Thomas Legler gives informational lecture

On Tuesday afternoon, Thomas Legler gave a lecture called "Defending Democracy," which explained the coup that occurred in Honduras on June 28 and the international community's reaction.

Legler, who spoke to both students and faculty, is a professor of international studies at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico.

The coup described in the lecture involved the ousting of former Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya by his own political party, Partido Liberal. Roberto Micheletti, former president of the Honduran National Congress, replaced Zelaya.

Legler said that although there are generally five types of coups specific to Latin America, this one defies easy classification due to the ambiguity of the events preceding it. It is because of this, he said, that the United States is reluctant to consider the event a formal military coup, and that it is uncertain whether or not the Honduran Supreme Court played a role in the seizure of power.

According to Legler, there are three approaches of increasing severity that may be taken to rectify the situation: a "facilitation of intra-elite dialogue," or talking the conflict out; applying increased international pressure in the form of economic sanctions; and finally, use of force.

"It is best to start out with non-threatening measures and then ratchet up to more severe means," Legler said. He added that a possible compromise could lie in the San Jose Accords, developed by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias to help both sides agree on a unified government until the Nov. 29 presidential elections.

"We are very happy to have events like this and to have students interested in the current events of Latin America," said Jeffrey Koch, chair of Geneseo's political science department. "We are fortunate to have alumni that help in the coordination of such things."

"I think [handling the coup] will be an interesting test for the Obama administration, especially because it is [its] first situation in the Western Hemisphere," said freshman Christopher Riverso, who attended the lecture.

Legler's lecture was sponsored by the department of political science and international relations.