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, July 6, 2009

Cracks in the illusion of unity...

There are increasing signs that the coalition supporting the coup-ists (try pronouncing it "coo-ists"; there is no good English equivalent for golpistas) is not holding fast. Today's El Tiempo carried a story by Roberto Quesada in which he reported his conversation with the candidate for President of the opposition Nationalist Party, Pepe Lobo. (As Tiempo currently is unavailable, I provide here a link to an intermediary site that will link to the story when it comes back up. My partner read it when it was originally posted, and by the time I went to check, the site was down. So consider the rest of this paragraph second-hand reporting.) In the phone conversation reported by Quesada, Lobo apparently repudiated the coup as an illegal action.

Since it is impossible to pursue that thread further, I turn now to a statement I received from Honduras on Saturday, July 4. The Roman Catholic church in Honduras has been criticized for its support of the anti-Zelaya actions. The Archbishop of Honduras, Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga issued a public call to Zelaya not to continue to seek reinstatement. The Cardinal led the Honduras Conference of Bishops in endorsing what is actually an incoherent statement that is remarkable for its citation of the problematic legal arguments made in favor of the coup, while also noting without more comment that the Honduran Constitution explicitly bars the forced deportation of any Honduran citizen, which would imply disapproval of the legality of the coup.

Not all the Bishops appear to share the Cardinal's approval of the de facto government and its arguments for legality. In a separate statement, on July 2 the Bishop of Santa Rosa de Copan, Luis Alfonso Santos, wrote a denunciation of the leaders on both sides, labeling the actions a coup d'etat, calling for resignation of those responsible, and for the restoration of civil rights. This statement is now available online, and thus I provide here a translation in full:

(1) The Diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán, faithful to the mission to preach the Kingdom of God and denounce situations of injustice, asks all Hondurans to make a great effort to re-establish Social Peace.

(2) The vast majority of Hondurans do not want confrontations in the street, nor civil war, nor wars with other countries.

Therefore, we call for the groups that have altered public order, that they put all of their goodwill to resolve by way of dialogue the present crisis produced by the social inequity in which we always have lived.

As the party responsible for the conduct of the Catholic Church in the west of Honduras, we repudiate the substance, the form, and the style with which a new head of the Executive Power has been imposed on the People. Had José Manuel Zelaya Rosales committed something illicit, he has the right to a fair trial, the same as any Honduran citizen and in general every human being. Article 84 of the present Constitution says literally "No one can be arrested without a written order by a competent authority".

The coup d'etat of June 28 has had as consequence: demands by the citizenry in the streets and highways, a climate of insecurity and fear in families due to the limitation of constitutional guarantees, among them the right of freedom to circulate, freedom of association and demonstration, inviolability of the residence, the right to private property, liberty of the press and of the diffusion of ideas and opinions, personal liberty, including the right not to be detained in a police station for more than 24 hours, and judicial detention of no more than six days, which has changed to indefinite detentions. All the preceding is contained in the Decree about the "State of Exception" that yesterday the 1 of July was being published in the National Congress. With this a massive violation of Human Rights is nearing. In this respect we repudiate in particular:

  • the violent way in which Radio Progreso and other media were silenced
  • the illegal detentions
  • the exile of some compatriots
  • the blows and bloody wounds
As the Catholic Church that travels extensively in the west of Honduras, we want to remind the 124 congress members from the Liberal and National parties, responsible for the coup d'etat and actually in power, that they are not owners of Honduras, and that no one can be above the Law. The present congress members should remember that they receive their salary from the people they are oppressing. If plebiscites and referenda were institutionalized, as the Bishops suggested in the Episcopal Conference of Honduras in our communique of last June 19, we would not be in this position. They preferred to be faithful to the economically strong groups, both national and transnational. We hope that in the next elections, the People give them a vote of punishment.

We would like to remind everyone and in particular the Armed Forces and the National Police of the Fifth Commandment of the Law of God which says "Thou shalt not kill" (Exodus 20, 13). This commandment prohibits as well the blows, wounds, and all vexation of the human being who was created in the image and semblance of God and who is the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

We lament every act in violation of the Constitution of the Republic, which has been being done up till now by those that have governed us. We reject every menace and insertion of foreign countries in the internal affairs of Honduras.

We Hondurans desire PEACE.

No more lies. We want them to tell the truth. No more injustices. We want them to respect the integrity of the person and Human Rights. We want to live in freedom: we do not want pressure.

The call of Jesus is to live in love, therefore no more hatred, vengeance, violence, or rancor.

Jesus said in the Gospel of Mark (4, 40) "Why are you so afraid? How can you not have faith?" Inspired by these words of Jesus, we invite all to trust in the merciful and saving presence of our Lord, who accompanies us in our travels.

We will intensify our prayers for Honduras.

We ask the Lord, to allow us to achieve Peace and goodness and to our Patron Saint Rose of Lima, to intercede for us.

Santa Rosa de Copán, 1 of July, 2009

1 comment:

Doug Zylstra said...

Raj -

How important is the gap between Bishop Santos and the Cardinal? Haven't they fought before, ie, isn't there already tension? And is the Diocese of Santa Rosa all that important vis-a-vis the national dialogue?

Not being rhetorical, I really interested in your input.