Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Effort

Dear friends, I know there are at least a few readers out there, because they’ve kindly responded, which is heartening and appreciated, as this is starting to take up time, posting something here daily. Besides, today, I had major computer problems, so wasn’t sure about being able to access the Internet to even make a posting! I hope the formatting is OK, because I don't have time to fool with it because my computer has been freezing up, so I'm being hasty here.

The following are excerpts from the observations of one correspondent, speculating that whatever privations come from losing US and world support, the interim government may consider it worthwhile to tough it out alone until after the fall elections and not allow Zelaya to return whatever the cost, that too much is at stake. They see themselves as saving Honduras from being swallowed up by Chavez and company.

Your unnamed Latin American contributor's analysis is very astute, and finally explains for me why Micheletti is being so intransigent about not letting Zelaya in. He's obviously thinking down the road, to Zelaya's seeming to toe the line until the elections, whereupon he and his friends in Caracas and Managua will pull out all the stops to get Rojas or another puppet elected. Rule 1: Don't let the camel get its head (back) into the tent.

I see the same flaw as you pointed out with one of your correspondent's points. I also don't think the U.S. has so much power to influence the situation…[nor] that Obama would go against Insulza in the OAS, concerned as he is not to look like we're being the boss of anybody. Here it is Tuesday night, and Zelaya's deadline has passed, and he hasn't made his triumphal entry? My guess would be that he (rather, i.e., than Chavez) got cold feet when he faced the fact that for such an entry to be effective, there'd have to be crowds, and if there were crowds, there'd be casualties, almost surely including fatalities. And Zelaya could have prevented them by not returning under those circumstances. To have returned would have been to say to the victims and their heirs that they were dispensable. It would be ignominious to sneak in, traveling incognito to his fans in the capitol. So now it looks like he's waiting for world opinion to beat Micheletti down.

What are your contacts in Honduras doing now? Making any sort of preparations? Taking their money out of the banks? Just waiting fatalistically?

The answer to that last question is that most people I know in Honduras, on either side, are trying to go about their business as usual, just waiting fatalistically, I guess, with little money, if any, in the banks to take out, hoping against hope that nothing terrible will happen. They are not joining demonstrations on either side. They have little experience with a serious national conflict of this type, having witnessed it among their neighbors but not among themselves in the recent past. Yes, there have been strikes and even scary demonstrations, as recounted in my book, but always short-lived and usually without fatalities. Afterward, everything has returned to status quo ante. This time may be different, so people are holding their breath. And this time, the US will probably not be coming to their rescue. I read in the NY Times that the European Union has now suspended aid to Honduras. See below--are these just stalling tactics or is there really a chance for an agreement? The particular content of an agreement is important, but so is the act of agreeing and showing mutual trust.

Honduras talks postponed, Arias has new proposal
Wednesday, July 22, 2009 10:09 AM

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduras' de facto government said on Wednesday a new round of talks aimed at defusing the country's political crisis had been delayed and that it was waiting for a new proposal from mediator Costa Rica.

"I am waiting for a new proposal" from mediator Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, Carlos Lopez, Honduras' interim foreign minister and negotiator, told local television. "We are waiting for a call."

Honduras crisis talks to resume, no deal on Zelaya
By Simon Gardner and Marco Aquino
Wednesday, July 22, 2009 6:36 PM

TEGUCIGALPA - Honduras' rival leaders agreed on Wednesday to new talks to end the country's political crisis, but they were still bitterly divided over the reinstatement of ousted President Manuel Zelaya.

Carlos Lopez, the interim government's foreign minister, said it would not give in to international demands for Zelaya's return to power in the third round of talks mediated by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. "This hypothesis of a possible return of Mr. Zelaya to occupy the presidency is completely ruled out," Lopez said.

Arias was expected to make changes to proposals rejected by the de facto leaders, but a Costa Rican government source said he will stick to the position backing Zelaya's return, which has been supported by the United States and Latin America.
Zelaya was also sending negotiators to the talks, a source said, but has promised to go back to Honduras without a deal if necessary, raising fears of violence.

Zelaya was seized by the military and whisked out of the country on June 28 after Honduras' Congress and Supreme Court accused him of violating the constitution by trying to extend presidential term limits. A leftist, he had angered the country's business elite by moving the country closer to Venezuela's firebrand leader Hugo Chavez.

Talks to broker an end to Central America's worst crisis in almost two decades broke down over the weekend, but Arias has apparently brought a new proposal to the table.
Honduras' de facto leader Roberto Micheletti, installed by Congress after Zelaya's ouster, has pledged to arrest the deposed leader if he tries to return.

"We are calling on the people who are with us to head to the border to accompany us as we enter the country, where the armed forces have said they will shoot and kill us on entry," Zelaya told Spanish radio.

The United States is worried Zelaya's return could spark violence after his previous attempt to land in the country in a Venezuelan plane was thwarted by the military and one protester was killed by soldiers.

Several thousand supporters of the interim government marched peacefully in the capital Tegucigalpa and filled the national soccer stadium. Dressed in white, they waved blue and white Honduran flags and banners that read "Zelaya is a traitor" and "Peace." "If you like Mel (Zelaya) that much, then you keep him, he's all yours!" read one placard.

"We don't just reject Zelaya, we also reject the abuse of power he planned," said history teacher Dumia Tome, 39. "We are not going to allow him back."
Around 500 Zelaya supporters staged their own march on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa to demand his return.

The crisis is seen as a diplomatic test for U.S. President Barack Obama as he seeks to improve relations with Latin America, where a growing bloc of leftist leaders that includes Zelaya has challenged Washington's influence in recent years.
Obama's administration has condemned the coup, cut $16.5 million in military aid and threatened to slash economic aid.

The U.S. State Department said it remained focused on mediation, and that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had made clear to the interim government there would be consequences if it failed to reach a deal. "The secretary made very clear ... that it's important for the de facto regime to take a serious look at the mediation effort by President Arias," department deputy spokesman Robert Wood told a briefing.
In Washington, a congressional aide who has been in contact with negotiators for the Micheletti government, said he thought the interim leaders were becoming more pragmatic.

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