HONDURAS UPDATE FOR JULY 31, 2009 A SURREAL SITUATION
By Emile Schepers
Two corrections on yesterday’s blog, both typos. Zelaya put his ARM around U.S. ambassador Llorens, not his ARMY. Not a Freudian slip, I assure you. And the name of the Nicaraguan town in which Zelaya has set up his base camp is OCOTAL, not whatever the Hell my word processor wrote in error. Sorry.
The world, and especially the people of Honduras, are waiting anxiously to see what is going to happen next in Honduras, as coup leader Micheletti threatens to cancel the visas of U.S. diplomats in Tegucigalpa, thereby viciously chomping down on the hand that may on the left assume has been feeding him. Anyway, here are the latest stories, again in no particular order.
1. MICHELETTI BLASTS LLORENS, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION. Reacting to the visit of U.S. ambassador Hugo Llorens to president Zelaya in Managua, Nicaragua, and to the cancellation by the State Department of his own U.S. diplomatic visa and those of several of his colleagues, the de facto president installed by the coup, Roberto Micheletti, lashed out at the Obama administration and specifically U.S. ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens for “interference” (intromission) in the internal affairs of Honduras, and threatened to cancel the diplomatic visas of personnel of the U.S. embassy in Tegucigalpa. He had already done this with the Venezuelan embassy, demanding that all its personnel leave Honduran soil, but the Venezuelan embassy staff refused to do this on the ground that Micheletti is not the legal president of Honduras and can not order anybody to do anything. I hope the US embassy personnel take the same attitude should Micheletti carry through on this threat. But this is a bit too much irony for so late at night, given that so many people having been calling on the United States to withdraw its ambassador in protest against the Micheletti regime. Now if the U.S. does that, it will seem like compliance to Micheletti's stated wish!
2. MICHELETTI GOES BACK TO OPPOSING THE RETURN OF ZELAYA. In spite of some equivocal statements over the last couple of days, Micheletti is now making clear that he opposes the return of President Zelaya. Micheletti says that if it is helpful he will step down as president (de facto) as long as Zelaya also is not returned to the presidency. The Mexican newspaper El Informador suggests that this means that the president of the Supreme Court (pro-coup), Jorge Rivera, would become president.
3. ZELAYA, WIFE EXPRESS APPRECIATION BUT ASK FOR MORE DECISIVE MEASURES BY THE UNITED STATES. Both president Zelaya and his wife, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, have expressed appreciation for the statement in Managua yesterday by U.S. ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens to the effect that the U.S. still recognizes Zelaya as the only president of the United States. However, they both separately (Zelaya is in Nicaragua and his wife is still within Honduras leading protest demonstrations against the coup regime) called for the Obama administration to take stronger measures against the coup regime. Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, speaking to anti-coup demonstrators in Tegucigalpa after returning from the border area with Nicaragua, said that “Yesterday, the State Department sent a very clear message to the President of the Republic, that he is the only President of the Republic of Honduras they recognize”. She added that ambassador Llorens told her husband that the United States has sent an ultimatum to coup leader Micheletti to step down or face the consequences.
4. REPRESSION CONTINUES. Honduran troops and police continue to repress anti-coup protesters, arresting and beating (then releasing) labor official and anti-coup leader Juan Barahona and numerous others. One of the injured was independent presidential candidate Humberto Reyes, who has been taken to Havana to be treated for wrist and head injuries.
5. COUP LEADERS TRY TO LINK ZELAYA SUPPORTERS TO THE COLUMBIAN FARC. In a maneuver that would have been laughable had it not also been so dangerous, the coup regime this week tried to link president Zelaya’s support base to the Colombian FARC (Armed Forces of the Colombian Revolution). The pretext was that the FARC (and virtually every other governmental and non governmental entity on the planet) had issued a communiqué denouncing the Honduras coup. The office of the coup attorney general and the head of the National Police are now claiming that demonstrations against the coup and in favor of the return of Zelaya are being funded by the FARC, the proof being found in what many call the “magic computer” of Raul Reyes, a FARC commandante who was killed in a Colombian raid on a jungle camp in Ecuador last year.
National Police spokesman Danilo Orellano claims that he has “receipts” showing payments to the Zelaya government’ supporters from the FARC.
6. HONDURAN ECONOMY SUFFERING FROM RESULTS OF COUP. The disruption to the Honduran economy caused by the coup and the ensuing conflict between pro and anti-Zelaya groups may seriously impact the Honduran economy, one of the poorest in the Hemisphere and already hard hit by the world financial and economic crisis. Cutoffs of financial aid and disruption of trade could cut economic growth by 2 percent, said the British news agency Reuters, without citing sources or providing very many details. Military checkpoints set up by the Honduran military, in addition to curfews have disrupted the movement of goods between Nicaragua and Honduras.
7. GRIJALVA SENDS OUT DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER. U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) is circulating a new “dear colleague” letter for action on Honduras. As I am writing this (10:30 Friday evening) I have not been able to get hold of a copy of this letter. If anyone has access to it please e-mail it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. SCORE ON DUELING RESOLUTIONS. H RES 630, denouncing the coup and calling for President Zelaya’s restoration to power, has 41 cosponsors, while H RES 619, applauding the coup and demanding that the Obama administration recognize Micheletti as president of Honduras, has 37. Keep up the contacts with your Congresspersons, we need many more cosponsors.
That’s all for now, I will have another update for you on Saturday evening.
Friday, July 31, 2009
HONDURAS UPDATE FOR JULY 31, 2009 A SURREAL SITUATION