Saturday, August 15, 2009

Interim Government Curbs Unrest, Perils Lie Ahead

While Honduras remains divided, my book is moving along. I now have 14 reviews on, getting closer to 20, which, I understand (hope), makes my title come up more quickly when someone is searching. More good news: my book will be recorded by the Library for the Blind. I had wanted to read it myself, but the whole endeavor, including use of the machinery, intimidated me and so I agreed to let the experienced readers there do it. The director of the volunteer readers, a remarkable 95-year-old man, said he wanted to read it himself, as it looked interesting. He’s been to Honduras and knows Spanish, albeit, he admitted “with a gringo accent.” I hesitated because of that and also because I thought a female voice would be better for my memoir, but, in the end, he convinced me. I’m so very busy, it would have been difficult to get downtown to the recording studio at the MLK Library and would have taken me forever to complete the book. Even then, I was warned that my recording might not be of sufficient technical quality to send out nationally. That’s when I gave in to leaving the book there to be read, as I do want it distributed nationally, since blind readers may be especially interested in the last portion about my involvement with the blind center and blind school. I suppose once a listener gets into the book, the gender of the reader is relatively unimportant and most will not know enough Spanish to care of the reader has a gringo accent. While I was at the library, I looked in the online card catalog to see if my book, which had been donated to the library system in March, was listed yet; it was not and may actually have been lost in the system.

Glad to know, by your feedback, that I still have a few faithful readers, even as the Honduras situation continues unresolved. My Latin American commentator has a gloomy forecast, which I do not dispute. I wish I had faith that either Zelaya or his opponents could achieve improvements in the quality of life for most Hondurans, but I think they are both bad news. Zelaya has aroused hope among a substantial segment of the poor, but I doubt he can deliver in the long term and not without sacrificing certain values and liberties Hondurans now take for granted. Nothing in life is easy. Here’s what my blog commentator has to say: It is going to get worse. The Honduran de facto government is going to try to run out the clock and the Latin American left is going to try to take advantage of the opportunity to either pressure the US into ratcheting up sanctions (cutting off economic aid or trade) or criticizing the US as the hidden author of the coup and/or as a hypocrite.

After the upcoming OAS mission to Honduras has no results you can expect a renewed effort to get the OAS to recommend obligatory cutting off of aid and trade. Insulza has already been told that the US will not back his reelection as OAS Secretary General and his only hope of staying in office is leading a more radical effort to sanction Honduras so he can win the leftist countries' backing for his reelection. The leftist countries in Latin America would also love to force the US to sanction Honduras or to disregard an OAS decision for increased sanctions. Either way the left wins.

If the US follows an OAS vote to ratchet up sanctions, the left has taken control of the OAS and the US control over its activities is over. If the US does not back increased sanctions and/or does not follow a vote to that effect that is approved:

1- The OAS is wrecked as an organization;, the US influence in Latin America will hit a new low.

2- The ALBA accord as a Latin American Organization that excludes the US will become more viable alternative to the OAS.

So expect a move to raise sanctions by the OAS that will place the Obama administration in a difficult position.

And the internal struggle is heating up, as per the following article:
Honduras charges Zelaya supporters with sedition
Associated Press
Friday, August 14, 2009 8:21 PM

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- Two dozen supporters of Honduras' ousted president were charged with sedition Friday in an intensifying crackdown on protests against the coup-installed government. Protests to demand the return of ousted President Manuel Zelaya turned violent in the Honduran capital this week, with police firing tear gas and demonstrators fighting back with sticks and stones. Some protesters attacked the vice president of Congress, although he wasn't injured. Some 24 demonstrators were charged with sedition and damaging private property, said Melvin Duarte, a spokesman for the federal prosecutor's office. Another four were charged with aggravated arson and terrorism in the burning of a bus and a restaurant. Interim President Roberto Micheletti condemned the clashes as "violent and terrorist" and vowed his government would no longer tolerate street blockades and other disruptions.

Zelaya, a timber magnate who veered to the left midway through his presidency, was ousted by the army June 28 and flown out of the country. Micheletti, the former congressional president chosen by lawmakers to replace Zelaya, has refused to consider reinstating the ousted leader despite worldwide condemnation and the suspension of millions of dollars in U.S. and European development aid.

Micheletti insists Zelaya was legally removed from office through a congressional vote for defying court orders to drop plans for referendum asking voters if they would support rewriting the constitution. Zelaya's opponents accuse him of seeking to extend his term in office by removing a constitutional ban on presidential re-election, as his ally Hugo Chavez has done in Venezuela. Zelaya, whose constitutional four-year term ends Jan. 27, denies that was his intention.

Protest leader Eulogio Chavez accused the interim government of persecuting demonstrators and denied that the four charged with burning the bus and restaurant committed those acts. The demonstrators were charged three days before human rights monitors from the Organization of American States are scheduled to arrive in Honduras. Days later, several Latin American foreign ministers are due to visit the country in an effort to jump-start stalled negotiations aimed at ending the crisis.
Four delegates of Micheletti's government returned to Honduras on Friday after meetings in Washington with OAS Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza and U.S. lawmakers. The delegates called the meetings positive but gave no hint about whether the interim government might budge on the issue of Zelaya's return. "We explained to everyone in detail what happened in Honduras before, during and after June 28," delegate Mauricio Villeda told reporters. "With Insulza, we had private conversations and we explained what happened in the country and our right to live in democracy and peace."


Joe Maina said...

Hi Barbara;
Really enjoy your posts. Please keep them coming.
How about some details on your book. Would like to read it. As I am into eBooks is there any chance to get an electronic version?
Joe Maina

Barbara Joe said...

Hello Joe, My book is available on Amazon's Kindle, if you have that. There are 15 reviews on but I'm not sure if they also show up on the Kindle page--in any case, they give you an idea of what's in my book. As you can tell by the title, I was an older volunteer, but many younger people have found my book interesting and informative about Honduras and the Peace Corps. I just heard about a reader who actually found a couple I profile in the book (under different names). I don't gloss over the hardships of living in Honduras as a PC volunteer, but also show the rewards. It's hard to summarize in a few words, so you'll have to read the book. It also has numerous photos. If you want to see some reviews (Wash. Post, Peace Corps Writers), contact me at my Yahoo address and I'll send them as attachments. You can also see a random page on Amazon, Barbara