Tuesday, August 25, 2009

HONDURAS UPDATE AUGUST 25 2009

By Emile Schepers

1. MICHELETTI SPITS DEFIANCE AT THE O.A.S., REFUSES TO GIVE AN INCH ON ARIAS PLAN. The de facto president of Honduras, installed by a coup d’├ętat on June 28 of this year with the ouster of the legally elected, left-of-center Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, defied the Organization of American States delegation of foreign ministers today and said that only military force will remove his government from power. The OAS foreign ministers’ delegation, which had arrived in Tegucigalpa yesterday, according to sources in a U.S. military aircraft, included the foreign ministers of Mexico, Argentina, Canada, Costa Rica, Panama and the Dominican Republic, plus the Secretary General of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza (as an “observer”). The mission was a last-ditch effort to get Micheletti’s coup government to accept the Plan of San Jose, developed by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias in a mediation role. The deposed president, Zelaya, has accepted all items in the San Jose plan, but the Micheletti gang absolutely refuses to consider two key ones, namely the return of President Zelaya to serve out his current term, which ends in January 2010, and amnesty for all concerned. Earlier the pro-coup Supreme Court had ruled that if Zelaya returned he must stand trial for treason and abuse of power.

Though Micheletti eventually did meet with the foreign ministers he also told them that he and his colleagues will not cede power no matter what sanctions are put on Honduras, and that only a military invasion would get him out. For the record, nobody has called for a military invasion.

In a press conference, the foreign ministers admitted that they are leaving Honduras empty handed. Costa Rican foreign minister Bruno Stagno read a statement which pointed out that the fall election campaign in Honduras is set to begin on September 1, with the election scheduled for November 29. Numerous governments and regional organizations have said that unless Zelaya and constitutional normalcy are returned to Honduras promptly, they will not recognize the validity of the November 29 elections, or the government that results from them, because of the impossibility of having a fair election in conditions where both pro-Zelaya candidates and press are in danger of violent repression.

2. STATE DEPARTMENT SUSPENDS ISSUING OF NEW NON-IMMIGRANT, NON EMERGENCY VISAS. The U.S. State Department today announced that it is suspending the issuance of all non-immigrant, non emergency visas at its Tegucigalpa embassy, by way of support for the efforts of the OAS to get the Micheletti de-facto regime to back off and accept the San Jose plan. It appears that this ruling applies to new business, tourist or study visas, but not to multi-use visas some people already have. Permanent resident (immigrant) visas will still be given, as will others on an emergency basis. Nevertheless, the (pro-Zelaya) Honduran ambassador to the United States, Eduardo Reina, said that Zelaya’s government considers this a correct move and a step in the right direction; although it will create hardship for some Hondurans, for example the Hundreds of thousands of people of Honduran origin who live in the United States and now will have trouble getting authorization for their relatives to visit them, the blame for this must be laid at the feet of Micheletti and his crew for their intransigence. President Zelaya had actually only asked for a cancellation of visas for top coup supporters and officials. Zelaya also asked for the freezing of U.S. bank accounts of coup leaders, an action which the U.S. has taken against other government leaders with which it has a problem in the past. This has not yet happened.

3. IS IT A COUP YET? NO, NOT YET. Although President Obama has repeated his own strongly worded statements against the Honduran coup, the State Department is now studying whether it is a military coup or not, and will let us know. The problem is that if it is officially ruled to be a coup, some other sanctions must, by law, be applied. You may recall the issue of whether the tragedy of Darfur was genocide or not; former Secretary of State Powell did not want to use the word because it would have committed the Bush administrations to certain actions it did not really want to take.

4. INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PROTESTS FOR HONDURAS SCHEDULED FOR WEDNESDAY AUGUST 26. The National Front Against the Coup, which is the coordinating group in Honduras for organizations supporting Zelaya and opposing the coup, has called for a national day of solidarity with Honduras for this coming Wednesday, August 26. Demonstrations will be carried out in various countries, with sit-ins in front of U.S. embassies to emphasize anger at the role that U.S. intelligence and military agencies have had in making the coup possible, and to further demands that the U.S. government strengthen sanctions against the coup regime.

All for tonight but we can anticipate more important news this week, so stay tuned.


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