Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Arias Has Swine Flu

AP reports that Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, the Honduras mediator, has a mild case of swine flu, so is temporarily out of commission. Zelaya, now drumming up support in Brazil, is calling on the US and Obama to do more to return him to power.

One of my readers compares the medical brigade that took him to Honduras to the IHS brigade in which I participated: The Shoulder to Shoulder (STS) brigades, at the least the one I was on, focused on children's health. We traveled to isolated villages, checked height, weight, hematocrits, gave them vitamins, parasite meds, varnished their teeth, gave them tooth brushes, and taught them how to use them, checked vision, and finally they got a physical from a doc/resident/med student. Occasionally we brought a kid into the clinic for follow up. These kids are followed every 6 months. While in the area, we made house calls on patients known to the clinic. One was at a house with 2 profoundly handicapped kids, both physically and cognitively. They were well cared for, no bed sores. There was a small coffin stuck up in the rafters; the American funeral business "pre-need" industry would be proud. There was an OT in our brigade who also looked in on some other kids with orthopedic problems and I think another kid had muscular dystrophy. STS also distributes folic acid to child-bearing age women. Each village has a "madre guia" who attends charlas on health issues, gets a month's supply of folic acid for each woman she is responsible for, then goes home to distribute the meds and share the info from the charla. Like the IHS brigade, volunteers are expected to pay their own way, about $850 for 2 weeks, plus air fare. STS provided food and a place to sleep, spartan dorms at the clinic compound. Sounds a lot like the Peace Corps, only shorter. I urge people to participate in such missions, especially if Peace Corps service is just too long for them. And you don’t have to be a medical practitioner to join a medical brigade. You can be an interpreter as I have been or even just a general helper, dispensing medications or eyeglasses, cleaning up. Of course, you will have to pay for your own travel and expenses, but its still cheaper than a standard vacation and more meaningful.

The Spanish version of the Miami Herald quotes Zelaya as saying that Obama could restore him “in five minutes” if he chose to do so. Recently in Mexico, asked about Honduras, Obama said just what I did in my last blog, that Latin Americans don't want Big Brother USA intervening, so he isn't doing so.

If Insulza really wants to resolve this matter, he should swallow his pride and agree to Micheletti's terms, despite the slight to his dignity of being a mere “observer.” I imagine that the interim government sees the OAS visit as chance to tell their side of the story, rather than necessarily as an opportunity to arrive an agreement, especially one that allows Zelaya’s return. They will try to show that it’s business-as-usual in most of the country. I'm not sure if the OAS mission requires the participation of Arias, now down with swine flu.

A blog reader has pointed out a column in the Wall St. Journal entitled The FARC's Honduran Friends. The column specifies a connection between the Honduran Partido de Unificacion Democratica (the only one that supports Zelaya's return) and the FARC. Reportedly, it states that one of Chavez's reasons for wanting Zelaya back in Honduras is that he (Chavez) supports the FARC all over the hemisphere. Not only were Swedish-made antitank rocket launchers originally sold to Venezuela seized by the Colombian military in a raid on a FARC camp, but, according to a GAO report, Venezuela "has become a major transit route for Colombian cocaine, 60% of which is exported by the FARC.”

Wow! I almost had to laugh at the article below from the Spanish-language version of the Miami Herald. It’s so predictable. I sincerely doubt that it’s true, because the Obama administration genuinely seemed to be caught by surprise by the Honduran “coup”--Hillary reacted precipitously. And if the US had been behind it, I’d like to think it would have been a more thoughtful operation. But Latin American leaders and intellectuals may believe it anyway because Obama has not come down hard in favor of Zelaya. And why should he? He has bigger fish to fry. Chavez and Zelaya are anti-US, no friends of ours and no friends of democracy.

And truly, the US is only one country made up of flesh-and-blood human beings just like everybody else, people who make mistakes (like GW Bush and those who voted for him), a nation that failed in Vietnam and is struggling in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as confronting issues with Canada-Mexico, Iran, Israel-Palestine, North Korea, Burma, and Africa, among others, not to mention huge domestic challenges. Yes, the US is the only superpower, but it is not omnipotent and omniscient and Obama is not Superman. Still, many people in Latin American will believe Raul Castro, just as many believe that Fidel Castro has been the great savior of the Cuban people. Of course, the historic record of the US vis-à-vis Latin America is not good, but history does not always repeat itself. Micheletti must be fuming at this accusation.

The article says that Raul accuses the US of being behind the Honduras coup. He alleges that on the one hand, Obama denounces the coup, on the other, he supports the coup-makers. He let the gorillas out of the cage because he has the key. “Everyone” knows that no coup can takes place in this hemisphere without the authorization of the US, including of the Obama administration.

Raúl Castro acusa a EEUU de estar detrás del golpe en Honduras, El Nuevo Herald, 8-10-09

El presidente cubano Raúl Castro acusó al gobierno de Estados Unidos de ser el responsable del golpe de estado en Honduras, porque considera que nadie protagonizaría un hecho como ese "si no recibe la autorización" de Washington. El mandatario dijo que el gobierno del presidente Barack Obama ha mostrado una doble actitud: "por un lado vemos un presidente condenando el golpe y por el otro lado, el apoyo" a los golpistas.

El golpe en Honduras se dio "en la forma típica ... el presidente Obama condenando el golpe pero no aparece quién abrió la jaula a los gorilas. Ya se va sabiendo porque todo se sabe en este planeta. Los de siempre, los que tienen la llave, porque en este continente nadie da un golpe de estado si no recibe la autorización de los Estados Unidos, además del gobierno de Obama".

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