Monday, July 27, 2009

Still Waiting

Although a dozen readers posted reviews on the site early on, nothing has been posted there lately. That’s why it was heartening and a surprise to hear from a former PCV reader, someone previously unknown to me, who sent this thoughtful message:

I just finished your book and thought it was excellent. I am an RPCV (El Salvador '96-'98) and simply wanted to say that I thought you did a great job. I can relate to so many of the stories and personalities in your book. It's amazing how the book brought back intense emotions and memories. Thank you for doing such a good job. I admire your dedication and commitment to the people of Latin America.

I've remained in solid contact with the community where I lived and have made trips back, a few times taking high school students (I currently teach high school Spanish) and last summer took my 4 -now 5 - year old son. I continually struggle with how to balance family with the desire to remain involved with Latin America. Your book was simply a great, inspiring reminder of all the possibilities out there. I can only say thanks for those kind words.

The NY Times article posted yesterday, saying that the military would not impede, but rather would support, Zelaya's return if an agreement is reached is a good omen. I don't know if that’s showing independence from Micheletti or just demonstrating that they are not an obstacle and that the interim government is not a military government. Or maybe the military are anxious to settle matters and tired of being on guard everywhere. It must cost something to station troops along that long Nicaraguan border and, who knows, Zelaya could always pop up from somewhere else.

The US seems to be stepping in to try to resolve the Honduras matter after Arias reportedly gave up, probably in the manner I suggested yesterday (although one of the articles below indicates Arias may be still involved). Let's see if Micheletti finally gives in. The problem is the interim government doesn’t trust Zelaya to live up to his agreements once he gets his foot back in the door. The US would have to provide some sort of guarantees, while not trampling too heavily on Honduran sovereignty. Zelaya is reportedly scheduled to come to Washington tomorrow, but don’t know if he will talk with Hillary, who seems tied up right now with the visiting Chinese.

Wishful thinking: that both the interim government and Zelaya will have learned something from all this about thinking longer-term before they act and about really helping out the poor without selling out the country.

U.S. insists it wants Zelaya's return to Honduras
By Claudia Parsons
Monday, July 27, 2009 4:31 PM

TEGUCIGALPA - The United States insisted on Monday it wants Honduras' ousted President Manuel Zelaya returned to power but gave no commitment to tightening sanctions to force the de facto government to back down. Zelaya, an ally of Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chavez, has complained that Washington was wavering and has not done enough to win his reinstatement.

The U.S. government said it had not changed its position. "Our policy remains the same, that we want the restoration of democratic order and that includes the return by mutual agreement of the democratically elected president, and that's President Zelaya," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said in Washington.

President Barack Obama has condemned the coup, cut military aid to Honduras and thrown his support behind the mediation efforts of Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, whose proposals include Zelaya's reinstatement. The de facto government has refused to let Zelaya back in and says it will arrest him if he does. The leftist complains that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has stopped using the term "coup" to describe his removal from power on June 28. "The position of Secretary Clinton at the beginning was firm. Now I feel that she's not really denouncing (it) and she's not acting firmly against the repression that Honduras is suffering," Zelaya told reporters over the weekend.

Asked if the United States would impose new sanctions on the de facto government in Honduras, Kelly said it wanted to give Arias more time to seek a negotiated solution. "We're content to let that process play out, we're not going to put any artificial deadline on that," he told reporters.

Zelaya, who was ousted as he sought a referendum vote to change the constitution, is in exile in neighboring Nicaragua. He went to the border and took a few symbolic steps on Honduran soil last Friday, a gesture criticized by Clinton as "reckless."
No foreign country has recognized the de facto government but interim President Roberto Micheletti has so far refused to back down.

Seeking to win over his critics and perhaps avert harsher U.S. sanctions, Micheletti wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal on Monday arguing Zelaya's removal was legal because he was seeking to extend presidential term limits. "The truth is that he was removed by a democratically elected civilian government because the independent judicial and legislative branches of our government found that he had violated our laws and constitution," said Micheletti, chosen by Congress to lead the country hours after Zelaya was ousted.

Around 2,000 Zelaya supporters gathered on a major exit route from the capital Tegucigalpa to block the road in protest on Monday as Congress was due to examine and debate Arias' proposals. It was expected to reject the plan because it includes Zelaya's return as president. Zelaya was seized before dawn by soldiers and flown out of the country. The Supreme Court ordered his arrest and Congress backed his removal, appointing Micheletti as president.

Micheletti said he understood criticism of the abrupt way that Zelaya was ousted, saying: "Reasonable people can believe the situation could have been handled differently." "But it is also necessary to understand the decision in the context of genuine fear of Mr. Zelaya's proven willingness to violate the law and to engage in mob-led violence."

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