[Marxism] Did Honduras deal weaken Zelaya?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Nov 4 14:01:17 MST 2009

from the November 03, 2009 edition - 

Did Honduras deal weaken Zelaya?

What first seemed like a victory for ousted President Manuel 
Zelaya could become a setback for him depending on what – and when 
– the Honduran Congress decides.

By Sara Miller Llana | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Mexico City

When ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya and his successor, 
Roberto Micheletti, signed a deal last week to resolve the crisis 
that has crippled the Central American nation for four months, Mr. 
Zelaya was jubilant.

He told his supporters he expected to be back in office in a 
week's time.

But as the Honduran Congress, now the ultimate arbiter, prepares 
to decide whether that will indeed be the case the political 
waters are in many ways murkier than they have been since Zelaya 
was toppled on June 28. What first seemed like a victory for 
Zelaya and the diplomats who secured the deal could become a setback.

"Everyone was congratulating the victory of diplomacy on Friday," 
says Miguel Calix, a political analyst in the Honduran capital, 
Tegucigalpa. "If you read the deal carefully, Zelaya is weaker now 
than he was a week ago; the deal does not ensure that Zelaya will 
be president again."

Under the terms of the agreement, which works off of an earlier 
proposal by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias and brokered last 
week by US diplomat Thomas Shannon, a national unity government 
and truth commission are to be formed while the international 
community is asked to reverse suspensions in aid and recognize the 
Nov. 29 electoral process. But Zelaya's return to office is 
complicated and far from certain – for now. Under the terms of 
last week's deal, Zelaya can return to office only if Congress 
approves. There is no timeline for Congress to vote, even though 
presidential elections are less than four weeks away.

Here are two scenarios for the days to come:

• Congress could vote to restore Zelaya to the presidency.

This is the scenario that the international community has been 
demanding all along – threatening not to recognize Nov. 29 
elections if Zelaya is not restored. It would be a diplomatic coup 
for the US, who got both sides to the negotiating table after 
talks stalled for months.

However, the Honduran Congress backed Zelaya's ouster. Though the 
presidential contenders may broker a deal for Zelaya's return so 
that elections are recognized and aid restored, many lawmakers 
remain firmly opposed to Zelaya, who they accuse of trying to 
alter the Constitution to scrap presidential term limits. Zelaya 
denies this. And his supporters say they fear that Congress won't 
solve the issue quickly. "They are already showing signs of 
stalling," says Omar Rivera, a member of Zelaya's former government.

On Monday José Alfredo Saavedra, who heads the Honduran Congress, 
said that he had not yet decided when legislators will be called 
back into session, despite demands from diplomats not to delay the 

Mr. Rivera says Congress could wait until after elections to make 
a decision. "If they do delay, there will be problems," says 
Rivera, who adds that Zelaya will not recognize a national unity 
government to be set up this week if a decision on his return is 
not first reached.

• Congress could reject Zelaya's return to office.

Many observers are wondering how the US, which has hailed the deal 
as an "historic agreement," will react if Zelaya is not voted back 
into power or if Honduran lawmakers stall.

For now, they have put their support behind the electoral process. 
Victor Rico, political affairs secretary of the Organization of 
American States (OAS), told the Associated Press that "the United 
States and the OAS will accompany Honduras in the elections."

Recognition of elections is a relief to many Hondurans, and for 
many observers it's the key to moving past the political crisis.

"[The deal] provides a path forward so that preparations for the 
election can get underway in a very serious way," says Eric 
Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, a 
consultant group based in New York. "What this does is it 
legitimizes the election. … I think that continues to be the key."

But focusing on the election as the way out of the political 
crisis is not a solution in the eyes of Zelaya supporters, who 
will likely intensify their street protests if Zelaya is not 
restored to office. Many say that the US gains by being able to 
recognize the vote. "But we feel cheated by the US," says Rivera. 
"They do not care about the reinstatement of Zelaya, they just 
care about the elections."

While Honduras is dependent on the US more than many other 
nations, it still remains unclear how the world community will 
react if Congress does not vote to reinstate Zelaya.

If Zelaya is not reinstated, says Kevin Casas-Zamora, the former 
vice president of Costa Rica and now at the Brookings Institution, 
"you have no reversal of a coup d'etat," he says. He says that the 
world community would likely reject that scenario. "The issue will 
become all the more complicated," he says. "The champagne corks 
popped out too early."

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