Saturday, July 4, 2009


Don't know if anyone out there is reading this blog, but since there are daily developments, I feel obligated to keep reporting what I know.

So far, the OAS has failed to get the interim Honduran government to back down and let Zelaya return to serve out the rest of his term, so, today sanctions are supposed to go into effect. While Zelaya has strong support outside Honduras, he doesn’t seem to have much inside the country. Honduras, already hanging on by an economic thread, cannot withstand sanctions for long. Already, the current situation has had an economic impact, as schools and many enterprises have been closed. However, with Honduras being a largely agrarian economy, unless farmers are producing for export, the impact may be less severe than otherwise. A subsistence farmer in the hinterlands is not affected much one way or the other by who is in charge of the government and may only get news sporadically via a transistor radio. But the repercussion go beyond Honduras. I regret to see Latin American returning to the polarization of the Cold War, as seems to be happening right now.

The contention of the interim government is that theirs is civilian rule, just keeping civic order, with the military subordinate to constitutionally designated civilian authorities. So far, at least, there are no reported deaths and rubber bullets and tear gas have been used to disperse pro-Zelaya demonstrators, not more lethal means. The (acting?) president has asked Rigoberta Menchu, indigenous Nobel Peace laureate from Guatemala to mediate, but, so far, she reports that no one has spoken to her on either side. Where is Obama, the great conciliator in all this? Waiting to see if the situation escalates? So far, except for Hillary Clinton’s immediate condemnation of the “coup,” the Obama administration has been largely silent and, as far as I know, has not threatened to cut off aid. I haven’t heard about the Peace Corps being evacuated yet.

Honduras needs calm now and time to let the dust settle. National pride has been aroused and a bunker mentality has set in within the current government. If the country can hold out until the November elections, the matter will be largely settled then.

Zelaya’s return right now would certainly provoke unrest and probably violence, and subject him and his family to constant danger. Perhaps now is the time for him to think about personal survival and consider resigning, a la Sarah Palin. When things get too hot, get out the kitchen. Assuming that Chavez would allow it, instead of retiring to his ranch in Honduras, Zelaya could accept an invitation to take up ranching in Venezuela, where he would be well protected and have a platform from which to join his benefactor in denouncing the Honduran oligarchy (of which, until very recently, he was a part), the United States, and capitalism in general. Remember, if this happens, you heard it here first.

If not a resignation, then the US should step to try to broker a compromise, even though neither side wants one. See below, Barbara

From Zelaya supporter in Tegucigalpa: We still have restrictions on media coverage on TV and radio, and the few programs that attempt to tell the full story are cut off in mid-stream. It's incredibly frustrating to hear the constant propaganda on TV supporting the anti-Zelaya demonstrators, while the pro-Zelaya/anti-coup faction is painted as a bunch of delinquents. Pro-Zelaya demonstration turn-outs are also vastly under-reported, if reported at all. Union leaders have been detained and who knows how many other citizens? People around the country are trying to come to the capital, but military checkpoints only let them through if they say that they support Micheletti. We have a state-imposed curfew from 10 pm to 5 am, at least until Friday. Schools and universities are closed. We suspect that cell phones are being monitored, and electricity and land line phone service are frequently cut in various sectors of the city. As I'm writing this, my telephone service has been cut and restored twice.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Honduras rejects OAS appeal to restore president

AP-TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Honduras' Supreme Court rebuffed a personal appeal from the Americas' top international diplomat Friday, refusing to restore ousted President Manuel Zelaya before a Saturday deadline.

Jose Miguel Insulza, who heads the Organization of American States, flew to Honduras in an attempt to persuade the forces that ousted Zelaya to take him back in the face of overwhelming international condemnation and economic sanctions. He met for two hours with Jorge Rivera, president of the Supreme Court that authorized the military to seize Zelaya on Sunday and fly him into exile. "Insulza asked Honduras to reinstate Zelaya, but the president of the court categorically answered that there is an arrest warrant for him," said court spokesman Danilo Izaguirre. "Now the OAS has to decide what it will do."

Insulza made no comments as he emerged from the meeting. He has said Honduras will be suspended from the organization, a move that could lead to further sanctions against one of the Americas' poorest countries, unless Zelaya is restored by Saturday morning. The OAS has called an emergency meeting in Washington for Saturday afternoon.Insulza had conceded before traveling to Honduras that his mission was unlikely to succeed, saying: "It will be very hard to turn things around in a couple of days."

"We are not going to Honduras to negotiate. We are going to Honduras to ask them to change what they have been doing," he said. Insulza also was meeting with leaders of Congress, "basically to clarify exactly what our position is." But he said he would not see Roberto Micheletti, whom Congress named president after Zelaya's ouster, in order to avoid legitimizing the government. Micheletti's foreign minister, Enrique Ortez, said that Insulza "can negotiate all he wants, except for Zelaya's situation."
"That is not negotiable because he cannot return to Honduras, and if he does he will be arrested and tried," Ortez said. Zelaya, who was traveling in Central America, planned to return to Honduras on Sunday, according to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. Zelaya has said he would be traveling with Insulza and the presidents of Argentina and Ecuador. Contrary to assertions by the Micheletti government, Interpol on Friday released a statement saying it had not received any request to issue an arrest warrant for Zelaya.

Micheletti led a raucous chant of "Democracy!" before a giant crowd waving blue-and-white Honduran flags in front of the palace that Micheletti has occupied since Zelaya was seized by soldiers and flown into exile. He pledged to stand firm in the face of the international pressure. "I am the president of all Hondurans," he proclaimed. "They said we were afraid, but here is the proof that the people are not afraid," Micheletti yelled. "We are asking Hondurans to communicate with their relatives throughout the world to tell them that no coup took place here."

A rival rally by thousands of Zelaya backers marched to the offices of the OAS. Marchers carried a banner with a picture of Zelaya and the words: "Mel our friend, the people are with you!" Labor and farm leaders who back Zelaya said they would meet with Insulza on Friday afternoon. Despite feared violence, the two groups did not clash. Police helicopters circled overhead and dozens of soldiers and police guarded the palace.

Micheletti's supporters say the army was justified in ousting Zelaya — on orders of Congress and the Supreme Court — because he had called a referendum which they claim he intended to use to extend his rule. Zelaya denies that and has said he will no longer press for constitutional changes.

Nations around the world have promised to shun Micheletti, who was sworn in after the coup, and the nation already is suffering economic reprisals. Neighboring countries have imposed trade blockades, major lenders have cut aid, the Obama administration has halted joint military operations and all European Union ambassadors have abandoned the Honduran capital. On Friday, the U.S. Embassy in Honduras issued a statement expressing "deep concern over restrictions imposed on certain fundamental rights" by Micheletti's government, including a curfew in force since Sunday, and "reports of intimidation and censorship against certain individuals and media outlets."

Micheletti's government is so eager to find a friend that it announced it had been recognized by Israel and Italy — surprising the governments of those countries. Italy withdrew its ambassador to protest the coup, and Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said: "All rumors about Israeli recognition of the new president are wholly unfounded."

Micheletti asked Nobel Peace laureate Rigoberta Menchu to help mediate the conflict, and she arrived in Tegucigalpa on Friday. "I come to try to talk with anyone who wants to listen to search for peace for this country," she said.

A suspension by the OAS could encourage other organizations and countries to suspend international aid and loans to Honduras. Ousted Honduran Finance Minister Rebeca Santos on Friday told international finance ministers in Chile that the coup has already hurt the economy. The World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank have suspended between $300 million and $450 million in financing.


ikaros said...

Hello - came across your blog a couple of days ago and have come back to read more of your posts on the subject.

I'm an AmCit born in Honduras and have followed its politics for some time. I find your blog very neutral and appreciate it very much.

I'll follow up with some background on the current situation and why the OAS, US Government, and other organizations have condemned this coup d'etat.

Enjoy Independence Day!


Barbara Joe said...

Ikaros, thanks for your comments. I'm trying to keep abreast, but now what I feared has happened, injuries and at least one death. I would welcome hearing more from you, especially if you dare predict some sort of solution.

notaslavetofashion said...

I'm also following your blog. I am an RPCV (Marcala, La Paz 02 - 04) and spouse to a host country national. My in-laws seem uninformed and a little afraid. I wish I could talk to the campesinos I used to work with. I am sure they are fine, but I wouldn't be surprised if they had a unique insight. Keep blogging!