Dear Readers, I have not abandoned you. Spent all last Saturday and Sunday at the annual meeting of volunteer country specialists for Amnesty International-USA, fortunately taking place only a few blocks from my home, whereas others came in from all over the US. I had hoped the guy in charge of Honduras would show up at our meeting to give his take on the situation there, but he failed to appear. My new temporary housemate from South Africa, astrophysicist Thebe, accompanied me for the first morning session, giving him a chance to speak briefly with the Amnesty people there working on South Africa. Sunday evening, we went to a party to say farewell to Mitch, a fellow Peace Corps volunteer first met in Honduras, also my former housemate, now moving with his girl friend Daniela to a new federal job in Austin, Texas. Then, it was up very early the next morning to do a hospital interpretation in a suburb. After that, I began feeling ill (not swine flu, much better now), so I beg my readers’ patience in waiting for blog updates. At age 71, I’m finding it somewhat harder to burn the candle at both ends, though it's still very rare for me to become ill.
As for Honduras, in addition to the cancellation of millions of dollars in aid, El Nuevo Herald (Spanish-language version of the Miami Herald) reports that Micheletti confirmed that the US has revoked both his tourist and diplomatic visas. Micheletti termed it an example of the pressure the US is exerting on his country. Juan Barona, the leader of the “resistance,” as the pro-Zelaya movement calls itself, predicts (again according El Nuevo Herald) that the whole issue will be resolved before the end of September. Does he have some inside information?
Honduras candidates back negotiated solution to coup
By John McPhaul
Wednesday, September 16, 2009 9:37 PM
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - The front-runners in Honduras' presidential race backed a negotiated solution to the country's political crisis on Wednesday, but stopped short of calling for the return of ousted president Manuel Zelaya. The candidates said they supported the efforts of Costa Rican President Oscar Arias to resolve the crisis touched off by the June coup that forced Zelaya into exile.
Arias has proposed that Zelaya return to office to serve out the remainder of his term, while coup participants would be given amnesty, but the de facto government has refused to consider any deal that would allow Zelaya back. The candidates stressed they were not speaking on behalf of the de facto government.
Zelaya was arrested and flown out of the country by the military on June 28 after he angered the judiciary by seeking constitutional changes that would allow presidents to seek reelection. The leftist leader, who allied himself with Venezuela's anti-U.S. President Hugo Chavez, has denied he intended to prolong his stay in power. Zelaya's supporters say the de facto government is seeking to hold out until the general elections on November 29 in order to legitimize the coup.
The United States cut more than $30 million in aid to the country earlier this month as it stepped up pressure on the coup leaders. Washington has also warned it could not recognize the elections as legitimate because of Zelaya's ouster.
The following is from a website called World War 4. Incidentally, Adolfo Facusse, quoted below, and his wife are wealthy Hondurans who have long supported US-based medical brigades. I once attended a lavish party at their palatial home.
Honduras: resistance plans election boycott
Submitted by WW4 Report on Tue, 09/15/2009 - 11:26.
Two Honduran presidential candidates announced in a communiqué on Sept. 9 that they will not participate in the Nov. 29 general elections unless four conditions are met: the return of President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, who was removed from office by a military coup on June 28; an end to human rights violations; the demilitarization of Honduran society; and an end to a slander campaign against the leftist Democratic Unification (UD) party, which currently holds four of the 128 seats in the Congress. The two candidates are former union leader Carlos H. Reyes and legislative deputy César Ham, who heads the UD. Both are active in the National Front Against the Coup d'Etat, the leading resistance coalition; the front issued a communiqué on Sept. 7 calling for a boycott of "the electoral farce called by the coup perpetrators."
The announcements by the front and the two leftist candidates seemed to conclude a debate within the resistance on whether to participate in elections under the present circumstances. The president, three vice presidents, 256 legislative deputies and alternates, 40 deputies to the Central American Parliament, and 298 mayors are to be selected in the balloting, which was scheduled in May before the coup; some 7.5 million Hondurans are eligible to vote. The de facto government headed by Roberto Micheletti—along with the two traditional parties, the National Party (PN) and the Liberal Party (PL)—have been hoping that the November vote would give them a way to legitimize Zelaya's removal. (AP, Sept. 9; Frente Nacional Contra el Golpe de Estado communiqué #23, Spt. 7)
Most countries, including the US, have indicated that they won't recognize elections held under the de facto government. On Sept. 10 the European Commission announced in Brussels that the European Union will not send observers to the November vote if it is overseen by the coup regime. (Latin American Herald Tribune, Sept. 10 from EFE)
Honduran business owners reportedly have a new strategy for making the elections successful. They are considering a plan to "give a discount in all the businesses to people who vote, so that people will go to the stores with the ink on their fingers [after voting] and get an automatic discount on any purchase they make anywhere in the country," National Association of Industries of Honduras (ANDI) president Adolfo Facussé said in the Sept. 9 issue of the daily La Tribuna. The goal is "to strengthen democracy and overcome voter abstention," Facussé told the paper, which is owned by his cousin, former president Carlos Flores Facussé (1998-2002). (La Tribuna, Sept. 9)
In addition to clarifying its position on the elections, the National Front used its Sept. 7 communiqué to announce the formation of a National Coordinating Committee for the next three months, a commitment to "struggling for a Constituent Assembly" to rewrite the 1982 Constitution, and an effort to defend longtime environmental activist Father José Andrés Tamayo from the de facto government's efforts to deport him to his native El Salvador. The front also announced the formation of an International Commission to coordinate solidarity work with activists outside Honduras. (Frente Nacional communiqué #23, Sept. 7/09; Comisión Internacional Nota informativa #1, Sept. 7; Prensa Latina, Sept. 8; Honduras Coup 2009 blog, Sept. 7).
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Sept. 13