By Emile Schepers
1. BRAZILIAN EMBASSY UNDER SIEGE. In flagrant violation of international law, the de-facto government of Roberto Micheletti is continuing to besiege the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, where President Manuel "Mel" Zelaya and about 70 other people, including Zelaya's relatives and allies plus press and Brazilian embassy staff (the ambassador is currently in Brazil) are holding out. The methods of siege are to sharply restrict the arrival of food, to interfere with water and electrical supplies, and to bombard the people in the embassy with sophisticated sound equipment and sickness-inducing gases. The electronic bombardment is said to be nerve wracking, and the combination of the two methods of attack is causing nosebleeds, bloody urine and other health problems for the people in the embassy. Dr. Mauricio Castellano, Zelaya's minister of public health, says an analysis of the gases collected at some distance from the embassy shows concentrations of ammonia and hydrogen cyanide. Meanwhile the Honduran (pro-Zelaya) foreign minister, Patricia Rodas, announced in a press conference in New York today that the toxic gases being used against the embassy have been provided to the coup regime by two Israeli companies, Alfacom and Intercom. At least one death outside the embassy, that of an 8 year old girl, is being attributed to these toxic gases.
The accusation about the gases was backed up by the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights. (CIDH)
The noise making operation is blamed by the online magazine Machetera on Long Range Acoustic Devices, which create noise so intense that it can cause permanent hearing loss and other health problems, up to 150 decibels. Reportedly, witnesses have seen these contraptions being deployed against the embassy (they are said to have been used against protesters at the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh, also).
There are accusations that the coup regime has not allowed an ambulance from the Red Cross or a team from the French-based NGO Medicins sans Frontiers access to the Embassy.
2. SECURITY COUNCIL DENOUNCES ATTACKS ON EMBASSY. Meanwhile in New York, where one head of state after another has denounced the coup regime and demanded the restoration of Zelaya to the presidence, the Security Council today issued a statement demanding that the harrassment of the Brazilian embassy stop immediately. The special closed-door Security Council meeting was requested by Brazil. The statement condemning the attacks on the embassy did not go into the general issue of the coup and the restoration of Zelaya.
3. ON THE STREETS OF HONDURAS, there seems to have been a temporary lull in activity. But basically all week there have been massive pro-Zelaya demonstrations, with numbers that some sources put as high as 150,000 people participating. There has also been violent repression of these demonstrations by military and police. Since Zelaya appeared at the Brazilian embassy on Monday morning, at least 4 more people have been killed, including the 8 year old girl mentioned in #1 above, a 65 year old man and a labor union activist who was shot dead. This means the number killed by the coup regime since it took power on June 28 stands at about 15. If it is not more, it is because, thanks to the tactics of the Honduran resistance, the world has been watching.
4. MICHELETTI JABBERS INCOHERENTLY. Nothing more was heard today about the suggestion of US ex president Jimmy Carter that a new mediation effort be tried, using the president of Costa Rica and the Vice President of Panama as mediators. President Arias of Costa Rica is still saying that his "San Jose Accords" plan, whereby Zelaya would return under amnesty but with reduced powers, is the best way to go. However, in an interview with the BBC Arias had to admit that the coup regime really is not interested in dialog. Once again, he is putting off a visit by regional foreign ministers. Meanwhile, Micheletti claims that his siege of the Brazilian embassy was in response to the Brazilian government's request that the embassy be given protection against violence. In response to this and to accusations that Brazil is interfering in Honduras' internal affairs, Brazilian President Luis Inacio "Lula" da Silva (in Pittsburgh for the G-20 meeting) is quoted as saying "I am not going to respond to the stupidities of a coup monger (golpista)". Lula added, as quoted in the Mexican online magazine Cronica.com.mx, "What is abnormal is not that Zelaya has returned, but that Micheletti has remained". He added that Zelaya is welcome to stay in the embassy as long as necessary.
5. MR. CANAHUATI LOOKS AT THE ECONOMIC SIDE. Honduras is basically run by a handful of very wealthy families, one of which is the Canahuati clan. On Wednesday Bloomberg online quoted Jesus Canahuati, Vice President of the Honduran chapter of the business council of Latin America (the gang that hired Lanny Davis to lobby on Capitol Hill in favor of the coup) as saying that the curfews that have been imposed since Zelaya's return are costing Honduran private enterprise $50 million per day, in the country's "$14.1 billion economy" by which I guess they mean Gross Domestic Product. Canahuati told Bloomberg that since the coup, Honduras has lost $200 million in foreign investments. Canahuati said these numbers "aren't sustainable". Some speculate that the business elites who were basically behind the coup will now try to get Micheletti to moderate his stance, because of these big losses. We shall see.
Friday, September 25, 2009
By Emile Schepers