Friday links (Monday edition) 2010 aid to Colombia moves through Congress
Jul 232009

The situation in Honduras is taking a turn sharply for the worse. The Oscar Arias-mediated talks have hit another impasse. A general strike has closed schools and hospitals and blocked roads. President Zelaya is talking about crossing the border from Nicaragua as early as today.

I’ve posted an analysis of policy options over on the opendemocracy.net website.

The outcome of the Oscar Arias process is uncertain as this article is being written, though the reported rejection by representatives of the coup government and Manuel Zelaya confirms the gap between them. If the Costa Rican president’s initiative does not move the process forward, the United States government must follow through with even tougher measures against the coup.

Read the rest there.

9 Responses to “A word on Honduras”

  1. Stuart Says:

    Adam,

    Very good report. One startling error was the statement that Zelaya was seeking reelection. I quote a news source listed in Plan Colombia and Beyond’s New Clip (see the third paragraph in particular):

    Meet Lanny Davis, Washington lawyer and lobbyist, former legal counsel to President Clinton and avid campaigner for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential bid. He has been hired by a coalition of Latin American business interests to represent the dictatorship that ousted elected President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras in a military coup and removed him to Costa Rica on June 28.

    Davis is working with Bennett Ratcliff, another lobbyist with a close relationship to Hillary Clinton who is a former senior executive for one of the most influential political and public relations firms in Washington. In the current mediation effort hosted by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, the coup-installed government did not make a move without first consulting Ratcliff, an unnamed source told the New York Times.

    ***Davis and Ratcliff have done an amazing public relations job so far. Americans, relying on media reports, are likely to believe that Zelaya was ousted because he tried to use a referendum to extend his term of office. This is false.

    Zelaya’s referendum, planned for the day the coup took place, was a nonbinding poll. It only asked voters if they wanted to have an actual referendum on reforming the country’s Constitution on the November ballot. Even if Zelaya had gotten everything he was looking for, a new president would have been elected on the same November ballot. So Zelaya would be out of office in January, no matter what steps were taken toward constitutional reform. Further, Zelaya has repeatedly said that if the Constitution were changed, he would not seek another term.***

    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-weisbrot23-2009jul23,0,7566740.story

  2. Camilla Says:

    Interesting analysis of “the right” in your openDemocracy essay, Adam. But you don’t really address what the right is claiming.

    The right is citing a provision in Honduras’ 1982 constitution that explicitly states that any head of the Honduran state who so much as brings up the topic of election is automatically disqualified from office and forfeits his citizenship. It’s a hard provision that has been in the constitution for years and it is self-executing. So, the question is, should Honduras alter its constitution to delete that passage, which in turn would implicitly permit Zelaya to hold a referendum extending his rule indefinitely? Or should they just ignore it and render the entire need to obey the constitution optional? I think this question needs to be addressed because it’s at the heart of the issue. It was the rationale for thowing Zelaya out in his pajamas. Honduran law does not have an impeachment mechanism as you describe. (If I were Arias, I’d make them get one.)

    I have some real problems with bringing Zelaya back, through. Number one, the US has never successfully reinserted a head of state after he was thrown out after abusing power, the US simply doesn’t have the power to do that: witness the Aristide reinsertion fiasco. If you think things are unstable now, wait till Zelaya is back and check out the size of the crowds then.

    Two, Zelaya looks like he belongs in jail for the kinds of crimes he’s been accused of commiting. The Honduran government discovered 45 fully preloaded computers bearing the permanent reelection referendum result BEFORE the vote was even held. Any guy who would steal people’s votes like that for his own selfish reasons cannot be permitted to hold office anywhere in the world.

    Three, the Micheletti government accuses Zelaya of being involved in the drug trade. It’s obvious something is going on, 16 planes filled with drugs have crash landed in Honduras and there is no way a small plane lands in a small country without the president knowing about it. I think it is worth investigating whether Zelaya took his cut of the drugs. Would the US really insist on reinserting a drug dealer over the people who tried to stop him?

    Four, Zelaya illegally tried to get himself re-elected, which is expressly forbidden by the constitution, as well as by the Supreme Court, by the Congress, by the prosecutor general, and other powers. To let him back in will nullify all the checks and balances of power in Honduras, and assure that Zelaya becomes the Chavista Castroite strongman he dreams of becoming. He also committed a lot of other violations he’s not supposed to commit – such as not turning in a budget, a sure sign of corruption. People like that don’t belong in office. The constitution should be allowed to take its course.

    Five, the guy literally robbed the Honduran treasury of some $5 million. That may be chump change in the states (though the New Jersey corruptuses who got busted today were bought off for less) but it’s a lot of money for Honduras. The Hondurans have the theft on film. I think that money issue needs to be resolved before Zelaya should be permitted to be returned to power. You can’t reinsert a guy who just robbed the till on film and expect a stable regime.

  3. Camilla Says:

    Clarification: in my second paragraph, the word should be reelection, not election.

  4. Chris Says:

    “He also committed a lot of other violations he’s not supposed to commit – such as not turning in a budget, a sure sign of corruption.”

    Hey… that’s our government (USA)!

  5. Camilla Says:

    Question: Did Zelaya really wear that hat inside Arias’ house? Is he really that tacky?

  6. Camilla Says:

    Chris: possible reasons he didn’t turn in a budget was because of a chavista cash flow to conceal assets or else paying off supporters and cronies illegally. Honduras is a small country and it’s not that hard to do a budget on time as the constitution requires. Zelaya not doing it is a red flag, especially in light of that filmed bank robbery his henchmen did.

    Meanwhile, here’s a wild bit of news out of the blue:

    http://cbs4.com/national/taliban.colombia.afghanistan.2.1103635.html

    Colombia has stepped forward to help the US out on Afghanistan duty while the supposed allies of the US are getting weak knees and threatening to go home. Very curious: The nation that isn’t good enough for free trade (even though Marxist antidemocratic Nicaragua somehow is) still sends its men as cannon fodder to fight US wars abroad while its own allies won’t. The army of false positives somehow is good enough to fight in Afghanistan alongside US troops under commander in chief Obama! Go figger.

    In my opinion, the Colombians should tell the US to go to hell on Afghanistan until free trade passes. Ship Jim McGovern to go fight the Taliban instead since he’s so morally pure. /s

  7. Block Says:

    Camilla –

    That first post of yours was by far the most coherent and least rabidly right-wing of any I´ve ever read of yours. Congratulations.

  8. Camilo Wilson Says:

    It is of interest that Camilla (correctly) refers to Colombian soldiers in Afghanistan as cannon fodder. For this is also how many right-wing Colombians see them. Not that those privileged Colombians would acknowledge it, of course. Many in the officer corps of the Colombian Army—not to mention those in Colombia’s right-wing “Establishment”—will be willing to sacrifice them just as they have allowed the sacrifice of innocent civilians as “false positives.” (The very phrase trivializes violent death and atrocity, and epitomizes ethical degradation and social indifference in a troubled society.)

    Many of these poor soldiers who fight, who are maimed, and who die to maintain this Establishment will now risk their lives in a land they know nothing of, in a war in which they have no interest. But that Establishment does have an interest. It will sacrifice these poor devils for the symbolic value it has in appearing to support a military ally. And yes, some will gladly sacrifice them for free trade, a trade that in Colombia will do little for them or their families.

    These soldiers are tragic symbols, for in a practical military sense, their contribution in Afghanistan will be negligible. And when some of them die in this benighted land, that same Establishment will commend their heroism. And persons like you, Camilla, will strut forth and point to the sacrifice that Colombia makes for the United States, which denies Colombia a free-trade agreement. These poor devils are no less pawns for your game as well. Maybe you can pen an article beneath the caption: “Colombians die in the Hindu Kush for free trade.”

    As for me, I would like for Gen. Freddy Padilla and Juan Manuel Santos to go with their soldiers to Afghanistan. Let them go to Helmand, and there take up arms with the U.S. Marines.

  9. Marcos Says:

    It’s pretty cynical, to say the least, to make that argument when all forms of warfare have followed those same basic principles and realities for a long time.

    If you have a war, whether it’s internal or external, I don’t see how you can pretend that such a thing wouldn’t be the case, far more often than not.

    Oh, I know! It’s not convenient to admit it.

    Regards,

    Marcos

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