Leadership lacking on Honduras

It has been three months since Honduras’ democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya, was forcibly removed from office. Zelaya, who on June 28 was put on a plane out of the country by the Honduran military, is now back in Honduras. He is holed up in Brazil’s embassy in the capital, Tegucigalpa, which is surrounded by police and military forces.

News reports today say that the coup-installed government has silenced two dissident broadcasters, Radio Globo and Channel 36 TV, just hours after it suspended civil liberties to prevent what it called an uprising by Zelaya backers. On Sunday, he had called for mass protests.

The government’s suspension of civil liberties violates the Honduran Constitution. The decree issued by the government prohibits unauthorized gatherings and allows police to arrest without a warrant.

The United Nations and the international community have condemned the coup and continue to demand that the deposed president be reinstated and allowed to complete his term which ends in January.

Since this attack on democracy is taking place in our own backyard, you might think that the United States would be using every diplomatic weapon at its disposal to make sure that the democratically elected president was returned to power.

But the reality is, despite its condemnation of the illegal government in Honduras and the suspension of $30 million in assistance to Honduras, the Obama administration has been sitting back, (the United States won’t even officially call this coup a coup) perhaps waiting for a negotiated accord hammered out by Costa Rica President Oscar Arias, to run its course.

The San Jose Accord calls for Zelaya’s return to power, the creation of a unity government and early elections. But it has already been rejected by the coup government of Honduras. Other negotiations are under way.

The U.S. response has been decidedly tepid. Could it be that this administration is holding back because Zelaya, like many other Latin American leaders, is a little left of center? I thought we ended that way of thinking when Obama was elected.

Larry Johnson is the former foreign editor of the Seattle P-I. His blog is at www.larryjohnsononline.com. (I made my web address a hot link)

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3 Responses to Leadership lacking on Honduras

  • Jim Burrows:

    As Larry Johnson is soon to learn, this matter of Mr. Zelaya’s removal from office goes way beyond his ability to admit to his readers that he’s either extremely misinformed or, worse, that he’s totally off base as to why Mr. Zelaya was booted out in the first place. Just in case he’s misinformed, please note that the Hondurean constitution, no matter what the United Nations, or the OAS feel about it, allows for the Supreme Court, one of the country’s three powers, to instantly declare anyone who’s broken any article of the Constitution no longer worthy of holding the position he, or she, may have had or hold, including that of being the President. That they took him out in his pajamas, and sent him to of all places, Coista Rica, was the only thing reprenhensible about it. He should have been put into custody, tried and ostensibly declared guilty of 18 counts. That the UN reacted this way, or that the OAS declared that this was the end of the world, is neither here nor there, as the President of the UN General Assembly and the OAS Secretary General had, each, a personal cause to rally everyone around them, and declare what was clearly a contitutional succession, a coup. The Nicaraguan national who was President of the UN General Assembly when this whole thing started, on June 28, was none other than Honduras greatest enemy, not for a biennium, not for a lustrum, but for over a decade, 11 years, to be exact, the time he spent as Foreign Minister of Nicaragua when Honduras was at the center of an East-West struggle brought about not by the West, namely President Carter, who helped the Sandinistas in the first year, but by the Nicaraguan Government’s decision to move to the Castro, then to the Soviet side less than 11 months after. They voted, at the UN, in favour of the Sovier invasion of Afghanistan. A little bit to the left? As to Mr. Insulza, the SG at the OAS, he is running for re-election and wanted to appease those who opposed, and insulted him the most before June 28, namely President Chavez of Venezuela and the other leaders of the ALBA group. But the core of the matter is neither the OAS’s, nor the UN’s inability to remove Micheletti from power, until elections are held in November. What is beyond their comprehension, and that of Mr. Johnson, is the possibility that someone, one day, would wake up, look himself in the mirror while shaving, find inspiration there and decide, right there and then, that in that reflection he saw the only man in the world who had the guts to stop another “little left of center” strongman like Hugo Chavez. And who, may I ask, wouldn’t want to be that man?

  • Dan:

    The author of this op-ed piece is misinformed and/or skipped thorugh a lot of information. Zelaya was ordered out of office by the honduran supreme court on a 15-0 vote (some of the magistrates were actually nominated by Zealaya himself) for violating the constitution and attempting to perpetuate himself in power. Having heard this, Zelaya kept pushing for the change, in a manner similar to what Chavez has done in Venezuela and in the same manner Ortega (the SAndinista dictator of the 1980’s) is trying to control Nicaragua.

    It is not that the honduran constitution cannot be changed at all, just a few key articles, and this in one of them. The decision was ratified by the honduran congress as well as by the lawyers guild and now it has been validated by the US library of congress analysis. Zelaya was rightfully removed from his post.

    I would like to point out that the leaders supporting Zelaya include among other democratic luminaries cuban ex-“president” Fidel Castro (yes the guys who headed Cuba for more than 50 years and won every single election where he was the only choice), Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez (who has closed 280 radio stations this year, who is a close ally of Iran, and who wants to develop nuclear energy in spite of sitting in a sea of oil), Daniel Ortega (sandinista dictator of Nicaragua) and the UN secretary general D’Escoto (who just happened to be the Sandinista foreign chancellor under Ortega back in the 1980’s).

    Zelaya continues making his case internationally through lies and exagerations using the media as his weapon without regards to the average honduran. He recently declared to the Miami Herald that the honduran goverment had hired israeli commandos to kill him and that they were also using sonic weapons and radiation to physically and mentally hurt him… all of these are of course bold face lies, no way Honduras has developed this type of weaponry that only attacks despots…

    Honduras deserves better… hopefully our goverment can change its position and support elections rather than allow this guy to return to power and undermine all the democratic institutions that have done so well in this crisis.

  • Sharon Tipton:

    U.S. business/government (same thing, right?) has interests in a non-democratic government. If the people have their way, they may not WANT McDonalds and WalMart in their country, especially when their labor and manufacturing practices don’t benefit the people or their land!