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Honduras and the fat ladies

31 October 2009

(Updated at 8:30 PM with reference to “The Nation”)

Throughout the Honduran crisis the media have reported agreements between the two sides as if Micheletti was really capable of making concessions and President Zelaya was certain nothing would happen to him if he walked out of the Brazilian embassy. Things happening now must be analyzed based on what happened before. But, most media accounts are devoid of such context. The three factors that must be considered when analyzing developments in Honduras are: everything that has taken place in the last four months, a Fat Lady about to sing and several of her sisters waiting in the wings. If you will, the past, the present, and betting on what is likely to take place in the future.

(“Magbana”, Honduras Oye!)

What BoRev calls a “New Weird Probably Terrible ‘Power Sharing’ Deal” was brokered yesterday, under which it looks like the legitimate president, Manuel Zelaya,  will return to office for the remaining couple of weeks of his term, presupposing Congress pretends it is constitutionally un-voting it’s previous and dubiously constitutional destitution of Zelaya and appointment of Micheletti as interim president, while  pushing aside the supposedly constitutional ruling by the Supreme Court upon which the congress originally relied for their claim that Zelayas forced unconstitutional exile was legitimate and he had abandoned the presidency, all of which came about because the Supreme Court had ruled that  Zelaya’s non-binding resolution calling for a constituent assembly (which, were it approved, might kinda sorta pressure the congress into acting to call such an assembly) to revise that constitution which is now being ignored, was itself an unconstitutional act.

Getting that previous sentence to parse was enough of a challenge… making it logical is beyond my ability.  But, that’s the “agreement” worked out between the two governments last Thursday, which get even weirder (and less logical).  The legitimate president, Manuel Zelaya, will have to share power in his cabinet with representatives of the “de facto” (i.e., illegitimate) one, and the whole bunch is apparently up for legal action (assuming the courts are legal entities at this time).  All of which is supposed to allow the November 29 elections to come off as originally scheduled… or maybe they’ll be moved … or maybe they’ll scrap the whole constitution (which was the point of the exercise in the first place) or … who knows?

As Greg Grandin writes in The Nation (and I didn’t see until Saturday night), the whole “agreement” is probably just another exercise in stalling for time, and forcing international acceptance of the “de facto” regime:

…no sooner was the ink dry on the accord when a top Micheletti advisor, Marcia Facusse de Villeda, told Bloomberg News that “Zelaya won’t be restored.” In a barefaced admission that the coup government was trying to buy time, Facusse said that “just by signing this agreement we already have the recognition of the international community for the elections.” Another Micheletti aide, Arturo Corrales, said that since the congress is not in session, no vote on the agreement could be scheduled until “after the elections.”

On Thursday night (before the agreement was actually reached) Hermano Juancito had ringside seat to a local comedy sketch on the negotiations, which make as much sense as the real one:

It began with a mimicking of the crazy and spooky music that has preceded all the government press conferences during the past four months. Then all the actors walked onto the “stage” and sat at a table. Oscar Arias was there to negotiate, but Zelaya and Micheletti were seated at opposite sides of the small table.

…  I joined all present laughing hysterically as “Micheletti” began his discourse addressing all of us as “¡Hijos mios! My children.” He talked about waiting for Santos and repeated the mantra “The elections are coming, are coming.” He ended proclaiming “¡Viva Honduras! Long live Honduras!”

“Zelaya” was more long-winded but, complete with cowboy hat, he regaled the crowd and provoked laughter (from people who are very sympathetic to his restitution). He began, “Micheletti, my friend,” and, to fits of laughter, spoke of the “Calvary” he was going through.

“Arias” asked the two parties for their solution: “Micheletti” said, “The elections go forward,” and “Zelaya” called for his immediate restitution.

… It’s been a good interchange – but both a sign and challenge that the struggle for justice and real participation is long and won’t be solved by the restitution of Zelaya nor with elections. They are only temporary palliatives as the people of Honduras face the greater challenge to organize and work together for a country where there is greater justice and less economic disparity.

In other words, the people recognize the whole settlement is a farce.  However, as The Center for Economic Policy and Research suggested last week, by forcing though this bizarre settlement, “the U.S. could accept the results of the November 29 elections as valid”.  With no time for the normal three month election period (and it’s hard to count the supposed electioneering that was going on with on and off press censorship, dusk to dawn curfews and a state of siege as legitimate) the results of such an election would favor either of the two traditional candidates, neither of whom would be any threat (as were Zelaya’s supporters) to changing the present system under which the United States maintains an (UNCONSTITUTIONAL!!!) airbase in Honduras… something Zelaya has offhandedly suggested needs to be addressed.

In a bizarre article on the “neo-conservative” Foreign Policy Passport site, Otto Reich — the Reagan era U.S. Ambassador to Honduras (who actively and covertly supported the “Contras” in Nicaragua, various death squads throughout Latin America and was instrumental in smuggling Cuban terrorists into the United States when he wasn’t trying to overthrow the Venezuelan government or lobbying for sweatshops) sees the crisis as an “opportunity” to bring back Reagan era style diplomacy to Latin America.

Canada, angered by the Zelaya government’s 2006 cancellation of future mining concessions, was the only major country to overtly support the coup government. Whether Canadian firms were able to wrest concessions from the Micheletti government, I don’t know, but with a “coalition” — and the legal vacuum in which Honduras finds itself, the Canadians stand to make out like bandits.

As do the Colombians… who, given that the government (if there is one) will be distracted with other things (like continuing calls for social justice and genuine political change)… should be able to continue their profitable cocaine transshipments without too much interference.

Otto Reich, sweatshop owners, Colombian narcotics traffickers, Canadian mine owners should all breathe easier with this quasi-settlement in place.  For the Hondurans, as Hermano Juancito writes, “Primero Dios – God first – or, less literally, “God willing”… something will turn up.

Unfortunately, what’s going to turn up are probably a lot of unmarked graves, refugees and arms merchants if the fat lady’s sisters are not given their change to sing.


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