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.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"The communique left the National Congress stupefied": Tiempo

A story just posted in Tiempo gives an account of the reception of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's notice that the US was terminating suspended aid, revoking additional visas, and would not recognize an election held under the present regime.

The press report says that
The communique left the congressional representatives stupefied. That obliged the President of the Congress, Saavedra, to call a recess to talk about it later. But they didn't have enough time to digest the ideas, because when they came back, they approved a confusing motion: "That the National Congress issue a press release to aid in galvanizing the Honduran population and so that we have a written document that allows us to talk to our electorate, to the point that we can resist for three or four more months that remain to assure ourselves that with the takeover by the authorities at the end the world will understand what it is that the Hondurans are seeking".
Reportedly, only 20 congress members participated (out of 128).

Various congress members are quoted as giving "scorching comments" against the US, others interpreting points of the announcement as supporting the Micheletti government, and others (from the UD and Christian Democrat parties) concerned with the effects on the poor.

Marcía Facusse de Villeda is said to have argued that the good news is that the US didn't declare it a military coup.

The article says the congress members argued another positive point is an implication that the US would recognize a new government if the elections are fair and democratic.

Most baffling is the quoted statement by Carlos Kattan that Honduras doesn't have to fall on its knees before the US. Honduras can demonstrate that it is independent and look for new strategic partners for its products, like Canada and Japan, so that the economy will not suffer from these sanctions.

Apparently no one told him that Canada and Japan are with the rest of the world against the de facto regime.

So-- we can see that while the reaction was one of surprise and the impacts are real, the Honduran coup apologists will spin as much of this as they can.

Not declaring this a military coup matters.

Not being clear that the elections cannot be democratic and fair if the constitutional government is not restored matters.

One hopes that someone at State is reading the Honduran news today.


Nell said...

Martha Facusse de Villeda is said to have argued that the good news is that the US didn't declare it a military coup.

The article says the congress members argued another positive point is an implication that the US would recognize a new government if the elections are fair and democratic.

I'm with the golpistas in this interpretation; I took the same implication from the State Department's weak, weak statement.

Zelaya stressed at GW that he would talk with Sec. Clinton about human rights violations. Result? Still not a single word. To do the job she's doing apparently requires an inability to be shamed. She's perfect.

Nell said...

Martha Facusse de Villeda

Is this the wife of Elvin Santos' front candidate during the primary (who I assume is related to the Villeda who was president, deposed in a coup in 1963 with the young Micheletti as part of his honor guard)?

Someone could make a good board game out of all these figures...


RAJ said...

Sorry, there was a typo originally: Marcia Facussé de Villeda.

The website of the Honduran Embassy in Washington constructed by the Zelaya administration singled her out for comment for actions on June 28:

Notable for their reprehensible behavior is the Deputy for the Department of Francisco Morazán, MARCIA FACUSSE Villeda (relative of former President Carlos Roberto Flores and thermal energy entrepreneur Fredy Nasser. Daughter in Law of Villeda Manuel Toledo, who is a partner of Rafael Ferrari, owner of Televicentro), who stated on national TV, subsequently broadcast by CNN that President Zelaya and “all his cabinet” had resigned.

Mauricio Villeda, Elvin Santos "stand-in" and negotiator for Roberto Micheletti, is the son of Ramón Villeda Morales, deposed from the presidency in a military coup in 1963.

To read about some of the connections among the coup families, try this interview with Martín Barahona, which traces the connections between the Facussé family (her birth family) and the Villeda Toledo family into which she married, and their economic interests leading to support of the coup.

Manuel Villeda Toledo was born in 1934, the son of José Manuel Villeda Morales. While I have not yet been able to confirm it yet, the fact that José Manuel Villeda Morales and Ramon Villeda Morales were both from Ocotepeque at about the same time suggests they may have been brothers. That would make Mauricio Villeda Bermudez the cousin of Marcia Facussé de Villeda's husband.

Nell said...

Thanks for the information and the link, RAJ.

In the early days of the Salvadoran civil war, there was a lot of talk about 'the fifteen families', but that was a real simplification even by then, despite the near-feudal relationship of the biggest landowners and the peasants who worked their crops. During the war itself there was a shift in power inside the ruling class, toward the non-agricultural business owners and the military high command. (Turns out that funnelling hundreds of millions of dollars to the military over a decade, and allowing them to run major enterprises like the power company, means that when the music stops they're in the boardroom chairs and no longer willing to go back to being at the old guard's beck and call.)

Honduras, on the other hand, really does seem to be run by an intermarried set of families that you could pretty much put in one big hall. (COHEP's annual dinner dance, maybe... ;>).

Completely by google serendipity, while looking for something else altogether, I ran into an extremely interesting Envio article from mid-2007, which traces some of the history of Zelaya's wing of the oligarchy/political elite, and their political situation at that moment. Among the many fascinating revelations is that there was already open talk of a coup. (Link is on another computer; I'm going to use it in a post soon.)

I feel the need of a crash course in "Honduras since 1992"...

RAJ said...

Yes, there were intimations of a possible coup long before June. And even in June, long before the week of the 28th. It just seemed really unlikely that such an antiquated thing would actually happen...

On the intermarried families, I saw (now illegally fired) historian Darío Euraque give a brilliant lesson in Honduran history in June, building off a wedding picture from the 1940s that literally included all the different sides in what would end up being the transition to democracy under Ramon Villeda Morales and then back out after his coup.

One thing that does seem different today-- and I hesitate to even say it, given the nasty resurgence of xenophobia in the current crisis-- is that what in the 1980s and 1990s were different power blocs seem to have become more tightly intertwined, both through marriage and business. In San Pedro Sula in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the business community, predominantly the families that came to Honduras from what then was the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century, seemed quite distinct from the elite families of Tegucigalpa and their branches in San Pedro, descendants of Spanish colonists. Today these seem to be one big web of interconnected businesses and families.

So I would suggest that there has been an increase in concentration of wealth and power more recently as what previously were two rather distinct elite groups have tended to merge.

Thinking about this sent me back to two books by Euraque: Reinterpreting the Banana Republic and Conversaciones hitsoricas con el mestizaje y su identidad nacional en Honduras. Not precisely about post-1992, but still required reading, especially for the north coast.