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, November 12, 2009
Vapid US Policy Statement
Here for the record is a professional deconstruction of this text, from my perspective as an avowed post-structuralist:
Efforts to return deposed President Manuel Zelaya to office and end the crippling political crisis in Honduras have hit another roadblock.
This form of statement, leaving out any agent (actor), is typical of rhetoric that attempts to avoid responsibility. Efforts have hit a roadblock: not because the US State Department made pronouncements that encouraged parties to misbehave, just because roadblocks are there...
The United States is disappointed that both parties haven't been able to reach agreement on the creation of a government of national unity under the Tegucigalpa-San Jose accord, and it urges leaders there to stay focused on it. While the U.S. and other hemispheric nations worked hard to bring the parties together, the stalemate is a Honduran problem that must have a Honduran solution.
"The stalemate is a Honduran problem". Well, not exactly. The stalemate is a problem exacerbated by the aforementioned US State Department pronouncements. But what is most interesting here is that the "disappointment" of the US is the topic of this paragraph. Not the consequences for the Honduran people. And who precisely are the "leaders" urged to stay focused on "it"-- and is that "it" the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord, or the "government of national unity"?
Under the terms of the agreement, signed late last month, President Zelaya and Honduras's de facto regime agreed to let Congress decide on the president's return. A presidential election set for November 29 will determine who succeeds President Zelaya and a government of national unity will operate until the new president takes office, among other provisions.
More or less accurate. But notice the very revealing slide: "A presidential election set for November 29 will determine who succeeds President Zelaya": or, to put it another way: President Zelaya is still and will be the legally elected president, presumably no matter what the Congress decides about his "return".
Both sides need to return to the table and fulfill their commitment to forming a government of national unity, and all parties should avoid provocative statements and actions that could upset the process.
Ah, how much the US State Department wishes other people would "avoid provocative statements"; like, perhaps, publicly stating that the US would recognize the election no matter whether the legally elected President was allowed to return to his constitutional position or not?
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.
Well, no. The Accord did say that the Congress would vote after previously receiving a report from the Supreme Court. But there is nothing in it (go, read it for yourself!) about asking the attorney general to pronounce (and remember, Edmundo Orellana's legal opinion is that this would be against the law); and no one actually asked Ramon Custodio to provide a report; he just got enthusiastic. What the Accord-- and remember, I think it is a lousy piece of writing-- called for was for the Supreme Court to provide Congress a report (on what has never been clear to anyone: they cannot simply issue a verdict on charges against him, and without some constitutional issue in front of them, they cannot judge whether it would be legal or illegal for congress to revoke its own decreto of June 28). Period.
Isn't revisionist history fun?
The United States’ commitment is to the accord and its implementation and to the restoration of democratic constitutional order in Honduras. It provides a pathway to free and fair elections, the outcome of which will be widely accepted both within Honduras and abroad.
"It" is ambiguous (again). What provides a "pathway to free and fair elections"? One presumes the intended reference is "the accord", but it could as easily be "the United States commitment" or even, unlikely as it may seem, "democratic constitutional order".
In any event, this entire paragraph is a fantasy. The outcome of these purported "free and fair elections", which will not be observed by any official third-party outsiders, are already being repudiated by every member of the OAS from Latin America; by UNASUR; by the Central American and Caribbean nations; and there is a debate pending in the EU but Spain has already said there cannot be any legitimacy in the elections scheduled for just 16 days from now.
And as for "widely accepted within Honduras": well, yes. But that is not something to be happy about; the wide acceptance of elections that fail to live up to the standards of democracy is a symptom of the corrosion of Honduran popular belief in democracy itself.
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.
Ah me: "the nation may move forward"-- precisely how? how does a country so polarized "move forward" when the one thing that is now certain is that any outcome-- "any decision by the Honduran Congress"-- will be accepted by the hemispheric power that has been most influential on the modern politics of Honduras? Does that "any decision" include, say, an assertion that Roberto Micheletti was inserted into power legally because the Congress says so?
And finally: "the issues that precipitated the crisis". No longer even able to clearly label a coup d'etat what it is, and giving in at the end to what has always been lurking below the surface: this whole incident would not have happened if there were not prior "precipitating" events.
No wonder the President of Paraguay is nervous. God help us when this is the best the US State Department can come up with.