Honduras crisis deal confirms Valenzuela nomination to the State Department
The United States Senate finally approved Thursday evening the nomination of Arturo Valenzuela as Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, putting an end to three months of Republican veto because of the Obama administration policy towards Honduras.
The confirmation was verbal, without registering votes and followed a statement by South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint who announced the lifting of the veto since he had secured a commitment from the Obama administration to recognize the Honduran elections on November 29th.
The election recognition commitment by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Assistant Secretary Thomas Shannon was “regardless of whether former President Manuel Zelaya is returned to office and regardless of whether the vote on reinstatement takes place before or after November 29th”, said Senator DeMint in his statement.
The understanding was extensive to Shannon who had been proposed by President Obama as ambassador to Brazil.
However his nomination faces another veto, this time from Florida Senator George LeMieux who considers the Obama administration policy towards Cuba is mistaken.
LeMieux, in an e-mailed statement, said he intends to meet with Shannon to “discuss my concerns about his nomination and US foreign policy” in Latinamerica. He didn’t confirm or deny he was blocking a vote on the nomination.
Apparently LeMieux objects the Obama administration’s decision to initiate talks with Cuba on migration and direct mail service. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly expressed disappointment that Shannon’s nomination was being blocked without saying who was behind the action.
Valenzuela who was born in Chile is a former member of the Bill Clinton administration and currently Political Science professor and Director of Latinamerican Studies at Georgetown University in Washington.
His name was proposed to the Senate May 12, but was then blocked by Senator DeMint following the Honduran crisis at the end of June.