Honduras: isolated, de factos prepare for vote

Guatemalan foreign minister Haroldo Rodas announced Nov. 21 that Guatemala was not going to recognize the general elections to be held in Honduras Nov. 29 under the de facto regime installed after the June 28 removal of President Manuel Zelaya. He added that Guatemala would not send observers to the elections. Spain is also planning not to send observers because it “cannot support” elections under these conditions, foreign ministry sources told the Spanish wire service EFE Nov. 21.

Many Latin American governments have rejected the plan to proceed with the elections, although it is supported by the US. The presidents of two of the nations with the largest economies—Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner—confirmed on Nov. 18 that their governments would not recognize the elections if they are held under the coup regime. Ecuador has the same position, according to Foreign Minister Fander FalconĂ­. Organization of American States (OAS) general secretary JosĂ© Miguel Insulza has said that that organization can’t send observers because the representatives of Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela indicated at a special meeting at the beginning of November that their governments wouldn’t recognize the elections.

Despite the boycott, a delegation of 250 election observers has been put together. It will include two former center-right Latin American presidents: Vicente Fox Quesada of Mexico (2000-2006) and Alejandro Toledo of Peru (2001-2006). The main Guatemalan business group, the Committee of Commercial, Industrial and Financial Associations (CACIF), has agreed to participate. (Vos el Soberano, Honduras, Nov. 21 from EFE; ADN.es, Spain, Nov. 21 from EFE; Radio YVKE Mundial, Venezuela, Nov. 22; Reuters, Nov. 18)

On Nov. 20 Esdras Amado LĂłpez, director of the Cholusat Sur Canal 36 television station, said his channel was “off the air because its signal has been interrupted with a signal from a parallel transmitter” playing “pornographic films and some westerns.” “[T]errorists paid by the government of [de facto president Roberto] Micheletti” are responsible, according to LĂłpez. He wrote National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) head Miguel Angel Rodas asking for his “immediate attention to an extremely delicate matter taking place in the moment during which Honduras is getting ready to be present at an electoral process in which freedom of the press is an important bastion for legitimizing the process.”

Canal 36 and Radio Globo are the two largest broadcast media that have opposed the coup. The de facto government shut down both of them temporarily in the first days of the coup. (EFE, Nov. 20; Vos el Soberano, Nov. 20; Honduras Coup 2009 blog, Nov. 20)

On the weekend of Nov. 21 the Committee of Relatives of Disappeared Detainees in Honduras (COFADEH), one of the country’s leading human rights organizations, warned of a deterioration in the human rights situation as the elections approached. COFADEH reported that there was an unusual deployment of soldiers, police agents and paramilitary groups in the country and that the military had acquired new equipment, including an armored car, a powerful water cannon and a chemical that would enable the authorities to identify anyone hit by the water for 48 hours. The group called for the international community to stay on alert about the situation. (Vos el Soberano, Nov. 22 from Defensoresenlinea.com; Prensa Latina, Nov. 22)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 24

See our last post on Honduras.