Honduras: US seeks “happy end” —at cost of democracy?

The State Department sent Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Craig Kelly to Honduras Nov. 10 in a bid to relaunch the moribund dialogue. Kelly held separate talks with ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya and de facto president Roberto Micheletti, but left the Central American country the following day with no deal. Kelly insisted the US is “advancing the dialogue,” adding, “We think it’s important to continue the conversations.” (AlJazeera, Nov. 12)

Meanwhile in Washington, Republicans are celebrating what they call the “reversal” of the Obama administration‘s policy on Honduras—meaning the apparent decision to recognize the results of the coming presidential election, even if Zelaya is not previously reinstated.

Some Democrats are protesting the policy shift. Rep. Howard L. Berman of California, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, telephoned Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg to express his concerns on the administration’s handling of Honduran crisis. An aide to the congressman told the New York Times, “It was not a feel-good phone call.”

Frederick Jones, a spokesman for Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the senator believed that the State Department’s “abrupt change” of policy “caused the collapse of an accord it helped negotiate.”

Washington’s growing international isolation on the question is also evident. The secretary general of the Organization of American States, José Miguel Insulza, said Nov. 11 that he would not send observers to monitor the presidential election, scheduled for Nov. 29. And many of the organization’s 34 members said they would not recognize the winner unless Zelaya is reinstated to complete his term. “Paraguay is not only not going to accept the outcome of the elections, it will not even accept that the elections are held,” said Hugo Saguier Caballero, Paraguay’s ambassador to the OAS. “These elections for us simply will not exist.” (NYT, Nov. 10)

A Nov. 12 editorial by Voice of America, “Honduras’s Future Is In Its Own Hands,” legitimized moves taken by the de facto regime to avoid a vote on returning to Zelaya to power: “Before voting on the president’s return, congressional leaders have asked for input from the Supreme Court, attorney general and human rights ombudsman. This is consistent with the accord and was agreed to by both parties during the negotiation of the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord.”

It stated nearly explicitly that Washington does not see Zelaya’s return as a prerequisite for legitimate elections (as stipulated by the spirit if not the letter of the abrogated accord): “The United States will respect any decision by the Honduran Congress, and is working to create an environment in which Hondurans themselves can address and resolve the issues that precipitated the crisis. With this behind them, the nation may move forward to address the many other challenges facing it.” (VOA, Nov. 12)

Meanwhile, the Honduran daily El Tiempo ran an editorial thanking the governments of Latin America for standing strong in not recognizing the elections—and accusing Washington of seeking a “happy end” (using the English phrase in quotes) at the cost of “constitutional order.” The editorial praised “[t]he responsible solidarity of the international community—of the OAS, UN, Rio Group, UNASUR, ALBA, non-aligned countries, et cetera—with Honduras and its people, not to cede a smidgen in their condemnation of the military coup d’etat and their demand for the restoration of constitutional and institutional order…” (El Tiempo, San Perdo Sula, Nov. 12 via Honduras Laboral)

See our last posts on Honduras and Central America.

Please leave a tip or answer the Exit Poll.

  1. Honduran resistance pledges abstentionism
    On Nov. 11, Day 137 of resistance to the coup regime, Juan Barahona, a leading member of the National Front Against the Coup, spoke to the media at a protest in front of Honduras’ National Congress in downtown Tegucigalpa about the resistance movement’s decision to boycott the elections “with or without Mel.” He stated: “On November 29, we are not going to have time to vote. Just like [the congress members] who do not have time to meet to discuss Zelaya’s restitution, Hondurans in resistance will not vote on November 29.”

    Carlos H. Reyes, an independent presidential candidate and well respected political figure, announced that he will not participate in the elections. (Rights Action, Nov. 11)

    1. Is this the Book 1984 or…
      Is this the Book 1984 or Honduras in 2009 ???

      Elections in Honduras are anti-democratic.

      The Constitution of Honduras is anti-democratic.

      The Supreme Court of Honduras is anti-democratic.

      The Congress of Honduras is anti-democratic.

      The “legitimate” President’s own political party, which controls the Congress of Honduras, is anti-democratic and out to get the “legitimate” President.

      The “legitimate” President is hiding in the Brazilian embassy to avoid arrest and prosecution for allegedly violating the terms of the Honduran constitution ( alleged by the Supreme Court and the Congress and his, the accused President’s, own political party ).

      Sounds more like the black is white, and up is down double speak of the novel 1984 than a valid reason to ignore all results of the free and democratic elections scheduled, by the constitution, for later this month in Honduras.

        1. So you want to see the “legitimate” President Prosecuted ???
          Your argument is this:

          1. All agree the congress was elected democratically under the constitution.

          2. All agree the Supreme Court is constitutional.

          3. All agree the Supreme Court has the constitutional power to interpret the constitution. Just like in the United States.

          4. All agree the Supreme Court has the constitutional power to determine if the President has violated the constitution and in what manner he violated it. Just like in the United States.

          5. All agree the Honduran Constitution automatically requires the President cease being President if he violates certain provisions of the constitution. This is a draconian measure the founders of this constitutional democracy required to avoid dictators ceasing power as they have in the past in Honduras.

          5. All agree the Congress has the authority to choose a replacement President when the office of President is vacant.

          4. You would like to pretend the Honduran constitutional process requires an impeachment process identical to the US Constitution. Which it does not.

          5. You claim, correctly, the President should not have been exiled from the country by the military. However, you also claim, incorrectly, that because the military exiled him all findings by the Supreme Court that the President violated certain provisions of the constitution that require him to automatically cease being President are invalid.

          Problem is, neither you, nor third party countries have the authority to re-write the Honduran constitution or to overthrow the Honduran government just because you feel like it. The Honduran constitution is the law of the land in Honduras just as the US constitution is the law of the land in the US. The US would not want any foreign country re-writing the US constitution and neither does Honduras.

          Both the US Constitution and the Honduran Constitution require a long and drawn out multi-step process to revise the constitution.

          You want to re-write the Honduran constitution because you feel like it and the “legitimate” President ceased being President because he attempted to change the constitution without following the legal, constitutional process for amending the Honduran constitution.

          Just like in the United States, the President is barred from initiating a constitutional amendment. In the US either two thirds of the US Congress or three quarters of the state legislators must initiate a constitutional change. In Honduras the legislature must also initiate a constitutional change.

          Only dictators strip powers away from law makers and issue decrees they are prevented from issuing by the constitution.

          Facts are really a problem when you live in fantasy land, No ???

          1. No, we want to see Micheletti prosecuted
            In response to point 5:

            As we have repeatedly pointed out, the Honduran constitution was crafted by a military-dominated state in 1982, and the measures prohibiting changes that would lift term limits were aimed at keeping elected civilian leaders subordinate to the generals. Any constitution that includes eternal prohibitions against constitutional amendments is one that ought to be amended!

            In response to point 4 (the second one, which follows your second 5—you seem to have trouble counting):

            We didn’t say anything about “an impeachment process identical to the US Constitution.” But the Honduran constitution certainly does not give the military the power to summarily oust the president in his pajamas—and especially not with only after-the-fact approval by the Congress and judiciary.

            In response to point 5 (the third one, which follows the second 4):

            Correct, no actions taken by the de facto regime subsequent to the coup are legitimate. This isn’t just our opinion, ask the OAS.

            You acknowledge that Zelaya’s ouster by the military was unconstitutional. Yet the supreme court and congress have acquiesced in it. Obviously, then, the Honduran constitution is not the law of the land, and the de facto authorities constitute an outlaw regime.

            You are the one who is living in a fantasy land. Go away.

    2. Zelaya himself have admitted
      Zelaya himself have admitted to election fraud on Honduran TV, but since that’s not important here, oh well. Now we are letting Hugo Chávez, who himself tried a real military coup in 1993, the same man that changed the constitution and doesn’t even respect it, the man that’s limiting freedom of the press and expresion, the man that’s threatening Colombia with war and warning that clonflict will extend to the rest of the region, the same man that was president when his military masacred 50 indians, etc… is now giving us lessons in democracy. NOW, that is cute!

      1. Documentation please?
        What is your source for Zelaya admitting to election fraud on Honduran TV? Link, please.

        As for Chávez “threatening Colombia with war,” the saber-rattling looks pretty mutual to us.

  2. what resistance?
    For the vast majority of Hondurans the November elections are something that have been around their whole life. Election centers are up and I have had many people telling me that they have stopped by to confirm the location of their voting location. Even those that support Zelaya have told me they are still with the PL and plan to vote. The last elections had around 2 million voters, expect that number to be lower this time but still close to what has been normal turnout. This is democracy, the majority decides.

    The statements made by the U.S. diplomats after their visit were very clear, and later repeated in a CNN interview, that Zelaya’s case before congress and the elections are two independent issues per the accord that was agreed to. That Zelaya later decided that he wanted to change the terms is exactly the reason why most Hondurans are skeptical of any conditions that he would agree to as part of his reinstatement, he would later decide to change the terms.