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Less than zero

29 November 2009

While the Obama Administration north of the border has probably done more in one year to decelerate the domestic disasters in the United States that resulted from policies implemented by the Reagan Administration and accelerated under Bush I, Clinton and Bush II, he can no more “start at ground zero” with the United States domestic and foreign policy than he can by claiming an illegitimate election in Honduras will reset some clock in that unhappy country.

Laura Carlsen, writing 26 November:

To this writing, no major deployment of military units in the capital city has been observed or reported. However, the military plays a key role in every facet of the elections. At the polling place located in the “Republic of Uruguay” school, officials from the National Party described the process: the military delivers elections materials before dawn, armed soldiers remain outside the polling place during voting hours, then army units collect the ballots. Results are tallied and phoned in from the polling places.
… With the exception of a few members of the UD party, there are no members of the opposition to the coup watching over the polls. Experienced organizations of elections observation have refused to participate in the Honduran elections, citing a lack of basic conditions to professionally carry out the task and the questionable nature of the elections themselves. A representative of the U.S. government’s National Democratic Institute stated that its mandate is not to “observe the elections” but to “accompany the electoral process”, due to lack of conditions for formal electoral observation. Organizations including the Carter Center, which has done elections observations in the past, are instead sending missions human rights monitoring.
The Honduran Armed Forces have been sending out signals to the population in resistance that they continue to be in charge. Selective repression immediately preceding the elections has been used to intimidate communities and neighborhoods. Police patrols spotted on the road this morning, were heavily armed and dressed in full riot gear. The police have established checkpoints to frisk drivers and passengers in numerous points throughout the city.

The security forces charged with overseeing the electoral process are the same ones who broke the constitutional chain of command by kidnapping and exiling the president on June 28. they are also the same ones accused of multiple assassinations of demonstrators and resistance leaders, arbitrary detentions, torture and beatings.

Tyler Shipley, writing from Tegacigalpa for Toronto Media Cooperative, filed this report about an hour before my post:

…A cocktail party was held this evening [presumably Friday or Saturday night] at the Mayan Hotel for the representatives of NDI and IRI (elections-observation organizations linked to the Democratic and Republican parties in the US, respectively) and other observers cobbled together from the far-reaches of the Latin American Right (including Armando Calderon Sol, former president of El Salvador.) As they toasted to the great strides that Honduras was making towards a stronger democratic republic, they were entertained by 14- and 15-year old Mayan girls, dancing in sexualized traditional dresses, much to the delight of the overwhelmingly male ‘champions of democracy.’

I suppose it is possible that the American elections observers believe that this farce is a legitimate election. If the individual I spoke to two days ago was any indication, they clearly have very little knowledge of Honduran history; normally, at this point in an election campaign, there truly would be a ‘fiesta.’ Supporters of the two primary parties would be waving red or blue flags, encouraging people to support their candidate, and arguing in taxis over who was best suited to run the country. This year, the flag vendors walking from car-to-car are ignored. This afternoon, Pepe Lobo, the election frontrunner, held a rally in the Colonia Kennedy and paid people 200 lempiras each to attend. Even with the financial incentive, it was a feeble rally. Perhaps it is because, as a taxi driver explained to me this morning, “in July, they were paying people 500 lempiras to attend the white marches. Then they dropped it to 300 and now it is 200. I can make more driving my taxi.”

Hermano Juancito isn’t likely to be invited to cocktail parties with Mayan hoochie-coochie girls (and I do mean girls), but, then again, his social circle is more of the “lead us not into temptation” set… that includes the temptation to pretend that all is normal:

Padre Fausto spoke of a village where authorities are going around, from house to house and threatening the people with ten years of prison if they don’t vote.

He mentioned a case of the town of San Nicolas, Santa Barbara, where the military did a 4:00 am raid and forced the people out onto the streets.

But one story is almost comical. Padre Esteban in Lepaera, Lempira, has been very outspoken against the coup. Yesterday the military surrounded the parish center, where he also lives and thus would prevent him from coming out. However, their intelligence was really poor. He was out in one of the rural villages and so their encirclement of the parish house was in vain.

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