Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Honduran stand-off

The crisis in Honduras is evolving constantly, but now appears to be in a basic stand-off. The military and police forcibly cleared the area around the Brazilian embassy and cut off its power. Soldiers patrol the neighboring rooftops, and at times have launched tear gas into the embassy.

The airports are closed, which conveniently prevents any would-be negotiator (such as José Miguel Insulza) from arriving in the country. And pro-Zelaya media is being harassed.

This sort of situation seems unlikely to last long. I've been getting questions in class as well as via email about whether the Honduran police and/or military would storm the embassy. I would be surprised if that happened, though this crisis has been very unpredictable. Violating an embassy is very serious, and would contradict the coup government's message of peace and reconciliation. But bad decisions sometimes get made in the heat of the moment.

On the other hand, Brazil does not really want Zelaya there long. This is a major imposition for the Brazilians, and they felt compelled to agree less than an hour before he arrived. They do not want to shut down their embassy so that he can just hunker down for a lengthy period of time. Zelaya will want to be there just long enough to force dialogue with Roberto Micheletti.


Nell 3:35 PM  

Violating an embassy is very serious, and would contradict the coup government's message of peace and reconciliation.

I must have missed that message somehow; hard to pick it up through all the blood.

Three people were killed by the military and police attack on Hondurans gathered peacefully in front of the Brazilian embassy last night, and more than a few were admitted to the hospital in serious condition.

It's not as if the regime's assault comes against a background of conciliatory words or behavior:

Isis Murillo, 19, shot in head by military firing into unarmed, peaceful crowd at Toncontin Airport July 5.

Pedro Magdiel Muñoz, dragged away from demonstration by soldiers July 24 in El Paraiso, body found by roadside next morning with 30 stab wounds, signs of torture.

Roger Vallejo Soriano, teacher, shot in head while peacefully occupying roadway near of Tegucigalpa July 30.

Carlos Reyes, independent presidential candidate, multiple broken bones from police assault in similar event at another location near the capital July 30.

Marvin Ponce, member of Congress, multiple broken bones from savage police assault in front of legislative building August 12.

Women in peaceful protests beaten and raped by police.

All these and much more, documented by Amnesty International, Judge Garzon, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, among other investigators.

The decision for absolutely lawless, brutal repression only has costs if international actors make the regime pay a cost.

But all our State Department can manage is a tepid "appeal for calm" from "both sides", as if anyone but the regime's thugs were inflicting violence.


Greg Weeks 4:11 PM  

You're correct. The international community, including Latin America, will pay far more attention to an assault on an embassy than to individuals injured/killed by domestic security forces.

Nell 5:18 PM  

"Zelaya is representing resistence to authoritarianism that violates institutions. Our obligation is to shelter him."

That's what the president of the Brazilian Senate said today. He's not exactly an out-there leftist, so I'd say there's substantial political support in Brazil for the government's help in enabling Zelaya to return to the capital.

The coup regime has already violated the embassy by cutting off electricity, water, and phone.

Limo 1:19 AM  

Honduran have to face political crisis, but military act is really very bad as three people lost their life due to the police attack.

Anonymous,  8:38 AM  

"Soldiers patrol the neighboring rooftops, and at times have launched tear gas into the embassy.+

Sound to me like the golpistas have already decided and the decision is to go to war with Brazil. Firing on the sovereign territory of another nation is an act of war if the Brazilians decided they want to push it. And simply because it was 'tear gas' doesn't stand the Lanny Davis parsing test of lethal vs. non-lethal. Have you ever been close to a canister that misfired and exploded instead of simply emitting the gas? I have and it isn't pretty.

susan banks 6:44 PM  

just let's work towards freedom in this county so that their people can stay there or go back to their homeland...this would make them happy.

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