Americans for Limited Government (ALG) today commended Sen. Jim DeMint for putting a hold on the nomination of Arturo Valenzuela to be “Western Hemisphere Czar,” terming the nominee, “a dangerous threat to democracy throughout Latin America.”
Valenzuela, nominated by Barack Obama to the post of Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, would exercise broad powers over U.S. policy throughout Latin America and the Caribbean Basin. In the recent past, Valenzuela has argued for “dialogue and opening” towards Cuba, defended Hugo Chavez’ crackdown on press freedom in Venezuela, and denied that violence was a major issue in Mexico.
Most recently, Valenzuela vigorously defended impeached president Manuel Zelaya of Honduras after the strong-arm ruler was impeached for violating the nation’s Constitution. Under tough questioning by DeMint In hearings on the Honduras crisis, Valenzuela claimed that his 40 years as a college professor had made him an expert on “military takeovers.” [SEE ATTACHED Washington News Observer VIDEO]. DeMint reminded the nominee that the Honduran military was acting under orders of the legislature and courts and at no time assumed power.
“Arturo Valenzuela has never met a Marxist dictator that he didn’t embrace,” said ALG’s Wilson. The very thought that he would be in a position to push his despotic agenda throughout Latin America is an anathema to all who value freedom.
“In fact, it seems that the only governments Mr. Valenzuela has problems with are those that adopt democratic constitutions and then embrace and defend the freedoms they assure,” Wilson said. “As long as Manuel Zelaya was violating Honduras’ democratic safeguards, Arturo Valenzuela was nodding in silent consent. But, the moment the courageous people of that country rose up to defend freedom, Valenzuela was suddenly outraged. That’s appalling.”
The controversial Valenzuela first came to national attention in November, 2008, when widely respected journalist Martin Edwin Andersen resigned from Freedom House to protest the nominee’s being an “apologist” for corruption in Argentina and throughout Latin America. Valenzuela at the time was a Freedom House advisor.
“When it comes to Latin America,” Andersen wrote, “I truly hope the Obama team will give a pass on including former Hillary Clinton supporter Arturo Valenzuela on its foreign policy team. Not only is Valenzuela’s dandyish personal style both boorish and pedantic; he has been proven dead wrong on several issues critical to democracy in Latin America and to U.S. security.”
Said Wilson of the Valenzuela nomination, “Barack Obama has appointed scores of ‘czars’ with extra-legal powers to work outside of the normal channels of government to enforce his will. But, the nomination of Valenzuela is one of the most chilling of all.
“He, and he alone, will have nearly dictatorial powers to determine U.S. policy towards Latin America. And his open support for Marxist tyranny – whether in Cuba, Venezuela, or Honduras – proves him to be a clear and present threat to freedom. Jim DeMint is to be commended for standing against this arrogant and errant Ivory Tower elitist.”
Legal Background, “Legal situation of the transition government in Honduras,” June 29th, 2009.
Arturo Valenzuela Background, Americans for Limited Government, July 2009.
Interview Availability: Please contact Alex Rosenwald at (703)383-0880 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an interview with ALG President Bill Wilson.