Thursday, August 27, 2009

The military coup in Honduras

The State Department staff has recommended that Zelaya's ouster be officially labeled a "military coup," which carries with it significant aid cuts. It seems that Micheletti's latest refusal to negotiate was finally the straw that broke several camels' backs.

What I find interesting is the fact that State Department staff felt the need to make this leak:

"The recommendation of the building is for her to sign it," said the first U.S. official said of the 'military coup" determination, saying this was a response to the de facto government's refusal to accept a compromise that would allow Zelaya to return to power ahead of November elections.

This is purely speculation, but I have to wonder if the staff was fearful that the decision would get railroaded once pro-Micheletti lobbyists got wind of it. After this public declaration of State Department unity behind the decision, the administration cannot back out on it without looking foolish.


Abby Kelleyite 4:31 PM  

I've been wondering about the purpose of today's leaks also. Earlier today AFP reported someone from State as saying: "We firmly believe a negotiated solution is the appropriate way forward and that Costa Rican President Oscar Arias' plan for resolving this crisis is a good one .... Both sides would be well advised to sign it promptly." The last part seemed to be somewhat undiplomatic, almost saber rattling. I'm not sure whether the serial statements and leaks are to box in the administration or part of the negotiations in trying to get Micheletti to make some concessions before the hammer gets dropped.

Nell 4:45 PM  

I think it's more likely a loud warning to Canahuati, Flores Facusse and company: push Micheletti aside now, sign the accord, and don't make us cut off the aid.

leftside 8:44 PM  

We have been told all along that the coup legal determination had not been made because it was a complicated legal issue. Now we see this (below). Can someone explain to me how this makes ANY sense:

Diplomats said the United States had held off making the formal determination to give diplomacy a chance to yield a negotiated compromise that might allow for Zelaya's return.

Nell 1:37 PM  

@leftside: The sense it makes is that of diplomacy-speak -- the official lies that cover for the policy.

No one actually believed that the failure to make the formal call was because the legal issues were complicated; everyone understood it was a dodge to stall doing anything until the appropriate amount of Zelaya-chastening time had passed. [This policy was fairly clearly enunciated by Clinton on June 29, in a Mary Beth Sheridan article in the Washington Post.]

Now, the goal has been pretty much achieved: two months have been cut off of his term, he's agreed to a whole set of terms several of which are simply political demands of the coup-makers. The election season is days away; the popular movement and many Latin American governments had signaled that the legitimacy of Zelaya-less elections would be challenged. And, after the recent OAS brushoff, the Micheletti crowd's intransigence can no longer be hidden in a gauzy fog of consultations. So it was time to drop the pretense.

You and I could acknowledge that the "negotiations" were dead more than a month ago; Sec. Clinton could not. She found it necessary to keep quiet while women were beaten and raped with police batons, members of Congress and presidential candidates were assaulted so savagely that they required surgery and hospital stays, and at least five more activists were murdered. Compared with that, what's a little intelligence-insulting blather about complex legal interpretation?

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