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.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Micheletti: Less than Meets the Eye

Credulous English-language media, and misguided coup apologists alike, have repeated the statement that Roberto Micheletti has indicated a willingness to enter into a "dialogue" with President Zelaya.

Luckily for all of us, Roberto Micheletti cannot keep his mouth shut, even when his English-language scripts are provided for him to have someone else read or publish for him.

So pro-coup El Heraldo reports tonight on an interview with CNN. I know you could just read this one on CNN's website: but it is worth seeing how the Honduran media spin things.

Headlined "Elections are the exit to the crisis", in the article Micheletti says
"We already have candidates that are working politically" (that is, campaigning)
He kindly indicates that Manuel Zelaya
"can support any of the candidates, and if he wins, we will respect the will of the citizens."
This might seem mystifying, since the point isn't whether Zelaya has the right to support whatever candidate he wishes (although wait, that's right: in Micheletti's Honduras, citizens do need permission to express their political opinions).

But then he repeats his insinuation that Zelaya will somehow violate electoral law:
"I just want to express that we are going to elections the 29th of November, and if he (Zelaya) is in agreement, great, but he has to comply with the laws"

At least in the reported version, this is followed by a great non sequitur, with the subject of the sentence slipping from Zelaya to the world community as Micheletti returns to his favorite theme: if the world would simply listen to his side, they would realize everything was incredibly legal:

"What we want is that they listen to us, that they see our Constitution and our laws and they see what it was that happened before the 28th of June".

(At first with the change of subject I thought he was plaintively urging that Zelaya listen to him, see the Constitution and the laws, which made this a poignant passage...)

Then Micheletti reproduces the coup apologists' lies about what the Constitution actually says (if you have no idea what I am talking about, read the previous blogs throughout July and August on the constitutional issues):

"Our Constitution is clear, it says that any individual who tries to break the Constitution or call a constitutional assembly is automatically removed from his office and it is a more than clear explication, when he (Zelaya) left the country he was already not the President of Honduras"

Well, no. This was a post-hoc rationalization that has been taken apart by legal scholars multiple times, in multiple languages, in multiple countries.

And while the Honduran Constitution includes specific clauses that it says cannot be revised-- the so-called set in stone articles (articulos petreos)-- the Constitution is silent on the calling of Constitutional Assemblies. This is actually one of the really interesting constitutional issues that exists: since the Constitution does not define how to convene such a constituent-- which was the kind of body that produced this very document-- it leaves open to legal debate how one might do this. It does not declare such actions illegal, or legal for that matter. It is silent.

Micheletti cannot help but return to his favorite theme, however, which is that Zelaya's only possible future in Honduras is to be arrested and tried on charges laid before and after the coup. But we should all be reassured: the judicial process against President Zelaya will be "transparent".

"I think that there will be all the cameras of the world to see this process. It is justice that will proceed with the case, not I".

Independence of the judiciary is of course, highly dubious in Honduras under the best of circumstances. But it is interesting: it could actually be the case that international scrutiny of the legal proceedings might make a difference, although not in the way Micheletti intends. The presumption of innocence, for example, if enforced, would require actual evidence, not just inferences about what might have happened in a future that never came. President Zelaya would be able to defend himself, a right he was deprived of on June 28. And at least some of the "evidence" gathered by the military raid, originally posted on the Armed Forces website and discussed here, would seem to disprove key allegations against him: flyers intended to promote voting "yes" in the cuarta urna in November if it were ever installed, for example, make no mention of presidential term limits; and their mere existence would seem to prove that rather than intending to suspend elections and immediately convene a constituent, Zelaya's hope was actually to campaign for the passage of the referendum in November.

Then, at least in the version reproduced in El Heraldo, things get creepy as Micheletti invokes divine support in military imagery and links the Honduran Constitution to religion:

"I try to be close to God permanently that is the fortress of all the Hondurans, in addition we have our Constitution that shelters us to act as we are doing"

And then he closes with an honest-to-god outright lie; or at least, he seems to be unaware of the worries of his own Minister of Agriculture and Ranching, who we have noted thinks the harvest will not be good enough to keep the country in basic foods:

“Thanks to God, this is one of the best harvests that we have had in the country in the last 20 years, so that we have food products for possibly six months more".

Equally interesting is what El Heraldo left out of the CNN interview, quoted in an article on the CNN website.

Specifically, Micheletti never comments on the baseline requirement of all international governments, which is the restitution of the legally elected president, as he calls for Zelaya to be prosecuted:

"I think that what the whole world should understand about this country is that there is no immunity for anyone -- for anyone"

"And, no one can be above the law." (Irony alert here...)

"President Zelaya should present himself before the tribunals of justice in our country where he has charges against him"
Even CNN, which has, shall we say, not been on top of this story, noticed that there were some gaps in the fabric of truth:
Micheletti's willingness to engage Zelaya seemed to be a reversal of his position. On Tuesday, he had said in an interview with local network Televicentro that Zelaya's sudden appearance would not revive negotiations to have him return to power. [Emphasis added]
And on the surreal side: Micheletti claimed the power outage to the Brazilian embassy was caused by the demonstrators who assembled, and that the police outside the Brazilian embassy were there to protect it, at the request of the Embassy staff.

Doesn't he realize that other people in the world can talk to the press?

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