Thursday, July 23, 2009

Failed talks in Honduras

Unless there is a last minute change, the Costa Rica talks appear to be dead. There are cracks within the coup government, but as of now are not strong enough to force a change of position. See RAJ's take on the failed talks.

Oscar Arias says it is now the job of the OAS to settle the dispute, which is bizarre since a) the OAS has already failed in that regard; and b) the coup government has not backed down from its insistence that Zelaya not return as president. If the latter does not change, it does not matter who is mediating.

Rumors are flying about when Zelaya will try to return. He says "Only God will stop me," which seems not to take into account the Honduran military.

For now, we wait. And hope this doesn't become violent.


Slave Revolt,  8:41 AM  

Greg, your analysis consistently comes up wanting inasmuch as your parameters of discussion are imbued and truncated by frames of reference defined by US imperialism. To be fair, the US intelligensia, by and large, operate within this antidemocratic and antihuman rights framework.

To wit: reguarding your framing of events in this post--you slide and eviscerate the fact that violence is being engaged on a daily basis by the coup regeim. People are being harassed, many are in hiding, hundreds have been beaten and jailed, deathsquads have assasinated, media terrifiEd and shut down, etc

Just because coup-freindly US media will not highlight this low-level terror, doesn't mean that you should follow their squalid, anti-democratic example.

Such examples of non-critical thinking have been rife for decades--and it serves to bolster human oppression, always has.

Anonymous,  9:51 AM  

RAJ is the same analyst that claimed that Zelaya's 'opinion poll' was needed because you couldn't do a traditional poll since so many Hondurans lack phones. This came as a suprise to the many pollsters that have, for decades, conducted polls in Latin America by sending interviewers house-to-house So forgive me if I trust the LA Times a bit more.

RAJ also is the analyst that claimed that even though the courts clearly ruled the poll illegal and the ballots impounded, Zelaya was right in storming a military base with his supporters since there were other interpretations of the law possible. This will come as welcome news to authoritarian presidents worldwide. We can call it the 'Zelaya rule'. Presidents get to choose what rulings they will follow and which they won't. (or you can avoid all pretense of separate powers, like Fidel's Cuba).

Weak as RAJ's analyses are, they point to a fundamental premise in the arguments of Zelaya's supporters, and it's that not only is Zelaya the legitimate president of Honduras but that none of the other institutions (SC, Electoral Tribunal, Congress, Attorney General) have any legitimacy. It is an argument supported by the actions of the OAS. One wonders why have any independent institutions at all, why not move the whole of Latin America to the Cuba model?

Slave Revoltp,  10:18 AM  

I would say that any government or institution that thwarts mechanisms through which the population is consulted and the system changed congruent to the desire of the people his illegitimate.

Especially I'm countries that suffer oppression for centuries.

The effort by Honduras elites to stop the poll so as to guage public sentiment showed that the institutions were/are oppressing the people.

Nell 12:02 PM  

For now, we wait. And hope this doesn't become violent.

It's already violent, and the violence is entirely one-sided. A coup is itself an act of violence, and this one, like most coups, has been followed up with assaults, arbitrary detentions, threats that have driven people out of the country and into hiding, assassinations, and the suspension of basic constitutional civil liberties.

The idea that Zelaya's peaceful, unarmed return to the country of which he is a citizen and of which he is the elected, legitimate president would make him responsible for violence by the army or police is classic victim blaming. At least you're not taking it to the level of Lanny Davis, Otto Reich, Ramon Custodio, who want to pretend that there's some question about whether soldiers shot and killed Isis Murillo at Toncontin airport on July 5, implicitly or explicitly blaming the demonstrators for his murder. (The Miami Herald plays along with the charade: "shots were fired".)

Zelaya and the majority of Hondurans who support the restoration of constitutional order have given the negotiations imposed by the U.S. more than a fair chance. The intransigence of the coup regime's representatives has shown the fruitlessness of expecting to achieve a workable compromise with people who seize power through violence -- and the injustice of cutting the people of Honduras out of the equation.

This is and always has been about the richest and most powerful businesses keeping the Honduran majority from having a meaningful effect through the formal democratic setup -- as shown by the elite's frantic efforts to prevent them even being able to express a non-binding opinion on constitutional reform.

Despite the statements and concrete actions that the Obama administration has taken in opposition to the coup, there's been a completely understandable suspicion on the part of most Latin Americans about the extent to which the U.S. government is involved with supporters of the coup.

Gen. Vasquez apparently had no trouble obtaining a visa to attend a fundamentalist religious convention in Miami this weekend. US govt funding of the coup-supporting organizations in the Civic Union (for "democracy promotion") continues. Honduran officers continue their training at the renamed School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, and probably at other U.S. bases. No effort has been made to freeze the assets of the coup-makers.

RAJ 12:24 PM  

Anonymous, who sounds suspiciously like someone who used to identify him/herself, engages in ad hominem attacks on me as if that somehow strengthens weak arguments. I am not the point.

What is the point is what I can report about sentiment among Central American intellectuals. These are people who know the personal and family histories of the Honduran actors.

And for a very long time these authentic Central American voices have been skeptical of Arias as mediator; critical of the premise of mediation, which lends legitimacy to an illegitimate regime; and unconvinced of his neutrality or independence from Washington.

I have argued with dear friends and colleagues about these points. They were right. The only thing the Arias interval accomplished was to delay and to give support to N illegitimate regime.

Oh, and about my skepticism about early reported poll numbers: I was right, remember? The Gallup polls were misreported and when we were able to establish how they were conducted, when, and with what questions, turns out the opposition to the coup and to Micheletti were higher than opposition to Zelaya or support for the coup.

Richard Grabman 12:33 PM  

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't see where the OAS "failed" in negotiations, since U.S. Sec. of State H. Clinton basically put the kibosh on OAS negotiations. How can an organization fail when they aren't tasked with the job?

Greg Weeks 12:38 PM  

Insulza was first on the scene, went to Honduras, made demands, and left with nothing. Arias did not come in until after that.

RAJ 1:18 PM  

For those interested in the actual statements of the Zelaya and Micheletti representatives, on which I and those watching the TV broadcast with me based our conclusion that Zelaya's negotiators did not, as reported, reject the Arias plan, I have posted direct quotes, translations, and media links. Go see for yourself.

Anonymous,  10:54 PM  


I'm pretty sure you know what an ad hominem attack is. Pointing out that your argument about polls in Honduras was factually wrong is not an ad hominem attack. I do admire though the way you cleverly pivoted in your response to a topic I never raised (was Gallup's poll right) but completely avoided addressing my real point (that pollsters have known for decades they can't rely on phones in Latin America). Remarkable spin.

My key question remains though. There are two types of Zelaya supporters. Some openly acknowledge they think only Zelaya had any legitimacy in Honduras, and not the SC, Congress, or the Attorney General. Others, like the OAS, avoid this topic and simply insist Zelaya return as president. This, of course, only makes sense if you think what the SC or Congress or the Attorney General in Honduras have to say is irrelevant. Given that, why not get rid of all these pesky institutions and just make Zelaya president for life?

RAJ 1:39 AM  

Honduras is in the midst of a constitutional crisis that was set off by the military intervention, which even the military admits was not legal and was a mistake. Thus, anyone purporting to be in favor of the rule of law cannot also argue that the expatriation of Zelaya was acceptable.

On June 28, President Zelaya was in the middle of a confrontation with the Congress, and as part of that confrontation, the Supreme Court had issued an order for his arrest, based on a secret filing accusing Zelaya of three crimes calling for sentences of 2 to 12 years, and adding the general claim that he additionally had committed treason.

This should have led to an arrest and a trial. No such trial happened. Nothing was proved. So contrary to repeated claims that the Supreme Court decided against Zelaya, it had not, and still has not. Its own orders for arrest state that enough basis existed to "suppose" that crimes had been committed. Not that they had been proved or judgment rendered.

The legal interpretation equating any public consultation with binding referenda was not a Supreme Court ruling, it was by a lower court.

It was only on June 29-- after the military intervention-- that the Supreme Court moved forward with admitting a legal action based on the secret filing of June 26. According to the Supreme Court's own timeline, they acted then because they could initiate a trial under normal procedures, not those required for high government officials, based on the contention that Zelaya was no longer President (based on the acceptance by Congress of a repudiated, back-dated resignation letter). That legal case has not proceeded because the accused is not available.

These are facts. They do not support dividing the world into those who support constitutional order (and thus must support the de facto regime) and those who support Zelaya (and thus must want to throw out the separation of powers).

No accusations of crimes can legally initiate deportation, nor are those accused found guilty without trial under the Honduran constitution.

Congress' actions on Sunday June 28 were based on claiming that a resignation letter from President Zelaya was legitimate. Since it has been repudiated, and is internally questionable (dated days before the coup), everything else the Congress did in appointing its own leader as de facto "president" was contrary to law.

If you care about the existence of constitutional order, then you have to argue for the restitution of the constitutionally elected president.

Anonymous,  8:45 AM  

I can agree that Zelaya should return to Honduras. I agree it was illegal to kick him out. But that still leaves open the issue that there's an arrest order for him from the Attorney General and that he repeatedly and openly defied judicial rulings he disagreed with.

So, given that, the OAS's and Arias's insistence that Zelaya must be reinstated as president is misguided at best. It ignores that Zelaya would have to be arrested the next minute if, of course, the OAS and others actually accept that the other institutions have legitimacy.

Let me put this another way. No one who actually believes that the other institutions are legitimate can advocate what the OAS and Arias have asked for, that Zelaya return unimpeded to finish his mandate. There's an arrest order for him! The only real 'constitutional' path is that Zelaya return and accept to be put on trial. If he is found innocent he can return as president.

But I haven't seen Zelaya or any of his supporters advocate that. Neither Zelaya nor his supporters want to talk about what happened prior to June 28. Neither Zelaya not his supporters want to acknowledge that the Attorney General is a legitimate institution that has ordered his arrest.

It's pretty clear that both Zelaya and his supporters base their arguments on the premise that the decisions by the other institutions are not legitimate.

Justin Delacour 8:03 PM  

Like I said before, Gabriel, let the golpistas arrest Zelaya if they so choose. The bottom line is that they don't want to do it because they know that his detention will become such a focal point of protest that it would make the country very difficult to govern.

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