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, November 4, 2009

How to create unity and reconciliation (not)

The apparent unilateral intention of Roberto Micheletti to single-handedly decide who will form the government of "unity and reconciliation" exposes yet again the weakness of the Tegucigalpa Accord, including the lack of clear causal links between points and the absence of a separately enumerated deadline for action on "point #5" (the only way Micheletti's representatives can bring themselves to refer to restoration of President Zelaya) in the timetable.

Micheletti's adherents are claiming that point 1 (forming the interim government) and point 5 (returning the executive power to its situation prior to June 28) are somehow unrelated. So Micheletti is taking steps to form the "Government of Unity and National Reconciliation" all by himself, generously extending what his representatives say is the unrequired courtesy of consultation to Zelaya.

Let's review what Point 1 of the Accord says:
To achieve reconciliation and strengthen democracy, we will form a Government of Unity and National Reconciliation made up of representatives of the various political parties and social organizations, recognized for their capabilities, honesty, aptness, and willingness to dialogue, who will occupy the distinct secretariates and subsecretariates, as well as other dependencies of State, in conformity with article 246 and following of the constitution of the Republic of Honduras.
What does this imply? how should it be interpreted? and who should interpret it? All are undefined. And that's where the trouble has started.

Let us start with the timetable, and remind ourselves of what was supposed to happen so far:

*30 of October of 2009

1. Signing and entry into effect of the accord.

2. Formal delivery of the accords to Congress for the effects of point 5, of "Executive Power".
These steps were done. But notice that, although the Accord was delivered to Congress on October 30 specifically to set in motion the consideration of restoral of President Zelaya, the Congress has stonewalled and delayed, seeking more reports than are called for in Point 5 of the Accord (which stated they should previously have a report from the Supreme Court).

*2 of November of 2009

1. Appointment of the Verification Commission

Appointments have indeed been made. But what is their role? As defined in Point 6 of the Accord
The Verification Commission will be charged with giving witness of the strict completion of all of the points of this Accord, and will receive for this the full cooperation of Honduran public institutions.
They are to witness. And oh, what they are already witnessing.

While Congressional leadership defers considering restoral of the Executive Power, the de facto regime is blithely at work meeting the next deadline in the Accord, under the theory that Point 1 is unrelated to Point 5, that there can be a partial implementation of the framework while what has always been the principal issue remains unresolved:

*Beginning with the signing of the present Accord and no later than the 5 of November

1. Appointment and installation of the Government of Unity and National Reconciliation

So, in theory, by tomorrow there needs to be the final definition of the government; and since Congress feels no obligation to conclude its deliberation over restoring Zelaya any time soon, Micheletti has decided in the meantime, he is the president and it is his reconciliation and unity government. Which leaves him deciding who to consult.

It seems self-evident that the intention was to have Congress consider restoration of President Zelaya starting on October 30, so that a week later, there would already have been resolution of this point and he would either have been the person overseeing the constitution of the interim government, or not.

Disputes in interpretation between the signatories in theory should be resolved by the Verification Commission, as called for in the first paragraph of point 8 of the Accord; but notice the clause in there that says this should be "in keeping with the Constitution and legislation" of Honduras:
Any difference in interpretation or application of the present Accord will be submitted to the Verification Commission, which will determine, in keeping with that disposed in the Constitution of the Republic of Honduras and in the legislation in effect and through an authentic interpretation of the present Accord, the solution that corresponds.
As if interpretation of the laws and constitution were not central to the disputes that led to the coup, and the continued crisis since then.

In case the message wasn't clear, that what the Accord means will be subject entirely to interpretation within Honduras, in fact point 8 goes on to tell the international community to back off and stop interfering in "the internal affairs" of Honduras:
Taking into account that the present Accord is a product of the understanding and fraternity among Honduran men and women, we ask vehemently that the international community respect the sovereignty of the Republic of Honduras, and fully observe the time-honored principle in the Charter of the United Nations of non-interference in the internal affairs of other States.

Every version of what started as the San Jose Accord has been full of proposals that favor the de facto regime, such as retaining the budget passed during the interim; propositions that presume Zelaya was guilty of what his opponents accused him of; and each has been missing any acknowledgment of the human rights violations that occurred and that surely must some day be accounted for. Even the "Truth Commission" is not intended to address violations of civil and human rights, but rather, is the response to the de facto regime's shrill insistence that "if only you let us explain what happened before the coup, you would see we had no choice".

So: the international community gets what it deserves. A sloppy and poorly constructed "agreement" that clearly one side has no intention of adhering to, that gives enough room for that side to claim its interpretation is the correct one.


Doug Zylstra said...

This I don't get:

"El señor Micheletti dejó claro que está estaría dispuesto a echarse a un lado", dijo en una conferencia de prensa la secretaria de Trabajo de EE.UU., Hilda Solís

Por su parte, Lagos señaló que Micheletti "entiende que la constitución e instalación de un Gobierno de Unidad Nacional probablemente se ve fortalecida si él entiende que está en condiciones de hacer una resignación a los cargos que ostenta".

"Y en consecuencia -continuó- contribuir de esta manera a posibilitar un entendimiento en la sociedad hondureña".

Doug Zylstra said...

Al Jazeera is also reporting the same:

"The de facto president [Micheletti] has said that he will step aside to clear the way for a government of national reconciliation - presumably, he will do this immediately before or after this new cabinet is sworn in on Thursday.

The cabinet will be named tomorrow.

RAJ said...

The press conference with the Verification Commission deserves commentary of its own, so see the next blog post.