Wednesday, September 23, 2009

WSJ on Honduras

The Wall Street Journal has an editorial about the Honduran crisis, blaming the Obama administration for its handling of the situation. That is to be expected from the WSJ editorial board, but it is frustrating to see the same lies (it is too late, I think, to call them misrepresentations, misstatements, errors, or the like because the facts are so well known).

The essential argument for those who support Roberto Micheletti is that Mel Zelaya's ouster was entirely constitutional. So the editorial includes the following:

Mr. Zelaya was deposed and deported this summer after he agitated street protests to support a rewrite of the Honduran constitution so he could serve a second term.

We've gone over this a hundred times, and the best argument anyone can make is that "everyone knows" Zelaya would try for a second term, which is then taken as the same as evidence. But term limits were never mentioned in the referendum, and even the Supreme Court largely avoided the issue in its own supporting documents.

But this one is even better:

To avoid violence the Honduran military escorted Mr. Zelaya out of the country. In other words, his removal from office was legal and constitutional, though his ejection from the country gave the false appearance of an old-fashioned Latin American coup.

Escorted! What an odd word to choose. In legal terms, this is otherwise known as "forced into exile in violation of the constitution by a military acting according to its own whims without regard for the law." That is a coup.

I understand very well the anti-Zelaya arguments. But the lying is just sad.

10 comments:

Mark 7:21 PM  

Since you teach LA politics you will realize that it is not so much the words, but what is beneath the words. I think that Zelaya's current position of refusing elections even if he were re-installed speaks volumes.
I'll agree, there are a lot of lies.
Mark in Tegucigalpa

leftside 7:54 PM  

think that Zelaya's current position of refusing elections even if he were re-installed speaks volumes.

Where did you get this from?

RAJ 9:09 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
RAJ 9:15 PM  

I second leftside's comment.

Here, for the record, is the absolute latest statement I can find for President Zelaya on the elections:

"Ese es el objeto (del regreso a Honduras), dialogar en forma personal, no sólo con él (Micheletti), sino con los grupos económicos del país (...), con los grupos políticos que tienen interés en participar en las elecciones"

This is the point (of returning to Honduras), to have a dialogue in a personal form, not only with him (Micheletti), but with the economic groups of the country (...), with the political groups that have an interest in participating in the elections".


Direct quotes, from the pro-coup Radio America.

Steven Taylor 9:26 PM  

Greg,

Michael Barone said the same thing in a Washington Examiner column today. I e-mail him the text of the referendum--I will be curious if he responds (my guess is not).

leftside: I think Mark is referring to the fact that Zelaya has said he would not meet Micheletti's demand that he agree to the November election date as a precondition to meet. I blogged about it here.

RAJ 11:42 PM  

Steven Taylor's source is a BBC News story, which juxtaposes comments Micheletti made to BBC with comments by Zelaya not directly in response to questions from the BBC:

Zelaya described the offer as "total manipulation" in interviews with local and Brazilian media.

There was no will on the other side to resolve the crisis, he said.

"If elections are held, there need to be equal conditions for all, not persecution of some and favouring of others," Mr Zelaya said.


I see how these comments are being interpreted. I don't agree with that interpretation. I see Zelaya saying that Micheletti's "offer" is disingenuous. Since Micheletti has yet to rescind his claim that Zelaya cannot be restored, Micheletti's "offer" is a meaningless delaying tactic.

Zelaya then makes the important point that saying the elections will solve everything also misses the point: elections need to have guarantees of electoral freedom for all candidates and participants. That is an important point to counter the complacent claim, still being made in Honduras, that once the election happens, the world will rush to recognize the winner as the legal president. (Which, by the way, means Micheletti is at least aware of being viewed as illegitimate internationally.)

But without the original context, this interpretive exercise is probably pointless, since those who wish to see evidence that Zelaya will somehow take over the country all by himself will see it even when it is not there.

I have searched without success for the original Brazilian news source. Anyone who sends me a link to it will be welcomed; I read Portugese and will happily translate the entire thing for everyone to read and interpret as he or she will.

Justin Delacour 11:42 PM  

I think Mark is referring to the fact that Zelaya has said he would not meet Micheletti's demand that he agree to the November election date as a precondition to meet.

If that's what Mark is referring to, he's doing so in a highly dishonest manner. Regardless of whether Zelaya has agreed to the November election date, there's no evidence whatsoever that Zelaya is "refusing elections."

RAJ 2:14 AM  

The only place I have found that seems likely to be the source of Mark's "refusing elections", and possibly a source for the BBC, is a story on the website Urgente24, dateline Buenos Aires.

Referring to remarks made Tuesday, it includes Zelaya's characterization of the Micheletti "offer" as manipulation, while correcting noting that Micheletti called for Zelaya to affirm his support for the November elections while refusing to recognize him as President or even agree to discuss that point.

Zelaya goes on to say Deben de dejar de manipular a la opinión pública (they should stop manipulating public opinion), answering the question, why does he think this apparently simple question is manipulation?

Most interesting, and so far, not something I have seen quoted elsewhere: in addition to reiterating that he will welcome a chance to contest the charges against him in court, President Zelaya reminded Micheletti that the coup was a crime that he and others in the regime would have to face charges for:

O es que niegan que hubo un golpe de Estado, lo que también es un delito, y también ellos tienen que responder a los tribunales para responder por ese delito (Or they deny that there was a coup d'Etat, which is also an offense, and they also will have to respond to the tribunals to respond for this offense.)

Take that.

Steven Taylor 8:17 AM  

RAJ,

I agree that the issue may be one of interpretation. Still, I think Zelaya has to be careful in what he says vis-a-vis the elections. He cannot risk being perceived as trying to postpone or thwart those elections, else it will be seen as proof that the coup plotters were right all along.

mcentellas 3:37 PM  

Ironically, I think the coup itself has strengthened Zelaya's chances of extending his mandate. If he returns, he might be able to postpone the elections.

I think people are using Honduras as a proxy for their discontent towards Chavez. That's an odd way to make policy choices, or ideological commitments. EIther people stand for institutionalized liberal democracy, or they don't. That goes for pundits on the right and the left.

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