July 8, 2009

US Congress wants to know: Does Zelaya have drug ties?

The US Congress has sent a letter to President Obama asking for his assurances that the US government has no knowledge of drug connections of former Honduran President Mel Zelaya. Highlighting is mine. A copy of the original letter can be found here.

July 2, 2009
President Barack Obama
The White House

Dear President Obama:

We write to seek your explicit personal assurances that U.S. intelligence or law enforcement agencies have no information implicating officials of the Honduran administration of Manuel Zelaya, including Mr. Zelaya himself, in the transit of illegal narcotics through Honduran territory or in any other ties to drug trafficking.

On June 30, the Associated Press published an accusation by a current Honduras official that Mr, Zelaya's government "allowed tons of cocaine to be flown into the Central American country on its way to the United States." Honduran Foreign Minister Enrique Ortez is quoted saying, "Every night, three or four Venezuelan-registered planes land without the permission of appropriate authorities and bring thousands of pounds ... and packages of money that are the fruit of drug trafficking.... We have proof of all of this. Neighboring governments have it. The DEA has it."

In light of your personal, public demands that Mr. Zelaya should be restored to power, we believe that you must assume personal responsibility for ensuring that our government is not aware of any information that suggests that Mr, Zelaya or his associates have been complicit in the trafficking of cocaine or any other illegal substances to the United States.

We are certain that the American people would be shocked to discover that the United States government is playing or has played any role in restoring to power any official who U.S. intelligence or law enforcement agencies suspect of any ties to the deadly illicit drug trade.

Obviously it is always wrong for the military to displace a democratically elected president. In this case, the situation is much more complicated because the political leader in question was in the process of violating the Constitution of his country in order to maintain personal power. Furthermore, Mr. Zelaya was replaced not by a general but by an elected member of the parliament, who was selected by a vote of parliamentarians. The Supreme Court of Honduras, as well as many political people in Mr. Zelaya's own circle, were opposed to his efforts to eliminate certain constitutional restrictions on his presidency. These complications should suggest that the United States be cautious and deliberate in response, as compared to challenges in other countries where dictatorial regimes brutally repress democratic elements. In this case the military action that was taken was done so to ensure the constitutional and democratic process in Honduras, rather than destroy it.


Thaddeus G. McCotter
Member of Congress
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