Update on Honduras


Update on Honduras.jpg On Saturday the Organization of American States (OAS) withdrew Honduras’ participation rights citing their breach of the Inter-American Democratic Charter as the basis for this decision. The charter insists that all member nations abide by democratic principles and outlines repercussions for “unconstitutional interruption of the democratic order”. However, the charter also states that the permanent council undertake the “necessary diplomatic initiatives” to resolve the situation prior to suspending a nation’s rights. By this standard the OAS’ reaction has been hasty rather than diplomatic.
The strong-willed Honduran government attempted to preempt ejection from the OAS by withdrawing their membership and accusing the OAS of acting unilaterally. Since the OAS has labeled the current government of Honduras illegitimate, their resignation was denied and they were promptly voted out by the rest of the organization.
The resolution against Honduras stopped short of calling for economic sanctions, but encouraged the member states to review their relationship with Honduras. The United States, which is Honduras’ chief trading partner and generous aid donor, has hesitated to impose strict economic sanctions hoping for a diplomatic solution. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has invited Zelaya to Washington Tuesday for high level talks which is the first sign of support specifically for the ousted president. Major action by the United States will most likely follow Clinton’s meeting with Zelaya.
Buoyed by broad international support, Zelaya had hoped for a triumphant return to Honduras this past weekend to reclaim his presidential title. But on Sunday he and his high profile entourage were turned away from the nation’s major airport unable to land. The expected showdown was relegated to a fly-over. On the streets below, protests turned bloody as pro-Zelaya demonstrators and soldiers clashed near the airport.
— Faith Smith


11 comments on “Update on Honduras

  1. David says:

    Caught John Zogby on Link-TV today. Segment with former vp of Costa Rica regarding Honduras. At this point I suspect Hillary really is trying to solve the problem, the US is not going back to meddling, at least not while Obama is president. Not handling Venezuela the way I think they should, since Bush was involved in short-lived coup and US owes Venezuela some slack for that retro eff up.
    The only way to move forward is to give Chavez a little room and stop demonizing him (there are far more troublesome governments we don’t, and that is always associated with meddling).
    A little less ego, a little more wisdom on his part would help, but he certainly hasn’t done anything anywhere near as bad as what Bush did, not by a very, very long shot. And it is certainly a good example of an instance where the Venezuelans should be allowed to sort out Venezuela. Venezuela is sure as a hell a better place for the average Venezuelan than it was under the oligarchs. Ditto Cuba.
    Shame Zelaya couldn’t navigate the situation in Honduras better, but again, he was moving to make things better for working-class Hondurans, was pro-union, and wanted an opportunity to continue his agenda, but a one-term restriction precludes a president from doing anything but serving established interests. Stability is apparently the only goal, but ironically the result is a government that can’t govern and is now headed toward isolation, which Honduras cannot survive economically, and which will make things even less stable.
    One interesting comment by Costa Rican former vp was that he thought neither Zelaya nor the militarily-installed alternate president seems to understand the seriousness of the situation or the real possibility that it could all turn very ugly. His thought was that Zelaya must be reinstalled as president, but in some kind of power-sharing arrangement, because not re-installing him is not going to work, but shutting out the other side is not going to work either.
    This is what I think Oscar Arias and Hillary Clinton are struggling with, and I think that if there is not a compromise whose only purpose is the restoration of a sense of democracy pre-military deposing of one president and the insertion of another, other considerations notwithstanding, with both the elected president and the imposed president working together for the well being of Honduras, Honduras is headed for a fall.
    It also seems to me that it ought to be obvious that putting in a provision that a constitution cannot be amended is dumb, really dumb. So is a one term limit, unless the one term is 8 years. And they’d better add in that the army can never, ever be used against the government. Why Zelaya tried to use the army I will never know. I understand why Chavez needs an army that will protect him from CIA or other inteventions by the US to overthrow his government. I am assuming it is true that Zelaya tried to use the army to enforce carrying out the straw poll (I gather it wasn’t really a referendum in any legal or binding sense, just a way to find out if Hondurans wanted to continue the one-term limit).
    Apparently every other government in the Americas did condemn the military removal of Zelaya, althugh various governments have varying views of which side is the preferable government. But the most fundamental question for the Americas, of course, is whether or not the age of military coups (which were so dear to retro US policy, so long as they were right wing strongman puppet regimes) is history, not to return, or whether this return of that practice in Honduras will stand and thereby open the possibility for it to become once again accepted practice.
    I would really like to see some authoritative analysis of the role of powerful business interests in all of this, especially since the position of the replacement government is so hardline and threatening such draconian treatment of Zelaya if he returns. That strikes me as old-school oligarchic.
    Faith, I hope you’ll post again as this unfolds.


  2. devlin_upya says:

    Hey there, Steve —
    What about Honduras, yeah?
    Now, after the first day of negotiations between the Honduran MILITARY DICTATORSHIP that the COUP installed, and the RIGHTLY ELECTED PRESIDENT OF HONDURAS, the COUP LEADER is saying that he will not allow the RIGHTLY ELECTED PRESIDENT OF HONDURAS back into the country —
    and the US is supporting him on this.
    It’s pretty damn clear what you and your people in the White house want to do:
    Provoke a response by ALBA, and then pretend like you and they are somehow “protecting democracy” in Latin America.
    It’s so appalling that if it ain’t fixed, you can bet: i’m not voting for Obama, next time. The way i figure it, republicans may be running this country into the ground, but at least they’re on the fast-track to dissolution. Better to go ahead and wear a straight face as everything falls to hell ASAP, then to whinny and snicker about false principles and barefaced lies in order to postpone it for a few years.
    For two weeks, we saw you posting hysterical, virtually fact-free commentary on the election in Iran — a country over which the US has virtually no influence, and no control, and can only observe from the outside — but here, we’ve got Hilary Clinton and Obama SUPPORTING A NEIGHBORING, CLIENT GOVERNMENT INSTALLED BY A MILITARY COUP AGAINST THE NATION’S DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED LEADER, and we get what?
    A little “update on Honduras”, and then silence.
    And you want us to think that Obama’s all about “change”, and “restoration”, and “reform”?
    I’d suggest you and they better start toeing the line of your rhetorical values, or y’all’re going to see Obama not only lose the next election, but hand it over to a second Cheney presidency.


  3. Paul Norheim says:

    Thanks for the link, John. Informative article.
    Looks like the “de facto government” of Honduras may face some
    trouble. If they don´t agree to let Zelaya into the country and
    reinstate him as the president, the freeze on money from USA
    and the World Bank, as well as formerly provided subsidized oil
    from Venezuela, may make it difficult for the illegal government
    to survive. This may create a dramatical and unpredictable
    If they on the other hand let him in, with the promise that he
    won`t hold a referendum, and a promise of amnesty for the coup
    makers, they seem to have less to lose.
    I guess they´ll opt for drama.


  4. JohnH says:

    Nice article from Jim Lobe, more impartial than much of what I’ve seen.
    Despite the relative lack of media attention, this is a BIG DEAL. If Obama doesn’t get it right, the honeymoon with Latin America is over.
    “The administration is concerned that the unity shown by the OAS in response to the crisis to date has already begun to fray and may soon devolve into major differences, frustrating Obama’s efforts to bridge the hemisphere’s political divides that sharpened as a result of the mutual hostility between Chavez on the one hand and Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush.”


  5. ... says:

    “The conspirators made themselves look ridiculous before the world.” that would include the usa media outlets and talking heads too i suppose…


  6. SAMUELBURKE says:

    here is a little nuance from Fidel Castro…if.
    Reflections of Fidel
    A suicidal error
    (Taken from CubaDebate)
    IN my reflection written last Thursday night, June 25, I said: “We do not know what will happen tonight or tomorrow in Honduras, but the brave conduct of Zelaya will go down in history.”
    Two paragraphs before I noted: “What is happening there will be a test for the OAS and for the current United States administration.”
    The prehistoric Inter-American institution had met the other day in Washington and in a muted, lukewarm resolution, promised to immediately take the pertinent actions to seek harmony between the warring parties. In other words, negotiations between the coup plotters and the constitutional president of Honduras.
    The top military chief, still commanding the Honduran Armed Forces, was making public statements in disagreement with the positions of the president, while recognizing the latter’s authority merely in formal terms.
    The coup plotters did not need anything else from the OAS. They didn’t give a damn about the presence of a large number of international observers who traveled to that country to vouchsafe a popular referendum and to whom Zelaya spoke until late in the night. Before dawn today they deployed 200 professional and well-trained soldiers to attack the president’s residence. Roughly pushing aside the Honor Guard squadron, they then kidnapped Zelaya, who was sleeping at that point, took him to the air base, forcibly bundled him aboard an airplane and transported him to an air base in Costa Rica.
    At 8:30 a.m. we heard the news of the assault on the Presidential residence and the kidnapping via Telesur. The president was unable to attend the opening event of the referendum that was to take place this Sunday. It was not known what they had done with him.
    The official television channel was silenced. They wanted to prevent premature broadcast of the treacherous action via Telesur and Cubavision International, which were reporting the events. For that reason, they suspended all the retransmission centers and ended up by cutting off electrical power throughout the country. The Congress and the higher courts involved in the conspiracy had not yet published the decisions that justified the plot. First they executed the indescribable military coup and then they legalized it.
    The people awoke with the deed consummated and began to react with growing indignation. Zelaya’s whereabouts was unknown. Three hours later, the popular reaction was such that women could be seen striking soldiers, whose guns almost fell out their hands out of pure confusion and nervousness. Initially, their movements resembled a strange combat against phantoms; later they tried to block the Telesur cameras with their hands, aiming their guns shakily at the reporters and at times, when the people advanced, falling back. They sent in armoured transport carriers with cannons and machine guns. The population argued fearlessly with the crews; the popular reaction was amazing.
    At around two in the afternoon, working in coordination with the coup leaders, a domesticated majority in Congress deposed Zelaya, the constitutional president of Honduras, and appointed a new head of state, affirming to the world that the former had stepped down, and furnishing a forged signature. A few minutes later, from an aircraft in Costa Rica, Zelaya recounted everything that had happened and categorically refuted the news of his resignation. The conspirators made themselves look ridiculous before the world.


  7. devlin_upya says:

    Oh, yes.
    Mr. Steve, here, was all up in arms about the “coup” in Iran, how the election had been stolen, blah blah blah, all based upon no evidence other than that Mousavi had declared himself the winner before the votes had even been counted.
    Now we get Mr. Steve, here, talking about the Honduras “situation” — no, Steevie, it’s a coup — and how it’s “complicated” — i don’t know how much more you need, when you have a small band of military men ejecting the duly elected president from his office at gunpoint — and how the US is “working” on it — o, ya, it’s workin’ on it all right; it’s been “working on it” for a full two months before it happened, and now it’s “working on” trying to find some way to “negotiate” between a bunch of banana republic dictators and the man who the people of Honduras actually elected as president.
    Way to, Steve. You’re batting 0 for 2, as far as i can tell.
    A bit more of your “nuanced subtlety” and your public persona will finally match that of Dick Cheney.
    But you knew that already, din’cha?


  8. tony says:

    Shame on Faith Smith, and Steve Clemons, for posting this apologia for a bunch of clownish gangsters.


  9. arthurdecco says:

    JohnH, your comments are spot on, even if much more mild than mine. (My gawd, I luv your circumspection and reserve!)
    Faith Smith, judged by her last three posts on the Honduran imbroglio, has proven herself to be a whore to power. Full Stop.
    Sad really…


  10. JohnH says:

    What’s interesting here is the narrative that subtly takes the side of the coup plotters without, of course, clearly stating a bias:
    1) Despite the near unanimous consensus of the international community, here we read in an earlier comment that the coup might not have been a coup at all! Faith said, “Choosing the side of democracy was no simple matter in the Honduran case.” But the coup plotters’ talking points are covered at length, and Zelalya’s justifications for his actions are not. Nor are the reasons behind the international community’s swift decision to condemn the action.
    2) the undemocratic aftermath of the coup is not covered: left out are “the forced national curfew imposed by the coup government, which is now from 6pm through 6am, the suspension of constitutional rights, the censoring of media outlets not favorable to the coup, the detaining and persecution of journalists and members of Zelaya’s cabinet and family, and the dead and wounded at the hands of the coup military forces.”
    3) the ousted President’s popularity (and legitimacy) is questioned, subtly implying that maybe, just maybe Zelaya deserved to be thrown out. The possibility that Zelaya might really have been quite popular was not entertained, and so reasons for his possible popularity were not investigated. Nor was there any analysis of the apparent contradiction of a supposedly unpopular President proposing an audacious referendum, or why the Congress and Supreme Court reacted so strongly to a referendum that the spin would have us believe he was certain to lose!
    While Sunday “protests” are briefly mentioned, conspicuously omitted is the fact that thousands of Zelaya supporters gathered around the Tegucigalpa airport, defying martial law and Honduran troops in full riot gear, to welcome Zelaya home. (Contrast that to the coverage of Iranian protesters!)
    4) the OAS may have acted improperly in ousting Honduras: “the OAS’ reaction has been hasty rather than diplomatic.” Of course, given the clear facts of the matter, the OAS probably acted properly, though hastily. The longer and illegitimate government is allowed to hang around, the more it has the opportunity to consolidate its position.
    The frame presented here is not unique. It seems to represent Washington’s distorted view of the situation, a view that is decidedly different from Latin America’s. Washington’s Bush-like insistence on an alternate reality does not bode well for relations with Latin America.


Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *