I was just reading some remarks made by our President while in Russia. He had this to say about the situation in Honduras:
"Now let me be clear: America cannot and should not seek to impose any system of government on any other country, nor would we presume to choose which party or individual should run a country. And we haven't always done what we should have on that front. Even as we meet here today, America supports now the restoration of the democratically-elected President of Honduras, even though he has strongly opposed American policies. We do so not because we agree with him. We do so because we respect the universal principle that people should choose their own leaders, whether they are leaders we agree with or not."
You can read the entire speech at:
On June 28th, he had this to say:
"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 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."
And the White House Press Briefing on June 29th:
Q Can we turn to Honduras?
MR. GIBBS: Sure.
Q Has President Obama spoken with Mr. Zelaya since the coup?
MR. GIBBS: Not that I know of.
Q And what kind of leverage, specifically -- what specific things is the White House doing and can it do to try to bring him back to power?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think you all know that -- I think it's -- I haven't seen this morning's news report -- that working with the OAS and others in the international community over the past few days, we were working to avert the type of constitutional action that took place in Honduras, trying to prevent that from happening.
Our goal now is on restoring democratic order in Honduras -- again, working with partners at the OAS and in the international community. And I don't want to get ahead of the "what if," as we're focused on restoring their democratic order.
Q Well, without getting into the "what if," I mean, what does it mean when you say "working with" the OAS and the international community? What specifically? Are there calls coming from the President himself? Perhaps Secretary Clinton?
MR. GIBBS: I can check on whether -- I don't believe the President has called anybody. I'm sure this will be something that will be discussed in the meeting with the Colombian President today. I don't -- I just don't want to get into diplomacy out loud right this second.
Q Or the kind of leverage you might use?
MR. GIBBS: Yes, that's I think more of a "what if."
Q Sorry, still on the Honduras issue and trying to get a clear picture of what the U.S. is considering. Is the administration looking at withdrawing its ambassador as the leftist Latin American governments have decided to do, or even looking at a possible cutoff of aid?
MR. GIBBS: Well, again, I think some of that is in the next -- in the frame of next steps in evaluating this. I just don't want to get real specific at this point.
Q Did the United States have any advance knowledge or word of a planned coup? Did it do anything to try to head that off? And what does the administration's failure to have headed that off say about its credibility in Latin America?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think as I said a minute ago, the administration, our government, working with partners, were attempting to prevent the type of unrest that we've seen happen over the last 24 hours. They worked on that over the past several days. And we will continue to work to restore democratic order in Honduras.
Q Did the administration warn President Zelaya that this was in the making?
MR. GIBBS: That I don't know.
(Can be accessed at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Briefing-by-White-House-Press-Secretary-Robert-Gibbs-6-29-09/ )
And his words in a statement following a meeting with Columbian President Uribe:
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, let me first of all speak about the coup in Honduras, because this was a topic of conversation between myself and President Uribe.
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.
I think it's -- it would be a terrible precedent if we start moving backwards into the era in which we are seeing military coups as a means of political transition rather than democratic elections. The region has made enormous progress over the last 20 years in establishing democratic traditions in Central America and Latin America. We don't want to go back to a dark past. The United States has not always stood as it should with some of these fledgling democracies, but over the last several years, I think both Republicans and Democrats in the United States have recognized that we always want to stand with democracy, even if the results don't always mean that the leaders of those countries are favorable towards the United States. And that is a tradition that we want to continue.
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.
The entire statement may be accessed at:
Press Briefing June 30th:
Q Thanks, Robert. We want to start with Honduras. Has the U.S. been in contact with Honduran military leaders to insist on the President's return to power?
MR. GIBBS: I know that State Department officials have been in touch with President Zelaya. I do not know the extent of their contact with military officials. Obviously there are -- there's a special meeting of the OAS scheduled for later on this afternoon and we'll continue working on this situation.
Q Is there any other acceptable solution other than his return to power?
MR. GIBBS: Not at this point that I think that people have in any way contemplated, no.
Q Is he meeting today with the State Department or anybody in the White House?
MR. GIBBS: I believe if he does come, either today or tomorrow, that he will likely meet with officials from the State Department, some of whom, as I said, have been in contact.
Q He won't come here?
MR. GIBBS: Not that I'm aware of, no.
Q That was partially my question, actually -- one of two -- the first one being, if he does come to Washington, as he says he would like to do, will the President meet with him?
MR. GIBBS: Well, at this point, I think he would -- if he comes, he was likely to be seen by State Department officials.
The entire briefing can be found at:
Press Briefing July 1st:
Q On Honduras? One of the triggers of the coup was President Zelaya's attempt to alter the constitution to allow for reelection. Does the White House believe that the President -- that President Zelaya shares an element of blame in his ouster, and what message does the White House have to other leaders in Latin America who seek to alter the constitution to further their political ambition?
MR. GIBBS: You know, let me get a little guidance on that. I don't know, except to say -- let me just say that obviously we were working in order to prevent what happened from happening. And I think -- I don't want to stray too far from just the notion that obviously at OAS there's an inter-American charter that establishes rights, rules, and responsibilities as it relates to democratic governance. That's obviously something that's been violated. And the OAS, with the help of the United States, has reacted to that. But let me get some more guidance on the other question.
Q A quick follow-up? Was one of the -- did you ask President Zelaya, in your attempts to stop this from happening, to not hold -- to not proceed with --
MR. GIBBS: We'll reach out to those guys --
Q On Honduras? Just to clarify, Micheletti, the (inaudible) President has said that he's planning to send some representatives to Washington to talk with the U.S. government. Is the White House or the State Department planning to talk with them?
MR. GIBBS: Not that I'm aware of, no.
Q Micheletti has also said that if Zelaya returns to Honduras, he's going to be put in jail. Do you have any comments to that?
MR. GIBBS: No, except I think, again, I would simply reiterate that I think the OAS has laid down some fairly strong conditions and a timeline that we're supportive of and think that should be met in order to restore the democratic rule of law.
Q Why hasn't the President seen him -- having deplored the coup?
MR. GIBBS: I think he's in Panama.
Entire transcript can be found at:
Chavez and Honduras:
The Wages of Chavism: