DeMint holds up anti Honduras appointments

The Hill:

The Obama administration and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) are squaring off in a foreign policy dispute that has stymied the nominations of two senior diplomatic officials.

Foreign policy experts see the standoff as a proxy fight between conservative Republicans and the Obama administration on how to deal with Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s socialist president.

DeMint has blocked the nominations of Thomas Shannon, President Barack Obama’s pick to serve as ambassador to Brazil, and Arturo Valenzuela, the choice for the post of assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.

Richard Verma, the State Department’s assistant secretary of legislative affairs, approached DeMint this past week about releasing the holds but the South Carolina senator is standing firm.

"Both of these nominees rushed to oppose the rule of law in Honduras and want to force a Chavez-style dictator back into power,” DeMint told The Hill. “They exemplify this administration's misguided and heavy-handed tactics against the Honduran people and side with those who trample freedom."

Facing stiff resistance, Obama administration officials have asked Sen. Dick Lugar (Ind.), the senior Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, to intervene, but to little avail so far.

...

DeMint said in an interview that he does not want the standoff over the nominees to erupt into a major confrontation but felt he had to pressure the administration into restoring foreign aid to Honduras.

The question of U.S. relations toward Honduras, a country with nearly 8 million citizens wedged between El Salvador and Nicaragua, has bloomed into a contentious foreign policy fight because of its larger implications for American policy.

Conservatives strongly oppose leveling sanctions against Honduras in response to the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya in June. Zelaya, a leftist, was aligned with Chavez, who denounced his ally’s deposal as an illegal coup.

But the Obama administration wants Zelaya to be allowed to return to Honduras to finish his presidential term. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Zelaya earlier this month.

...
The support for Zelaya is a major mistake and DeMint is on the right side on this one particularly with the Valenzuela appointment. This guy if fact challenged at best if he thinks this was a "classic military coup." The Honduran's used the constitutional process for removing a guy who was in flagrant violation of their constitution. The Obama administration's policy has been so indefensible, they rarely even try.

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