Friday, August 14, 2009

Zelaya's new pattern

For the past week or so, the pattern has been the following: meet with Latin American president, hear platitudes (but no promise of concrete action) from that president, then ask the U.S. to do something. It's been that way for Mexico, Brazil, and Chile.

Days since the coup: 47
Days until the scheduled presidential election: 107


Doug Zylstra 9:18 AM  

I think he actually prefers his current situation as against returning to try to be at the head of what is now a very polarized situation.

Maybe that's what the comment in Mexico was all about..

Unknown 9:34 AM  

Zelaya is delusional. He spends his political career tying his ship to Chavez, badmouthing capitalism, "US Imperialism", etc, and now he is asking for help from Washington? He's lucky there is a Democrat in the White House to string this out somewhat, or else he would have already be on a one way plane to exile in Greenland.

Nell 12:50 PM  

The governments of Brazil and Chile (whose economic relationships with Honduras are dwarfed by that of the U.S.) have both done something helpful in the last week: committed not to recognize the results of elections carried out under the coup government. They helped bring about a UNASUR declaration to the same effect.

Now it's time for the U.S. government to step up and help organize an OAS-wide commitment.

If you're one of the money guys backing the coup, particularly if you're a backer of front-runner Pepe Lobo, what stands between you and a clear shot at the presidency? The delegitimizing effect of election boycotts and non-recognition by the countries on which you depend.

Go ahead and sneer at Zelaya. This isn't about Zelaya. It's about an attack on democracy. This coup, if allowed to stand, is a threat to every elected government in the hemisphere, including our own.

We all have an interest in getting our government to back up the president's words, which recognize the situation in Honduras as an illegal military coup, with the actions called for under our own laws.

We have an interest in our government responding with something more than icy silence or thin-skinned insults when a presidential candidate (Carlos Reyes July 30) and a member of Congress (Marvin Ponce August 12)are beaten by police in broad daylight badly enough to require surgery, for leading non-violent resistance to the coup.

boz 1:21 PM  

Now it's time for the U.S. government to step up and help organize an OAS-wide commitment.

Nothing is stopping Brazil or Chile or Venezuela from calling for a vote on that issue at the OAS.

leftside 1:34 PM  

Zelaya is delusional. He spends his political career tying his ship to Chavez,

Actually, Zelaya never "tied his ship to Chavez" - certainly not his entire political career. He did not join ALBA until August 2008. When joining, Zelaya made very clear that it was done as a last resort. He had gone to the US asking for help with oil imports. He had gone to the IMF and World Bank looking for financing. Only ALBA provided both things (without conditions). Antigua made a similar statement the other day, justifying their inclusion in ALBA.

badmouthing capitalism, "US Imperialism", etc, and now he is asking for help from Washington?

Actually, Zelaya was always close to the US. He supported CAFTA - the US' main priority in the region. He supported Obama calling it him a "great hope." His only criticisms of the US were regarding drug and immigration policy. Does anyone disagree? Still today, he goes out of his way to acknowledge that the US did not want this coup.

On economics, Zelaya is a liberal. Just the other day he was quoted as saying "I believe in entrepreneurship and economic liberalism. But things have to become more equitable, which is why we must amend the laws." How dare him!

He's lucky there is a Democrat in the White House to string this out somewhat

Well, the White House certainly has strung this along, but that is not what Zelaya and his people are hoping for. The only "help" he's asked for Washington is for the Government to obey their own lawns regarding coups.

leftside 2:17 PM  

BTW, I found an interesting document I thought I'd share. A June 2009 Congressional Research Service report to Congress regarding US-Honduran relations. Among some of the key findings, I quote:

Honduras has cooperated extensively with the United States on counternarcotics and port security.

During the 2005 campaign, both candidates (Zelaya and Lobo Sosa) broadly supported the direction of the country’s market-oriented economic policy...

Zelaya enjoyed high approval ratings early in his administration, buoyed by the strong performance of the economy, his efforts to fulfill campaign pledges of free school enrollment and an increase in teachers’ pay, and his efforts to curb rising fuel costs.

(On Constitutional Reform) Both
presidential candidates have slightly reversed (their initial opposition), however, as Lobo now wants a referendum in November 2009 for a constituent assembly in July 2010 and Santos is open to a referendum occurring sometime in 2010.

(After delaying the US Ambassador's appointment for a week in solidarity with Bolivia) President Zelaya reportedly took a softer tone in his first
official meeting with Ambassador Llorens, however, and described the United States “as an ally
and friend.” Zelaya maintains that he has been forced to turn to Venezuela for assistance in
addressing high food and energy prices as a result of insufficient U.S. support.

The U.S. State Department’s 2009 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report acknowledges
the government of Honduras for its ongoing cooperation with the United States on counternarcotics efforts, noting that successful joint operations led to an increase in narcotics arrests and seizures.

RAJ 5:08 PM  

The biggest fiction repeated about Zelaya is this idea that he personally moved significantly left from his original, and continuing, position as a pro-business centrist.

What the repetition of this may reveal is less something about Zelaya (or Honduras) and more something about how limiting it is in 2009 to try to reduce global politics to a simple continuum of political ideology running from "communism" to "democracy".

Partly as an outcome of economic globalization, which has changed in a mere twenty years many of the motivating forces, it appears to make more sense to look at things like the alignments of Honduras and other poorer countries in terms of economic motivations, now that a bipolar Cold War no longer defines the field of power.

Zelaya acted as needed for the economic benefit of the country. You can believe he did that because of a strong personal sense of social justice, or simply a seasoned politician's sense of how to keep and possibly increase popular support. But what simply does not work when confronted with evidence-- including the Congressional Research Service Report cited by leftside-- is to try to reframe Zelaya's actions as ideological alignments with some doctrine enunciated by Hugo Chavez.

Who also, in my view, is voicing a pretty incoherent political ideology.

And note that, while I specifically think you need to understand poorer nations' choices more as outcomes of economic strategies than ideologies, the same can be said for US policy: hence our close relationship (economically speaking, of course!) with China.

Or should we say that George Bush was "tying his ship" to Chinese communism?

Anonymous,  9:22 AM  

You have to be pretty blind not to see where Zelaya was going with all of this. It most certainly was not about 'economic choices'. Several Caribbean nations have accepted Petrocaribe dollars without their leaders breaking the law and trampling all over the rest of the institutions.

And comparing with Bush and China? This can only come from the 'analyst' that told us the referendum was needed because pollsters didn't have phones to call to. Pure nonsense. Bush did not align his strategic interests to those of China, as Zelaya did with Venezuela when commenting on Colombia's military bases. If you really are an academic I hope you teach your students the real facts.

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