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Honduras: an imminent new phase?

Honduras: an imminent new phase?


by Toni Solo

When President Barack Obama remarked last week that he could not just press a button to restore Manuel Zelaya to the Honduran presidency he was saying one of two things. Either the President of the United States is not inclined to implement the resolution of the Organization of American States on Honduras that his government supported, or else, absurdly, he is unable to. Obama wheeled out a mediocre right-wing sophistry, arguing that, now, critics who have always condemned intervention by the United States are calling for just such an intervention.

But Manuel Zelaya and other critics of the United States government's record in Latin America and elsewhere are not demanding intervention. What they seek is that the United States meet its obligations in accordance with resolutions of the OAS and the United Nations to expedite the immediate restitution of Manuel Zelaya as the legitimate president of Honduras. It is the United States that has for decades trained the Honduran military at the School of the Americas in forced disappearances, torture and repression of civilian populations.

It is United States multinationals that have benefited for decades in Honduras from an absurdly concessionary tax regime to accumulate extortionate profits to the tune of tens of millions of dollars every year. It is the United States that has equipped the Honduran army to murder, disappear and detain the heroic non-violent Honduran resistance. It is the United States that has constantly intervened in Honduran government policy against the interests of the country's impoverished majority. And now the consummate opportunist hypocrite Barack Obama glibly sneers that he cannot press a button to help Manuel Zelaya.

Honduras - diplomacy in the balance

Obama may not feel inclined to lift a finger to press a button, but other fingers, thousands of them, can press a trigger. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have actively worsened things in Honduras through their double talk and their fatuous, short-sighted delaying tactics in cahoots with perennial US government accomplice Oscar Arias. As a result of their failure to take decisive steps to quash the coup, they have forced Manuel Zelaya and the popular movement in Honduras to adopt the tactics of a slowly escalating war of attrition.

The strategy of President Zelaya has been to exhaust all diplomatic options while relying on non-violent resistance by the internal popular opposition to pressure the coup regime into concessions. The diplomatic route has indeed been exhausted. The price of that strategy has been dozens of people killed, scores forcibly disappeared, hundreds wounded, thousands detained. Complete details of the massive human rights violations committed by the coup regime will only become clear in the weeks and months to come. It is a story ignominiously neglected by the imperialist propaganda machinery of the corporate mainstream media and too by most of the alternative media.

Reliance on lacklustre diplomacy and the absence of meaningful sanctions against the coup regime have brought about a stalemate. The US and its allies are urging Manuel Zelaya to sign the pro-coup regime Arias agreement. Now it is Manuel Zelaya's turn to play for time. He and his team are likely to string out negotiations that stumble on several key points. Firstly, the coup regime will not accept Zelaya's return to the presidency and are insisting that any interim government include their nominees for key ministries controlling defence and internal security.

Secondly, the popular opposition inside Honduras will never accept the Arias plan's proposal of impunity for the coup leaders and the military, who have at this stage committed a series of impardonable crimes. Thirdly, it is absolutely clear that Zelaya is in no position to agree to the Arias plan's insistence on a veto of any national constituent assembly. That demand by the Honduran popular movement is by now decisively out of Manuel Zelaya's hands.

Inside Honduras - a new phase

Over the next few days, Manuel Zelaya and his team are likely to drag out talks and negotiations knowing that things inside Honduras will most probably change dramatically if the coup regime continues its intransigence. By tomorrow, Tuesday August 11th, hundreds of thousands of peaceful demonstrators will have converged on the two main Honduran cities, Tegucigalpa, the capital, and San Pedro Sula, the main industrial centre. If the army and police try again to repress these massive displays of peaceful support for Manuel Zelaya, a sudden change in tactics by the popular oppposition can hardly be discounted.

Honduras is a very small country. Most people are well aware who the coup leaders are. They also know that coup regime de facto leader Roberto Micheletti's security adviser, John Negroponte's and Robert Callahan's former death squad protege Billy Joya and his sinister cronies have a death list of over one hundred popular movement leaders. Only the most optimistic Pollyanna could think armed violence in Honduras can be avoided in such circumstances. Popular opposition leaaders in Honduras are not going to wait passively while coup regime death squads murder them and intimidate their families under the benign gaze of the United States government.

Many of the coup leaders - for example, Carlos Facussé, Jorge Canahuati, Ricardo Maduro, the banker Jorge Bueso Arias - are well aware of this reality. Some have already moved their families to Miami. The wealthy oligarchs who organized the coup are depending on the fact that they bribed senior military officers with millions of dollars - one figure reported suggests as much as US$11 million - to ensure the coup holds firm. As the conflict in Honduras enters a new phase, the oligarchs and their US backers are likely to see their expensive investment sorely and bloodily tested.

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toni writes for www.tortillaconsal.com

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