National Lawyers Guild Calls on U.S. to Cut Ties with Illegal Junta in Honduras

July 7, 2009
Paige Cram
Communications Coordinator
212-679-5100, ext. 15

The National Lawyers Guild calls for concrete action in response to the military coup perpetrated against the democratically-elected government of President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras which included the kidnapping and expulsion of President Zelaya and his Foreign Minister, Patricia Rodas, the detention the Cuban, Venezuelan and Nicaraguan ambassadors, blackout of international media, the suspension of constitutional rights of assembly and expression, and the detentions, assassinations and attacks on members of civil society and trade unions who support the restoration of democracy in Honduras.

We appreciate the strong statements coming from President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemning the coup and recognizing President Zelaya as the duly elected and legitimate president of Honduras and we now call on the Obama administration to halt all foreign aid and military assistance until President Zelaya is unconditionally reinstated and democracy is restored in Honduras.

Given the extensive U.S. training and U.S. funding of the very individuals and military operatives responsible for the coup, we call on the Obama Administration to cease all military activities and funding for Honduras. We urge the administration and to comply with Section 7008 of the annual foreign operations appropriations act and immediately suspend aid to the government of Honduras until President Zelaya's unconditional return to office has been secured, all prisoners taken during the coup have been released, and anyone installed in office since the coup has been removed from office. We oppose any negotiations with the coup perpetrators that would result in placing any conditions upon the reinstatement of President Zelaya.

We also call on the US State Department to comply now and in the future with United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2626 (XXV) (1970) by respecting sovereign rights in its dispersal of foreign aid and to cease funding the so-called "pro-democracy" civil groups that have supported this coup. We also urge the State Department to join the many other countries that have withdrawn their ambassadors from Honduras pending restoration of President Zelaya's presidency.

We applaud the solidarity with which the world's governments and the multilateral institutions of the United Nations and the Organization of American States have responded to defend democracy in Honduras, and the courage of those leaders who are offering to accompany President Zelaya on his return to Honduras. We welcome the decision of the OAS and its Secretary General to invoke the provisions of the Inter-American Democratic Charter relative to an unconstitutional interruption and alteration of the democratic order, including Article 19 of the Inter-American Democractic Charter, which states that such an interruption constitutes an "insurmountable obstacle" to the government's participation in OAS activities; and Article 21, which calls for a vote of suspension of the member state until democracy is restored. We support the decision of the OAS, pursuant to Article 20, to undertake the necessary diplomatic initiatives to further the restoration of democracy in Honduras.

We also express our solidarity with and support for the Honduran people and the social organizations and unions who are peacefully seeking a non-binding referendum on the question of constitutional reform to further democracy in their country. We recognize that the prohibition on constitutional reform written into the 1982 constitution itself negates the power of the people of Honduras to determine their own system of governance. We call on all authorities to guarantee and respect the physical integrity and freedom of speech and association of those who are working for democratic constitutional reform in Honduras.

The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 as an alternative to the American Bar Association. The NLG is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.

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