Honduras meets the new boss; struggle continues

As incoming Honduran president Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo was inaugurated with a celebration at a Tegucigalpa stadium Jan. 27, some 250,000 marched to the city’s airport to see off ousted President Manuel Zelaya, who was flying to the Dominican Republic under terms of an agreement reached with the new administration. Zelaya was escorted from the Brazilian embassy by Dominican President Leonel Fernández. The resistance movement pledges to carry on the struggle, now for “refounding” the country with a new constitution. (Los Necios, Jan. 31; Rights Action Jan. 27)

The Lobo administration began its term by announcing that the nation is bankrupt and will likely need international financial assistance to recover from months of diplomatic isolation over the June coup d’etat that ousted Zelaya. New Finance Minister William Chong said the outgoing administration of Roberto Micheletti left office with only about $50 million in government coffers. The first day of the new administration also saw early morning police raids that resulted in 41 people being detained and several weapons seized in the capital. (AP, Jan. 28)

In neighboring Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega said his government will not recognize that of Lobo in Honduras, although Managua will maintain trade relations with Tegucigalpa. “We feel threatened,” he said. (AP, Feb. 1)

Across the Americas, only the United States, Peru, Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica have recognized the elections that brought Lobo to power as legitimate. Mexican columnist Angel Guerra Cabrera decried the process as “an image-washing operation patronized by Washington and the international right.” (La Jornada, Jan. 28)

In La Paz, the Bolivian foreign minister David Choquehuanca dismissed the Lobo presidency as a continuation of the coup. “Various countries have made clear that they are not going to accept these elections, and our position has been known from the beginning.” (TeleSUR, Jan. 30)

Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa flew to Santo Domingo to meet with Zelaya as he arrived there. In public comments there, he called the Honduran coup and “ominous precedent” for Latin America that “must not remain unpunished.” He called for the establishment of an Organization of Latin American States (OEL) to arrive at solutions to such crises in the future free of Washington’s pressure. (Morning Star, UK, Jan. 31; Milenio, Mexico, Jan. 30)

As Correa arrived in Santo Domingo to meet with Zelaya, Colombia’s President Álvaro Uribe arrived in Tegucigalpa to meet with Lobo—the first foreign head of state to meet with the new Honduran leader. Uribe and Lobo met at the presidential palace to pledge close cooperation in trade, security and the joint fight against terrorism were the key issues discussed during the reunion. (Colombia News, Jan. 30)

See our last posts on Honduras and Central America

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  1. Honduras: whither the presidentail sash?
    Before leaving, Zelaya arranged for his presidential sash—which the outgoing president normally gives to his or her successor—to be turned over to three members of the opposition: labor leader Juan Barahano, a little boy and a grandmother. The crowd chanted slogans calling for a Constituent Assembly to rewrite the 1982 Honduran Constitution, a popular demand that apparently helped trigger the coup. Someone created a poster for the occasion with a cartoon of Zelaya leaving and saying: “I’m going…but the struggle remains.” (Honduras Habla, Jan. 29; Vos el Soberano, Jan. 27; El Informador, Jan. 27)

    From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Jan. 31