
Kim Geron, California State University East Bay
Asher Ghertner, University of California, Berkeley
Shannon Gleeson, University of California, Santa Cruz
Michel Gobat, University of Iowa
Marcial Godoy-Anativia, New York University
Walter L. Goldfrank, University of California, Santa Cruz
Armando González Caban, Latin American Perspectives
Gilbert Gonzalez, University of California, Irvine
Evelyn Gonzalez-Mills, Montgomery College
Jeffrey L. Gould, Indiana University
Daniel Graham, University of California, Berkeley
Laura R. Graham, University of Iowa
Greg Grandin, New York University
Richard Grossman, Northeastern Illinois University
Peter Hallward, Middlesex University (U.K.)
Nora Hamilton, University of Southern California
Zoe Hammer, Prescott College
John L. Hammond, City University of New York
Tom Hayden, Author
Mark Healey, University of California, Berkeley
Daniel Hellinger, Webster University
Adam Henne, University of Wyoming
Luis A. Hernández, School District of Philadelphia
Eric Hershberg, Simon Fraser University
Doug Hertzler, Eastern Mennonite University, Washington Community Scholars' Center
Derrick Hindery, University of Oregon
Raul Hinojosa, University of California, Los Angeles
Katherine Hite, Vassar College
Jen Hofer, poet, translator, interpreter
Aaron Hogue, Salisbury University
Katherine Hoyt, Nicaragua Network
Forrest Hylton, Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá)
Dale L. Johnson, PhD
David Johnson, Xavier University
Susanne Jonas, University of California, Santa Cruz
James Jordan, Campaign for Labor Rights
Gilbert Joseph, Yale University
Nadine Jubb, York University
Karen Kampwirth, Knox College
David Kane, Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns
Chuck Kaufman, Alliance for Global Justice
Robin D. G. Kelly, University of Southern California
Norma Klahn, University of California, Santa Cruz
Sara Koopman, University of British Columbia
Glen David Kuecker, DePauw University
David Kunzle, University of California, Los Angeles
Victoria Langland, University of California, Davis
John Lear, University of Puget Sound
George Leddy, Los Angeles Valley College
Winnie Lem, Trent University
Sidney Lemelle, Pomona College
Deborah Levenson, Boston College
David Lloyd, University of Southern California
Rick Lopez, Amherst College
Tehama Lopez, Duke University
Agnes Lugo-Ortiz, University of Chicago
Sharon Luk, University of Southern California
Sheryl Lutjens, California State University, San Marcos
Milton Ricardo Machuca, Pitzer College
Kathleen A. Mahoney-Norris, Air Command and Staff College
Maya Manzi, Clark University
Greta Marchesi, University of California, Berkeley
Peter E. Marchetti, Researcher, AVANCSO, Guatemala
Lourdes Martinez-Echazabel, University of California, Santa Cruz
Kathleen McAfee, San Francisco State University
Kendra McSweeney, The Ohio State University
Breny Mendoza, California State University, Northridge
Frederick B. Mills, Bowie State University
Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern, University of California, Berkeley
Ellen Moodie, University of Illinois
Stephanie Moore, Salisbury University
Dorinda Moreno, Hitec Aztec Communications/FM Global
Lena Mortensen, University of Toronto Scarborough
Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy
Guillermo Narvaez, University of California-Irvine
Joseph Nevins, Vassar College
Enrique Ochoa, California State University, Los Angeles
Gilda L. Ochoa, Pomona College
Elizabeth Oglesby, University of Arizona
Almerindo E. Ojeda, University of California at Davis
Andrew Orta, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Paul Ortiz, University of Florida
Mark Overmyer-Velázquez, University of Connecticut
Tanalis Padilla, Dartmouth College
Yajaira M. Padilla, The University of Kansas
Pramod Parajuli, Prescott College
Sirena Pellarolo, California State University, Northridge
Anthony Pereira, Tulane University
Héctor Perla, University of California, Santa Cruz
Brandt Peterson, Michigan State University
Adrienne Pine, American University
Martín Plot, California Institute of the Arts
Aaron Pollack, Instituto de Investigaciones Dr. José María Luis Mora
Deborah Poole, Johns Hopkins University
Suyapa Portillo, Pomona College
Margaret Power, Illinois Institute of Technology
Vijay Prashad, Trinity College
Mary Louise Pratt, New York University
Marina Prieto-Carrron, University of Portsmouth
Sean Purdy, Universidade de São Paulo
Kathryn S. Quick, University of California, Irvine
Marie Phillips Rayanne, Prescott College
Marcus Rediker, University of Pittsburgh
Daniel Reichman, University of Rochester
Gerardo Renique, City College of the City University of New York
Kenneth Roberts, Cornell University
William I. Robinson, University of California, Santa Barbara
Dylan Rodríguez, University of California, Riverside
Victor M. Rodriguez, California State University, Long Beach
Cristina Rojas, Carleton University
Sarah T. Romano, University of California, Santa Cruz
Renato Rosaldo, New York University
Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt, University of Maryland
Jan Rus, Latin American Perspectives
Ricardo Daniel Sánchez Cárdenas, Northwestern University
Rosaura Sanchez, University of California, San Diego
Mario Santana, The University of Chicago
Felicity Schaeffer-Grabiel, University of California, Santa Cruz
Ellen Sharp, University of California, Los Angeles
Freya Schiwy, University of California, Riverside
Aaron Schneider, Tulane University
Tammi J. Schneider, Claremont Graduate University
T.M. Scruggs, Professor Emeritus, University of Iowa
Adam Shapiro, Prescott College
Ellen Sharp, University of California, Los Angeles
Kirsten Silva Gruesz, University of California, Santa Cruz
Victor Silverman, Pomona College
Richard Simpson, Stanford University
Julie Skurski, City University of New York, Graduate Center
Darryl A. Smith, Pomona College
John Soluri, Carnegie Mellon University
Dale Sorenson, Director, Interfaith Task Force of the Americas
Rose Spalding, DePaul University
Susan Spronk, University of Ottawa
Richard Stahler-Sholk, Eastern Michigan University
Lynn Stephen, University of Oregon
William S. Stewart, California State University, Chico
Steve Striffler, University of New Orleans
Estelle Tarica, University of California, Berkeley
Diana Taylor, New York University
Miguel Tinker Salas, Pomona College
Sinclair Thomson, New York University
Steven Topik, University of California, Irvine
Mayo C. Toruno, California State University, San Bernardino
David J. Vázquez, University of Oregon
Jocelyn S. Viterna, Harvard University
Steven S. Volk, Oberlin College
Hendrik Voss, School of the Americas Watch
Christine J. Wade, Washington College
Diana B. Waters, Goddard College
Penny Waterstone, University of Arizona
Jamie Way, Venezuela Solidarity Campaign
Jeffery R. Webber, University of Regina, Canada
Barbara Weinstein, New York University
Mark Weisbrot, Center for Economic and Policy Research
Kimberly Welch, University of Redland
Allen Wells, Bowdoin College
Marion Werner, University of Minnesota
Eliza Willis, Grinnell College
Tamar Diana Wilson, Independent Scholar
Sonja Wolf, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)
Justin Wolfe, Tulane University
John Womack, Harvard University
Megan Ybarra, University of California, Berkeley
Susy Zepeda, University of California, Santa Cruz
Chris Zepeda-Millan, Cornell University
Marc Zimmerman, University of Houston
* Institutions listed only for identification

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