Honduras: “reactionary accord” or “popular victory”?

On Nov. 1 Honduran president José Manuel Zelaya Rosales expressed optimism about an agreement his representatives signed with the country’s de facto government on Oct. 30 to end a political crisis that began with a military coup on June 28. At the same time, he warned against possible “manipulation” by de facto president Roberto Micheletti. “[W]e need to stay alert until compliance [with the accord] is accomplished,” he told the Venezuela-based TeleSUR television network.

Under the agreement, the two sides and the Organization of American States (OAS) were to name a Verification Commission by Nov. 2 to make sure the accord is carried out. The two sides were then to form a multi-party Government of Unity and National Reconciliation by Nov. 5 and proceed with the scheduled Nov. 29 general elections. The agreement does not explicitly restore Zelaya to the presidency but calls on the National Congress to “return the incumbency of the Executive Power to its state previous to June 28” until the end of Zelaya’s term on Jan. 27.

The members of the Verification Commission were already named by Nov. 1. OAS general secretary José Miguel Insulza, a Chilean diplomat, appointed former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos (2000-2006) and current US labor secretary Hilda Solis. Zelaya designated Arturo Reina Idiáquez, a former university rector who represents Honduras at the United Nations, and Micheletti appointed Arturo Corrales, a member of his negotiating team.

Zelaya told TeleSUR on Nov. 1 that under the agreement Congress needs to return him to power by Nov. 5, since the Government of Unity and National Reconciliation is scheduled to be installed that day. The OAS, which still hasn’t lifted the sanctions it imposed on Honduras after the coup, may also impose a different deadline: in an OAS meeting on Oct. 30, Bolivian representative José Pinelo proposed that the organization hold a special assembly in Tegucigalpa on Nov. 16 to reconsider the sanctions—if the agreement had been complied with. (Vos el Soberano blog, Nov. 1 from TeleSUR, EFE; Honduras Coup 2009, Nov. 1)

On Oct. 30 the National Front of Resistance to the Coup d’Etat, the trade union and grassroots coalition which coordinated nonviolent actions against the coup, issued a statement on the Oct. 30 agreement calling the restoration of Zelaya to office “a popular victory over the petty interests of the coup-making oligarchy.” The victory had been “obtained through more than four months of struggle and sacrifice by the people,” which “despite savage repression” had been able to become “an irrepressible social force.” Although Zelaya had agreed in the accord to “renounce” any efforts to rewrite the 1982 Constitution through a Constituent Assembly, the statement called constitutional revision an “aspiration that cannot be renounced” and for which “we will go on struggling in the streets.” (El Frente Nacional de Resistencia contra el Golpe de Estado blog, Oct. 30)

Groups to the left of the National Front weren’t as optimistic. On Oct. 31 the Trostkyist Central American Socialist Party (PSOC) denounced the agreement as a “reactionary accord with a taste of treason.” It criticized the “bureaucratic vices” of the National Front’s leadership, which it said had “committed many errors in the more than 100 days of resistance.” (El SOCA website, Oct. 31 via Vos el Soberano)

An editorial in the left-leaning Mexican daily La Jornada praised the “admirable demonstrations of popular resistance within Honduras,” which, along with “international isolation,” had “cornered” the coup regime. But it noted the accord’s “questionable elements,” such as the inclusion of the coup’s perpetrators in the government of national reconciliation. The “formal conclusion of the political crisis” is something positive, the editors wrote, but “the international community should be careful that [the accord] isn’t used as a pretext to give accreditation to the failed coup and to leave unpunished the crimes against humanity committed during the last four months.” (LJ, Nov. 1)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 3

See our last posts on Honduras.