Responses to the Coup d'etat in Honduras on Sunday June 28, with special emphasis on producing English-language versions of commentaries by Honduran scholars and editorial writers and addressing the confusion encouraged by lack of basic knowledge about Honduras.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Micheletti "counter-proposal": A rant

Micheletti's negotiators today rejected the Arias plan, despite the fact that it addressed the supposed reasons for the constitutional and military coup d'etat, despite the fact that President Zelaya agreed to Arias' terms, which many commentators supportive of the constitutional government feel demanded too much and placed Zelaya in the position of repudiating his supporters. At the same time, the Micheletti group offered their own counter-proposal, which can be downloaded in PDF from El Heraldo, one of the pro-Micheletti Honduran newspapers.

What do these "negotiators" with no legal right to negotiate, and only the raw exercise of repressive power and world-wide reluctance to increase the suffering of the Honduran people propping them up, have to offer as an alternative?

Presented as a letter to Oscar Arias, the main body of their proposal can be translated as follows, with my notes after:
We recognize that the return to Honduras of the citizen petitioner José Manuel Zelaya Rosales with all constitutional and international guarantees is an important point of a global accord that would determine the situations that would need to be addressed for the effectiveness of our Constitution and the Democracy in the framework of a State of law.

Our position is inspired by the figure of one single Republic and not in the image of a divided State and society.

First, the return to Honduras of the petitioner Sr. José Manuel Zelaya Rosales with the necessary guarantees so that he can exercise his right to due process before the competent legal bodies of the Judicial Power.

Second, the entrenchment of democratic order and respect for the separation of Powers, for which a Government of unity and reconciliation would be formed, composed of members of the political parties and social sectors, in accordance with the requirements of capacity, merit, suitability and ethics that will defend national sovereignty and combat drug trafficking.

Third, the guarantee of the effective validity of the State of Law and the rejection of corruption and of impunity, assuring equally respect for the professionalism of the National Police, whose rotation should be subject strictly to that which its special legislation prescribes.

Consistent with the preceding, the integrity of public funds should be preserved and those that have been abstracted and used illegally should be returned.

With this same aim the budget recently approved by the National Congress should be respected.

Fourth, the constitution of a truth commission so that the Honduran people and the international community can identify all the actions, deeds that are evident and notorious that led to the present situation, in the period before the 28th of June, on that date, and after the same.

Fifth, the possibility of moving up the national elections already convened, in accordance with that which the Supreme Electoral Tribunal ordains and in consultation with the presidential candidates.

Sixth, the placement of the Armed Forces and the National Police under the command of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal four months before the elections, with the effects of guaranteeing transparency, liberty, and normalcy of the electoral process which is a high priority of national security, in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Honduras and the Law of Elections and Political Organizations.

The professionalism and functions of the Armed Forces should be respected and assured that they conform to what the Constitution of the Republic expressly sets out, and any rotation should stick strictly to the fulfillment of what is established in the Constitutive Law of the Armed Forces.

Seventh, the integration of a commission of verification composed of distinguished Hondurans that will watch over the fulfillment of these accords and report periodically on them to the Honduran people and the international community.

The agreements that we arrive at will constitutionally require being submitted for the consideration of the Judicial Power, Legislative Power, Supreme Electoral Tribunal and other competent public entities.

All parties will promise to respect the accords and avoid submitting the same to public commentaries.

Luckily, I am not a party to these accords, so I can and will submit them to public commentary:

The only news here is that they admit they made a mistake by denying President Zelaya his right to remain in Honduras. However, by describing him repeatedly as "citizen petitioner" they refuse to acknowledge he remains the consitutional president of the country. This requires them to replace Arias Item 1 with something else, and what a something it is! President Zelaya can return to be tried in Honduran courts, and there is no mention of any amnesty of any kind.

The second paragraph of their preamble may seem like a non-sequitur, in a document full of non-sequiturs, but it exemplifies the real problem here: they insist there is a single Honduran State and society, denying to the world the evidence that many Hondurans do not approve of the events of June 28 and that the de facto regime has created and is worsening divides within the country, notably between poor and rich; indigenous, african-descendant, and other parts of Honduran society; people whose Honduranness is being questioned and who are being subjected to persecution for their descent or presumed identity as Nicaraguans; people with political opinions at different points on a spectrum from right to left.

The second of their numbered points-- after returning President Zelaya to probable arrest and trial-- takes the proposal for a unity and reconciliation government and turns it inside out, adding a series of empty requirements that no doubt would be used to veto many of those who should be restored to their offices in any such government, such as the cabinet ministers of the Zelaya government whose last months of work were interrupted. But the truly amazing thing is proposing to write into the accord a pledge to "combat drug trafficking". What that phrase, along with the preceding "defend national sovereignty" clause, is about is advancing a claim that President Zelaya is complicit in drug trafficking with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, most openly and famously advanced by the Micheletti regime's Enrique Ortez in interviews with the AP on June 30.

(That's the same Enrique Ortez who eventually apologized for racist remarks about US President Barack Obama, remarks never accurately translated by English-language media, which used the term "little black man" for what should have been glossed as "n----r" and more specifically, in one of Ortez' many quotes belittling Obama, "sugar-plantation n----r".)

(And yes, I really cannot bring myself to type the N-word: if you have to see it spelled out check www.quotha.com.)

In other words, this document is not a counter-proposal for Arias: it is a propaganda piece aimed at the already over-propagandized Honduran public.

Item three of this proposal makes this abundantly clear, as none of the things mentioned would mean a thing outside Honduras; inside, they are the points for which a drumbeat of propaganda has existed for the past year: insinuations that the Zelaya government is corrupt, that the increase in the number of National Police under the Zelaya government-- which on the one hand can be seen as an employment initiative, and on the other, as addressing Zelaya's campaign pledge to try to bring crime under control-- was political, that public funds were being used to pay people to demonstrate or organize for Zelaya's initiatives. And of course, if the budget Congress just passed (while the de facto regime held power) could not be revisited, then nothing but the will of the de facto regime would be done; and as a showdown with then-head of Congress Micheletti was a large part of the reason there was no budget yet for the fiscal year that began in October 2008, this is a major gain for the Micheletti regime's and its clients.

(Item three of the Micheletti proposal, remember, replaces the call for amnesty for political offenses in the Arias proposal.)

Need I go on? Yes, I must. This incoherent document simply begs for analysis and, I am afraid, incites me to ridicule.

In item four, Arias' requirement that President Zelaya renounce the ballot question concerning constitutional reform disappears. Apparently, despite previous claims, that doesn't matter anymore. In its place: a "truth commission" to explore events that led to the present situation, before the June 28 coup. This congeals one of the whinier claims of the Micheletti faction: the world is being unfair, because they are fixated on a tiny little military intervention in constitutional succession, when the bad meany President Zelaya spent months resisting the attempts of Congress to stop him from talking to the people... Well, let me be fair here. (Can I be fair here? Do I want to be fair here? I think not but still, can I be less snotty...) The coup participants seem shocked that the world doesn't want to hear "their side", why they think they were justified in a military intervention in a consitutional democracy. They think if they have a hearing, world opinion will shift; if only the pesky Armed Forces hadn't expatriated Zelaya and gotten the world all riled up, they say, we could have explained that Zelaya was fomenting "mob rule". Surely politicians everywhere will support the right of the power elite not to ask the opinions of the people or have them demonstrate outside Congress and make us uncomfortable. (Watch for more signs of irritation from the Armed Forces, who do not appear to appreciate being thrown under the bus and already are clearly leaking documents like the June 26 letter from Micheletti scheduling the Armed Forces action for June 28.)

Well, there. Turns out I cannot be un-snotty on this one. Sorry for all those I just offended and know that I am not news media and yes, these are my opinions and no, they are not Fox News "fair and balanced".

Item five of this delusional document suggests agreement with Arias, but look what happened: everywhere else too much specificity, laughable specificity, is added to a broader framework: here, specificity is subtracted. Move the elections up to when? Moving the elections will favor the big parties and the current power elite. So the sooner the better for the Micheletti regime, for whom being in office is less important than having the right folks in office. And oh, by the way, while Micheletti presumably cannot try yet-again to achieve his dream of election to the Presidency, in which he has failed every time electorally, he can run again for Congress and regain his power there.

Item six blows the cover of the concealed issue of timing of moved-up elections: put the Armed Forces under TSE power four months in advance of elections. Which are now in late November. Which means: put the Armed Forces under the control of the TSE now, covering moved-up elections held as soon as possible, with as little time as possible for opposition party campaigning.

And why add the National Police to the Arias proposal? the National Police have no constitutional role in elections, and notice how this proposal separates the citation of constitutional role, limiting comment to the Armed Forces. Vaguely gesturing to security needs covers up the real agenda here: the regime doesn't trust that the National Police will remain loyal to them. It fears the Police, it thinks the expansion of the Police was a step to create a private army. I must admit it: until now, I could not believe the authoritarian regime really believed its propaganda about Zelaya. But these guys are seriously afraid that Zelaya and the Police Force-- which remains tiny in comparison with the Armed Forces-- will take the country over by force. Presumably, aided by the "mob", that offensive term used for the people organizing and demonstrating their political will. And Nicaraguans fighting in Honduras for Hugo Chavez. And Cuban doctors and teachers-- oh wait, they expelled them. Never mind.

Almost done: Item seven: the verification commission, without any international participation whatsoever, and certainly, without acknowledging the right of the OAS to monitor compliance with hemispheric accords. Take that, international community. Who needs you?

This isn't a counter-proposal; it is literally a sign of the degree of delusion and separation from international opinion on the loose in Tegucigalpa. God help Honduras.

1 comment:

rns said...

The reason the golpistas fear the Nactional Police, is that they continued to take orders from Zelaya after the military refused to distribute the ballot material. On the extraordinary day when Zelaya took the crowd to the airforce base and reclaimed the ballots, he asked the Nactional Police to guard them in a secret location.