( – promoted by buhdydharma )
An election has been held in Honduras. The new, conservative, pro-golpista President will be sworn in in January. Manual Zelaya, the rightfully elected president remains stuck in asylum in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa. His term ends in January. Roberto Micheletti, the golpista usurper, remains ensconced in the presidency. The Honduran Congress and Supreme Court, two golpe supporting institutions, have to no one’s surprise refused to re-instate Manual Zelaya in his elected presidency. The US, Costa Rica, and a few other countries have recognized the results of the election. Brazil, Venezuela, and Argentina won’t. The OAS won’t.
Given these apparently intractable circumstances and the desire to restore democracy in Honduras, The New York Times in an editorial has proposed what I consider to be a reasonable solution, one that both Honduras and the US should adopt.
Please make the jump.
Let’s look carefully at the Times editorial.
First the Times correctly examines the present circumstances:
There is wide agreement that last week’s presidential election in Honduras, won by the conservative leader Porfirio Lobo, was clean and fair. But it doesn’t settle the country’s political crisis, nor the question of how the world should treat Honduras.
The military ousted President Manuel Zelaya in June. At the time of the vote, Mr. Zelaya was hiding in the Brazilian Embassy. He still is.
The Obama administration started off strong. It resisted the importunings of some Congressional Republicans who considered democracy far less important than Mr. Zelaya’s cozy ties to Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez.
Then Washington faltered. Its effort to broker a deal to return Mr. Zelaya to power, if only briefly, was filled with mixed messages (at one point the top American negotiator said Washington would accept the vote with or without Mr. Zelaya’s return). Over all, it betrayed a disturbing lack of diplomatic skill.
I would go further. I’d argue that Washington betrayed democracy in Honduras by brokering a deal that was flawed and pro-golpista from the outset, by sending mixed signals that were interpreted by the golpistas as tacit support, and by shifting position throughout the talks. The greatest US failing in my view was the delay in determining that there had been a coup, one that required the permanent cut off of all non-humanitarian aid. How, I would like to understand, does the arrest at gun point by the military of the elected president, his removal in his pajamas to an aircraft at gunpoint, and his being flown out of his country not qualify as a coup? And what has to be studied about these events to understand that, in fact, it’s a coup? Footdragging on this point gave aid and comfort to the golpistas. So did the US’s failures to denounce the suppression of civil liberties in the country by the golpe, including but not limited to warrantless arrests, kidnappings, shootings, and the closing of media. These are events that need to be exposed and for which punishment must be imposed.
The Times recognizes, as so many others have, that ostracizing Honduras, a very poor country, is no solution: it will only hurt the poorest people in Honduras and will not strike any serious blow against the oligarchy. Honduras’s poor people have already lost their elected president, one who professed support for them. It is doubly unjust because of the coup to make their lot more difficult.
The Times proposal?
Two aspects of the proposed deal, which have also been ignored so far, could help heal some of the wounds and restore some legitimacy. It called for the establishment of a unity government until the January inauguration and the creation of a truth commission to investigate events around the coup. The de facto government of Roberto Micheletti and other coup supporters must step down and be replaced by a unity government that includes high-level appointees from Mr. Zelaya. That unity government should create the truth commission. Civil liberties must be restored, including freedom of the press. And when the Lobo government takes office, it must clearly demonstrate its commitment to democracy.
In the meanwhile, the Times properly urges the US not to restore aid to Honduras and the OAS not to restore Honduras to membership.
These are in my view entirely proper steps. The Obama Administration should adopt them. Failure to do so lets democracy in Honduras slide away, and it undermines the stability of every elected democratic country in this hemisphere by stating that the US will countenance coups when they appear to be in the US’s short term interest. That’s a view that should have been discarded a century ago.
simulposted at The Dream Antilles