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.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Clarity, Part 2 of 2

The increasing role of the military is, in Saloman's analysis, one of the tipping points in the crisis.

She notes that the opponents of Zelaya directly approached the serving head of the armed forces, and engaged retired military, increasing the public visibility of the army and polarizing civil society around the question of what role the military should play. She writes that this "placed on the public agenda retired military, protagonists of the 80s, formed in the full cold war, reaffirming anti-communist positions, inciting disobedience and calling for insubordination on the part of the active military". This made President Zelaya's confrontation with the head of the Armed Forces, who he fired on Wednesday before the coup, inevitable. The outright engagement in political action by serving military that followed and led up to the military action of Sunday itself represents, Saloman says, a backward movement reversing 28 years of progress in legitimating the role of the military in civil society that had been so successful that the approval ratings for the armed forces equalled those of the Catholic Church.

Saloman notes that the Congress engaged in actions that exposed clear contradictions. She notes the production of a supposed, and disclaimed, letter of resignation, whose backdating to June 25-- the original planned date of the coup-- undermined it entirely.

Congress used this supposed resignation to justify acting to fill the supposedly vacant post, arguing they were merely following constitutional procedure. But as Saloman notes, they also made contradictory statements that the president had been overthrown, relieved of his post, disabled, or separated from the position for failure to follow legal orders.

Saloman makes arguments only a Honduran insider could sustain, that also entering the Congressional calculus were party interests in improving their position for the November election, benefitting from the redistribution of government positions even for seven months, and, for Congress head Micheletti, achieving the post of president to which he had aspired, even if he can hold it only for the next seven months.

Saloman identifies as weaknesses that generated the crisis the extreme politicization of governmental institutions; the increasing tendency for the head of Congress to run for President in part by establishing himself as an opponent of the president, ignoring a constitutional reform that called for such sitting officials to resign before running precisely to avoid such politicization; a lack of political will and means to reach agreement over differences within government; a turn to forces asked to be mediators between the parties, in this case, the military and church, which cannot play that role without taking sides and which thereby lose their apolitical position; and a tendency, exacerbated by media that take sides in civil conflicts, toward intolerance of other opinions, leading to an inability to engage in dialogue.

Saloman concludes that the Honduran crisis is a blow to democracy, defined not as the de facto government would like, as the mere continued existence of three branches of government, nor measured by the degree of authority exercised, nor the swiftness of resolution of regime change and replacement of government officials. Honduran politicians, she notes

have dealt a heavy blow to the process of democratic construction that has been developing the last 28 years, demonstrating intolerance, lack of respect for the independence of powers, authoritarianism, ignorance of the changes that have come to pass in the international context, unbounded ambitions, subordination to economic groups and a profound disrespect for the Rule of Law. (my translation)
She concludes

  • To consult the citizenry should not be an illegal act: when the members of the political-economic alliance and the media absorb the meaning of that phrase, it will be a great indicator of the advance of a democratic political culture.

  • To recognize and respect the co-existence of persons, parties, and countries that are or think differently, will be a great indicator that the Honduran Armed Forces have surpassed their backward and undeveloped position.

  • To broadcast an opinion does not automatically imply to be in favor or against, when Honduran society absorbs this criterion, it will be a great indicator of its capacity to debate and propose

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