Will the National Democratic Institute Support the Coup in Honduras?

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A statement put out by Senator Lugar's office this week contained a striking revelation: apparently, the State Department intends to fund election observer missions of the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute for the controversial November 29 Honduras election supervised by the coup regime. If the US sends election observers before President Zelaya is restored, it would prepare the ground for recognizing the coup regime and its election as legitimate, putting the U.S. at odds with the rest of the hemisphere. Funding election observers appears to be part of a strategy of legitimizing the June coup against President Zelaya.

Both the IRI and the NDI are funded by Congress through the National Endowment for Democracy.

The International Republican Institute is affiliated with the Republican Party and the National Democratic Institute is affiliated with the Democratic Party. The IRI has a sordid history of anti-democratic actions, like supporting the 2004 coup in Haiti.

The NDI, on the other hand, is at least nominally accountable to the Democratic Party, so its involvement in trying to legitimize elections under the coup regime is quite surprising. Democratic leaders in Congress, like Senator Kerry and Representative Berman, have strongly opposed the coup. Congressional Democrats have urged President Obama not to recognize elections under the coup regime.

President Rich Trumka of the AFL-CIO, which has good relations, to say the least, with many Congressional Democrats, has written that continued repression of trade unionists by the coup regime makes it impossible to hold free and fair elections. President Trumka called on the U.S. government to oppose national elections in Honduras unless President Zelaya is reinstated. Note that Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, an AFL-CIO affiliate, sits on the NDI board.

All this suggests that if Members of Congress and Democratic constituency groups would speak up, the National Democratic Institute, at least, could be prevented from participating in the legitimation of elections under the coup regime.