Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Peace Corps Budget Increased, Resistance Plans Dec. 11 March, Honduran Drug Czar Assassinated

Word is out that the Peace Corps budget for 2011, the 40th anniversary of the Peace Corps, contains a substantial increase. Good news!

Tomorrow evening, Dec. 10, Human Rights Day, DC-area Amnesty International groups, including my own, are holding a write-in for political prisoners at Busboys & Poets locations. B & P has promised to donate 5% of the evening’s proceeds to AIUSA.

Here’s something from a friend in Mexico, who says she only knows what she reads in the paper about Honduras, but it looks to her very much like a coup when a legitimately elected president is taken out by the army, however, in a poor country, always the poorest of the poor suffer the most. Sólo sé de la situación de Honduras lo que sale en el periódico, pero yo sí tengo la impresión de que fue algo muy parecido a un golpe de estado: un presidente, legítimamente electo es "defenestrado" por un personaje que se apoya en el ejército para (y la clase hegemónica del país) para echar al presidente en turno. ¿De qué otra forma se puede llamar eso? Bueno, pero tu irás y verás por tí misma cuál es la situación; es cierto, el país es tan pobre y siempre, los más pobres de un país pobre, son los más perjudicados.

Someone posting on my blog says: Brazil will recognize the new Honduran government eventually, but first they must insist on non-recognition in order to close the embassy in Tegucigalpa and get Zelaya out of their embassy and out of their hair. Mel has already caused them enough embarrassment. Imagine keeping him there permanently?

An American observer asks: I really wonder why they don’t just let Zelaya back in for these few weeks? The results were accepted by us and a few other countries; the rest of the world is holding out unreasonably, imo. So at this point, why not go ahead and make them happy? Or call their bluff, as the case may be. The only reason I can think of is that the interim government is extremely worried about security for Zelaya once he leaves Brazilian territory and figures that the status quo is better than being blamed for an assassination or attempted hit that (worst case) kills innocent Hondurans.

There’s been all this talk about how arrogant and controlling Micheletti is; but there are also assertions that “the oligarchs” want to eliminate Zelaya permanently. Both may be true, but I suspect that neither Micheletti personally nor anyone else in the interim government would be able to thwart an assassination undertaken by well-funded experts at the behest of persons accustomed to buying their way, who are worried about the handwriting on the wall. If any such plot or plots exist, or are credibly rumored to exist, Micheletti has got to sit tight.

Assassinations are certainly common, as I’ve said before; witness below the killing of Honduras’ drug czar. It’s pretty hard to protect public officials; it’s not quite as bad as in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Pakistan, but I doubt the Honduran government could guarantee protection for Zelaya. By the way, drug trafficking through Honduras has been estimated to have increased since Zelaya’s ouster and since the partial withdrawal of US aid.

Other articles recount the end of the Venezuelan students’ hunger strike; Brazil’s reiteration that it doesn’t plan to recognize the Honduran election, despite earlier equivocal statements; that Zelaya supporters are planning a march on Dec. 11; and that Amnesty International is asking that the books not be closed on human rights abuses occurring since Zelaya’s removal. And it’s not only Latin Americans who have objected to US support of the Honduran presidential election. Many here in the US agree, as witnessed by the following e-mail, just received.

Fri. Dec. 11, 2009--Call out Hillary Clinton and the State Department - The State Department's role in the Honduran coup has been terrible. The State Department refused to recognize that a military coup had taken place, Hillary Clinton denounced attempts by the democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya to return to Honduras, and the State Department went against the majority of governments in the Americas when they backed the illegal elections in Honduras and betrayed the process to restore the constitutional order. The U.S. Department of State is hosting a public engagement conference. The conference will focus on the issues and challenges of U.S. relations with Latin America. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Under-Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela,
and other senior State Department officials will be attending. Register for the event and try to use the opportunity to call out Clinton and the State Department for their actions against democracy in Honduras.

December 9, 2009
Honduras: Gunmen Kill Drug Official

Gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed Honduras’s top antidrug official Tuesday as he rode in his car in the capital, Tegucigalpa. The official, Julian Aristides González, a retired general who planned to leave his post in two months, had told reporters at a news conference Monday that drug trafficking had been increasing in Honduras and pointed to a number of landing strips that authorities said were being used for drug trafficking. Honduras has become an important transit point for South American cocaine.
9 December 2009

(CNN) -- Twenty-one Venezuelan students and supporters on Tuesday ended an 18-day hunger strike over the government's treatment of what protesters call political prisoners. The students called off their strike after a visit by a three-member delegation from the Organization of American States who traveled from Washington to talk with them. OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza had written a letter to the protesters last week asking them to stop the fast.

Hunger striker Julio Rivas announced an end to the protest Tuesday, saying the visit by the OAS delegation had helped the students accomplish their goal of having an international body focus on the issue of political prisoners in Venezuela. "This only a step," Rivas said. "We will keep taking steps."

Brazil: No recognition for new Honduras governmentBy MARCO SIBAJA, Associated Press
Tuesday, December 8, 2009

BRASILIA-- Brazil's presidential spokesman has reiterated that the country does not plan to recognize the incoming Honduran administration and denied that Brazil's president and chief of staff have made contradictory statements about the Central American nation's elections. Marcelo Baumbach said Monday that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has made it clear he does not intend to recognize the outcome of Honduran elections that gave Porfirio Lobo the presidency after Manuel Zelaya was ousted and ended up holed up in the Brazilian Embassy there. Baumbach made the comments three days after Brazilian presidential chief of staff Dilma Rousseff said Honduras' Nov. 29 elections "will have to be considered."

"One thing is dealing with the fact that there were elections and another is recognizing the legitimacy of the elections," Baumbach told reporters. "And for now, Brazil does not recognize that legitimacy."

"The president's position is clear," Baumbach said. "Brazil does not intend to recognize a government elected in a process that was organized by an illegitimate government."

Honduran activists last week ended months of daily protests demanding the reinstatement of their president since he was ousted in a June coup, saying they were moving on now that Congress has voted to keep Manuel Zelaya out of office.
Lobo has said that when he takes office in January, he will finally end the political crisis that has isolated one of Latin America's poorest countries. Some countries, including the United States, have recognized Lobo's election. But others, including Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina, say they won't unless Zelaya is restored to office.
Honduras: resistance plans new strategies
WW4 Report
8 December 2009

At a meeting on Dec. 3 at the headquarters of the Union of Workers of the Brewery Industry and the Like (STIBYS) in Tegucigalpa, 300 members of the National Front of Resistance Against the Coup d'Etat, a coalition of Honduran grassroots organizations, agreed not to end a five-month struggle that they started on June 28 when the military removed President José Manuel ("Mel") Zelaya Rosales from office. "We're going to continue the struggle, but only for the Constituent [Assembly], not for the restitution [of Zelaya]," general director Juan Barahona told the Agence France Presse (AFP) wire service, referring to demands for a convention to rewrite the country's 1982 Constitution. The Resistance Front also said it would institute a "pause" in its daily street demonstrations, although it was planning a march for Dec. 11.

Like the Honduran resistance, the London-based human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) rejected what it called a "return to 'business as usual.'" "The crisis in Honduras does not end with the election results," Javier Zúñiga, head of the AI delegation in Honduras, said in a Dec. 3 statement. "There are dozens of people in Honduras still suffering the effects of the abuses carried out in the past five months. Failure to punish those responsible and to fix the malfunctioning system would open the door for more abuses in the future."

AI called on the "future government" elected on Nov. 29 to "[r]epeal all legislation, decrees and executive orders issued by the de facto authorities"; take law enforcement powers away from the military; "[e]nsure that all members of the security forces are held accountable for human rights abuses" under the de facto regime; and "[d]evelop a National Plan for the protection of human rights." The organization urged activists to send letters supporting these demands by going to their Appeals for Action page.

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