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.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

MIsguided readers speak...

and sometimes, the comments they make require a more formal response. This is one of those times.

Someone calling himself "Patrick" has taken the time today, between 2:53 and 5:17 PM, to comment on three recent posts: One reflecting the incredulity of reporters in an Ian Kelly press conference; one on the continuing saga of the report not yet received from the Honduran Supreme Court; and one on the positions of Brazil and Argentina on elections. We assume he is catching up on his reading; and he did not like what he read.

Here's what he had to say, with increasing terseness and we think it is fair to intuit, emotion, first about our pointing out that reporters found Ian Kelly's press briefing unsatisfactory:
I listened to Shannon in Spanish and it was very clear that the elections and the restoration of Zelaya are two different issues per the accord that the Zelaya camp signed. How can you call this incredulous when only a handful of Hondurans want Zelaya back in office. What does Zelaya bring to the elections? He left his liberal party and the party that supports him is lucky to get 2% of the vote. Zelaya broke the accord, just as he has broken every previous agreement from when he was in office. Currently everything is working in Honduras as it should in a democracy. Zelaya spent more taxpayer money on his horse than he did on any needy person.
Next, he commented on our first Supreme Court post of the day:
Why should the courts rush, Congress is not in session as is normal before an election. Zelaya is in a state of limbo due to his ill planned entry into Honduras. He tried to make it to the United Nations building and when he saw the police there to arrest him he knocked on the Brazilian embassy door and became an uninvited guest. Now he is going to spend the next twenty years there being president.
Finally, Patrick provides his response to the announcement that Brazil and Argentina will not recognize the November 29 elections:
Honduras follows the U.S. through thick and thin. Argentina is a questionable government.
We adopted moderation of comments from the beginning to avoid the common internet disease of violent discourse. We routinely reject the comments that froth at the mouth and accuse Zelaya (and often, us) of being communists spreading dictatorship around the world. Those are clearly adding nothing to debate.

But then there are comments by people like Patrick, who appears to be speaking as a Honduran ("
Currently everything is working in Honduras as it should in a democracy") but as one of the Hondurans who suffer the consequences of the drumbeat of negative press coverage that spread outright lies and vague insinuations about the president for more than a year before the coup ("Zelaya spent more taxpayer money on his horse than he did on any needy person").

Patrick is, in our view, more likely to be misinformed than to actually be a committed supporter of the destruction of the rule of law and constitutional order, and while we suspect it is very unlikely that he is willing to listen to more context than the Honduran press has served up, we continue to try to respond to him, and others like him.

But it is very hard because wrapped into comments like these are a world of assumptions that normally cannot be unraveled in the length of a responding comment. And responding to one comment after another, submitted in reply to a variety of posts, but in fact not dealing with their real content-- simply spreading out over that space an aggrieved narrative-- hardly gets to the heart of things.

Patrick is angry with us because we are not accepting the pro-coup propaganda. He wants us, and people like us, to simply accept his counter-to-reality claims and leave Honduras alone. He is echoing in tone, if not directly in words, the frightening declarations that Roberto Micheletti made when the OAS voted to suspend Honduras' membership, that rejected the world community and suggested Honduras forge on alone-- out of touch with the present, out of touch with reality.

But we want Patrick, and people like him, to pay attention to the actual facts. So, here for the record is a deconstruction and fact-checking of his comments:
I listened to Shannon in Spanish and it was very clear that the elections and the restoration of Zelaya are two different issues per the accord that the Zelaya camp signed.
First remember that this is a comment on our blog posting about Ian Kelly's press briefing. Not about Thomas Shannon's unfortunate Spanish-language interview, in which he gave the de facto regime new hope by stating prematurely that now that the Tegucigalpa Accord was signed, the US would recognize the Honduran elections no matter what.

The Tegucigalpa Accord is, as President Zelaya noted in his eloquent letter to President Obama, a single accord, with twelve points. So there can be no partial completion of that Accord. International recognition of elections is thus dependent on the good-faith completion of the other points of the Accord. This is the error that Thomas Shannon committed, in my view: he ssumed that the de facto regime would follow through on the requirement for there to be a vote in the Congress on the restoral of President Zelaya. While, as he said at the time, President Zelaya took the risk that the Congress would vote against him, a vote before the elections, ideally before the deadline to form the government of unity and reconciliation, would have kept the accord as a whole on target. Why did that not happen? well, Patrick has another point to make here:
Why should the courts rush, Congress is not in session as is normal before an election
The Honduran Congress was not in session on October 30, the deadline for the Tegucigalpa Accord to be delivered for its consideration. But that was because Roberto Micheletti had dismissed it before the normal end of the session. More important: the head of the executive branch has the authority to call Congress for an extraordinary session, so Roberto Micheletti could have convened Congress for that purpose. His refusal to do so blocked the consideration of the Accord by the Congress.

Thus when Partrick says

Zelaya broke the accord
this is simply not true.

Micheletti's unilateral attempt to establish a reconciliation and unity government was criticized and rejected by the OAS, the government of Spain, by Oscar Arias, and by Ricardo Lagos of the Verification Commission, to name just a few. This, along with the failure of the de facto regime to persuade the Congress to act, or (more forthrightly) to convene Congress in a special session, is what "broke the accord". Of course, if Patrick does not read the one paper in Honduras with more balanced coverage (Tiempo), or listen to the free radio stations, he cannot be blamed for thinking the opposite is true: the coup-supporting press echoed Roberto Micheletti's claim that Zelaya was obligated to provide Micheletti names for a "unity" cabinet that Micheletti would then get to select, for a government he would head himself. But this interpretation of what the Accord called for has been rejected by the verification commission and the international community. Even the US has not endorsed it.

Based on his certainty that what the biased media have told him is right, Patrick, and misguided people like him, also believe that President Zelaya is unpopular and that few Hondurans support hi
m and the positions he represents:
How can you call this incredulous when only a handful of Hondurans want Zelaya back in office.
In reality, repeated polls have shown otherwise. Most recently,
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner found that Hondurans disapproved of the removal of the President from office on June 28 by a margin of 60% to 38%. 67% of respondents rated the job performance of President Zelaya as excellent or good, as opposed to 31% rating his job performance bad or poor. In contrast, by a margin of 72% to 27%, respondents did not approve of Micheletti staying on as President.

Earlier in October, polling by
Consultants in Investigation of Markets and Public Opinion found 52% of Hondurans disapproved of the coup d'etat. 51% wanted President Zelaya restored (versus 33% opposed). President Zelaya and First Lady Xiomara Castro de Zelaya were ranked the two most favorably judged political figures in the country.

CID Gallup poll data from shortly after the coup also indicated that more people disapproved of the coup than supported it; and that President Zelaya enjoyed more support than Roberto Micheletti.

So really, no: it is not just a handful of people who are opposed to the coup, who want the elected government restored, and who actually approve of President Zelaya's actions in office.

Patrick offers some strange arguments against the need to restore the elected President before the November 29 elections that again are based on propaganda positions of the de facto regime:
What does Zelaya bring to the elections? He left his liberal party and the party that supports him is lucky to get 2% of the vote.
What restoral of the elected government, headed by President Zelaya, brings to the elections is simply legitimacy.

This comment suggests that the reason for restoring the President has something to do with campaigning. This confusion seems actually to be shared, at times, by Ian Kelly of the US State Department, so again, who can blame poor Patrick? So note well: President Zelaya is not on the ballot, and never would have been; Elvin Santos of the Liberal Party is running, and always was, away from the President who he served as Vice President.

While President Zelaya has not been reported, in any medium I have seen, to have "left his liberal party", he has called for its reformation, and that call is supported by a number of Liberal Party congress members. As for "the party that supports him": presumably a reference to the UD, this ignores the fact that reform-minded congress members and local politicians from Liberal and PINU parties join the non-partisan Frente de Resistencia in rejecting the legitimacy of the present electoral process because the constitutional order has not been restored. How big a constituency is this? that is the great unknown that might become more knowable if alternative means to estimate the number boycotting the election are feasible.

Meanwhile, for Patrick, as for other commentators who want the whole thing to be over by holding an election (apparently including the US Department of State) it is an inconvenient fact that more world governments have announced that they absolutely will not recognize the election than have announced categorically that they will. So people like Patrick are left having to argue against particular governments or even clusters of governments. Thus Patrick says

Argentina is a questionable government
but ignores the fact that Argentina's position was announced jointly with Brazil-- are we to understand it is also "a questionable government", whatever that means?

For Patrick and his ilk, there is only one world government that matters:

Honduras follows the U.S. through thick and thin.
As a US citizen who has spent my life working on Honduran issues and conducting research in Honduras, the relative truth of this statement is almost the saddest thing about Patrick's comments. The Honduran scholars and activists I so admire are and have been engaged in trying to establish a way for Honduras to follow its own path, and not simply be drawn along in the wake of the US ship of state. Honduras should have its own foreign policy; its own economic policies; its own cultural policy; and its own constitution. Otherwise, what we have is the perpetuation of a neocolonial order that disappoints the best aspirations of the United States as much as those of Honduras.

But this is just almost the saddest part of Patrick's comments.

The truly saddest thing I read is the following statement, which suggests that Patrick cannot imagine a Honduras where free speech is allowed without danger of the imposition of curfews and free assembly is possible without prior registration with the police; where a political disagreement among branches of government could be settled in the courts and with due process, not by the Armed Forces in avowed violation of the constitution;
and that Patrick doesn't have any idea what it would mean to have a free press, accountable political parties, and true representative democracy:
Currently everything is working in Honduras as it should in a democracy.


John (Juancito) Donaghy said...

Thanks. When faced with people like Patrick it is easy to try to dismiss them or just counter their arguments with other arguments. But I think you've tried to get to the root of the mindset behind many people who support the coup and tried to address the underlying issues of manipulated press and inadequate information. I think we might also try to look at the efforts to cloud reality through ideological innuendos.

Anonymous said...

Well, here's my prediction: Patrick will never return to honestly debate the points you raise. If he responds at all, it will be to deflect rather than to engage.

I don't say this because I think all the coup supporters are bad people. But after 15 years of posting, it seems clear that people's political positions are generally determined by self-interest rather than by abstracts concerns like international law. So, asking a person to change his/her position is like asking them to act against his/her self-interest. Na ga ha pen.

On the right, there is a particular stubbornness, born of a belief-- more a religious cult, really-- that only they are upright, moral, honest, worthy guardians of the order. This is belied by the increasing legions of scoundrels exposed as adulterers, gay, corrupt, betrayers of the trust they have been given-- but no matter. As an article of faith, the idea that the right are the good guys is not open to challenge. And thus is born malignant narcissism.

The term was put forward by M. Scott Peck, who used a series of anecdotes to illustrate how it works. One poignant story was of a troubled young man who had been given a rifle by his parents. He used it to commit suicide. So what did his parents do? They gave it to his younger brother (who, fortunately and only after struggle, told them to get stuffed). The parents could not admit that they had any culpability in the suicide. They would rather that both of their sons had committed suicide than admit that they had done anything wrong. Their narcissism had become malignant.

I've witnessed it probably hundreds of times. A 'winger makes a false assertion. I do an hour or two of research to refute him (these people are almost invariably male). He (a) changes the subject, (b) attacks me personally, (c) temporarily absents himself from the board and then pretends not to have seen the refutation, (d) simply repeats the falsehood, knowing that it has been refuted, (and on and on and on). This is not debate. It's not even very successful ego defense. It works very well to persuade so called lurkers, who often haven't made up their minds, that the 'wingers are not only wrong, but also dishonest... which is why I am not loth to go through with what would otherwise be a very frustrating task.

Parse Patrick's argument. 1) The elections and the restoration of Zelaya are separate issues [true as phrased, but the recognition of the elections and the restoration of Zelaya are clearly not separate issues in the eyes of the world], 2) Zelaya is not liked [irrelevant ad hominem, which is also false], 3) Zelaya doesn't contribute anything to the elections [irrelevant ad hominem, also false since he would bring legitimacy], 4) Zelaya broke the accord [attempt to shift blame, false, irrelevant to challenging Shannon], 5) In Honduras, everything is fine [not according to the rest of the world], 6) Zelaya is selfish [irrelevant, ad hominem, veracity unknown].

Even if every assertion were true, it would not make a satisfactory word salad. There is no logic or structure to it. There are no deeper principles. In short, if it were being graded as rhetoric, it would not even rate the recognition provided by an F.

Surely that was evident to Patrick, or would be if he were able to for a moment consider how his comment would look to someone else who did not share his worldview. Seeing things through another's eyes is what narcissism does not allow.

I have tried every strategy I can think of to break through narcissistic thinking and reach the human being that presumably exists within the fog. I do not think I have ever succeeded, though the closest I have come is by using humor.

--Eeyore, also known as Charles

chela said...

I'm from Honduras, and I know Patrick. Not in person, but in a figurative sense. Patrick is most of my family, and most of my old school friends. We are upper middle class and beyond. RAJ, you analysis is dead on on all accounts. I would only add one more thing (of course, this is a generalization on my part)...
If you grow up in Honduras and have means, you become desensitized to the poverty and plight of others. You learn racism against the indigenous and campesinos. They are stupid, lazy, and subhuman. Not one of us wants to believe this of ourselves, so we are blind to it.
When speaking of "all Hondurans", we only refer to ourselves and our socioeconomic group. We do not include the other ~7 million people in Honduras, it simply does not occur to us. They don't exist. I find it a strange marriage, most of those I know want to be good people, but are completely unconscious of this prejudice.
I believe comments like Patrick's may be well intentioned, but ignorant in a way that goes beyond being misinformed. It's very painful to reconcile, especially when this viewpoint exacerbates a democratic injustice.

Carina said...

Ah, so this is what became of your coup chronology project. It sank this low, kinds sad, really. Deconstructing (you know, edit heavily, chose selectively, take out of context, etc.) an opinion without providing the original input. Sounds familiar. I notice every posted feedback on your blog is from your own circle of about 4 likeminded friends (someday explain to your friend what "ad hominem" means, so she will stop missuing the term, repeatedly). I thought of you the other day when I walked past the Courthouse and I counted 67 protesters there, 3 of whom were clearly drunk. Later I heard Maldonado on the radio telling people to vote and claiming he would vote for Santos. I will keep my eye out for the confirmed discovery of mass graves in the stadium, nerve gas atop the radio station, mustard gas in the Brazlian Embassy, the forced conscription of 10-year-old boys, and any real result from the we-wont-recognize-the-elections talk. The only thing sadder than Zelaya's end is that people suported the corrupted plans (his ideas were not always all that bad, but their implementation and his people were) and apparently still do. One of Zelaya's major successes, accidentally, was handing control of the country to Pepe, who is an idiot and less concerned with the poor than about any other person in Honduran politics. Instead of morphing the Liberal party back to something decent like when it took the country out of military rule, Zelaya set back everything. Almost forgot: Who will you vote for? Oh yeah, I remember, you can't vote. In case no one ever told you: no one has ever solved a Latin American political problem based only on a sound logical argument (sad, but true). You just wasted countless days trying to do that. What you dont realize is that it is Latin America; it doesn't matter if you are factually correct, logically sound, or verbally right since that is not how anything important in politics has ever been decided. The only way to change that isn't with Zelaya, because to gett o that end you need to change the culture of Latin America. Good luck on that front.

Unknown said...

I am glad for this blog and others like it, as I have been able to find out some information that I would not have otherwise had. Getting honest and reliable facts on a country like Honduras when you don't speak Spanish very isn't easy. I am coming from the position mostly in opposition to Zelaya, but I am now aware of a lot of competing information that I simply couldn't find anywhere else. For the most part, with news I want 'just the facts' as much as possible, but with a case like this, nearly all of what I have read has been 'spin' from one side or the other. While this blog clearly is spinning for the Zelaya side, it's done so in such a way that honest facts are plain.
I still feel that Zelaya's problems are much of his own making. A more skilled politician would have been able to advance his agenda and not get the response he did. However, Michaletti seems even less skilled, though playing with a stronger hand. There is no question that his government has done things since the overthrow that they should not have done and should make any vocal supporters uncomfortable. I think the best solution would be a compromise candidate to be prez until the new one takes over, frankly.

The article that I was directed to about municipal elections was also very interesting - from reading the US press, one gets the idea that Zelaya has no support left in the Liberal party and that's apparently not the case at all.

I would think that the best course would be to run in the elections, though. Given the nature of things, the best way to achieve change in from the inside. Does Zelaya even have any goals beyond being re-instated? Honestly, what would such a thing accomplish besides soothing his oversize ego? He would be the lamest of lame ducks - a more skilled politician would be able to use a movement around themselved to either start a new political party (or use on of the small, leftist ones) or perhaps take over the Liberal party and elect candidates who share his positions in the next election. I'm well aware that he can't run himself, but there is no reason he can't try to get someone who feels the way he does elected in 2013.

One thing - I don't consider myself to be a rightist at all - politically, I'm libertarian. But I find that both the right AND the left can be really sanctimonious about their stances. I find this disturbing - just because I don't share the same view as someone else, this is not a moral failing. A right wing person would take issue with my support for leagalized drugs (which I do not use, btw) and a left wing person would probably be upset because I do not think that free health care for all should be a universal right.

RAJ said...

Victor, first, let me say that we are not spinning for Zelaya. We are engaged in activism to insist on the principle of the rule of law; and of the need to maintain constitutional continuity; and of the importance of not allowing military coups to over-rule the will of the electorate.

President Zelaya's restitution is critical because it is a required step for these goals to be realized.

In addition to these primary motivations, we are concerned that the positive efforts of the Zelaya government (not the man himself, although obviously he had to make this possible) in increasing popular participation in government have been rolled back under the illegal de facto regime. Honduras needs a citizenry that is engaged and believes the country works for it. That means the country has to work for all the people; and many Zelaya government programs were effective in this regard.

So: please realize that advocacy is not the same as spin; and the reason you can tell when we are citing facts and when we are interpreting them is because we realize that. As for the desire to find media that would provide just the facts: while we recognize that some media do try to maintain a form of objectivity, we would argue that all media reporting comes from a perspective, and that introduces a point of view. It may simply be what the medium thinks is important (economic facts vs. social facts, for example); but that means, you are never getting just the facts. You are getting a selection of facts.

Having said all that, to address the substance of your comment:

What is the point of restoring the legally elected president? it would show that Honduras can follow the rule of law. It is symbolically critical. But it would also allow the restoral of the legal government to carry on through the transition, and to conclude work that was interrupted-- and in some cases (such as the ministry of culture) attacked and rolled back by the regime.

The political movement coming out of the coup is a wider popular one, and President Zelaya is not its leader: but he is acting as a supporter of that movement, which has called for the boycott of the elections. Participating in the election is, from this perspective, not worthwhile because the de facto regime will use participation as evidence of its false claim that no harm was done to democracy by the coup.

And to clarify: my point was that you are echoing right-wing arguments; I don't assume I know your political perspective. Some well-meaning people here in the US have repeated claims they read in the mainstream media, and I have had to explain to them-- many committed to liberal politics-- that they were echoing a dictatorship.

Which gets me to the final point of politics: your claim that Zelaya was not a good politician ignores the fact that he got a great deal done on an agenda that was really unexpected and unpopular. What he could not do was keep resistance down enough, and most independent analyses point to the congruence of his political enemies with the owners of media there. If the media are controlled, as they are in Honduras, by a few people, and have no journalistic standards, then you can impugn the reputation of anyone.

Remember those polls: Zelaya was and remains the highest ranked politician in the surveys; he has higher approval ratings by far than Micheletti. His political success is part of what got his opponents worried enough that they far over-reacted to the June 28 encuesta.

Where we agree is that Micheletti is a bad politician and a bad head of government. More: he is a dictator. And Honduras is living in dictatorship, even if it is not as obvious to people not being attacked as it might be.

Unknown said...

I'll offer some more views here and hopefully learn something as that is the whole point of this exercise.

I am in agreement that the Tegucigalpa accord be taken as a full document and that the Unity government should have been in place before the elections. I was not under the impression that congress had to decide the fate of Zelaya before elections.

I don't agree that Zelaya has to be back in office before elections as I only see it as symbolic legitimacy for the international community (and for those politicians that feel they cannot participate without him in place as it justifies the coup).

I was against having either Zelaya or Micheletti as the head of a unity government and, although it was not clear to me in the accord, it seems to me in the time-line that Micheletti would start and then Zelaya would take over after the ruling by congress.

As for calling congress to a special session, I do not believe they would have reached a decision. If Micheletti let them out early then I missed that (apparently along with everything else).

I do read both La Prensa and El Tiempo and yes I am more partial to La Prensa (although I sat in the airport years ago and had a chance to speak at length with Jaime Rosenthal and I fully respect his opinions).

I consider the coup a complete mess that was avoidable - my family was divided over the 4to urna (most could not tell me what it was about) but now things are back to more normal relations. Now we can just look where things are going, I see the elections taking place and the congress offering Zelaya back his post and he rejects it. So what do you do then, how do you bring Hondurans together and forward as part of an international community.

My comment regarding Honduras following the U.S. is more related on what the population looks to and not what the politicians are up to.

Sorry that you are so saddened by my feeling that the government is working, at least as best as it can. My son worked five years in the police force (maybe why I don't feel repressed when I see the police and military out working at what they were told to do) but he left after having his fill with all the corruption.

And while I agree that people can lose touch with the campesinos, they are who I work with. Today's discussion at lunch was over what you had to eat when you had nothing. The winner was our dirt eater, actually he would take the crispy dirt from his moms oven and keep those pieces for days when there was no food. I've helped people build their ovens so I know the ingredients.

What I saw from Zelaya was a false hope, a cousin told me he expected to be given a new house and have a school put in if he voted for the 4to urna. So propaganda machines just change from the hands of one to another and that is I why I am here.

RAJ said...

Dear Carina:

First, thank you so much for offering yourself as the illustration of the dividing line between someone misguided (Patrick) and someone of poisonous character enjoying undeserved privilege and exuding disrespect for others.

The most amazing thing about your note is the tone: like I should care about your ignorant opinions?

But this is, sadly, where a lot of the knee-jerk privileged backers of the coup come from: a position of such great smug privilege that while they are smarting from a critique that obviously hit a sore spot, they still assume a position of superiority.

Patrick's comments were reproduced in full, my dear. So, you start on the wrong foot. Analyzing the painful, awful truth of your commentary is not worth the effort of presenting your comment in a separate post; Patrick's were worth the effort, because they reveal misunderstanding.

You actually should know better, clearly, since you enjoyed enough education, apparently, to know what "ad hominem" means-- although not enough to know that in English, it is in fact the correct term to use for the kind of attack you are engaging in, regardless of the sex of the object of attack.

So, the fact that you sneer at Latin America and claim that there is no point to even caring about it is either evidence of internalized self-hatred (if your claim of position in Honduras is real) or of unwarranted self-congratulatory superiority (if you are lying when you claim to be Honduran). Either way, girl, your problem is that you lack character: you are suffering from superficiality and there is a hollow place inside you that you are filling with anger.

I certainly have not wasted my time. Not only because I have come to know indirectly the people who, starting as strangers, have come to comment here so often; nor because I have been able to contribute to the development of policy understandings by non-governmental organizations; but also because I have come to know a side of the Honduran people that makes me proud of them, and that brings me to reject your oh-so-tendy nihilism (look it up, girl).

So, goodbye Carina. The lovely thing about being the owner of this blog is that I do not have to give room to people like you. I choose instead the people who are continuing to fight for their rights in Honduras, and the people in the US and Europe who care about them. You are emblematic of what we are all fighting against: and you illustrate why this struggle will be successful, sooner or later, because you have no soul.

RAJ said...

Thank you, Patrick, for illustrating why what we are trying to do here is worthwhile.

The Tegucigalpa/San Jose Accord was badly constructed. The original San Jose Accord was bad, and it became worse in the process of hurried negotiation under pressure from the US. But there are now many statements by international dignitaries-- including Ricardo Lagos, who undertook to be on the Verification Commission-- that make clear that Micheletti acted improperly in unilaterally forming a "unity" government. While the accord did not specify a procedure, just the day before Micheletti acted, Hilda Solis and Ricardo Lagos had said the deadline for the formation of the unity government was not so inflexible. The time period could have been extended to allow a real unity government process.

Since the Congress had been dismissed by Micheletti (and no shame that you missed that-- so did most international authorities) and thus the expected consideration of the restoral of President Zelaya could not be taken up right away, it is obvious that someone needed to straighten out a means of negotiating a unity government. My expectation, and I think that of most observers, was that the representatives of both parties would discuss this with the non-Honduran members of the Verification Commission, and not that one party would unilaterally assume control.

To say that having President Zelaya back in office before elections is unnecessary while acknowledging that there are candidates who are not going to continue their campaigns because of it reveals a confusion. Not having the elected president in office during the next election is a problem, and the calls to not participate are symptoms of that. The members of the popular front (and they do exist, even if you do not see them in your everyday life) are people with a right to participate in electoral politics as well, and they feel that they cannot do so safely-- and they are right; there are campaigns underway right now to round up members of the frente de resistencia, which would be a violation of their civil rights.

This is what saddens me: there are Honduran citizens who have been killed, beaten, raped, and illegally jailed by the de facto regime. That is not democratic. I am glad your family is no longer split about political issues; but the price of that illusion of peace has been thousands of documented victims of repression.

I do not think I ever said people can lose contact with the campesinos; indeed, I am fascinated by how routinely both honest comments like yours and those of more privileged people who are just nasty assume that President Zelaya's only constituency is the rural poor. The goals of the Zelaya administration were to increase public participation. Some of the people engaged were rural poor; but there are many other groups that were engaged, including many well-educated groups, women's groups, indigenous rights groups, and so on. It is always tragic when someone has a false or unrealistic impression about possible political benefits; but the objective economic analyses of the health of Honduras over the three years of the Zelaya administration show the greatest economic advances for the country since the end of the previous military government, and extend to stabilizing the value of the lempira internationally.

So: while I value your anecdotes about work with campesinos (and I could match them point for point with my own stories of working in the campo over the decades), that is not the point.

Having your elected government overthrown by military force, and having civil rights limited over and over, are bad things for Honduran democracy. As you yourself note, there is now a situation-- exacerbated by my government's mixed messages-- in which it is hard to see what kind of legitimation could come.

I don't have a solution for you. But I know that having Micheletti make up a government and claim it was a unity government was no solution.

Anonymous said...

Patrick, thanks for proving me wrong. You are willing to concede the fact (granted, it's a pretty obvious fact) that the accord is comprised of 12 inseparable parts, so that when Micheletti installed a "unity government" composed of his people, that screwed the whole pooch, and not just one-twelfth of it. Just being able to admit error is way beyond the capability of any of the coup supporters that I have dealt with.

As for Congress meeting, here it is in black-and-white, minus the caveats and flourishes:

"...both negotiating commissions have decided, respectfully, that the National Congress, ... should resolve ... to 'return the incumbency of Executive Power to its state previous to the 28 of June until the conclusion of the present governmental period, the 27 of January of 2010'."

If the "incumbency of the Executive Power" is not "return[ed]... to its state previous to the 28th of June," there is no deal. h

This is not symbolic. It's an important guarantee that the Armed Forces aren't going to be used to beat the crap out of dissidents or even murder them, as has happened at least 21 times in the last four months. It's a guarantee that the Armed Forces aren't going to shut down Channel 36 and Radio Globo, which has happened repeatedly over the last few months. It's a guarantee that TeleSur isn't going to be prevented from filming. It's a guarantee that human rights monitors can operate freely.

Manuel Zelaya is not going to be president in a couple of months. But if the coup forces these elections to occur despite declarations by Spain, Guatemala, Ecuador (and many other countries) that they will not recognize them, what do you think is going to happen?

Things are not back to normal and they will not be for years if not decades to come. Indeed, the worst is yet to come. And not because of Venezuelans or Cubans, or even Melistas, but because the whole world regards Honduras a dictatorship. That means fewer tourists, less investment, and boycotts of Honduran products.

I keep hearing from the coup about God. Do you believe that God wants His children to eat dirt? Did you offer the man something to eat?

The coup is drenched in God-talk. But people who talk about God and are not disturbed that people forced to eat dirt... well, such people are worshipping Money and imagining that they worship God.