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.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Is he or isn't he? maybe Hugo Llorens knows

Now that the US has finally begun to move, albeit creakily, toward more sanctions on the recalcitrant de facto regime (as the clock ticks toward Monday's scheduled kickoff of the election campaign, already compromised...), rumors are in the air, and in the press.

This morning, Honduras' El Heraldo published that "it has leaked out that the US ambassador, Hugo Llorens, will not return to the country by order of the State Department."

The same language was then echoed by Radío América.

But Mexico's El Financiero begs to differ: their article cites an unnamed "spokesperson" for the US State Department saying

The US has not recalled its ambassador in Honduras. We continue to believe that the presence of our ambassador in Honduras in these moments can contribute more to the final result that we are all seeking.

Estados Unidos no ha retirado a su embajador en Honduras. Continuamos creyendo que la presencia de nuestro embajador en Honduras en estos momentos puede contribuir más al resultado final que todos buscamos.

Oh really? like what? Has there been any evidence of any progress in persuading the regime to back down?

With Micheletti telling the Honduran press that Honduras doesn't need the world community, and that they will hold an election even if the world community declares it illegitimate, what possible good effect can the US ambassador have?

Especially when it is quite possible that these Honduran press reports are part of a smear campaign seeking to diminish his influence?

Remember-- Micheletti has said he hopes Llorens will never return to Honduras.

And the Radío América article doesn't describe the possible recall as a US sanction on Honduras. Instead, it ends its report with the following:
El diplomático ha sido criticado por el gobierno hondureño que consideró como intromisiva la reunión que tuvo en la embajada de Honduras en Nicaragua con el ex presidente, Manuel Zelaya Rosales, a finales del mes de julio.

The diplomat has been criticized by the [de facto] Honduran government that considers as meddling the meeting that he had in the Honduran embassay in Nicaragua with the ex-president, Manuel Zelaya Rosales, at the end of the month of July.
As the reference to President Zelaya as the ex-president and to the coup regime as the Honduran government indicate, this paragraph is written from the pro-coup perspective. This was the way his departure for the US was originally characterized on August 14 by the pro-coup El Heraldo, which wrote that

It leaked out that the diplomatic visit to the ex president of Honduras in Nicaragua, had generated discomfort in the government of his country... The actions of the ambassador caused critiques by the Honduran authorities, that considered the meeting meddling... Unofficial sources reported that the ambassador was called to consultations in Washington.
[In diplomatic lingo, being called to consultation is polite wording for being called on the carpet.]

It cannot be accidental that two less-common Spanish words are repeated in these reports: intromisiva (meddling) and trascender with the meaning of "leak out". This is how you follow the traces of a talking points memo, or a propaganda campaign: watch for the same language being repeated.

The spin coup media would like to put on Llorens' continued absence from Honduras is that this is not just welcome, but in some way a punishment for the diplomat. The State Department needs to do more than have an unnamed spokesperson comment.


phoenixwoman said...

The WSJ Mexico correspondent all but laughed at the visa sanctions, saying, "So it’s basically tourist visas. And what – how many would you be putting out? I mean, the tourism season is over, but school is about to begin. So I don’t think that it’s a big impact. I think it’s a minor action to make a lot of noise, but really very little, it seems to me" And the spokesman took trade sanctions off the table.

This is not a creaky application of sanctions. It's a Samuel Beckett play in which we discover stationary motion, fluid immobility, lightning progress toward the status quo.

--Charles of Mercury Rising

RAJ said...

This morning in Honduras, in La Prensa Carlos Kattan (more or less the equivalent of the head of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee) dismissed the visa suspension, arguing that US Embassys have to meet financial targets for self-sufficiency and cannot afford the loss of monthly income. Which I do not actually think is true, but shows how unlikely this measure is to actually move the de facto regime. Kattan also pre-emptively rejected the idea of trade embargoes, based on the critical role of Honduran ports for Central American commerce.

Nonetheless, we note that several articles in pro-coup newspapers cite businessmen saying the visa suspension will affect them. Turns out not all Honduran businesses use multi-entry visas for those all-important trips to the US to buy things they resell or use in Honduras.

I agree that it is only in the context of the congealed inaction of the US that something like this can be seen as a step forward; but it is a step, albeit a baby one. What has to come next are the real effective measures (freezing bank accounts of coup members and cutting off remittances).