Tuesday, June 30, 2009

More on Honduras Coup

According to my contacts in Honduras, it's fairly calm in most parts of the country, except in the capital, where demonstrators for and against Zelaya have clashed with police using tear gas and rubber bullets which, while not fatal, can cause distress and injuries (I remember the tear gas and water cannons in Chile in 1988). Amnesty International has called for protection of the rights of protesters, presumably, for the rights of peaceful protesters. Schools are closed, there is a curfew, and most people are staying indoors.

The last time there was a military coup in Honduras was in 1978. While a military coup is unacceptable and undemocratic and not something Hondurans would want to see return, nonetheless, many ordinary citizens (and not just wealthy elites) had been getting concerned because Cuban, Venezuelan, and Nicaraguan security forces had come into the country to support Zelaya and even reportedly supplied the ballots he was going to use in his referendum. So, it's not a completely black and white situation. Many Hondurans feel that too many other countries are meddling in their internal affairs.

The only solution I see, and the one I believe most Hondurans would support, would be to reinstate Zelaya as president, allowing him to finish out his term until January, but have him agree to scrap efforts to amend the constitution to allow him to stay on beyond that time. The Venezuelan military should butt out and the US military should continue to lie low at its Honduran base. Even though Chavez has blamed the US for the coup, if anything, the US has bent over backwards to support Zelaya so far and he himself told the Spanish press that the US had actually stopped the coup—but that was before it had actually happened. Zelaya plans to return to Honduras on Thurs. when more violent clashes and demonstrations are likely to occur.

Anyway, that's what I’ve heard so far, Barbara

1 comment:

skydove said...

Why are we calling this a coup? The military did bundle Zelaya onto that plane at gunpoint, but it was always with the understanding that the constitutional order for presidential succession would be followed, as in fact it was.

With hindsight, it might have played better internationally if the Hondurans had impeached Zelaya, or placed him under house arrest pending criminal charges on the drug trafficking and diversion of millions of dollars from the country's treasury.

But highly placed officials, including but apparently not limited to military officers, decided to to make the preemptive strike. If all the variables were known, that might have been the most practical call.

We know what happened when a "free election" was held in Iran not long ago; there are other disappointing examples in recent history. The military and others in Honduras were aware that Chavez had sent referendum ballots from Venezuela, even though for Zelaya to declare the referendum in the first place was illegal. Zelaya had defied the Supreme Court and the Honduran attorney general. Popular concern for the integrity of constitutional processes would seem to be well warranted.

In a news story today, the Wall St. Journal quotes a protesting farmer, Juan Pablo Pereia: "Tell Obama he's not in charge here. We Hondurans are in charge. We have our laws, our constitution."