By Emile Schepers
I had intended to report this morning (Sept. 29) but it was not possible. Here's the latest.
1. MICHELETTI BACKS OFF MARTIAL LAW DECREES, BUT WHAT ABOUT RADIO GLOBO AND CHANNEL 36? On Sunday, coup leader Roberto Micheletti had issued martial law decrees, to be in force for 45 days, evidently to stop a mounting movement of pressure that was supposed to peak with a huge demonstration Monday morning. The Micheletti decrees put an end to freedom of speech, press and assembly, prohibited criticisms of the coup government, and gave police the right to make arrests without warrants. Under these decrees, the coup forces barged into the facilities of the only two major pro-Zelaya electronic media, Radio Globo and Channel 36 TV, hauled away their broadcasting equipment and shut them down. Radio Globo staff were barely able to escape out the back door. As of this evening, Radio Globo has managed to do some limited broadcasting via the internet, but is reaching far fewer people. Channel 36 is off the air completely. So the pro-coup media are free to broadcast all their lies.
But in an amazingly short period of time, Micheletti had to retract his decrees, because of mounting opposition in the Congress and other elite sectors in Honduras. He even asked "pardon" from the Honduran people. The rebellion against Micheletti from his own social base could have several reasons. In the first place, Micheletti and his supporters had been saying ad nauseam that everything was normal in Honduras, that rights to freedom of press and assembly were being respected. He was saying this because he has been trying to convince the world that the elections scheduled for November 29 are good, clean and legitimate. What Micheletti and the other coupsters have been betting on is that after the November election, no matter how fraudulent, and the installation of a new president on January 27 2010, the world will forget about Honduras and the oligarchy will be left alone to go on its merry way. But 45 days of martial law will leave only 18 days for election campaigning without repression of the pro-Zelaya opposition. Meanwhile pro-coup, anti-Zelaya candidates, including Elvin Santos of Micheletti's own Liberal Party and Pepe Lobo of the rival National Party, will have a free rein to campaign, without even being criticized in the press. Obviously such a situation does not allow a free and fair election, so by issuing the martial law decree, Micheletti completely demolished his own main propaganda thrust aimed at the outside world. Perhaps some of the other right-wingers in Honduran politics have a few more brain cells than Micheletti does, and have now grabbed him by his coat-tails and hauled him back from the brink--I hope too late. Some politicians may also be afraid that Micheletti and his closes collaborators may move to monopolize power for themselves. There was a report in the Mexico City daily La Jornada this morning (I am careful to say it was not confirmed by other sources, at least yet) that one radio presenter was told to broadcast the information that Micheletti is planning to stay on beyond January 27, for another two years as "interim president". Even the suggestion of such a thing would surely annoy other politicians, from left to right. Also, Honduran businesses, including both pro- and anti-coup entities, are being harmed by the disruption, continued curfews etc. This is probably another reason that some people who originally supported the coup and Micheletti are having their doubts. If this is so, it shows that the campaigns of internal protest and foreign pressure are working, and that the return of Zelaya on Monday September 21 may indeed have started the coup regime on a slide toward its downfall.
But even before the martial law decree, the Honduran police and military were repressing protesters who spoke out against the coup. And there is no sign that Micheletti is going to return the broadcasting equipment to Radio Globo and TV 36.
2. U.S. AMBASSADORS AND BUSINESS LEADERS MEET, SUGGESTED COMPROMISE OFFERED TO ZELAYA? U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens and John Biehl representing the OAS met with pro-coup businessmen and politicians today, according to the Los Angeles Times. In what may have been a rather acerbic meeting, Llorens and Biehl supposedly told the others that if Zelaya is restored under the terms of the San Jose Accords, proposed by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias months ago but rejected by the Micheletti gang up to now precisely because it involves restoration of Zelaya, that his powers would be limited. Major business leader Adolfo Facusse says he might be in agreement with letting Zelaya come back if he also agrees to face charges in court and if international troops, either from the U.N. or from a country with a right-wing government, are there to keep him in line. Some are suggesting that such troops might be sent from Colombia, Panama or Canada, all three countries having right wing governments. Did I just write "Colombia"? I don't see how Zelaya could agree to the idea of Colombian troops coming into Honduras as they have a horrible record of repressing labor unions and peasant organizations, and there is, right now, a huge controversy about U.S. bases in Colombia, and Colombian threats to its neighbors. I sort of remember, also, Panama having abolished its armed forces, no? Maybe that was for show. Canada has major mining interests in Honduras, and the government of Prime Minister Steven Harper is certainly right wing enough. Zelaya, for his part, expressed optimism that the shifts in position of the Honduran businessmen may be a "good sign".
3. I REPORTED YESTERDAY THAT THE OAS meeting in Washington did not agree on a statement on the latest events in Honduras, but did criticize the martial law decree. Also, the alternate US ambassador to the OAS, Mr. Amselem, made a royal jackass of himself by blasting Zelaya and calling his return to Honduras (a daring and corageous move which has, in fact, set in motion dynamics that may defeat the coup) "irresponsible and foolish". Lots of people immediately started to look up who this Amselem is on the internet. It turns out that he is a career foreign service officer with the usual background of links to the U.S. military and security apparatus. Although other State Department spokespersons have, in the meanwhile, reiterated the Obama administration's opposition to the coup and the martial law declaration, and its support for Zelaya's restoration, the impression has now again been given that the State Department at least is talking out of both sides of its mouth on the Honduras issue. Today Zelaya firmly rejected Amselem's "crude" (grosero) statement.
4. IN BRAZIL, various politicians within and without President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva's governing coalition have been attacking Lula for allowing Zelaya to stay in the embassy and use it as his HQ for calling for an end to the coup. Lula and his foreign minister, Celso Amorim, have more or less held firm but have asked Zelaya to moderate the rhetoric a little and to find a way to reduce the total number of people (about 70) who are with him in the embassy.
5. THE SCHEDULED VISIT OF O.A.S. foreign ministers has been postponed again, from later this week to October 7. The foreign ministers will be Costa Rica's Bruno Stango, Canadian Hemispheric Affairs minister Peter Kent, Jamaica's Foreign Minister Kenneth Baugh, Argentina's Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana, Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa, Panamanian Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Varela, and OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza.
More tomorrow. Never a dull moment in the exciting world created by imperialim and neoliberal globalization.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
By Emile Schepers