Tuesday, November 3, 2009
First, I am going to try to include in this blog entry, somewhere, a photo of me at Va. Tech with Alex (AKA Alec), grad student and former Peace Corps volunteer in China and current campus recruiter. Let’s see if it comes out and where.
On this blog (available to all), this message came in, but in case you missed it, here it is:
Hi Barbara: I wasn't able to get an eBook version of "Triumph & Hope" because I have a Sony PRS-700 instead of the Kindle. Instead I asked our town library to buy the book and have just finished it. Think you've done a great job explaining the Peace Corp efforts in Honduras and feel kudos are in order because you didn't pull any punches. Yes, it isn't always pretty but the volunteers' efforts are positive and helping those who need it most. Hope the political situation gets squared away soon.
As the articles shown below attest, more hurdles have been put in the way of Zelaya’s return. At least, Tegucugalpa has been put in the world map.
In response, my verbose correspondent continues: Under the terms of the Arias mediation proposal (which was only a fig leaf for a US plan), one month before the election the army stops being under the command of the President and comes under the command of the Electoral Tribunal. The agreement could not be made before that because if Zelaya regained command over the army for even one day he would purge all the high command that stripped him of power and name officers loyal to him to run the army, thus gaining control over the country!
Thus 10/29/09 was the earliest possible date for an agreement. But now it’s back to stage one. It’s the same strategy: dragging your feet and saying no and when the pressure builds up passing the buck to someone else and renewing the cycle trying to run the clock out and celebrating elections without the restitution of Zelaya. It’s like several rings of defense around a city. You defend the outer ring until you can no longer hold it and then you fall back to an inner ring and continue resisting. Now the ring is the supreme court and Congress but the strategy is the same. to drag your feet and run the clock out. As I said before, "The game is not over till it’s over!" To which I would add "This one sure ain't!" Thomas Shannon, Dan Restrepo, and Hilda Solis have quite a job ahead of them. It’s like getting two snarling wolves to kiss each other!
I told him: You are right--this is getting tiresome! It's like the Iranians or North Koreans about their nuclear programs. Bait and switch. It will serve them right if the election takes place and no one recognizes it.
Honduran Congress to seek opinions before vote
Tuesday, November 3, 2009 4:42 PM
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- A Honduran lawmaker says congressional leaders will seek the opinions of several government entities before convoking the full legislature to vote on reinstating ousted President Manuel Zelaya. Ramon Velasquez says the leaders decided Tuesday to consult the Supreme Court, which ordered Zelaya's June 28 ouster, the Attorney General's Office and Honduras' commissioner on human rights. They were given no deadline.
Also Tuesday, U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos arrived to monitor implementation of a U.S.-brokered pact that calls for lawmakers to vote on Zelaya's reinstatement.
Governments have threatened to not recognize Nov. 29 elections if Zelaya is not returned to power.
Honduran lawmakers put off vote, want court opinion
By Mario Naranjo and Fiona Ortiz
Tuesday, November 3, 2009 4:40 PM
TEGUCIGALPA - Honduran lawmakers on Tuesday put off a vote on whether to restore ousted President Manuel Zelaya and asked the Supreme Court for its view, bucking outside pressure to quickly end a four-month political crisis. Their inaction leaves a de facto government in place and risks losing international support ahead of a November 29 presidential election -- along with hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid to the poor coffee-producing nation.
A board of 13 top lawmakers met and decided not to call a special session of Congress, currently in recess, until they receive nonbinding opinions from the Supreme Court and the attorney general. No timeline was established for a vote, throwing fresh uncertainty over how quickly a crisis agreement signed last week could break the deadlock over Zelaya's ouster.
"The majority voted to send the matter to the Supreme Court, but there were votes against that idea, from those who want to immediately vote on Zelaya's restitution," congressman Marvin Ponce of the Democratic Unification Party told Reuters.
A U.S.-brokered accord to end the worst political upheaval in Central America in two decades stipulates Congress must decide whether Zelaya, toppled in a June 28 coup, can return to serve out the rest of his term until January. Zelaya says he must be returned this week to comply with the deal. But the accord set no date for a congressional vote and the de facto government of Roberto Micheletti says the deal could be fulfilled even without Zelaya's reinstatement.
At stake for Honduras, a poor country that produces coffee and exports clothes to its main trading partner the United States, are hundreds of millions of dollars in international aid that were cut off after the coup.
Lawmakers "are trying to impose a light interpretation of the accord. They are hoping that some countries will decide to recognize the results of the election even if they don't return Zelaya," said Alvaro Calix, a Honduran social researcher.
Outside the legislature, police in riot gear stood by as supporters of Zelaya, known as "Mel," chanted, "Hang in there Mel, the people are with you."
Chilean ex-President Ricardo Lagos and U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis were in Tegucigalpa on Tuesday to lead a commission of the Organization of American States, or OAS, to oversee fulfillment of the accords.
Washington praised the deal as a major breakthrough even as it remained unclear if it would lead to Zelaya's return. OAS head Jose Miguel Insulza said on Tuesday that, despite vague timing in the accord, its spirit is to reinstate the leftist. Some experts said Congress could stall for some time by arguing it is waiting for a Supreme Court view, even though the accord itself asked the court to issue a nonbinding ruling.
"The accord is not at all favorable for Zelaya. It does not assure his restitution and it sets no date," said Luis Cosenza, presidency minister for former President Ricardo Maduro. With the 128-seat unicameral Congress in recess, many lawmakers are busy campaigning out in their districts.
Zelaya is still in the Brazilian Embassy where he has been holed up since sneaking back from exile in September.
Under the accord, a unity government must be set up this week, but does not say who would preside over the government.
Congress and the Supreme Court both backed Zelaya's ouster on the grounds that he had illegally sought a public vote on changing the constitution to allegedly allow presidential re-election. Congress named Micheletti as interim leader.
Zelaya and Micheletti are both from the Liberal Party, whose 62 lawmakers are divided over a Zelaya return. The opposition National Party, with 55 seats in Congress, is seen as key to whether or not Zelaya is reinstalled. Its presidential candidate, Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo, has a double digit lead in opinion polls and analysts say he is weighing whether or not to support Zelaya in Congress.
Smoothing the way for a Zelaya return could win foreign support for an eventual Lobo government, yet it could also scare away some Honduran voters who are anti-Zelaya after he cozied up to socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.