Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
from Tales from the Trail:
Veteran Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau is on Hugo Chavez's case.
Morgenthau warned last week at Washington's Brookings Institution that Iran is using Venezuela's financial system to avoid international sanctions so it can acquire materials to develop nuclear weapons and missiles. He urged more scrutiny of the "emerging axis of Iran and Venezuela" in an op/ed article in the Wall Street Journal, in which he said a number of mysterious Iranian factories had sprung up in remote parts of Venezuela.
Chavez's man in Washington, Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez, called the allegations "outrageous ... unfounded and irresponsible" in a letter to the district attorney seen by Reuters.
True, leftist President Chavez has done little to endear himself to Americans. A fierce critic of the United States, his foreign policy rule of thumb is my enemy's enemies are my friends. His last trip abroad included visits to Libya, Algeria, Syria, Iran, Belarus and Russia. He loudly announced plans to buy Russian tanks and anti-aircraft missiles.
But Chavez maintains the weapons are needed to defend Venezuela, which he says is threatened by a growing U.S. military presence in neighboring Colombia. And he swears he has no intention of developing an atomic bomb.
from Tales from the Trail:
Deposed Honduran president Manuel Zelaya got his strongest endorsement yet from President Barack Obama on Tuesday as the exiled leftist leader returned to Washington to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The United States has joined Latin America in unanimously condemning the military coup in the banana-producing country that ran Zelaya out of town in his pajamas ten days ago.
But Washington has been reluctant to slap sanctions on Honduras and cut off U.S. aid. Instead it is cautiously looking for a negotiated and peaceful resolution to a crisis that looks like a win-win situation for the United States' main adversary in the hemisphere, Venezuela's leftist leader Hugo Chavez.
Zelaya, a wealthy rancher who turned left in office and signed on to Chavez's growing anti-U.S. coalition, is hardly the best poster boy for democracy. His moves to follow Chavez's example and extend presidential term limits in Honduras sparked the political crisis in which the Honduran Supreme Court, with the backing of Congress, ordered the army to oust the president.
After years of U.S. neglect of Latin America during the Bush administration, Obama is trying to improve relations with the region and cannot afford to be on the wrong side of a crisis that many Latin Americans see as a flashback to a dark era of military dictatorships supported by the United States in the 1960s and 1970s.
The interim government, led by Congress speaker Roberto Micheletti, argue that Zelaya’s ouster was legal as it was ordered by the Supreme Court after the president had tried to extend his four-year term in office illegally.
They say he was acting unconstitutionally and had to be removed.
The rest of the world seems to disagree. From U.S. President Barack Obama to arch-U.S. rival Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, world leaders have condemned Zelaya’s removal and used the term “coup.”
In the days before the coup, opposition leaders said they planned to impeach Zelaya over his plan to hold an unofficial public survey to gauge support for letting presidents run for re-election beyond the current one four-year term. They said a congressional committee set up to investigate Zelaya found he had violated the Central American nation’s laws and would ask Congress to declare him unfit to rule.
Does one unconstitutional act justify another? In a democracy, is it ever justified for soldiers to seize a president and spirit him out of the country? Does the fact that Congress quickly elected a successor, who will serve only until presidential elections in November, make any difference?
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is back. In a marathon Q&A session on Georgian television on Friday he said he himself was in great shape, but that the parliament speaker’s heart had recently stopped beating after suffering an allergic reaction to medication.
“As a result his heart stopped, he was in collapse,” Saakashvili said, tanned and relaxed. “But then they managed to save him.” He pulled his mobile phone from his pocket and read out text messages from his poorly colleague.