Military Coup in Honduras as Obama meets with Colombian Human Rights Violator

The Obama administration should be praised for issuing a statement condemning the coup in Honduras, standing by democracy and rule of law and separating the United States from its' past backing of military coups in Latin America. This is a step in the right direction but should it take a coup for Obama to address the increasing civil unrest amongst the majority of the poor, marginalized peoples of Latin America? Shouldn't the fact that within the past decade, Latin American citizens have expressed clear dissatisfaction with free market development policies by electing left-leaning regimes time and time again?

Maybe the Obama administration should take preventative measures so that such political extremities can be avoided. By so far failing to acknowledge some of the systemic problems with past Free Trade Agreements, military aid, foreign assistance and development policy, he is not signaling to right-wing military backed regimes that such actions are unwarranted. For example, last year we are sent over $500 million dollars in unchecked aid to Colombia and have given the region nearly duty-free access to the US market. Military aid, foreign assistance, nor the trade benefits include enforceable labor or human rights conditions that could effectively improve working conditions and address issues of small and displaced farmers. On the other hand, we've seen the failures of DR-CAFTA (Honduras included) in creating sustainable development in the region, yet Obama has not recently expressed an interest in renegotiating Free Trade Agreements so that they work for the poor.

Instead of meeting with one of the most economically conservative, arguably worst human rights abusers in the region, Obama could have chosen to first meet with some of Latin America's leaders who have been highly critical of US foreign and development policies.

After all, the origin of the coup was in a dispute over economic and social policy. The right-wing faction of Honduras's refusal to back a referendum that would change the Constitution to address major issues of social and economic inequality provoked the coup in the first place.

Obama needs to follow through on his campaign promise to change the US foreign and development policy in order to gain respect from those who have suffered from our mistakes.