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 27, 2009

The San Jose Accord: A Translation and Commentary

San Jose Accord
for national reconciliation
and the strengthening of democracy in Honduras

We, Honduran brothers, disciples of peace, liberty, and democracy of our country; conscious of the historic responsibility with which our circumstances have invested us; profoundly convinced of the power of our union and the force of our consensual will; under the aid of our Constitution and the laws of our Republic and the full validity of the State of Law; reaffirm before the people of Honduras, before our mediator, Dr. Oscar Arias Sanchez, and through him, before all the international community, our unbreakable commitment to the reconciliation of our people, that should be one and indivisible.

The recent events that have disturbed Honduras require of us maturity and humility, and in that spirit we have agreed to sign the following Accord.

1. Of the Government of Unity and National Reconciliation

To reach reconciliation and fortify democracy, we agree to a Government of Unity and National Reconciliation, integrated by representatives of the diverse political parties, recognized for their abilities, honorability, suitability, and willingness to engage in dialogue, who will occupy the distinct Secretariats and sub-Secretariats of State, in conformity with Article 246 and following of the Constitution of the Republic of Honduras.

In view of the fact that prior to the 28th of June, the Executive Power had not sent for consideration by the National Congress the Plan for the General Budget of Income and Expenditures, in conformity with that established in Article 205, point 32, of the Constitution of the Republic of Honduras, this Government of Unity and National Reconciliation will respect and function on the basis of the General Budget recently approved by the National Congress for the fiscal year 2009.

2. On Amnesty for Political Offenses

To achiever reconciliation and fortify democracy, we ask the National Congress to declare a general amnesty, exclusively for political offenses committed by reason of this conflict, before and after June 28, 2009, and until the signing of the Accord, according to the terms of Article 205, point 16 of the Constitution of the Republic of Honduras and the special legislation in force that regulates this material. The amnesty should, as well, guarantee with clarity the conditions of security and liberty of the persons that remain under its protection.

In the same way, we commit to not initiate nor continue legal acts about the acts prior to July 1, 2009 that derive from the present conflict, for a period of six months. The incompletion of any of the commitments contained in this Accord, proved and declared by the Commission of Verification to which Point 7 refers, will nullify the effects of this moratorium for the transgressor or transgressors.

3. On the Renunciation of Convening a National Constitutional Assembly or Reform of the Constitution in the Unreformable

To achieve reconciliation and fortify democracy, we reiterate our respect for the Constitution and the laws of our country, abstaining from calling for the convening of a National Constitutional Assembly, in direct or indirect ways, and renouncing as well the promotion or support of any popular poll with the goal of reforming the Constitution to permit presidential re-election, modify the form of Government, or contravene any of the unreformable articles of our Magna Carta.

In particular, we will not carry out public declarations nor exercise any type of influence inconsistent with Articles 5, 239, 373 and 274 of the Constitution of the Republic of Honduras, and we reject energetically all demonstrations contrary to the spirit of the said articles and of the Special Law that Regulates the Referendum and the Plebiscite.

4. On Moving Up the General Elections and the Transfer of Government

To achieve reconciliation and fortify democracy, we urge the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to consider advancing the national elections convened for the 29 of November, 2009, to the 28 of October; and the consequent advancing of the electoral campaign from September 1, 2009 to August 1, 2009. We reiterate that, in keeping with Articles 44 and 51 of the Constitution of the Republic of Honduras, the vote is universal, obligatory, equal, direct, free and secret, and that it corresponds to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, with full autonomy and independence, to supervise and execute all that is related with the electoral acts and processes.

As well, we carry out a call to the Honduran people that they participate peacefully in the next general elections and avoid all type of demonstrations that oppose the elections or their result, or promote insurrection, antijudicial conduct, civil disobedience or other acts that could produce violent confrontations or transgressions of the law.

With the goal of demonstrating the transparency and legitimacy of the electoral process, we urge the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to authorize and accredit the presence of international missions from now to the declaration of the results of the general elections, as well as during the transfer of powers that will take place, in conformity with Article 237 of the Constitution of the Republic of Honduras, on the 27th of January, 2010.

5. On the Armed Forces

To achieve reconciliation and fortify democracy, we endorse our will to abide in all its extremes to Article 272 of the Constitution of the Republic of Honduras, in conformity with which the Armed Forces remain at the disposition of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal from one month before the general elections, for the purpose of guaranteeing the free exercise of suffrage, the custody, transport, and guarding of electoral materials and all the other aspects of security of the process. We reaffirm the professional, apolitical, obedient, and non-deliberative character of the Honduran Armed Forces. In equal form, we recognize the professionalism of the National Police, whose rotation should be strictly subject to that which its special legislation prescribes.

6. On the Return of the Powers of State to their Integration Prior to the 28th of June

To achieve reconciliation and fortify democracy, we ask the National Congress that, for the goal of recovering the integration and legitimate conformation of the powers constituted the 28th of June of 2009, in the proceeding they return the situation of the Executive Power, Legislative Power, Judicial Power and Supreme Electoral Tribunal to their state prior to June 28, for having been in conformity according to Articles 202, 205, points 9 and 11, and 236 of the Constitution of the Republic of Honduras. The preceding implies the return of Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales to the Presidency of the Republic until the conclusion of the present governmental period, the 27th of January, 2010.

7. On the Commission of Verification and the Truth Commission

To achieve reconciliation and fortify democracy, we arrange the creation of a Commission of Verification of the undertakings made in this Accord, and those that are derived from it, presided over by the OAS, and persons that it considers suitable among national and international figures. The Commission of Verification will be charged to attest to the strict compliance of all the points of this Accord, and will receive for this the full cooperation of the Honduran public institutions.

With the goal of clarifying the deeds that occurred before and after the 28th of June of 2009, a Truth Commission will also be created that will identify the acts that let to the present situation, and provide to the Honduran people elements that will avoid that these deeds will be repeated in the future. The work of the Truth Commission will be fundamental in the recovery of confidence of the Honduran people in its Constitution and in its Government. To assure the impartiality in the execution of this task, we designate as leader of the Truth Commission the Interamerican Institute of Human Rights.

8. On the Normalization of the Relations of the Republic of Honduras with the International Community

On promising to faithfully fulfill the obligations assumed in the present Accord, we respectfully ask the immediate revocation of those means or sanctions adopted at a bilateral or multilateral level, that in any manner affect the reinsertion and full participation of the Republic of Honduras in the international community, and its access to all the forms of cooperation.

We make a call to the international community that it shall reactivate as soon as possible the active projects of cooperation with the Republic of Honduras, and continue with the negotiation of future ones. In particular, we urge that, on request of the competent authorities, the international cooperation that will be necessary and opportune for the Commission of Verification and the Truth Commission will be made effective to assure the faithful fulfillment and follow-through of the obligations acquired in this Accord.

9. On the Entry into Effectiveness of the Accord of San Jose

All the obligations assumed take up formal and total effectiveness from the same moment as its signing.

10. Final Dispositions

Any difference in interpretation or application of the present Accord will be submitted to the Commission of Verification, which will determine, in keeping with that set in the Constitution of the Republic of Honduras and in the effective legislation, and through an authentic interpretation of the present Accord, the solution that corresponds.

Taking into account that the present Accord is the product of understanding and fraternity among Hondurans, we strongly request that the international community respect the sovereignty of the Republic of Honduras, and fully observe the principle consecrated in the United Nations Charter of non-interference in the internal affairs of other States.

11. Calendar of Fulfillment of the Accords

Given the immediate entry into effectiveness of this Accord from the date of its signing, and with the goal of clarifying the dates for fulfillment and follow-through of the obligations acquired to gain national reconciliation, we agree to the following calendar of fulfillment:

22 July, 2009
1. Signing and entry into effectiveness of the Accord of San Jose
24 July, 2009
1. Return of Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales to the Presidency of the Republic of Honduras
2. Formation of the Commission of Verification
27 July, 2009
1. Formation of the Government of Union and National Reconciliation
2. Formation of the Truth Commission
27 January, 2010
1. Transition of government.
12. Final Declaration

In the name of the reconciliation that has summoned us to the table of dialogue, we commit to executing the present Accord, and that which derives from it, in good faith. We know that humanity expects from Honduras a demonstration of unity and of peace, to which we are obligated by our conscience and our history. Together, we shall know to demonstrate our valor and crown with olive branches the face of our democracy, so that future generations will see what we were capable of doing for our homeland.

The preceding translation, omitting only the signature and witness names (since the Accord has yet to be signed), illustrates considerable evolution from the original 7-point plan Oscar Arias presented to the representatives of President Zelaya and the de facto regime. Comparing the two, the San Jose Accord shows an almost complete absorption of proposals made by the Micheletti regime, including things that might be considered "interference in internal affairs", such as the requirement that the budget passed by Congress while the de facto regime has been in power should remain in place for the rest of President Zelaya's term.

As noted here previously, and exploited by the de facto regime in its press conference on Thursday, many of the points of this plan presume the truth of accusations made against President Zelaya, for example, expanding the original statement of renunciation of the "cuarta urna" consultation to explicitly identify changing the unreformable articles of the constitution as not permitted. Even the "Truth Commission" is a substantiation of the de facto regime's views, calling for exploring the events that led up to the present "situation"-- not the coup on June 28-- as if there could be any justification of the coup.

Even the call for amnesty is constructed in such a way as to disadvantage President Zelaya. First, it is only temporary: in six months presumably the members of the de facto regime, who will still be in Congress as there are no term limits there, will be free to pursue political charges. But they also would be free right away to initiate prosecution for charges they claim are not political-- such as the outrageous claims of drug-trafficking promoted by the "genius" of the de facto regime, Ortez Colindres.

Most shocking, instead of a forthright call for the restoration of President Zelaya at the outset, as in the previous plan, this document integrates that in the 7th point-- and then only as a consequence of a call to return all the government branches to their original status (something not extending to the Cabinet of the President, meaning that the Executive Power in actuality would not be restored).

Examining this version, it is a wonder the Zelaya negotiators accepted it; and it makes it clear just how fair it was for Rixxi Moncada to declare the Micheletti negotiators intransigent, since here they obtain far more than they should ever have gained in return for a largely symbolic restitution of President Zelaya. What Arias offered the Micheletti team was control of the government for the next six months, early elections, locking in the hastily passed budget that means the Zelaya government cannot carry on its initiatives, a forum to continue politically motivated investigations of Zelaya for what his opponents assert were his intentions, and full resumption of their own positions as re-electable members of Congress.

My Cental American colleagues with whom I discussed Arias' original plan last week described even the original as not really a product of mediation, noting rumors that a US senator had brought Arias a draft. T
hey already felt that this version, which was not fully public at the time, went too far in presuming the offenses Zelaya was accused of were real, and requiring him to renounce them, while demoting from its more prominent place the insistence that Zelaya is the constitutional president and his restoration is non-negotiable. I wonder what they are saying now about the actual wording of the critical point concerning his restitution, which entirely abandons the firmness of the constitutional basis for his restoration-- a basis which does not exist for the proposal to let those responsible for the coup, currently occupying positions in the de facto regime and abusing them to engage in purges of government civil servants, return to their former congressional posts.


Anonymous said...

You're being extremely generous. My comment on seeing the "San Jose Accord" was that it ought to have been printed on a $3 bill.

For example, it proposes to establish a government "integrated by representatives of the diverse political parties"... apparently overruling the entire electoral order and replacing it with Platonic Guardians-- to be selected by whom?

It proposes a "a general amnesty, exclusively for political offenses", is kidnapping and exiling a president a political offense, or a criminal one?

Moving up elections in a country traumatized by military rule is to guarantee that elections would be held in an atmosphere of terror. It was irresponsible of Arias to even propose this.

One can go on, but the point has been made. This entire proposal, from start to finish, is ridiculous, not the product of a professional diplomat. It sounds like it was dictated by an intern. Maybe it was.

--Charles of MercuryRising

RAJ said...

The Costa Rican and Honduran scholars and politicians I talked to last week credit the form of the Arias' plan to the US, specifically a US senator-- perhaps those same shadowy "aides" the NY Times keeps quoting?

For me, the proposal for a reconciliation and unity government has been the most egregious and least palatable thing throughout the successive versions of this "mediation". Legally, though, it is the easiest thing for them to justify: the posts to be filled by some sort of negotiation of spoils among the parties are cabinet-level, secretaries and sub-secretaries of ministries, and directors of the various institutes who are political appointees. So they can fire and replace these individuals with a fair degree of impunity. But that doesn't make it right, or good for Honduras.

It is precisely these individuals who have been being dismissed and replaced by the de facto regime, with disastrous results in the case I know best, the Ministry of Culture, and likely even worse in ministries with more financially at stake, in directing contracts to those on the side of the coup. To think that the mediated solution would allow any of the unqualified political hacks imposed by the de facto regime to remain in place is appalling.

The restoration should be of the Zelaya government. It must start with restoring the constitutional president-- but it should not end there.

Nell said...

Thanks so much, RAJ. I particularly appreciate your highlighting some of the crucial differences between the "accord" and the original 7-point proposal.

The depressing stance of the U.S. government is like the Obama administration's approach to several other issues: great, inspiring, apparent change in opening statements (transparency, an end to torture, closing Guantanamo), followed by deeds that have much more in common with the pre-existing and shameful policies.

Nell said...

Dodd, Kerry, and Lugar and their senior staff have all been around long enough to have taken a role. Neither Dodd nor Kerry have particularly close, warm working relationships with the Sec. of State or the Obama White House -- but possibly a senior foreign policy staffer might. Lugar and his staff cannot be ruled out, either. No one else on the Foreign Relations committee is likely, though I don't rule out Menendez.

In our something less than fully representative and transparent government, members of Congress rarely publish the names of their staff. Some (like my own Sen. Webb) even decline to provide them when requested by constituents. So one must be a Washington foreign policy insider even to know who are the likely candidates.

I'll ask a few friends and acquaintances in DC who might know.