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, November 17, 2009

Honduran Congress Delays until After Elections

The Washington Post is reporting, based on AP wire stories from Honduras, that the Honduran Congress will not hold its vote on restoring the constitutionally elected president, José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, until after the November 29 election. Citing statements by Jose Saavedra, president of the Honduran Congress, on national radio, this report says Congress will hold its vote on December 2.

Saavedra said that the date was set because by then he was sure he would have all the non-binding reports Congress has solicited concerning the restitution of Zelaya. You will remember that the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord called for Congress to consult with the Supreme Court. Instead, Congress solicited reports from the Procuraduria, the Supreme Court, and the Public Prosecutor. It has received reports from the Human Rights Commissioner and the Procuraduria, and will receive the report of the Supreme Court tomorrow. However, Luis Rubi, the Public Prosecutor, is delaying his report until next week sometime. La Tribuna noted that the convocation of Congress coincided with the return visit of Craig Kelly.

In some ways, this decision is irrelevant, since Zelaya has now stated that he would not accept a restoration that would pave the way for international recognition of the elections. His position, which supports the position of the Frente de Resistencia, is that the climate in Honduras has not allowed for free and fair expression of opinion. Cynics will say this is how Honduran elections always take place: but that ignores what is in fact striking about the position taken by the Frente, followed by Zelaya and by independent candidate Carlos H. Reyes: it is a position that actually takes seriously an electoral process that is deeply flawed. Rather than simply remain in a state of apathetic acceptance, the Frente is calling for an active rejection of politics that provides no real possibility for popular participation.

Also interesting is the assessment of the possible impact on the election given by the AP reporter, Freddy Cuevas, based in Tegucigalpa:
Several Latin American countries have warned they will not recognize the outcome of the election unless Zelaya is restored beforehand. But the United States has not ruled out restoring diplomatic ties with a newly elected Honduran government even if Zelaya remains out of power through the vote.
In other words: the US action outweighs the intentions of "several" (read: all but one, so far) Latin American countries (as well as members of the EU and presumably other world governments that have yet to speak out on the legitimacy of the elections but that voted for the UN resolution on the coup).

Cuevas specifically cites yet another damaging statement from yet another US State Department spokesperson that will inevitably be interpreted in Honduras as support for Roberto Micheletti's regime:
The administration of President Barack Obama has repeatedly said that recognition of the election is not linked to any one action, said State Department spokesman Charles Luoma-Overstreet. Rather, he said, the State Department is hoping a broader, U.S.-brokered accord is enacted.
By now, I think it is hard to argue that State does not understand what is made of statements like these. It will be received as "recognition of the election is not linked to voting on restoring President Zelaya", even though the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord makes no sense if the requirement for a vote is not linked to the election, and most honest readings at the time took it to require a vote before the election (and in my view, a vote before the deadline for forming the unity government was surely implicit, no matter what State now claims.)

Curiously, Cuevas' report misstates what President Zelaya said in his letter to US President Obama, which was that he will not accept restoral because it will legitimate the elections. Instead, Cuevas says Zelaya said he would not accept restoration if it comes after the elections.

If we assume that Cuevas' report reflects a view in Tegucigalpa-- and his reporting has often reflected the views of the supporters of the de facto regime-- then perhaps the newly announced date for the Congressional vote is intentional: Congress now can go through with its assigned role secure in the belief that President Zelaya would not accept restoral even if it were the outcome, because of the timing.


chela said...

I have written the AP before regarding the bias in Mr Cuevas' reporting about matters in Honduras. I never got a response.

RAJ said...

Early in the crisis we wrote to them pointing out the factual errors in his reports (he was one of the sources for the false claim that the June 28 consulta was a referendum on extending the term of President Zelaya, for example).

We also never got an acknowledgement: but we think such complaints are worthwhile because we noticed later stories got the details we complained about right.

For the record, most responsive was BBC; Reuters en Espanol also responds and corrects. AP and Reuters in English never acknowledge us.

Anonymous said...

I only consider it curious if AP gets the story right. John Solomon, assistant Washington bureau chief, went to the Washington Times. Numerous other AP reporters, notably Nedra Pickler, have become the butt of humor for their reality-bending reporters. Regine Alexander was fired after it developed that she was being paid by the US government and to report on it. Project Censored did some research on them.

What matters in propaganda is getting false reports out early. Once opinion has hardened, no one pays attention to corrections.