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OAS-Honduras: US Amb. Amselem Delivers Collective Slap to Fellow Diplomats

November 10, 2009

The OAS met this morning to discuss the latest developments in Honudras and, with the exception of the US and Canada, all the other countries who spoke affirmed the position that if President Zelaya is not reinstated, they will not recognize the outcome of the elections.

After all the speeches had been made and the meeting was winding down, US Ambassador Lewis Amselem asked to speak a second time. Perhaps, he just couldn’t help himself.  I suspect he is often seized by overwhelming urges to be undiplomatic.  He proceeded to make the following statement (pretty much verbatim – but, if you want the words with the dripping sarcasm they were delivered, you can check the video  starting at minute 18:30):

 “I’m just a simple, middle-class boy born to immigrant parents in New York City. I went to public schools. I shop at Costco and Walmart, I watch TV, I fly coach on American Airlines and I drive an old Chevy truck. I’m not very sophisticated so I want clarification from my “betters” here about what they mean when they say they “will not recognize the results of the election in Honduras.” I’m not trying to be a wise guy, but what does this mean in the real world? Does this mean closing embassies, no trade, no travel, no investment with, to or from Honduras? And, if so, for how long?

Are we going to apply the same standard to every country in this room which has had a disruption in constitutional order and saved itself through elections?  If we do, this room is going to be pretty empty.”

Context is everything. If there ever was a “don’t go there” moment, this was it.  But, Amselem dove head first, never thinking once that many of those “disruptions of constitutional order” in Latin America were caused by the US and resulted in brutal dictators who never allowed a free and fair election.  Not to name all, but there were US coups in Guatemala (1954), Chile (1973),  and Haiti (2004).  When not pushing the button on coups, the US has protected  its interests by exerting “influence” in elections held all over Latin America.  

Finally, if Amselem is worried about Honduras being isolated and wants to know what this means in the real world, he didn’t need to go to the OAS for an answer.  I’m sure the State Department has plenty of material on the US’ nearly 50 year blockade of Cuba.

Amselem got “smart” with a group of people who know his country’s history better than he does — a dangerous thing for a diplomat to do.   

If you wish to know more about Amselem and his sordid background, please visit an excellent blog, Machetera.

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