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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Speaker, I rise tonight to express my strong support for the upcoming November elections in Honduras and to underscore my ongoing concern with the current U.S. policy toward this Central American nation and its people.
I have just returned from Honduras, where I had the opportunity to see with my own eyes what is happening on the ground there. Let me tell you, Madam Speaker, it's very quiet on the streets of Tegucigalpa. Despite the efforts of the pro-Zelaya camp to create the impression that chaos is reigning in Honduras, there are no tires burning in the streets, there are no massive protests urging Manuel Zelaya's return, no collapse of democratic order or institutions.
I met with officials of the constitutional, democratic Government of Honduras. I met with Honduran civil society. I met with their religious leaders. I met with the Honduran press. I even had the opportunity to meet with some of our fellow Americans who are living in Honduras now. And through it all, there was a very consistent and a very clear message. That is: The Honduran people are committed to the defense and the protection of their democracy, of their constitution, of the rule of law.
The people of Honduras do not want Manuel Zelaya back in office. The Honduran people do not want outside actors infringing upon and determining their democracy and their rule of law. For the Honduran people, the November 29 elections are the solution, they are the way forward, and I couldn't agree with them more.
I introduced House Resolution 749. What does it do? It calls on Secretary Clinton to support the efforts of the appropriate authorities in Honduras to ensure that the November elections are free, are fair, are now transparent.
It calls on President Obama to recognize these elections as an important step in the consolidation of democracy and the rule of law in Honduras. No matter how one views the events of June 28, it is critical that the implementation and the recognition of the validity of the November 29 Honduran elections remains separate and independent from the current political fray.
The date of the elections, the presidential candidates, and the presidential term were determined long before Zelaya's removal, and nothing has changed since then. Again, the Honduran electoral process is continuing in accordance with the Honduran Constitution.
The U.S. has historically recognized free, fair, and transparent elections as a fundamental component of a democracy. So why now is the U.S. so quick to admonish what appears to be the only viable way forward for a peaceful resolution in Honduras? How could the U.S. help to open the door to the Cuban tyranny to rejoin the Organization of American States but yet push for Honduras' expulsion because the Honduran people defended their constitution and their democracy? How could the U.S. directly engage with Ahmadinejad, let him into the United States to address the General Assembly at the United Nations yet revoke the visas of the constitutionally democratic constituted representatives of the Honduran Government? These are all questions that I have been asking officials in this administration and have been asked time and time again.
Madam Speaker, I'm concerned that if we in the U.S. continue along this misguided path and continue to impose this misguided Zelaya-centric policy, that the goodwill and the respect and the admiration that the U.S. currently enjoys in Honduras will now start to dissipate. We can't afford for that to happen. The United States has always been the beacon of democracy. How can we take this undemocratic way forward for Honduras?
I'm deeply concerned about the impact that this action will have on our U.S. security interests as well, Madam Speaker. After all of my meetings and briefings and during my visit in Honduras, I'm more concerned and more convinced than ever that the current U.S. approach is severely undermining our immediate security interests in Honduras--in fact, in Central America as a whole--and it will significantly impact and have detrimental long-term ramifications for the stability and the security of our hemisphere.
But there is still time to reconsider. There is still time to correct our wrongs and find a way forward, and that can begin with the U.S. Government publicly announcing that it will respect the sovereignty of the free Honduran people and respect what it says in the Honduran Constitution, that the U.S. will support the will of the Honduran people and recognize free, fair, transparent elections in Honduras this November. The future and the will of the Honduran people are far too important to let Manuel Zelaya or his puppeteers run the show any longer.