Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Honduras Coup, Act III, Day 17/Update2

Posted by Charles II on August 9, 2009

Update2: Foreign Policy in Focus has an article alleging that the US may have been behind the coup. Not much of it will be a surprise to RAJ of HondurasCoup2009 Conn Hallinan mentions Robert Carmona-Borjas, Otto Reich, and Lanny Davis’s employers. But it also links an article in The Nation by Greg Grandin, summarizing it as follows:

According to Greg Grandin, a history professor at New York University, the coup makers also included the extremely right-wing Catholic organization, Opus Dei, whose roots go back to the fascist regime of Spanish caudillo Francisco Franco.

Chiapas Indymedia has a summary of the day’s events. First, marches from the Atlantic Coast in the north and from the west converged on San Pedro Sula. Weathermen went on strike for 48 hours, which could affect air traffic. Taxi drivers are joining the resistance. Also, five thousand people from the provinces of Colon and Atlántida who had started in the port of Tela arrived in El Progreso Yoro.

The list of of OAS representatives, according to Tiempo is: Jorge Taiana (Argentina); Peter Kent (Canada); Bruno Stagno (Costa Rica); Kenneth Baugh (Jamaica); Patricia Espinosa (México); and Carlos Morales Troncoso (Dominican Republic).
Update: I am unable to get either Radio Globo or Radio Progreso. Telesur is talking about the transmission of some Trypanosoma cruzi by the bite of the kissing bug (triatomine bug) rather than Honduras.

Bill Conroy has an important piece at Narconews:

The coup d’état that rocked Honduras in late June and removed democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya from office, sending him into exile in Costa Rica, was preceded by a multi-million dollar build-up of foreign aid from a U.S. agency that includes on its board of directors the president of the International Republican Institute as well as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

That taxpayer-funded agency, called the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), oversees a multi-billion dollar foreign-aid fund called the Millennium Challenge Account. It was established in 2004 under the Bush administration as means of combating terrorism by funding development in poor nations under a strict neo-conservative free-trade model.

Diana Barahona is saying that Zelaya has given up on returning to Honduras. This is unfair and self-defeating. It’s based on a comment by Hugo Chavez that returning is not Zelaya’s central goal: that obtaining political and social change is. True, the poor people of Honduras are enduring a lot of hardship and, also true, one can never rely on politicians to make change. But Zelaya could have sold out and, so far he has not.
Adrienne Pine has a number of new documents. Soon up on her site will be an assessment of the Honduran economy. The point that leapt out at me was that Honduras’s international reserves dropped by 12% in July. For a country like Honduras, that implies exploding interest rates will soon follow. The cancellation of Venezuelan oil puts further pressure on currency reserves. Year-on-year tourism revenues are down 36% (though some of that is simply due to the recession). The Honduran lempira is down, weakening buying power.

Adrienne also mentions a protest in Washington DC for Tuesday evening on the National Mall. Oscar Amaya Armijo, speaking of the police assault at the National University says that academic neutrality becomes impossible under such circumstances.

Alexis Aguilar writes that:

The United States is purposefully sending mixed signals on the Honduran crisis. ….These mixed signals are meant to give the coup government assurances that the United States will not take any firm action against them and will continue to pay only lip service to the restoration of democracy in Honduras.

While this is a possible interpretation, it’s also possible that (a) there are two factions within the Administration, which are pushing in different directions, (b) the Administration is trying to fend off critics in a misguided attempt to buy time for negotiations that cannot succeed, or (c) Hillary is out of her depth and is simply bungling it. But the net effect is indeed that the coup thinks that it is going to get away with it.

Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle writes about the tangled politics around General Romeo Vasquez. He leans toward the hypothesis that there are competing factions within the Obama Administration, with the CIA and the military focused on getting rid of Chavez to the exclusion of considering the long-term damage to hemispheric relations. He adds:

It is significant that the gringos have not revoked the visas of Romeo and his four generals. … It is only a moral sanction. But why is the embassy treating the military with such respect?

The Narcosphere and RAJ are discussing the report that the coup has suddenly rejected the visit by a delegation of foreign dignitaries, including Miguel Insulza of the OAS. He is demanding the exclusion of Insulza, who is from Nicaragua Chile [thanks, Nell], a country that is part of the Chavez alliance, ALBA. My guess is this will prove to be a major miscalculation.

The New York Times can’t even get the death toll right. Ginger Thompson says, “So far, however, only two people have been killed in the weeks of political strife since the coup; as many people died in unrelated clashes at a soccer game, underscoring the high level of violence in the country.” I have it as closer to a dozen, and –in addition– the soccer clashes are generally believed to be political, but even keeping an accurate death toll is difficult– the human rights organizations like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch don’t have reports more recent than early July and the Honduran government has been very effective in keeping the media at bay.

The Sacramento Bee has photos.

7 Responses to “Honduras Coup, Act III, Day 17/Update2”

  1. Nell said

    Insulza is Chilean. I think it’s that Micheletti previously refused to have any ALBA delegates, and this is a new hissy fit.

    there are two factions within the Administration, which are pushing in different directions

    Well if there are, Obama and Clinton seem to me to be part of the same faction, so I’m betting on that one. I also don’t buy the “mistake/bungling” interpretation of Clinton’s approach, which has been evident from day 2 of the coup (see my guest post at They want to make Zelaya pay a price, they’re fine with it taking functionally forever to reinstall him, and both of them underestimate the price they’re paying in trust and goodwill with moderate progressive govts in the hemisphere (Lula, Funes). But they think they can get away with it because those are the very govts that are reluctant to publicly criticize Obama.

    • Charles II said

      I’m grateful for the correction, Nell.

      Don’t underestimate stupidity as am explanation. It’s very stupid to support a coup, after all.

      Or to get Insulza’s nationality wrong, for that matter.

  2. RAJ said

    Stupidity seems very possible, increasingly likely to me, in that the official response keeps emphasizing negotiated settlement as if there has been any progress. I have severe doubts about Zelaya being enough of an irritant for the US to actively be attempting to keep him out of a restored government.

    But the real stupidity appears to be thinking the Micheletti regime would be grateful for the Arias plan, which effectively rewarded Micheletti’s gang. The US administration seems singularly unable to appreciate that all they can expect are more pie-in-the-face rejections by the regime that clearly they think is more tractable.

    • Charles II said

      Al Giordano apparently believes that the real interests behind the coup are narcotraffickers and other international criminals, not just the usual financial interests like Chiquita and the sweatshops. Now, granted, it’s often difficult to tell whether the US government is for or against narcotrafficking, but if we take the charitable interpretation that it’s against, the decision to support the anti-Zelaya forces ranks up on the scales of stupidity near leaving Afghanistan in the hands of Osama bin Laden.

      • Nell said

        Honduras appears to be well established as a drug transshipment point, and I’ve read that the business has grown in the last decade. Politicians accuse each other of being involved (there were several drug smears of Zelaya early on, including by the vile Cardinal Rodriguez), but no one has seriously named names or even given an idea of whether the money is flowing to some of the traditional oligarchs or creating new members of the little club.

        Since investing in tourist developments is one of the ways of laundering the proceeds, I’d like to know more about who’s backing the recent burst of hotels, golf courses, etc.

    • Nell said

      I don’t believe Clinton or Obama or anyone else really believes in the Arias negotiations. It’s just that they provide a handy deflection screen to use against requests that they take any other action. This administration is committed to restoring Zelaya only if he’s completely neutered — without the ability to carry out any of the agenda supported by the popular movement.

      The Obama administration is replacing Manta with five or even seven Colombian bases. They averted their eyes from the Uribe government’s abuses and approved increased aid. They certified that Bolivia’s government was not cooperating in the “war on drugs”, despite cocaine busts having soared after the DEA was kicked out. (A pattern repeated often enough that it should raise eyebrows in the U.S., but is apparently unsayable.)

      They’re not going to make any fundamental changes in the direction of U.S. policy in the region. The U.S. military has a head of steam behind seeing Venezuela as a regional military threat, for the obvious and usual reason we declare particular countries in need of regime change.

      They’re never going to declare the Honduras coup a coup; if they were, they’d have done it long since. If the entire high command appearing in uniform on television to justify their coup doesn’t qualify, or the military requesting and a military judge approving the order to shut down Radio Globo, or the military having taken command of the police (since the ‘no roadblocks tolerated’ edict of July 30), then what would?

      • Charles II said

        There are pieces of the puzzle that don’t fit, Nell. For example, why remove Zelaya when he was just a few months from completing his term, with a near certainty that he would be replaced by a reliable oligarch? The referendum was non-binding… even if it had been binding, the Congress would have controlled the process of appointing delegates.

        While I am the first to say that the coup could have been simply planned by the Administration, there are half a dozen things that don’t line up with that theory. Keeping an open mind and going where the evidence leads helps to keep the eyes open.

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