Honduras: Good Neighbour Stiffs The Gentle Giant
Honduras : The Good Neighbour Stiffs The Gentle Giant
by toni solo
Most of what has happened in Honduras since the shock of the coup d'etat on June 28th has confounded traditional regional clichés and stereotypes about the country. On the other hand, events have reinforced longstanding and widely held opinions In Latin America about the cynicism of the United States government and its allies and also about the utter mediocrity of the region's right wing oligarchies. It has also clarified beyond any doubt the blatant propaganda role of Western Bloc corporate media's use of foreign news coverage as a conscious and key component of their governments' imperialist strategies.
The day after the coup it was possible to write “Obama will talk about the need for dialogue and negotiation – anything to delay and waste time until his administration can recognize a newly elected government. The most likely outcome will be a government all too ready to ratify the illegal acts of the current usurper pinochetti regime. The closest US allies, world champion hypocrites, the Europeans, will probably do the same.” (1) Now, after four months of acting in practice to win time for their coup-regime allies, the US government has finally intervened in order to get the result it needs to validate the elections scheduled for November 29th this year.
On October 30th Thomas Shannon, Hillary Clinton's point man for Latin America and the Caribbean persuaded the Honduran coup regime leaders to strike a deal that might permit deposed president Manuel Zelaya to see out his presidential term as a figurehead president without real power, until January 27th 2010. Throughout, President Obama pointedly avoided meeting President Manuel Zelaya even once, despite Zelaya's frequent visits to Washington in the course of his attempts to mobilize and sustain diplomatic support for his reinstatement. The episode could not indicate more clearly US government hypocrisy and cynicism at the very highest level about support for democracy.
At a diplomatic level, it has been the practical, political support of the ALBA countries led by President Chavez of Venezuela and President Ortega of Nicaragua and, of late, Brazilian President Ignacio da Silva, that has enabled Manuel Zelaya to sustain his challenge to the mediocre fascists running the coup regime in Tegucigalpa. It was Zelaya's own courage and obstinacy that made possible his return to Tegucigalpa so as to force the coup regime's hand. His presence in the Brazilian embassy and the grotesque abuse inflicted there by the coup regime embarrassed the regime's supporters around the world, but especially Hillary Clinton and her colleagues in the US State Department.
Now, under the wording Shannon seems to have imposed, the coup regime may or may not implement the spirit of the agreement signed on Friday October 30th. Clause Five of that Tegucigalpa/San JoséAgreement reads:
“To obtain reconciliation and strengthen democracy, in the spirit of the issues of the proposal of the San José Agreement, both negotiating commissions have decided, respectfully, that the national Congress, as an institutional expression of popular sovereignty, in the use of its faculties, in consultation with the instances it may consider pertinent, like the Supreme Court of Justice, and in accordance with the law, resolves on what is fitting with regard to 'retro-enact the position of the Executive Power to its state prior to June 28th until the conclusion of the current period of government on January 27th 2010.'
The decision that the National Congress adopts should lay the basis for reaching the social peace, political tranquility and democratic governance that society demands and the country needs.”
One wonders what collective fever took hold of the people who celebrated this evasive farrago as some kind of breakthrough for President Zelaya. The text could so easily be abused via a literal interpretation in line with the coupr regime's rejection and hatred of President Manuel Zelaya. Still, as one might have expected, the US government representatives hailed the agreement as the end of the matter – despite that disingenuous formalistic nonsense in Clause Five.
Ambassador Hugo Llorens announced that normal consular services will resume on November 2nd. Pro-coup regime governments around the world heaved a collective sigh of relief. They too now can openly – rather than covertly as they have done until now - channel resources and support to the reactionary elements that executed and sustained the coup. Other governments, with long experience of the deceitful cynicism of the United States authorities and their regional allies have been more circumspect.
For example, Venezuela's ambassador to the Organization of American States remarked, “My delegation is not in any mood to join in an orgy of congratulations. One should let time mature the latest news so as to be sure of this precedent, and that democratic processes are not impeded by means of constitutional tricks managed either astutely or stupidly...” Nicaragua's OAS representative Denis Moncada said, “one cannot approve any document... so long as it lacks confirmation by Zelaya that he is in agreement with what the Congress agrees.”
As of November 1st, all the signs indicate that the coup regime will drag out implementation of the Tegucigalpa/San José Agreement so as to delay even more any eventual restitution of President Manuel Zelaya until after the elections scheduled for November 29th. The only pressure on the coup regime is that the United States government and its allies need to be able to validate the elections in order to be able to recognize the new government that may result from them. The crucial point of the Tegucigalpa/San Jose Agreement is that President Zelaya's team has agreed that his reinstatement depends on a decision of the National Congress. The coup-monger Congress deputies may agree to reinstatement or they may not.
That crucial point means that the United States government and its allies will probably be able to recognize the elections of November 29th even if the National Congress refuses to reinstate President Zelaya. Should that turn out to be the case, two things are likely to happen. Firstly, the Organization of American States will divide. The split may well threaten the very existence of the organization.
On one side of the division will be countries allied with the United States (principally, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico Panama and Peru). On the other side will be countries opposed to the United States (the ALBA bloc of Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia - supported by Cuba which is not a member of the OAS). A group of countries including Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador, Chile, Guatemala, Paraguay and Uruguay will probably tend to side with the ALBA countries but will be loth to deliver the coup de grace that will signal the demise of the OAS .
The second thing that will happen if the National Congress refuses to reinstate President Zelaya promptly prior to the elections scheduled for November 29th is that the popular resistance to the coup regime will radicalize and intensify. That in its turn will provoke increased repression from the coup regime security forces. The consequences of such a spiral of radicalization and repression are unforeseeable and may well render the elections even more of a farcical failure than they were likely to be anyhow.
The unprecedented endurance of the popular resistance movement, faced with murderous, brutal repression, combined powerfully with President Manuel Zelaya's stubborn refusal to abandon his campaign for reinstatement. Continuous mass mobilizations took place not just in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, the country's main cities, but in smaller cities and towns across the nation. Trades unions, especially the teachers unions, rural workers organizations, women's organizations, students and professional organizations, like those of lawyers and artists, astounded the coup regime and its supporters with the resilience and determination of mass non-violent resistance in defiance of the regime's utterly ruthless, vicious repression.
Now, by jerry-rigging a non-solution to the four month long crisis via the Tegucigalpa/San José Agreement, the United States government has ignored the fundamental demands of the Honduran Resistance. Those demands were a meaningful restoration of President Zelaya to power and a Constituent Assembly. An intimately related issue is that of impunity. The US brokered agreement leaves the crimes of the coup regime untouched. So what, in fact, the US government seems to have done is impose a fake resolution to the crisis, overwhelmingly favourable to its allies in the coup regime, that simply postpones the conflict to another phase.
All those commentators who suggested that an Obama Presidency might usher in an era harking back to the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt's “Good Neighbour” diplomacy in Latin America were right. Just as in Roosevelt's time, the US government has used hypocritical half-measures and emitted double-talking declarations in support of democracy. By default it has tacitly approved and effectively enabled a vicious, brutal dictatorship in Central America. The US government had the chance to act in solidarity and sympathy with the gentle giant of the democratic, non-violent, majority, Honduran popular resistance and chose not to do so under the non-leadership of President Can't-press-a-button Obama.
It is 80 years since the Roosevelt administration's support for the murderous Honduran dictator Tiburcio Carias Andino. Now the the Obama administration hopes to validate the Pinochetti coup regime's overthrow of President Manuel Zelaya, locking in place measures taken under the criminal coup regime, by means of a hopelessly discredited election supervised by the same corrupt fraudulent authorities who participated in the coup. Likewise, those already discredited elections are to be secured by the same murderous, brutal security forces responsible for killing dozens, and seriously injuring hundreds, of non-violent resistance supporters.
It will all be “observed” by bodies like the OAS and the European Union, pre-disposed to impose a flawed, unfair result. The precedent has already been set in Haiti. Perhaps that is why there is talk that the executioner of democracy in Haiti, Colin Powell, has been drafted in to oversee the verification phase of the agreement in Honduras. Despite all the long dawn out, false manipulation of events by the Good Neighbour and its proxies, it seems unlikely, after all the sacrifices and suffering, that the gentle giant the coup woke up on June 28th this year will just go tamely back to sleep.
1. “Tegucigalpa June 28th 2009 : emotions, memories, reflections”, toni solo, June 29th 2009 - http://www.tortillaconsal.com/golpe_ing.html
toni solo is based in Central America - see toni.tortillaconsal.com