Honduras: resistance rejects “Afghanistan-style” elections

Talks in Tegucigalpa between representatives of ousted Honduran president José Manuel Zelaya Rosales and de facto president Roberto Micheletti Bain have failed to revive the Tegucigalpa/San José Accord, an agreement the two sides signed on Oct. 30. Members of a Verification Commission established by the agreement had tried to salvage the accord by having the two sides meet again on Nov. 7.

Zelaya’s representatives apparently signed the Oct. 30 agreement on the understanding that the National Congress would return Zelaya to the presidency—from which he was removed by a June 28 military coup backed by the Congress and Supreme Court—and that he would then form a multi-party Government of Unity and National Reconciliation. The agreement stipulated that the new government would be in place by the end of Nov. 5. But the Congress, which is in recess until general elections scheduled for Nov. 29, failed to reconvene, and Micheletti proceeded to name a multi-party cabinet which Zelaya refused to recognize. Micheletti’s new cabinet had the same ministers as the old de facto government in key ministries: foreign relations, finance, agriculture, defense, security and the presidency. (Honduras Coup 2009 blog, Nov. 8; El Día, Spain, Nov. 8 from EFE; La Jornada, Mexico, Nov. 7)

On Nov. 3 the US government, which had brokered the Tegucigalpa/San José Accord, abruptly dropped its commitment not to recognize the Nov. 29 elections if Zelaya wasn’t returned to office. During an interview with the CNN en Español television network, US assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs Thomas Shannon was asked whether the US would recognize the elections without Zelaya’s restitution. “The future of Honduran democracy is in the hands of the Hondurans,” Shannon replied. The interviewer then asked more explicitly: “The US, whatever may happen, in the process will recognize whatever happens on Nov. 29?” Shannon answered: “Yes, exactly.” (El Heraldo, Tegucigalpa, Nov. 4)

“I don’t want Afghanistan-style elections for my country,” Zelaya told the opposition Radio Globo station on Nov. 6, referring to the reelection of US-backed Afghani president Hamid Karzai in August balloting marred by reports of widespread fraud. The grassroots movement against the coup is calling for a boycott of the elections. Some resistance activists want to go further. “It’s not just about not going to vote,” indigenous leader Salvador Zúñiga said on Nov. 6. “The same way they took away our ballot box on June 28, we have to take theirs away from them.” The June 28 coup prevented Zelaya’s government from holding a nonbinding referendum that day to ask Hondurans whether they wanted to vote in the Nov. 29 elections on a Constituent Assembly to rewrite the 1982 Constitution.

“From now on,” Zúñiga said, “it’s going to be forbidden for politicians to come into our neighborhoods and communities, and we’re going to forbid them to set up the voting places.” (LJ, Nov. 7)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 8

See our last posts on Honduras.