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.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Please Brief Valenzuela

Will someone please bring Arturo Valenzuela, the State Department's new Assistant Secretary for West Hemisphere Affairs up to speed on the Honduran election history? He seems to not know the history surrounding this election. Today in his press conference, he said:
In fact, the primaries were held in November of last year in each of the major parties. The vice president, Santos, resigned. He was Zelaya’s vice president. He resigned as vice president to run for office. He competed in primaries in November of last year.
In fact Elvin Santos did NOT compete in the primaries last November. He was ruled ineligible by the Supreme Election Tribunal. I'll refer you to a previous post from August this year for all the details since it involves constitutional amendments.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal ruled in August 2008, that Santos could not be inscribed in the primary election as a presidential candidate because he was still the Vice President, and he then had to install a puppet candidate, Mauricio Villeda Bermudez, as a placeholder. He resigned as Vice President on November 18, 2008, just before the primary election, but it was not until December 17th, after his stand-in had won the primary election, that Santos's resignation was accepted by Congress, and the TSE ruled that as long as he resigned at least 6 months before the election he could run. Villeda Bermudez was convinced to withdraw his candidacy in favor of Santos. That's how Santos became a presidential candidate. He did not compete in the primary election.

Valenzuela also seems not to know that two of the magistrates appointed to the TSE this time were at the time of their appointment holding political office in violation of the constitution, which of course caused a stir in Honduras but was no impediment to their appointment.

There seems to be much deep background about the Honduran elections that Mr. Valenzuela doesn't appear to know. Will someone please brief him?

1 comment:

John said...

You're clearly right here, but I would argue that you're being a little unfair to Valenzuela. As you state, Santos did resign before the primaries; his resignation just wasn't accepted by Congress. Although he was not officially a candidate in the primary, I'd say he was a de facto candidate. I was living in Honduras at the time and from what I saw it was well understood among voters that a vote for Mauricio Villeda Bermudez was a vote for Elvin Santos. Your statement that after Santos' eligibility was validated by the TSE, "Villeda Bermudez was convinced to withdraw his candidacy in favor of Santos," is a bit misleading. Villeda Bermudez did not need to be "convinced to withdraw" after his victory. His participation in the election had always been based on the understanding that he would withdraw for Santos. So yes, Valenzuela either does not know or chose not to explain the nuances you point out. But his explanation is a pretty good first approximation of what happened and is not the blatant sign of ignorance that you imply it is.