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.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

No "Terms Reached": Oscar Arias Just Hopes for a "Reconciliation Government"

An article published July 16 in the New York Times illustrates why people need to be cautious in relying on the English-language media in this crisis. Headlined "Some Terms Reached in Honduras Dispute", it seemed to indicate a major breakthrough. But as at least one blogger seriously following the conflict notes, this seems to contradict the implications of news reports of President Zelaya's intentions and actions. What gives?

Follow back to the original source, and you find a broadcast on Costa Rica's Radio Monumental reported in an article in the Costa Rican newspaper, La Nacion. That article says Oscar Arias will propose a reconciliation government, not that the proposal has been accepted. Why the difference?

In the Spanish original, the verbs are in the subjunctive mode, a grammatical tense English-speakers find notoriously difficult to master. It looks like in the process of translation, Arias' statements of proposals and hopes became certainties. More realistic coverage notes that the two sides remain entrenched, stating that both Zelaya and Micheletti already rejected the "reconciliation cabinet" proposal.

Here is my translation of the original key paragraph (and the actual text for those who want to second guess me). The most important declarative statement from Arias is actually at the end, when he suggests the positions of the two sides have been softening. At first glance that seems a hard point to defend, given that both sides have pre-emptively and publicly rejected Arias' proposal; but at least they are still sending someone to San Jose to talk. Maybe "softening" has to be redefined here.

Arias will propose to the delegations of Zelaya and Micheletti, the integration of a "unity cabinet" with members of both parties in key ministries.

He will also place under discussion the concession of "political amnesty" to people on both sides of the conflict.

To provide follow-through to these accords or verify their accomplishment, Arias will suggest that the OAS serves as guarantor, or failing that, a commission of distinguished Hondurans would be named.

According to Arias, the initial positions "have been softening" so that he hopes to encounter more flexibility for an agreement.

Arias les propondrá a las delegaciones de Zelaya y Micheletti, la integración de un “gabinete de unidad” con miembros de ambas partes en ministerios claves.

También pondrá en discusión conceder “amnistía política” a personas de ambos lados del conflicto.

Para darle seguimiento a estos acuerdos o verificar su cumplimiento, Arias sugirió que la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) sirva de garante, o en defecto, se nombre una comisión de notables hondureños.

Según Arias, las posiciones iniciales “se han ido ablandando” por lo que espera encontrar más flexibilidad para un arreglo.

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