By Emile Schepers
HONDURAN ELECTION SEASON ABOUT TO BEGIN, PRO-ZELAYA FORCES DEBATE BEST TACTICS TO ADOPT. There is no sign of a resolution of the Honduras situation. Late this week coup de facto president Roberto Micheletti offered a “solution” under which both he and the deposed legitimate president, Manuel “Mel” Zelaya would have resigned, the presidency taken over by the current head of the Supreme Court (who signed the order justifying Zelaya’s removal) and Zelaya coming back to Honduras to face charges for treason and abuse of power. Zelaya rejected this insulting offer in no uncertain terms.
So now official election campaign is set to begin on Tuesday, September 1, without a normal constitutional or administrative setup, with the troops and police still repressing pro-Zelaya demonstrations, with major doubts about whether left-wing, pro-Zelaya candidates will even be able to campaign, and with the anti-coup media under siege, and subject to physical sabotage of its facilities.
The major demand now being taken up across Latin America is that all countries, including the United States, declare that they will NOT recognize any government that comes out of such a flawed election scenario. This means that economic sanctions that have been imposed to back the demand for the return of Zelaya would continue beyond the elections. This demand is being put forth because many think that Micheletti’s game is to run out the clock on the elections, run the elections and elect candidates for president, the unicameral congress and other local offices, and then present the world with a fait accompli (that’s French for a done deal) in which gradually the different countries would drift back to restoring diplomatic and commercial relations.
But what should the movement in Honduras do? This is now being debated intensely.
In an interesting article in today’s edition of the left wing Mexico City daily La Jornada, reporter Arturo Cano gives us a glimpse at some of the debates within the Honduran resistance movement (the original article in Spanish can be read at http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2009/08/29/index.php?section=mundo&article=017nlmun)
First, there is the issue of whether to run candidates or boycott the election. Obviously, the election is not going to be fair if it takes place under the coup regime, but it does not necessarily follow that boycotting the election is the best tactic for the Honduran left. Some, however, think that the elections should be boycotted within Honduras also, as well as being denounced as unfair. Independent left wing candidate for the presidency Carlos Humberto Reyes, a labor union activist, for example, has called for a boycott of all participation in the election by the popular forces, if the election is done under the current dictatorship.
Not all are in agreement, however. There are candidates from the pro-Zelaya left wing of the Liberal Party who evidently intend to continue with their electoral campaigns, but under the designation of the left wing Democratic Unification Party. Democratic Unification’s presidential candidate, Cesar Ham, is quoted in Cano’s la Jornada Article as saying “we have to participate. If we don’t, the same thing will happen to us as happened to the retrograde right wing opposition in Venezuela, which did not go to the elections after winning a referendum and left only Chavez in the National Assembly”.
Cano gives us the valuable information that there is a coming apart of the Liberal Party with important sectors gravitating into an alliance with the left in a democratic pro-Zelaya united front. Zelaya’s Interior Minister, Victor Meza, is quoted by Cano as saying that the campaign to get a referendum on a constituent assembly to reform the constitution really has been also a project to create a new political third force to the left of the existing Liberal and National parties.
One suggestion that Cano mentions is that the left, pro-Zelaya forces unite around the candidacy of Bishop Luis Alfonso Santos, the only higher prelate in Honduras who has been opposing the coup. According to the Honduran constitution, Bishop Santos would have to resign from his clerical offices to run.
The Liberal Party presidential candidate, Elvin Santos, is a construction magnate and former Vice President. The National Party candidate, Porfirio Lobo, is a hardline law-and-order big landowner who is for re-introducing the death penalty. The left does not trust either; Santos, who defeated Micheletti as the Liberal Party’s candidate for president, has refused to say whether he considers the June 28 incident to have been a coup or not, and Lobo is obviously a reactionary.
The Supreme Court in Honduras consists of nominees of the Liberal and National parties and is highly politicized in a partisan way.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
By Emile Schepers