The US government, after it committed itself to recognizing the outcome of the election whether or not Zelaya was restored by the proposed vote in the Honduran Congress, has been held awkwardly to the transparent fiction that the Accord never was intended to imply a vote on Zelaya's restitution had to take place before the elections.
So immediately after the election, the Honduran Congress chose, for whatever reason, not to vote on a straight motion whether or not to restore President Zelaya, but rather, decided to turn the clock back to June 28 and re-enact the passage of the decree through which they claimed to install Roberto Micheletti as replacement president.
Where does that leave things?
Speaking for the US, Arturo Valenzuela said
We're disappointed by this decision since the United States had hoped that Congress would have approved [Zelaya's] return.He also, remarkably, reiterated that the US continues
to accept President Zelaya as the democratically elected and legitimate leader of Hondurasand that
the status quo remains unacceptable.In response to questioning after Valenzuela's statement, unnamed Senior Administration Officials expanded on this theme, noting that the November 29 voting
we have always felt, was an important step to the solution of the problems of Honduras, but not a sufficient one, because the restoration of the democratic and constitutional order had to go by additional measures... [emphasis added]These "additional measures" explicitly included
this vote that the Congress was supposed to take on the restoration of Zelaya...[emphasis added]Translation: the US expected a different vote than the one they got. What kind of vote? well, I am glad you asked:
That's why we were disappointed. And the fact that the Congress, in fact, did not vote President Zelaya back into office...And about the unacceptable status quo, the same unnamed officials said
the absence of democratic and constitutional order is the unacceptable status quoand
we continue to accept President Zelaya as the democratically elected president of Honduras.For his part, Ricardo Lagos, the former Chilean president who had the bad experience of being part of the all-too-briefly functional "verification" commission, went further. As reported in El Universal of Venezuela, speaking on CNN En Español Lagos said
the refusal of the Honduran Congress to restore the overthrown president Manuel Zelaya "breaks" the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord and will make international recognition "more difficult"Lagos puts the blame for the breaking of the accord squarely on the de facto regime and the Honduran Congress:
The decision "finishes breaking the accord between the (interim) government and Zelaya..it began to be broken [when] one of the parties thought that he could constitute [the unity government]" in a unilateral form...in reference to the regime of Roberto Micheletti.Most important, in this interview, Lagos said that
in his reading, the vote on the part of Congress about the situation of Zelaya foressen in the Tegucigalpa Accord carried "implicitly" an "elegant form to restore" the overthrown official.Or to put it another way: Lagos, like most readers, thought the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord called for a vote on restoring Zelaya as a way to give Congress a face-saving means to redress their original actions.
So, the US and Lagos are in harmony and both consider what the Congress did an unfortunate, even disappointing, waste of the opportunity provided in the Accord. Right?
Well, not so fast. The US manages to add yet another twist to its already contorted position. Valenzuela added to the remarks quoted above the qualification that
the decision taken by Congress, which it carried out in an open and transparent manner, was in accordance with its mandate in Article 5 of the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord.Let us pause to think about the implications here.
The US does not recognize the coup of June 28 as legitimate, and continues to consider Manuel Zelaya the only legitimate president of Honduras (while looking wistfully ahead to the end of January and a new inauguration as their new solution).
Yet the framework now transparently identifiable as forged by the US-- despite the thin veil of Costa Rican mediation cast over it by the use of Oscar Arias as a conduit-- has had one real result: it gave the Honduran legislature a chance to reaffirm the very same unconstitutional actions whose outcoes the US says it still does not recognize.
Quite a powerful tool, that Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord: it apparently cleanses constitutional rupture and makes it something the international community has to accept-- because it was transparent.
But then, so were the events of June 28. They were transparently a coup d'etat.
Yet, the US argues that the exact same decree that was illegitimate on June 28 is legitimate in December because it was enacted in response to the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord.
What a powerful thing that Accord turned out to be: it supercedes the Constitution of Honduras and whitewashes a universally condemned coup.