By: Emile Schepers
The situation in Honduras and New York (at the UN) remains tense and dramatic. Demonstrations continue on the streets of Tegucigalpa (with one source saying a march yesterday,which was repressed, included as many as 150,000 pro-Zelaya protesters). Here are the main happenings:
1. JIMMY CARTER TO THE RESCUE--BUT OF WHOM? Evidently ex US president Jimmy Carter called up coup leader Micheletti and offered his good offices to set up some sort of mediation. This appears to have displaced or postponed a plan for OAS representatives to go to Tegucigalpa. The nature of Carter's intervention is unclear, at least to me, but I have my suspicions. Evidently what Carter has proposed is some sort of mediatory role for the Vice President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, alongside Costa Rican president Oscar Arias. Actually, Micheletti says he proposed Varela's name as a co-mediator to Carter. Why Panama? Because Panama is the only country in Latin America which has said it will consider the November 29 elections in Honduras to be legitimate even without the return of Zelaya. The current Panamanian government is right wing, in fact except for the Honduras coup regime the only right-leaning government in Central America. (Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua have left or left-center governments, while Costa Rica's could be considered center-right). So what Carter seems to be doing is extending some sort of a lifeline to Micheletti and the coup regime. Whether he is doing this at the instigation of the State Department or White House, I have no idea. Sometimes his initiatives have been useful, in the past. This one I have my grave doubts about. It also appears that the idea that the U.S.A. is the mediator and arbiter of everything has not disappeared yet, as this also has the effect of marginalizing even the OAS, hitherto seen by the Latin American left as an instrument of U.S. hegemony. Previously Micheletti had said he would not let Pres. Arias or OAS Secretary General into the country.
2. AT THE UNITED NATIONS. The government of Brazil has asked for a special Security Council Session at the UN. In the continued introductory speeches in the General Assembly, a whole range of mostly Latin American leaders has denounced the coup. In addition to Brazilian President Luis Inacio "Lula" da Silva, these have included Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, Uruguayan President Tabare Vasquez, Paraguay's President Fernando Lugo and Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes. Costa Rican president Oscar Arias was to speak today, but I have not seen any reports on what he said, if he indeed spoke on this topic. ALBA and the Rio group have also issued statements denouncing the state of affairs and particularly the harrassment of the Brazilian embassy.
3. AT THE BRAZILIAN EMBASSY, President Zelaya and a group of about 70 relatives, allies, press and embassy staff are still cut off from the outside world with very little in the way of supplies, with interrupted telephone and electrical service etc. Apologists for the coup government have been spreading the word that Zelaya has lost his mind because he made the accusation that the coup regime has been bombarding the embassy with ultrasound and sometimes with loud noise; but this is in fact a technique developed by the United States and used in 1989 by the George H.W. Bush administration to unnerve Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega, when the U.S. invaded that country. Zelaya says he is in communication with representatives of the de facto government, but reports no progress.
4. IN THE STREETS of Tegucigalpa and other Honduran cities and towns, there have been wild confrontations between pro-Zelaya demonstrators on the one side, and army and police on the other. There was a large (don't know how many) pro Micheletti demonstration also today. This will be presented as proof that more Hondurans are against Zelaya than are for him. But I did not hear any reports that the cops and solidiers opened fire on the pro-Micheletti demonstrators with tear gas and live ammunition, as they are doing to the pro-Zelaya people. We now have reports of at four people killed by the military action, including an 8 year child, and also of many, many injured and captive. The fight is taking various forms, including barricades.
5. STATE DEPARTMENT ATTITUDE. In a press conference jointly with President Arias of Costa Rica on Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she has warned both sides to keep calm and avoid provocations. She suggested support for the curfew imposed by the Micheletti regime, but repeated that Zelaya should serve out the rest of his term and the elections go forward peacefully. The tone was of an effort to be "evenhanded" which will not please anybody, especially the pro-Zelaya forces and the worldwide left. This shows why it is essential to keep contacting the White House, the State Department and Congress to demand firm action against the coup and the coup regime. We should emphasize the violent repression that is being visited on the Honduran people, and the attacks on the Brazilian embassy (including the possibility of an actual invasion) which violate international law.
More tomorrow, no doubt.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
By: Emile Schepers