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.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Is this the coalition that the elites were afraid to see emerge?

An article in tomorrow's El Heraldo, one of the pro-coup Honduran newspapers, describes a "strategic-political alliance" emerging with Carlos H. Reyes, running as an independent candidate for president, aided by Manuel Zelaya, the UD party, members of the Liberal party loyal to Zelaya, and "popular and progressive sectors of the PINU", to be announced in the next few days.

Legally, the story notes, no formal alliance can be established because May 28 was the last day to register such an entity with the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

The story continues:
But it could be done from the strategic or political point of view, and would consist of a call that the leaders of those parties, movements, or organized sectors that would make up an electorate to vote for a specific presidential candidate and for the Liberal congress members allied with Zelaya, for those of the UD, and of the progressive sectors of the PINU (Innovation and Unity Party).
The story says the announcement comes from UD party deputy Marvin Ponce, who
did not rule out a resignation by Cesar Ham as presidential candidate of the UD to leave open an expedited route for the popular leader Carlos H. Reyes, who is signed on with the Electoral Tribunal as an independent presidential candidate.
Ham, the story notes, is still a candidate, despite supposedly having confessed to an administrative infraction.

Ponce is quoted during an interview on Radio Cadena as saying
We agree with him [Reyes?]. He is a great leader, a great fighter; we are in distinct trenches, but we are making an effort to seek unity, including with the sectors of the Liberal party that are opposed to the coup, progressive sectors of the Pinu, of social movements, with Manuel Zelaya Rosales.

We are going to have a great political alliance in the next days that is going to resound to fight power, now not only hoping to obtain a few deputies, but to fight the power in the country. It will be a great surprise. we are talking about a political alliance to confront the oligarchy in this country
Ponce added that others who would enter into the alliance would include
progressive sectors of civil society, campesino organizations, unions, teachers, indigenous people and peoples who have historically been relegated.
The report ends with statements from members of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, refusing to be drawn into ruling on whether such an alliance would be legal, ending with a quote from one of these officials that "this could be another type of alliance, that will only be known to the people who will make this type of efforts".

If that is, as it seems to be, a promise not to act against such an alliance on the technical grounds of all formal alliances needing to be registered by May 28, this may be the beginning of precisely the kind of new political movement that Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle predicted would be one of the products of the coup and its exposure of the rigid conservatism of the Liberal party.


Tommy said...

Thank you for your continuous effort! There is no better classroom to learn about latin american politics than witnessing it first hand, something so difficult to do without people like you to take it up to the internet!

Just for your information, you might be interested to know what the nacro news is helpfully stating what the honduras civic society is doing already. Here's the link:


RAJ said...

Al Giordano's site is one of the few English-language sites where first-hand reporting has been offered from Honduras, based on his week-long trip there.

I can only hope he is right when he writes the coup opponents are going to win, and they're going to topple the regime no matter what Washington with its increasingly erratic and ham-handed handling of the situation does or does not do.

RNS said...

Carlos Reyes is recuperating in a hospital after having had his left arm broken in multiple places by the police in their invasion of the Autonomous University. He says it will be about 6 weeks before he will be well enough to join the crowds in the street.

Pagina12 interviewed Carlos Humberto Reyes earlier this week. In it they note that he is the only anti-coup candidate and is begining to be seens by "vast sectors" as the candidate of deposed President Manuel Zelaya.

"They've been defaming me as Zelaya's candidate, a chavista, a communist", Reyes laughed, "but this is a double edged sword," because each day on the streets more and more people stop and greet him.

Zelaya called him recently and suggesed that it may come to making some kind of alliance. He wants to do better for the Bloque Popular that unofficially helped him when he was in office.

The faction in the Liberal Party that supports Zelaya, met last sunday and during the meeting, a large group of leaders of this faction decided to condemn their party candidate Elvin Santos, for his links to the Golpistas. Reyes admitted speculating that they may well call on their voters to support him.

"It all depends on the levels of repression leading up to the elections and the international guarantees of the election."

To that end, once he is well, Carlos Reyes will return to talk to the 70,000 people who signed his candidate petition to ask them what he should do.

Nell said...

Small, nitpicky point: Reyes' broken arm that required surgery came from being beaten and shoved down an embankment in the police riot that broke up the roadblock at Durazno on July 30. I don't believe he was part of or near the UNAH protest, which took place the day after his surgery.

RNS said...

Thanks to Nell for taking the time to catch this-- which is of course correct-- trying to keep up with things in real time sometimes you type something wrong without realizing it. The University was on my mind.

Nell said...

The fact that this is appearing in Heraldo makes me suspect that what the right really fears is the delegitimizing effect of an election boycott, which is going to come to the fore in discussions as the calendar days peel off.

That's the discussion Reyes is going to have to have with his supporters.

Obama and Clinton seem committed to the pretense that there are negotiations going on. That's the only meaning I can take from Obama's remarks at the NAFTA summit, including his offensive jibe about the "hypocrisy" of coup opponents asking the U.S. government to do more.

That means it's vital for members of Congress, the public, and the media to push the administration on whether the U.S. government is actually contemplating recognizing the results of elections conducted under an illegal, unrecognized, media-suppressing, demonstrator-killing regime.

If the Obama administration weren't contemplating such recognition, there's no reason they couldn't put some energy into expanding Monday's UNASUR declaration to an OAS-wide message to the coup funders, particularly the National Party wing: End it now, or Lobo gets frozen out.

Lobo is almost certain to win, no matter what other coalitions develop. He has a big interest in preventing a boycott. Hence, in my view, the story that generated this post.

Freezing all Canahuati accounts in the U.S. can't come a moment too soon, either.

Nell said...

More support here for the idea that an election boycott is something that might shake the coup funders and their passive collaborators out of complacent calendar-crossing: Amb. Llorens invites resistance front reps in for a chat, doesn't like what he hears.

RAJ said...

It is good to know that there is something that might make the US act.

Whether the coalition of progressive elements from a number of parties were to coalesce around a boycott or an attempted electoral alliance, I think the re-arrangement of political alliances may well be a lasting legacy. This was already evident when President Zelaya called the people to the Casa Presidencial Wednesday to Thursday before the coup, with people wearing logos of multiple political parties present.

Participating in the election, if the regime is still in power, would only validate it. But the question is, how do you make it clear that non-participation is an organized rejection?

Tommy said...

Actually, some members of Congress have written a letter direct to Obama, asking for economic sanction. Here's the letter:

RAJ said...

The Grijalva letter is one of the congressional actions that are critical support for democratic government in Honduras.

Another is House Resolution 630 which condemns the coup d'etat (and is currently in committee), cosponsored by Representatives William Delahunt and José Serrano, and 42 other members of the House of Representatives.

But Congress does not make foreign policy: the Executive Branch does.

Here, Secretary of State Clinton is now identified (in the article to which Nell linked) explicitly as the person who ordered the US ambassador, alone among all his peers, to remain in Tegucigalpa after the coup:

Dijo que Llorens les explicó que permanecía en Tegucigalpa, a diferencia de los embajadores del resto del mundo, a solicitud de la secretaria de Estado, Hillary Clinton, “para que pueda aquí ayudar a resolver el problema”.

He said that Llorens explained to them that he remained in Tegucigalpa, in contrast to the ambassadors of the rest of the world, at the request of the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, "so that he could assist here in resolving the problem.

And this, regrettably, is where the comments by President Obama in Mexico, reducing criticism by those urging more action to some sort of unfair personal attack on him (!), is more than disappointing: it is downright dangerous in ignoring the moral power that he could exercise in the conflict.

Nell said...

How do you make it clear that non-participation is an organized rejection?

This is a kind of activism I know very little about, but it's been done in more than a few places, so there are experiences on which to draw.

There was a (successful) campaign to get 5% of those voting in the recent Mexican elections to cast a spoiled ballot. Candidates could play an important role by "campaigning" for a particular way of marking the ballot, that indicates opposition to the coup or support of an anti-coup candidate while not qualifying as a vote for him.

In Haiti, Lavalas' boycott of the Senate elections this past April was considered a success, but Lavalas is by far the biggest party in the counry, with a long history, presidential victories, and well developed internal structures. They have the strength to pull off a stayaway whose effects are easily seen.

Honduras' newly coalescing coalition is in a completely different position. For them an election boycott could be a really tough way to start out. So I think the Mexican example is more relevant: Surely a major objective of getting Carlos Reyes on the ballot was to expand the pool of Hondurans who might consider it worth voting. If the resistance front were to unite on a boycott, then I'd think they'd want to give those new voters something to do _at the polls_ that sends the message of rejection.

After all, they're going to want those voters voting for real in the not-too-distant future, and for that experience is vital.

RAJ said...

These are excellent strategic moves. One of the encouraging things in the recent weeks of the resistance has been the new skills developed at organization, communication, and coalition building. Again, longer-term, these are likely to be important legacies of the aftermath of the coup.