Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Honduras update 7 28 09

HONDURAS UPDATE FOR JULY 28 2008, by Emile Schepers

Here are some of the most important items concerning the crisis in Honduras for today. They are not in any order of importance, so please be patient and read all. Some of them have specific action items attached. Please follow up with vigor.

1. STATE DEPT CANCELS VISAS, G.O.P GOES APE. Tomorrow's New York Times is reporting that the U.S. State Department has cancelled the visas for several officials of the coup government. Though State did not mention whom, other sources, including the GOP, suggest that these include Arita Valle, a judge on the Honduran Supreme Court who signed orders for Zelaya's overthrow, and Jose Saavedra, a leader of the Congress. On Sunday, President Zelaya, now camped in Ocotlan, Nicaragua, near the border with Honduras, had asked the Obama administration to cancel the visas of another group, including the commanders of the armed forces, army and navy, the attorney general and the chief prosecutor.

According to the British news agency Reuters, a number of Republican legislators including Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) and congresspersons Connie Mack and Ileana Ros-Lehtinin have sharply denounced the cancellation of the visas. They and other GOP figures have been lobbying on Capitol Hill to overturn the Obama administration's position of calling for Zelaya's return. Some of them have also been buzzing back and forth between Washington and Tegucigalpa to show their support for the coup government. On Tuesday July 28 some Senate Republicans cast "no" votes in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the approval of Arturo Valenzuela to be the new Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs and Tom Shannon (who had been in the position that Valenzuela is taking) as ambassador to Brazil. The vote for Valenzuela was 15 ayes 4 nays, and for Shannon 14 ayes, 4 nays and one abstention. Many left wing commentators on the Honduras situation are not picking up on the major effort the GOP is engaged in to get US recognition for the regime, and to attack president Obama for "cozying up to Hugo Chavez" on the Honduras issue.

2. BIZARRE DOINGS WITH THE HONDURAN ARMED FORCES. There are repeated stories about dissent in the Honduran armed forces with regard to the coup. The attitude of one of the main coup leaders, armed forces commander Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, is also a subject of debate. On Monday general Vasquez was on what must have been a surreal radio talk show session on Radio Globo, progressive radio in Honduras. On the show also was Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, president Zelaya's wife, who "raked General Vasquez over the coals". According to Al Giordano, writer for Narconews who reported this, Vasquez sounded disconcerted or even apologetic in his replies, referring Mrs Zelaya to the National Police as being to blame.

3. NEW INITIATIVE BY CONGRESSMAN GRIJALVA: Congressman Raul Grijalva has circulated a sign-on letter to get another measure going in the House of Representatives asking the US government to increase pressure on the Honduran coup regime to stand down and agree to the return of President Zelaya. Unfortunately I have not been able to find a copy of the text of the letter (I will call Grijalva's office tomorrow) but here is some more info in the meanwhile: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1439/t/9410/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=1298

4. ANTI-COUP RESOLUTION IN CONGRESS. H RES 630 which denounces the coup and calls for the US government to act to restore pres. Zelaya has now got 40 cosponsors, as Congress goes into recess. The majority are from the Progressive, Hispanic and Black caucuses. The rival resolution, H RES 618, which applauds the coup and calls on the US to recognize the Micheletti regime, has 31. We need many more cosponsors on HR 630. You can see if your congressperson has signed on by going to http://thomas.loc.gov and typing in H RES 630 in the internal search engine.

5. NEW CPUSA STATEMENT ON HONDURAS. There is a new statement by the CPUSA on the Honduras situation on our website, www.cpusa.org. It has appended statements by the AFL-CIO, Workers Uniting (U.S., Canadian, British and Irish steelworkers) and other supplemental materials. Please forward this new statement far and wide, to all your lists and contacts.

6. PRO-ZELAYA PEOPLE TRAPPED NEAR THE BORDER. There are numerous reports that a large number of Hondurans who had headed to the border where President Zelaya was encamped are now trapped in the El Paraiso area by the Honduran army and police. There are reports of lack of food and water and other dangers. There are calls to send food, medical care and other help. Someone is setting up a bank account to help with this situation but that is not ready yet. I will keep you posted. The International Red Cross and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) are calling for help for the trapped people. The IACHR is calling for justice for Pedro M. Munoz who was found dead after reportedly being taken prisoner by police or military near the border.

7. U.S. COMPANIES WITH MAQUILADORAS IN HONDURAS TILTING TOWARD ZELAYA'S RESTORATION. Several US companies who have maquiladora operations in Honduras have been lobbying for the US to hasten the return of Zelaya as president. These include Nike, Adidas and Knights Apparal, who have written a letter to Secretary of State Clinton in which they ask among other things that civil liberties be restored. The letter can be seen at http://www.nikebiz.com/responsibility/2009SecretaryClintonHondurasLetter.html. There were earlier reports that some of the maquiladora companies were friendlier to Zelaya whereas the old agribusines monopolies such as Chiquita (United Brands ex United Fruit) plus Canadian mining operations were neck deep in the coup.

8. IMPORTANT TOUR OF HONDURAN LEADERS IN THE UNITED STATES. Rights Action is reporting that there is a tour of three important pro-Zelaya activists going on in the United States. The speakers on the tour include Dr. Juan Almendares, internationally known human rights activist and medical doctor, Abencio Ferandez Pineda, coordinator for the western region of the non-governmental organization Center for the Investigation and Defense of Human Rights in Honduras, CIPRODEH, Maria Luisa Jimenez, a former policewoman active in the defense of human rights in Honduras and now a candidate for the Honduran Congress for the Democratic Unification Party (the main left wing electoral party in Honduras), and Dr. Luther Castillo, a young Garifuna doctor and organizer, graduate of the Latin American Medical School in Cuba, and Gerardo Torres, a progressive Honduran journalist.

The tour will include the following cities and dates:

Wednesday to Friday July 29-32 WASHINGTON DC
Saturday to Tuesday Aug 1-4 NEW YORK CITY
Wednesday and Thurs Aug 5-6 BOSTON
Friday and Saturday Aug 7-8 Chicago

For info on specifics call Oscar Chacon, director of NALACC 733 991 9760
Patricia Montes (Centro Presente, Boston) at 617 959 3108
Isabel Vinent Florida Immigrant Coalition 796-210 8287

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