Critical Confirmations for Valenzuela and Shannon Remain Delayed as Senator DeMint Trivializes Process

Nine months

after President Barack Obama took office, Washington

still lacks two of its key Latin America

policy-makers. Obama’s nominations for Assistant Secretary of State for Western

Hemisphere Affairs, Arturo Valenzuela, and Ambassador to Brazil, Dr. Thomas Shannon, have been placed on

“hold” by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) over objections to the Obama

administration’s handling of the coup in Honduras. Senator DeMint has stated

that he will release his hold on the confirmations of Valenzuela and Shannon

only after the U.S. affirms

that it will recognize the upcoming November elections in Honduras.

Now that an accord brokered by U.S.

diplomats has been signed between the de facto leader Roberto Micheletti and

ousted President Manuel Zelaya, DeMint must release his destructive holds. The

agreement reached on October 29, maintains that the Supreme Court will make a

recommendation, but that ultimately Congress will make the final decision on

whether Zelaya can return to power to finish out his term through January. In

the meantime, a power-sharing government will be created, and both sides must

recognize the results of the upcoming elections. DeMint’s rationale for his

holds are no longer valid as the U.S. will recognize the elections

if both sides hold up their ends of the bargain. DeMint’s obstinacy has

critically damaged U.S.-Latin American relations, and if he maintains his holds

through the elections, the Senate and the Obama administration must employ an

alternative solution to maneuver around DeMint in order to fill the void in

regional policy makers.

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This analysis was prepared

by COHA Research Associate Nicholas Maliska

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