Monday, August 10, 2009

Zelaya and diplomacy Part 2

Since he needs U.S. help to be reinstated, it is not a great idea for Mel Zelaya to ask UNASUR to formally criticize the expanded military agreement with Colombia. This comes just after he made a joke about Mexican politics.

It has proven very hard to get any country to commit more than words to Zelaya's return, and so he needs to avoid giving anyone more justification for doing nothing.


leftside 12:40 PM  

Should Zelaya also refrain from criticizing the mild US response to the coup? Should other countries needing US cooperation also not have expressed their concern about the Colombian bases? No, the US can not be allowed to use its tremendous leverage to wall itself off from debate and criticism. All leaders must be brave and stand together. That is the only way to fight this domination of the strong. Fortunately, we will likely get a unified statement in Quito, leading to a "urgent meeting" of Foreign Ministers on the issue soon. In the meantime, Colombia's legislature is likely to pressure for consultation and more details.

I love the way the media tries to divide the acceptable Colombian base criticism (Chile, Brazil) from the unacceptable (ALBA countries). In their article titled "South America split over U.S. bases plan in Colombia" (who is split? Colombia is splitting away, but that is it), they compare Venezuela's response with:

Brazil, Chile and Paraguay nuanced their criticism with acceptance of Colombia's right to act as a sovereign nation.

Well, in fact so did Venezuela. Chavez said explicitly that Colombia has the right to do what it wants on its soil, but said it had the responsibility to "warn" the region of the potential consequences. And yes, Chavez also used a bit more colorful language in describing his concerns. But the basic message is the same. Brazil has been the one demanding "formal" regulations on the use of the bases.

leftside 1:14 PM  

I had to scratch my head hearing that the Honduran Supreme Court has accepted hearing a legal challenge to the ouster of President Zelaya. After all, the Court has said on numerous occasions that the ouster was legal and on its orders. Although, if you look closely at the language they used, they were being pretty careful on the subject:

"Legal authorities formally declare that IF the source of the action taken today is a judicial order issued by a competent judge, then their execution is within the framework of legal precepts," read broadcaster HRN from a statement issued by Danilo Izaguirre, a Supreme Court spokesman.

That is a pretty big IF!! If the Supreme Court clarifies that it did not in fact order the President's removal, then what? Will the Generals be charged with treason and Zelaya ordered back?

leftside 1:41 PM  

Bachelet at the UNASUR meeting:

"...we (UNASUR nations) will not recognize any authority that is elected in elections organised by a de facto government"

That is the clearest statement yet. They alluded to such a common position at the Mercosur meeting, but here it is in black and white. No recognition of the November elections under the coup regime.

What will the US do?

Concurrently, at the Harper-Obama-Calderon press conference, Obama said the Honduran coup was "clearly illegal." But he followed that up by repeating the nonsense about the "hypocrisy" from "certain critics" in Latin America who demand US "intervention" today in Honduras. Calderon and Harper even repeated the absurd notion. Absurd because we know the US is intervening right now, against the will of the region, in many ways in Latin America. Absurd also because the Arias plan was clearly an "intervention." Absurd also because no one is calling for US "intervention" in Honduras. The world is calling for the US to simply uphold one of its just laws relating to military coups. Stopping aid is not intervention.

Justin Delacour 1:52 PM  

Since he needs U.S. help to be reinstated, it is not a great idea for Mel Zelaya to ask UNASUR to formally criticize the expanded military agreement with Colombia.

Fuck that. The United States has already betrayed Zelaya. Zelaya and his supporters have no one to rely upon but themselves and their Latin American allies. The time for kissing Uncle Sam's ass is over. Zelaya is now sticking to his principles, as he should.

Nell 2:03 PM  

[Zelaya] needs to avoid giving anyone more justification for doing nothing.

Could be he's convinced that the U.S., the major do-nothing elephant in the room, is not going to make any effort to restore his government, with or without the "justification" of things he might say.

Has there been any other mention of Zelaya's supposedly offensive remark in Mexico other than the squib by an El Universal columnist? (That piece reminded me of the kind of thing Dana Milbank might write after attending a Netroots Nation panel.) Is there any fuller report of Zelaya's remarks containing the bit quoted?

Some further context on the issue of U.S. bases: for some time, Zelaya's government had been trying to reach agreements to convert the U.S. airbase at Palmerola to a civilian airport, with the base moving to Misquito. Nik Kozloff did a very worthwhile backgrounder; will post link here when I spot it again.

boz 2:24 PM  

Looks like UNASUR will not condemn the US-Colombia security agreement in its final document from the current meeting. There was a divide on the issue and no consensus could be reached among the South American countries.

Nell 3:12 PM  

Zelaya's actual words as reported by Notimex are mischaracterized in the article linked in the main post; they also amount to something less than formally criticizing the U.S. bases in Colombia:

"Unasur tiene toda la autoridad para analizar ese caso y todo lo referente a la seguridad (regional) y si sienten que eso significa una agresión, deberán hacerlo". [my emphasis]

leftside 3:54 PM  

Boz tries to tell us that there was division on the Colombia base issue at the UNASUR meeting, which prevented an agreement. In fact, the leaders seemed remarkably on the same page today - not one leader had a good word to say about it. Where is the evidence of disagreement? Also, there was never an expectation of a formal condemnation at this meeting (called for different purposes). What they decided unanimously was much more sdignificant. There will be an unprecedented high-level summit of UNASUR leaders where Obama and Uribe are invited to explain their plans. A debate ("where people will hear things they don't like": Lula) will ensue and then the region will decide whether to condemn the plans, impose conditions or accede. The only apparent division at the meeting was whether the summit should be a the Presidential level or Foreign Minister. Chavez won the debate and it will be Presidential. 10 to 1 Obama does not show up. 1000 to 1 that essential details about the Colombia-US plan will remain secret.

Nell 6:17 PM  

@leftside: Thanks for your report on the UNASUR meeting. Could you provide a link that covers the points you've made? (Okay if it's en español, but English if there's a choice.)

boz 6:52 PM  

Here's the article from CSM on the issue. Doesn't cover everything, but gives a basic outline.

leftside 8:20 PM  

Nell, not sure what link exactly you are looking for. My synopsis was based on reading multiple accounts. The idea for a "extraordinary meeting of heads of state" (ie. the Colombia-US base summit) was made by Bolivia and accepted by all. So I am still searching for evidence of this supposed "divide" on the issue that Boz speaks of. If Peru would have been there, maybe we'd have had some fireworks, but all seemed concerned about the issue to me. If there was ANY divide, it was on tone not substance.

As for the text of the Quito Declaration, it can be found here. While it is true there was no mention of the Colombian base issue, I think it is blatant spin to highlight the text rather than the (more important) concensus to give the issue a more more focused and detailed follow-up session. Some would prefer to assign blame and sow this idea of division, rather than look at the big picture. When has South America ever summonsed a US President to a meeting to answer questions on their terms? Lula and Correa are even talking about expanding the debate to include the US' 4th Fleet and the role of US Ambassadors in internal politics. Should be a doozy, but I'm not holding my breath for Obama to oblige.

leftside 8:28 PM  

Let me also cut Boz a bit of slack by saying, yes, it is true that there is a division in the region over the issue - with Peru and Colombia on one side. And it is true that UNASUR works by concensus. Therefore any division (even by ene or 2 members) can derail an issue. My anger is more at the media's insistence on telling us all about this minor "divide" rather than on the big picture that most of the hemisphere is united on (the problem is mostly with the headlines, not the actual reporting).

Nell 9:14 PM  

Thanks, boz and leftside.

Justin Delacour 6:29 PM  

Let me also cut Boz a bit of slack by saying, yes, it is true that there is a division in the region over the issue - with Peru and Colombia on one side.

Boz doesn't deserve any slack right now. The Inter-American Dialogue folks are currently serving as mouthpieces of the Administration. They are clearly complicit in a policy of appeasing Honduras' coup leaders. Boz and company use all sorts of red herrings to deflect attention from the fact that the United States continues to stall on formally categorizing the Honduran coup as a "military coup." By speaking out of two sides of their mouths, the Administration and its mouthpieces are tacitly giving a green light to Micheletti and company. It's really quite disgusting.

leftside 7:29 PM  
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