[Marxism] And the Winner in Honduras is ... the United States?
lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Nov 5 12:09:51 MST 2009
Counterpunch, November 5, 2009
Saving Face, While Manipulating the Outcome
And the Winner in Honduras is ... the United States?
By JOSEPH SHANSKY
Never underestimate the capabilities of the slightest American
After deliberately failing to use its massive economic and
diplomatic influence in the tiny Central American country, the US
has reportedly given the international community reason to breathe
a sigh of relief in what Hillary Clinton is calling an “historic
agreement”. According to the US, the Honduran governmental power
struggle has been resolved, and an agreement for President Manuel
Zelaya to be reinstated has been reached.
All thanks to a breezy State Department intervention that could
have come four months, twenty-six lives, hundreds of
disappearances, and thousands of random detentions earlier for
Honduran citizens. Instead they let it play out like an internal
civil disagreement while watching from above until the time was
politically opportune to step in.
In other words, the two children who were bickering in what Henry
Kissinger famously dubbed “our backyard” have been rightfully
scolded, and forced by Uncle Sam to make nice.
As for President Zelaya, and his supporters both in the streets
and at the Brazilian embassy, as well as the journalists who have
been living in Tegucigalpa and around the country for much of the
summer and fall? We can all go home; diplomatic dialogue has
prevailed on both sides. Or so we’re told.
The details of what is now being called the Guaymuras Accords are
messy. They involve a series of conditions and fine print
designed to continue the regime’s now-familiar tactic of delaying
real progress through semantics and by creating more legal
headaches. At the same time, any pressure on the US to fight for
a constructive return of Zelaya’s presidential powers is now gone.
Despite coup leader Roberto Micheletti’s claim that his de-facto
government has made “significant concessions” in the accords, the
real concessions have come from the other side. All one needs to
do is imagine how Zelaya’s supporters would have reacted soon
after the coup to the type of “power-sharing” agreement that is
currently being celebrated. It would have been considered laughable.
These are the basic terms both sides have agreed to:
- Creation of a government of national reconciliation that
includes cabinet members from both sides.
- Suspension of any possible vote on holding a Constitutional
Assembly until after Jan. 27, when Zelaya's term ends.
- A general amnesty for political crimes was rejected by both
- Command of the Armed Forces to be placed under the
Electoral Tribunal during the month prior to the elections.
- Restitution of Zelaya to the presidency following a
non-binding opinion from the Supreme Court and approval of Congress
- Creation of a Verification Commission to follow up on the
accords, consisting of two members of the Organization of American
States (OAS), and one member each from the constitutional
government and the coup regime.
- Creation of a Truth Commission to begin work in 2010.
- Revocation of international sanctions against Honduras,
following the accords.
The accords give President Zelaya some of his original rights as
the democratically-elected president of Honduras. But who knows
when? As of October 31, there have already been several
contradictory statements coming out from Micheletti’s team. One
of his negotiators said that since Congress would not be in
session before the elections, it is now unlikely that Zelaya would
be returned to any kind of power before that date.
If he is, it hinges on approval by the same Congress that approved
his seizure and relinquishes his executive power over the armed
forces. In the “power-sharing” agreement, the coup government
would retain control over the military, a critical advantage.
It also dismisses amnesty for political crimes on both sides, but
at the moment Zelaya is the one facing a mountain of trumped-up
charges, thanks to a summer of legal proceedings which took place
under an illegitimate government and a shady judicial system.
Another obstacle to a rightful reinstatement may be the Honduran
Supreme Court. For example, from Sept. 22 through Oct. 19, five
constitutional rights were suspended under a decree by the coup
government. These included personal liberty, freedom of
expression, freedom of movement, habeas corpus, and freedom of
association. This was based on a clause in the 1982 Constitution
which allowed for such restrictions in states of emergency, and is
a perfect example of why Hondurans are demanding a new Constitution.
The Honduran Supreme Court, which has been described by the
Council on Hemispheric Affairs as “one of the most corrupt
institutions in Latin America”,c can give a non-binding opinion
regarding Zelaya’s return which Congress can then take or leave.
However, this process takes time, again indicating stalling on the
part of the coup regime.
Perhaps most importantly, the push for a popular Constituent
Assembly during his term has also been dropped by Zelaya and his
negotiating team. This concession was what caused Juan Barahona,
coordinator of the National Front Against the Coup and a key voice
on Zelaya’s side, to drop out of negotiations a few weeks ago.
The Constituent Assembly would have created a body to rewrite the
1982 Honduran Constitution in newly democratic terms. On June 28,
the day that Zelaya was forcibly removed from power and ejected
from the country, Hondurans were scheduled to vote on a
non-binding referendum for a Constituent Assembly.
The outcome was to determine whether or not to then have a vote to
rewrite the outdated 1982 Constitution. Subsequent polls have
indicated a majority of support in Honduras for this reform. In
the big picture, this is the real change for the future which
thousands of Hondurans have been fighting for in the streets.
What the Guaymuras Accords do most is create a space for the
United States to recognize the legitimacy of the upcoming
presidential elections, scheduled for November 29. With National
Party front-runner Pepe Lobo likely to win (thanks to a campaign
season in which any independent voices were sharply silenced by
media censorship), the US gets another puppet in the region to
counter the influx of reform-minded leaders in countries like
Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. It’s the political equivalent of
more foreign aid debt.
Furthermore, throughout the entirety of the coup neither Secretary
of State Clinton nor President Obama (surely occupied with
political concessions of his own at home) have acknowledged the
repression and violence perpetrated by the Micheletti government
and Honduran military in its wake. They still refuse to do so.
So the actual power returned to Zelaya may be symbolic at best.
But it’s extremely important for another group involved - the
Resistance movement all around the country. Since the
announcement on October 30 of Zelaya’s pending reinstatement,
people here have triumphantly taken to the streets in a manner
unseen since…actually, two weeks ago when Honduras qualified for
the 2010 World Cup.
The unity of the Resistance has put continual pressure on the coup
government. Its mobilization constantly put Honduras into the
world spotlight, and highlighted the violent reaction of a
surprised regime. Undoubtedly the violence would have been far
more severe without the involvement of the Resistance. The
psychological effects of bringing their President back in any way
after 125+ days in the streets mark a clear victory for the movement.
And of course there are enormous differences between the
(relatively) bloodless Honduran coup and the devastating Kissinger
days of the 1970s, which led to tens of thousands of CIA-sponsored
murders and disappearances in countries like Chile and Argentina.
Still, the bottom line remains the same. Military coups in Latin
America are not a thing of the past yet, and their outcome can be
strongly influenced, in fact practically determined, by the US.
Time will tell if the events in Honduras were an isolated affair,
or if they indicate the type of reaction we will be seeing to the
new age of leftist revolutions in Latin America.
What is clear now is that after months of refusing to take real
diplomatic action, the State Department has found a way to not
only save face internationally, but to manipulate the outcome to
make it appear to be a foreign policy win for the US.
Though it’s still early in the proceedings, a clear victor has
already emerged in the Honduran stand-off.
Joseph Shansky works with Democracy Now! en Español, He can be
reached at fallow3 at gmail.com. This report also appears in
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