Mérida, July 22nd 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) -- The military coup that ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya last month should serve as a "lesson" for Zelaya to steer clear of Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution and President Hugo Chavez, according to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Crowley.
In a press conference on Monday, Cowley stated, "We certainly think that if we were choosing a model government and a model leader for countries of the region to follow, that the current leadership in Venezuela would not be a particular model. If that is the lesson that President Zelaya has learned from this episode, that would be a good lesson."On June 28th, the Honduran military kidnapped Zelaya and deposited him in Costa Rica, and Roberto Michelleti, a fellow party member of Zelaya and head of the Congress at the time, took over as de facto president.
Coup government officials have cited Honduras's entrance into the Venezuela-led fair trade group known as ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) last year, and Zelaya's initiative to allow Hondurans to elect an assembly to re-write the nation's constitution, as motivations for the coup.
Crowley also accused Venezuela of intervening on Honduran affairs. The U.S. is "concerned about unhelpful steps that [President Chavez has] taken with some of his neighbors, and interference that we've seen Venezuela - with respect to relations with other countries, whether it's Honduras on the one hand, or whether it's Colombia on the other," he said.
The U.S. currently occupies a military base in Honduras, and recently expanded its operations on as many as five Colombian military bases, causing a diplomatic dispute between Colombia and Venezuela. Chavez called the U.S. military presence a threat to the region.
Venezuela demands the unconditional restoration of Zelaya to power, and has called on the U.S. to take a firm stance in support of this. The U.S. has cut off $18 million in economic aid to Honduras, but refuses to define the coup as a "coup," which would obligate the U.S. to cut off another $180 million.
And, while the U.S. claims to have cut off military aid, it continues to train Honduran military officers in the School of the Americas in Georgia, now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), according to the National Catholic Reporter.