Someone living in Geneva who ordered my book on July 4 from Amazon’s publishing arm, BookSurge, after Amazon.com was unable to send it there, reports that it has finally arrived. He paid $8 shipping and the postmark is from New Zealand! Other overseas readers have been completely unable to order the book. This is unfortunate, as I have contacts all over the world. In some cases, I’ve sent the book myself, but, depending on the country, it has not always arrived.
Our DC Hispanic press reports the suspension of Honduran passport and consular services in the US due to a dispute about who is officially authorized to dispense such services, whether Zelaya or Micheletti loyalists. The interim government has cut off all funds, causing pro-Zelaya protesters to appear in small numbers outside the local Honduran consulate carrying a Honduran flag.
In the last blog, I reported the regrettable news of arrests and mistreatment of demonstrators who have been blocking streets and burning tires in major cities—I’m assuming in the two largest cities, Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. Demonstrators are angry that Zelaya has not returned and are determined to keep up the pressure. The interim government seems equally determined not to allow Zelaya’s return without a judicial proceeding, probably an arrest, which would really energize Zelaya supporters and undoubtedly trigger even more violent confrontations. Zelaya’s supporters not only consider themselves in the right, since he was duly elected and is internationally recognized, but most of them sincerely believe he has a better plan for the country than his opponents. Of course, as mentioned in my book regarding pre-Zelaya-era demonstrations, there are always criminals and anarchists taking advantage of demonstrations to destroy property and break into stores. Additionally now, sympathizers from neighboring countries and Venezuela have swelled the ranks of demonstrators.
However, Zelaya’s call to the military and police to break ranks and side with him has gone unheeded, at least so far. If those sectors fail to be paid on time, they may well defect to the Zelaya side. Yet since the demonstrations have been occurring daily for almost two months now, it’s not surprising that incidents of demonstrator injury and even deliberate brutality have occurred. Now, with the arrival of the OAS Human Rights Commission, more such reports will be forthcoming. The answer, of course, is to broker a settlement that both sides can live with that will halt the demonstrations. However, so far, each side seems to have hardened its position and demonstrator injury is only hardening it even more. There seem to be only two mutually exclusive possibilities: either Zelaya returns to office or he does not. And it’s still a long time until the end of November and even longer until the end of January, when Zelaya’s term officially ends. Yet if the interim government manages to stay the course, it will contend that it has saved the nation from entering the communist orbit and an unholy alliance with Hugo Chavez. It is noteworthy that the interim government, despite being suspended by the OAS, has allowed Amnesty International and the OAS Human Rights Commission entry into Honduras, while Cuba, newly re-admitted to the OAS, has refused such bodies access for more than 50 years.
Regarding the last blog, one commentator has this to say: If the authorities are saying that demonstrators are being arrested for engaging in violence and being provocative, I'm sure that's what they mean. Almost any kind of disorderly conduct can be termed "violence" if it's done in the middle of a busy street in a nation's capital. And it's hardly news that military or law enforcement authorities can be provoked by actions that may not be real offensive per se but in the context of a demonstration can easily be interpreted as deliberately provocative. Then a demonstrator says, "I was only chanting with the others when this cop grabs me and about jerks my arm off," and the cop says, . . .
I'm inclined to disagree with the Amnesty lady who saw the violence against the demonstrators as a form of punishment first and only secondarily as a deterrent. I'd be tempted to call it first a measure of crowd control and then a deterrent. What motive would the army or the police have to punish the demonstrators, who are their fellow citizens? Teach them a lesson, maybe, but "punishment" is imprisonment; getting roughed up in the course of a demonstration where passions are high is simply a chance one takes.
The Spanish-language version of the Miami Herald (below) reports that Zelaya has announced his readiness to sign the San Jose accord worked out with Costa Rican president Oscar Arias. Five OAS delegates are going to Honduras to convince the interim government to do the same. (The accord would allow Zelaya to return with limited powers and no right to succession and would provide for amnesty for both sides.)
El Nuevo Herald, publicado el jueves 20 de augusto del 2009
Zelaya quiere firmar acuerdo de San José en Tegucigalpa
Por JUAN CARLOS LLORCA
El presidente hondureño Manuel Zelaya desea firmar la semana entrante el acuerdo de San José, diseñado para revertir el golpe de estado que lo sacó del poder, informó la vicecanciller del gobierno derrocado Patricia Licona. "No podemos seguir dando dilatorias al acuerdo de San José. Esperamos que inmediatamente después de la reunión de cancilleres (prevista para la próxima semana) el presidente Zelaya firme el acuerdo y se proceda a la restitución, por eso hablamos de una fecha máxima para el 1 de septiembre", dijo el jueves Licona a la AP.
La Organización de los Estados Americanos (OEA) designó a cinco cancilleres de la región para que viajen a Honduras y convenzan al gobierno de facto a acoger el Acuerdo de San José, una iniciativa planteada en su rol como mediador en la crisis por el presidente costarricense Oscar Arias.