Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, in praising WikiLeaks, said, "Clinton should resign; it's the least she can do with all of this spying and delinquency in the State Department."
He made the remarks on state television yesterday following the disclosure of State Department cables by WikiLeaks, including a Dec. 31, 2009, cable signed "CLINTON" that inquires into the mental health of Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The disclosure comes at a particularly sensitive time because just last month Kirchner lost her husband, Néstor Kirchner, the former Argentine president. Excerpts with a big ouch! factor include:
It might all be part of normal analysis of a leader's personality, but it just sounds so bad when worded so bluntly and taken out of context.
Of course, Chávez continued with nasty remarks accusing Clinton of racism, saying, "Someone should study Mrs. Clinton's mental health.… She feels superior to Obama.… Because she is white, she feels superior to the black president."
As for whether Clinton will resign, that possibility seems so far-fetched at this point, but even a writer over at FP's sister publication Slate suggests that Clinton could be out by the end of the year, stating, "The time for her departure may come next week or next month, but sooner or later, the weakened and humiliated secretary of state will have to pay."
Maybe we should hold our horses, though, and let the dust settle. Who knows what'll happen during Clinton's week of damage control in Central Asia.
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
Brazil's Dilma Rousseff is on course to become the first female president of Brazil. In yesterday's election, she won the most votes -- 46.6 percent, with 98 percent of ballots counted -- and on Oct. 31 will face No. 2 Jose Serra in a runoff vote, which she is expected to win.
Secretary Clinton, whose presidential hopes were dashed in 2008, must be so happy for Rousseff. To learn more about Rousseff, a Marxist guerrilla turned economist, grandmother, and cancer survivor, check out the recent FP article, "Becoming Lula."
Also, for a photo essay on the world's female presidents and prime ministers, check out FP's "Women in Control."
JEFFERSON BERNARDES/AFP/Getty Images
"Viva Mexico!" Secretary Clinton says in her bicentennial message to the United States' southern neighbor, which today celebrates the 200th anniversary of its independence from Spain on Sept. 16, 1810. Times have been tough lately in Mexico, with drug violence and flooding (as shown in a recent FP slide show), but that hasn't kept Mexicans from celebrating. Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets of Mexico City in festivities. (In the file photo above from last year -- Sept. 15, 2009 -- Mexican President Felipe Calderón waves the flag to start off that year's Independence Day celebrations. I don't yet have access to good photos from this year's festivities.)
The video of Clinton's message, with Spanish subtitles, is below, followed by a transcript. (Also, not to be forgotten, Papua New Guinea also celebrates its Independence Day today -- 35 years! Clinton's message for the Pacific country is posted at the very bottom.)
Happy Bicentennial, Mexico. This September 16th, we honor the heroes of Mexico who first declared their independence from the Spanish Crown 200 years ago, and to all those who rose up to defend Mexico's ideals of democracy, liberty, and justice during the revolution 100 years later. Thanks to their sacrifice, Mexico today is a strong, modern country with a thriving economy, and one of the world's most admired cultures.Our nations are connected by the busiest border in the world, by a rich economic partnership, by a vibrant exchange of cultures, and by the millions of Mexican Americans who have contributed so much to our own nation. Our common history and our common future gives us the courage and the foundation to build an even stronger base for our work together.
Mexico and the United States share so much. With confidence in our democratic institutions, our shared values, and our unwavering friendship, we will continue working together to confront the challenges in the 21st century, and to build prosperity and peace for all of our people.
As we celebrate 200 years of your independence, we look forward to a long future of friendship and close cooperation. Viva Mexico!
Clinton's message for Papua New Guinea:
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the citizens of Papua New Guinea on your 35th Independence Day this September 16. The United States and Papua New Guinea work closely together on many issues of mutual interest, from fostering economic growth and advancing opportunities for women and girls, to combating climate change and protecting the environment. We are committed to deepening our partnership with Papua New Guinea both bilaterally and through our involvement in regional institutions including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Pacific Islands Forum Post-Forum Dialogue. Today, we join in celebrating your history and reaffirm the bonds of friendship and cooperation between our nations. I wish all citizens of Papua New Guinea a safe and happy celebration, and continued peace and prosperity in the coming year.
Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton marked the 201st anniversary of Ecuador's "first cry of independence ("Primer Grito de la Independencia") -- which occurred in Quito on Aug. 10, 1809 -- by issuing the following statement yesterday:
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Ecuador on the 201st anniversary of your country's call for independence on August 10.
On my recent visit to your historic capital, I was honored to experience the hospitality and warmth of the Ecuadorian people first hand. Cooperation between Ecuador and the United States on issues of mutual concern - from combating narco-trafficking to reducing poverty - has strengthened our partnership and reaffirmed the underlying values that unite our two countries. These ties are further enhanced by the exchange of people and ideas through cultural initiatives. The United States stands ready to build on this relationship and seize the opportunity to consolidate our democratic values, cooperate to address regional and global challenges, and use our interdependence to enhance prosperity and expand opportunity throughout the hemisphere.
I wish all Ecuadorians a safe and happy celebration on the anniversary of your "first cry of independence." We look forward to working together as partners in creating more democratic and more inclusive societies that will provide brighter futures for citizens throughout the Americas.
(In the photo above, Clinton and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa greet one another with a friendly hug in Quito on June 8.)
RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images
Today, on the six-month anniversary of the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake that hit Haiti, Secretary Clinton has just issued the following statement, in which she concludes, "Six months later, our resolve to stand with the people of Haiti for the long term remains undiminished."
It has been six months since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti and claimed the lives of 230,000 people. Hundreds of thousands more were injured and left homeless. In Haiti's hour of greatest need the international community responded. The United States and more than 140 nations provided humanitarian support, mounting one of the largest rescue and relief efforts in history. On this six month commemoration, we pause to remember all those who lost their lives or loved ones in this tragedy.
Members of the State Department and USAID family were among the dead, and today we honor their service and sacrifice. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, friends and colleagues. I also salute everyone -- diplomats, development workers and private citizens -- who continue to serve in Haiti, helping the country build back better.
Over the last six months, the Haitian people have again shown their resilience and strength. Their efforts continue to inspire us all. Together we have worked to help children return to school, to ensure that the 1.5 million people who were left homeless have emergency shelter materials while we stand-up transitional and permanent houses, and to make certain that those in need of medical care receive it.
The United States is committed to aligning our investments with the needs of the people and Government of Haiti. We have joined international partners, private sector actors, and NGOs in working together through the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission to help empower the Haitian people and support their efforts.
Six months later, our resolve to stand with the people of Haiti for the long term remains undiminished. We are committed to helping them realize the Haitian vision for a better nation.
(In the photo above, Haitian students help clear the rubble from the Cathédrale Sainte Trinité in Port-au-Prince on July 10.)
THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images
Over at FP's Shadow Government blog, Stephen Johnson explains why Secretary Clinton's comment on Arizona's controversial new immigration law was a three-part gaffe. As seen in the video above at about 45 seconds in, while Clinton was in Ecuador on June 8, she said in a local TV interview that "the Justice Department, under his [Obama's] direction, will be bringing a lawsuit against the act." On June 17, a Justice Department spokeswoman told the Associated Press "the department continues to review the law" and declined to say whether the department is bringing a lawsuit against Arizona.
Johnson says Clinton's remark was a three-part gaffe because:
1. She made the comment while abroad.
2. She made the remarks before the Justice Department had announced anything.
3. She could have answered the interviewer's question by emphasizing how both the United States and Latin American countries could mutually benefit from stopping illegal immigration and addressing the causes that drive people to migrate.
Turns out that Secretary Clinton wasn't the only Clinton in Colombia yesterday. Husband Bill Clinton, a former U.S. president, was also in the country for work related to his charitable activities, including a meeting with President Alvaro Uribe on reconstruction of earthquake-devastated Haiti. (Above, Bill Clinton views some handicrafts that are part of a program supported by the Clinton Foundation.)
For dinner yesterday, the Clintons and some friends dined at a steakhouse in Bogotá that would have been too risky to eat at just a few years ago because of the possibility of violence or kidnapping. Secretary Clinton, in a news conference with Uribe, said the meal was "wonderful," and added, "We talked about how remarkable it was that such a common event could take place."
Uribe said the dining experience was great PR for his country, which is trying to overcome a reputation of being filled with drug violence: "The best PR for confidence in Colombia is that last night Madame Secretary of State of the United States and President Bill Clinton were in a restaurant enjoying complete piece of mind, enjoying this beautiful city."
GUILLERMO LEGARIA/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton worked to repair relations with Ecuador yesterday, and her "charm offensive had an impact," as the Washington Post put it.
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa -- who once said Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's comparison of George W. Bush to Satan was offensive to the devil -- referred to Clinton as "dearest Hillary." He spoke favorably of the United States, saying, as reported by Agence France-Press:
"[W]e are not anti-American. We love the U.S. very much. It is a trade partner. In fact, I spent the happiest four years of my life with my family in that great country."
(Those four years were when he was earning a master's degree and a doctorate at the University of Illinois.) He also said:
"The new left that I represent is not anti-anything.… We are not anti-capitalist. We are not anti-American. We are not anti-imperialist. We are pro-dignity, pro-sovereignty, pro-social justice, pro-good life for our people. We are in favor of the good things."
How did Clinton "charm" Correa? Well, first, she wasn't George W. Bush; Correa said he esteemed both her and her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and he said Latin Americans "loved" Barack Obama. But Clinton's conciliatory remarks and attempts to reassure Correa on tense issues helped, too. Clinton said:
"Now, like any two countries, we will not always agree. But we are committed to a partnership of open dialogue and cooperation that is rooted in mutual respect and mutual interest and for the benefit of both of our peoples."
Clinton sought to reassure Ecuador on the U.S. military's use of bases in Colombia to help that country fight the internal problems of the FARC insurgency and drug trafficking. Ecuador thinks the U.S. military presence threatens Latin American sovereignty by extending U.S. power and might even include espionage. Clinton said:
"I want to put your mind at ease that these, this agreement between the United States and Colombia is solely intended to assist Colombia in its continuing efforts against its internal threats."
It'll be interesting to see whether all this sweet talk will actually produce results when it comes to policy decisions, but at least Clinton seems to be undoing a lot of the damage from the Bush administration.
Photos: RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton said that the United States supports the return of Honduras to the Organization of American States (OAS) after its membership was suspended last year following the June ouster of then-President Manuel Zelaya in a coup. Elections last November made Porfirio Lobo president, and the United States thinks his administration has taken the right steps to get the country back on track to merit a return to the OAS. Clinton told reporters traveling with her to the OAS meeting in Lima, Peru, as reported by Voice of America:
"President Lobo has done everything he said he would do.… He was elected through a free and fair, legitimate election. He provided political amnesty. He set up a truth commission. He has been very committed to pursuing a policy of reintegration."
Some countries such as Brazil and Venezuela don't recognize Lobo as the true Honduran president because the interim government that came before him never restored Zelaya back to power after the coup. Clinton said that though the coup was wrong, Honduras has gotten itself together:
"We all stood together in condemning the coup that removed Zelaya from office, and I was very pleased that the United States was a strong voice in condemning that.… But then we worked with the neighbors and we worked with the electoral system, because this election which had long been scheduled was, to our view, the surest way forward."
(In the photo above, Clinton speaks to the media in Lima on June 7.)
ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP/Getty Images
From June 6 to 10, Secretary Clinton will be in South America and the Caribbean. Her itinerary:
June 6-8: Clinton will be in Peru to attend the Organization of American States General Assembly.
June 8: Clinton will travel to Ecuador and then Colombia to meet with those countries' officials.
June 9: Clinton will be in Barbados to meet with leaders of Caribbean countries.
(In the photo above, Clinton boards her plane in Beijing on May 26.)
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who is U.N. special envoy for Haiti, was in the earthquake-devastated country on June 1, as seen in the photo above, in which he visits a construction project of small houses in Léogâne, about 18 miles from the capital city of Port-au-Prince. In the photo below, Haitians excitedly greet Clinton in Léogâne.
Yesterday, Clinton attended a summit in the Dominican Republic at which donor countries met to discuss rebuilding efforts for Haiti, still struggling to recover after Jan. 12's quake.
Photos: THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images
Yesterday Secretary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden hosted a lunch for Mexican President Felipe Calderón and Mexican first lady Margarita Zavala. In introducing them for a toast, as seen above, Clinton said of the United States and Mexico:
We know our futures are intertwined, that we will succeed or fail as one, and that the well-being, security, and prosperity of each of our peoples will be shaped by what we do together.
Clinton also had a moment of bipartisan hugging when she embraced Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), as seen below.
Photos: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
Both Clintons -- Hillary and Bill -- are at the United Nations today! They're attending an international donors conference on Haiti. (As you may know, Bill Clinton is U.N. special envoy for Haiti.) They are not sitting next to another, though. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Haitian President René Préval are seated between them.
The Clintons looking more studious:
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton speaks next to Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Patricia Espinosa during a news conference in Mexico City today. Clinton and a U.S. delegation visited Mexico to discuss joint efforts to tackle the outrageous violence perpetrated by Mexico's powerful drug cartels.
Update, March 23: Here's a transcript of Clinton's remarks and a video the news conference.
Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton met today with Haitian President René Préval (above) in Washington. Referring to Haiti's devastating Jan. 12 earthquake, she said:
The United States and the international community mounted the largest ever rescue and relief effort. Progress has been made, but not nearly enough, and therefore, we are holding these meetings with President Préval today and tomorrow and the next day to discuss in depth what we need to do still to alleviate suffering and what we will do together to help build back Haiti better."
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
After attending yesterday's inauguration of new Uruguayan President José Mujica (seen below shortly before his inauguration), Clinton went on to Argentina, where she met with President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (seen above, appearing to share a laugh).
Clinton said yesterday that she was willing to assist Argentina and Britain in resolving their dispute over the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas. Kirchner asked Clinton to be a mediator on the issue, but it appears Clinton doesn't want to take her involvement that far. Instead, she said she would be publicly urging the two countries to talk and said, "We would like to see Argentina and the U.K. sit down and resolve the issues between them in a peaceful and productive way."
The Associated Press reported that direct U.S. intervention might miff Britain, one of the United States' closest allies. (Britain is against third-party mediation.)
On another note, yesterday FP Editor in Chief Moisés Naím spoke about Clinton's trip on National Public Radio's Tell Me More.
Photos, top to bottom: ALEJANDRO PAGNI/AFP/Getty Images, PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton arrived in Uruguay today for her weeklong visit to South America and Central America.
Uruguay: Today, Clinton will attend the inauguration of José Mujica, Latin America's newest leftist leader.
Argentina: Later today in Buenos Aires, she'll meet with Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Earlier, Clinton said she's willing to assist Argentina and Britain resolve their dispute over the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas.
Chile: On Tuesday morning, Clinton is bringing communications equipment for the quake-hit country.
Brazil: Next she heads to Brazil, which presently has a rotating seat on the U.N. Security Council. She's going to use her diplomacy skills to try to persuade the Brazilian government to support tougher sanctions against Iran in order to check its nuclear ambitions. Brazil currently opposes further sanctions.
Costa Rica: Clinton will move on to Central America on Thursday, where she'll attend the Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas ministerial meeting, a gathering of the region's foreign ministers that will center on improving the hemisphere's economy.
Guatemala: On Friday, Clinton will conclude her trip by meeting a group of regional leaders, including Honduran President Porfirio Lobo, who became leader in January, succeeding an interim government that outsed former President Manuel Zelaya last June.
Here are a couple of quick links about how Secretary Clinton's meeting about Haiti earthquake relief went yesterday in Montreal:
•"Clinton Says Plan for Haiti Exists" (Washington Times). A couple of excerpts:
The Obama administration wants to use a plan for rebuilding Haiti it had before this month's earthquake, rather than "start from scratch," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday as top diplomats from around the world gathered to map out the country's recovery.
"So we have a plan," she said. "It was a legitimate plan, it was done in conjunction with other international donors, with the United Nations. And I don't want to start from scratch, but we have to recognize the changed challenges we are now confronting."
•"Haiti: 10 Years and $10 Billion in Aid?" (Toronto Star). An excerpt:
Clinton called it "novel" to do a needs assessment first, followed by planning, then the pledging of cash.
"It might seem different from what you're used to," Clinton said, "where people come together and make all kinds of promises, many of which never get realized because the follow-up work is never done."
ROGERIO BARBOSA/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton is in Montreal today for a preliminary meeting about earthquake relief in Haiti. The meeting is expected to lead to a larger donors conference in the next 30 to 60 days. Clinton's remarks about the meeting and relief efforts in Haiti, made while she was en route to Canda earlier today, are here. (Above, Clinton on Jan. 20 gives an update on the Haiti situation and announces she's going to Montreal for a meeting on providing relief.)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Wow! Everyone in the Clinton family, including daughter Chelsea, has been to Haiti! Due to the family's strong emotional ties to Haiti, Hillary Clinton once said her family is a "Haiti-obsessed family." Bill Clinton told the Washington Post recently that when Hillary learned about the damage from the earthquake, she became "physically sick."
Above, Chelsea helps unload water from a U.N. truck yesterday at the Port-au-Prince General Hospital. Below, Bill Clinton takes bottled water out of his plane yesterday.
Logan Abassi/MINUSTAH via Getty Images
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, everyone! I hope on this holiday we can all take the time to reflect on the values King promoted and do what we can to support those in need, especially in Haiti.
As many of you know, Secretary Clinton flew into Haiti on Saturday. The cargo plane she was in carried soap, bottled water, and other supplies, along with relief workers. "We are here at the invitation of your government to help you," she told Haitian journalists, perhaps to make it clear this isn't an imperialism-inspired intervention.
"I know of the great resilience and strength of the Haitian people," she also said. "You have been severely tested, but I believe that Haiti can come back even stronger and better in the future."
Due to Clinton's emotional connection to Haiti, where she honeymooned with Bill Clinton (the U.N. envoy to Haiti), I'm sure she'll give the relief efforts there extra consideration and support. As Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum wrote today, "I am very, very glad that [Bill Clinton] and his wife spent their honeymoon in Haiti: How fortunate, at this moment, that the country has such powerful friends."
Julie Jacobson-Pool/Getty Images
A concerned Secretary Clinton returned from warm Hawaii to chilly Washington this morning (as seen above at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland) after canceling the rest of her Pacific trip to deal with the devastation from the Haiti earthquake. Before leaving Hawaii, she said:
[W]e are facing a disaster of as yet unknown magnitude. And the problems that we're going to confront over the next days in particular as we try to launch successful search-and-rescue missions, followed up by the immediate pressing need for food and water in particular, are just of unimaginable extent. Therefore, I've decided to cancel the remainder of my trip and return to Washington this afternoon."
This morning on CNN, Clinton encouraged Americans to text "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10 for Red Cross relief efforts (the donation will automatically be added to your cell-phone bill).
Photos, top to bottom: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images, Joe Raedle/Getty Images
As you all may know, Haiti has a special place in the hearts of Hillary and Bill Clinton. As newlyweds, they went there for a delayed honeymoon. The couple has five Haitian paintings that they've kept in every house they've lived in, including the White House. Husband Bill is the U.N. special envoy for Haiti. In April, Secretary Clinton told the Miami Herald, "I have a personal interest in Haiti going back many years." She also said that she and Bill "have always been cheering for the success of Haiti against some pretty tough odds."
And yes, poor Haiti has been facing some really tough odds. The country just can't get a break. After learning about the earthquake there yesterday, Secretary Clinton, who's in Hawaii (see photo below) for the first leg of her Pacific trip, said:
The United States is offering our full assistance to Haiti and to others in the region. We will be providing both civilian and military disaster relief and humanitarian assistance. And our prayers are with the people who have suffered, their families, and their loved ones."
Husband Bill, as U.N. envoy to Haiti, said in a statement yesterday:
My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti. My U.N. office and the rest of the U.N. system are monitoring the situation, and we are committed to do whatever we can to assist the people of Haiti in their relief, rebuilding and recovery efforts."
Bill Clinton is helping to coordinate relief operations between the United Nations and United States. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters, "I have spoken with Mr. Clinton, and we have agreed to mobilize our best assistance and rescue teams and try to reconstruct the Haitian economy."
Photos, top to bottom: DANIEL MOREL/AFP/Getty Images, MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
A few links to recent Clinton commentary on Foreign Policy:
•In support of multilateral sanctions against Iran, Clinton said on Monday, "Sanctions can work," The Cable reports.
•An interview with Clinton on Pakistan policy is posted over at the AfPak Channel. The interview was conducted by Hassan Abbas of the Asia Society and Harvard Kennedy School.
•Clinton's "unappreciated warnings to Latin America" are discussed on Passport.
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Yesterday, Secretary Clinton led the U.S. delegation to the biennial conference on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the first time the United States has participated since 1999. Clinton declared to representatives of about 150 countries, "We are glad to be back."
Of the treaty that her husband signed but has yet to be ratified by the U.S. Senate, Clinton said, "To put it plainly, we support this treaty because it strengthens the prospects of a peaceful, stable and secure world, and would enhance the security of the American people."
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon mentioned Clinton while praising the United States, stating, "The participation of the United States led by Secretary of State Clinton for the first time demonstrates the commitment of the United States to work toward its ratification of the treaty."
Meanwhile, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez decided to criticize Clinton. He totally went off on her yesterday in a CNN interview. On Sept. 15, Clinton had expressed concern about Venezuela's arms purchases and how they might spark an arms race in the region. Saying that his country had one of the smallest defense budgets in the region, Chávez declared, "She is totally lost. … You should be concerned. She has lost her way. She is totally wrong." So much for reaching out.
Clinton, of course, doesn't let those kind of comments phase her in the least. She's got more more important things to think about -- including the closing address she's delivering today at her husband Bill's Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting. Referring to his presidency, when wife Hillary did charitable work, Bill told the Associated Press, "Here we are at the later stages of our lives when we switch roles."
One random note: A person in Salt Lake City thinks Clinton should resign. Whatever.
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
A briefing of Clinton news:
•Afghanistan: U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Secretary Clinton has "zero tolerance" for the lewd, disgusting behavior of private security guards at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan.
•Honduras: Today in Washington Clinton meets with Manuel Zelaya, the ousted Honduran president seen at left a few weeks before he was removed from office. If the State Department formally declares that his ouster was a coup, then U.S. foreign aid to Honduras will be suspended.
•Bill: No. 7 on Politico's list of "21 Things You Can't Say to the President on His Summer Vacation": "President [Bill] Clinton called and says he is willing to fly to Afghanistan to investigate allegations of wild parties in Kabul. He’s called four times, in fact."
•Op-ed: A fan of Madam Secretary has written an op-ed, "Clinton Has Her Own Problems," that discusses, among other things, the secretary of state's difficulties in filling vacant State Department positions due to the onerous security-clearance process.
Photo: ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images
It looks like Secretary Clinton will finally be back in the office tomorrow, after her well-deserved vacation. Topping her agenda is an important meeting: a discussion of the Honduras situation with Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted from the Honduran presidency on June 28.
The State Department has already stopped most visa services in Honduras, and $135 million in U.S. aid for Honduras is in jeopardy.
Cuban President Raúl Castro delivered a defiant message to Secretary Clinton Saturday in a speech to the Cuban National Assembly. Annoyed that Clinton has said on multiple occasions that Cuba must make changes in order to have better relations with the United States, Castro declared:
I have to say, with all due respect to Mrs. Clinton … they didn't elect me president to restore capitalism in Cuba, nor to hand over the revolution. I was elected to defend, maintain and continue perfecting socialism, not destroy it."
Castro also reminded Clinton that the only torture in Cuba was in the United States' Guantánamo Bay detention center:
Yes, there was torture, and it is on a part of the Cuban territory even though it was not made by us. … That is why we said with all respect, to Ms Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State of that country, that if she wants to discuss about everything, we will discuss on everything, about here, but about there too."
Clinton is working hard to improve U.S. policies toward Cuba. Last April, she announced that the United States was lifting travel and gift restrictions on Americans who have relatives in Cuba. She also announced a review of U.S. policy toward Cuba. But you don't get something for nothing; understandably, Clinton wants changes from Cuba in exchange for improved relations. (And if Cuba really wants those tourists, it should seriously consider change.)
Meanwhile, Fidel Castro says Clinton should get a Nobel Prize.
Photo: ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton has helped usher in a breakthrough on the crisis in Honduras. After meeting with ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya yesterday, Clinton announced that Costa Rican President Óscar Arias -- winner of the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for working on peace accords in Central America -- will mediate the conflict in Honduras.
When asked in a press briefing whether Zelaya should be restored to power, Clinton said:
Now that we have a mediation process that we hope can begin shortly, I don’t want to prejudge what the parties themselves will agree to. There are many different issues that will have to be discussed and resolved. But I think it’s fair to let the parties themselves, with President Arias’ assistance, sort out all of these issues.
Regarding nonhumanitarian U.S. aid that is conditioned on Honduras's remaining a democracy, Clinton said:
[W]e have paused in the aid that we think would be affected by the letter of the statute. There is humanitarian aid, and that is a concern for us – the well-being of the people of Honduras. But we’ve made the decision to basically pause on any further aid.
The breakthrough with bringing Arias in as mediator is a peacemaking achievement Clinton can add to her many accomplishments.
Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
Madam Secretary is an obsessive blog about all things Hillary Clinton. From her policies to her pantsuits, Madam Secretary delivers up-to-the-minute news, analysis, and gossip about America's top diplomat.