House Foreign Affairs Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman
For IMMEDIATE Release
Ros-Lehtinen Concerned by Reported State Department Pressure on Honduras to Absolve Zelaya
(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a letter yesterday to Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Arturo Valenzuela, expressing grave concern regarding reported efforts by U.S. officials to pressure the Honduran government to ignore Honduran rule of law in order to absolve former President Manuel Zelaya of criminal charges he is facing. Full text of the letter is as follows:
January 5, 2011
Dr. Arturo Valenzuela
Assistant SecretaryBureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Secretary Valenzuela:
I am gravely concerned by reports I have received regarding efforts by U.S. officials to pressure the Government of Honduras to absolve former President Manuel Zelaya of the criminal charges he faces in that country and ask, within all applicable rules and guidelines, that if these reports are accurate, the State Department immediately cease exerting such undue influence over duly elected Honduran government officials acting in accordance with Honduran law.
The government and people of Honduras continue to take important steps to move forward from the political crisis of last year. It is in the interest of the United States to support, rather than interfere, with these efforts and promote Honduras’ complete reintegration into the inter-American system, including full restoration of Honduras’ membership to the Organization of American States.
It is troubling to consider that the importance of the bilateral relationship between the United States and Honduras would be undermined by attempts to coerce the Honduran government to take steps that run counter to its legal and constitutional processes in order to pave the way for Manuel Zelaya to return to Honduras without facing judicial consequences.
With this in mind, I again ask the Administration to immediately cease any efforts being taken to undercut the judicial system in Honduras by pressuring the current government to absolve Zelaya of his crimes and urge the State Department to instead focus on supporting the strengthening of Honduras’ democratic institutions and processes during these pivotal times.