By Emile Schepers
1. GUESS WHAT! THERE WAS A MILITARY COUP IN HONDURAS BACK ON JUNE 28, SAYS STATE DEPARTMENT STAFF. Over 60 days after the June 28 coup that overthrew the legal president of Honduras, Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, Staff at the State Department officially ruled today that it was not just a coup, but a military coup. This determination is no doubt related to the fact that coup leader Roberto Micheletti has rudely rebuffed the last ditch efforts of Latin American foreign ministers to get the Arias mediation going again, under the San Jose accords which have been accepted by Zelaya but rejected by Micheletti because they would bring Zelaya back as president with an amnesty.
2. MILLENIUM CHALLENGE GRANT NOW UNDER REVIEW, BECAUSE IT WAS A MILITARY COUP. Reports are that Secretary of State Clinton is considering suspending funds due to Honduras via the Millennium Challenge Grant, which she administers outside of her position as Secretary of State, to the tune of $218 million. This appears to be a statutory requirement of the program. Such a cut-off will hurt coup supporters who are major rip-off contractors of the grant more than it will hurt the Honduran people.
3. IF THE CHALLENGE GRANT IS CUT OFF, the next steps would be to implement the request of Zelaya which is to freeze the U.S. bank accounts of the coup leaders. But more and more Latin American leaders are saying that to back Micheletti down, it will also be necessary that the United States make crystal clear to him that if the November 29 national elections go forward without a return to Zelaya and a return to constitutional normalcy, the United States will not recognize the results of those elections and will not restore normal aid.
4. CENTRAL AMERICAN FOREIGN MINISTERS CALL FOR MORE SANCTIONS. Under the auspices of the Central American Integration System (SICA), the foreign ministers of Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras (i.e. the Zelaya government) plus representatives of Nicaragua and Panama met in Costa Rica today and announced that they are calling for new, tougher sanctions against the Micheletti de facto government in Honduras. Honduran foreign minister Patricia Rodas called for the following specific sanctions: Suspension of the visas of Micheletti regime officials, commercial sanctions and a refusal to recognize the results of the November elections under the defacto regime. She says the sanctions should be tailored to hit the people responsible for the coup and its aftermath. According to Telesur, Rodas also cautiously supported the idea broached the day before yesterday by Dominican Republican president Leonel Fernandez to suspend Honduras from the CAFTA-DR trading group, but expressed concern that this would not be in the interests of all the other CAFTA countries. She means that it might hurt the economies of some of Honduras’ CAFTA-DR partners, such as Nicaragua and El Salvador, whose economies, badly hit by the world financial crisis, are also being harmed by the Honduras crisis because of the amount of cross-border trade they do
5. MICHELLETI PUSHES NEW UNWORKABLE PLAN. According to the New York Times, Micheletti has now suggested that both he and Zelaya resign from the presidency and allow it to go to the president of the Supreme Court, Jorge Rivera. The problem is that judge Rivera is a big coup supporter who signed the order to depose Zelaya, so I kind of doubt that Zelaya will go for this. According to the New York Times article by Marc Lacey, this is not the first time Micheletti has proposed this.
All for now, tune in again tomorrow.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
By Emile Schepers