Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Honduras coup, Act III, Day 32/update 2

Posted by Charles II on August 24, 2009

Update2: There are signs that as soon as the OAS is out of town, the repression will escalate. First, according to HondurasOye, damage at Cholusasat is so serious that they may be off the air for days or weeks. Radio Globo is broadcasting on a backup. Eliminating opposition media is an essential first step for tyrants who want to abuse human rights with impunity. Second, Honduras Oye has an alert by Felipe Stuart C that was posted Monday AM, stating in part:

Today, at 7:41 AM local time, the capital finds itself militarized and there are reports of strong military contingents in the roads leading out of interior cities to the capital. Incoming routes are also covered with army check barriers.

::Musical noteNo, no, no basta rezar
Hace falta muchas cosas para conseguir la paz::Musical note

Update: Tiempo says that masked men entered Radio Globo and Channel 36 and threw liquids in the transmitters, damaging them and knocking them off the air. Radio Globo is very much on the air. I am not able to bring channel 36 up. According to TeleSur, this happened last night. On Radio Globo, the discussion suggests that the liquid was acid.

Image of Channel 36 from TeleSur (Image from TeleSur)

A commission of 90 European Parliamentary deputies said that they would not accept a government that attempted to replace the democratically elected one. This is potentially important news. While the European Parliament is not truly representative of opinion inside the constituent countries, and while 90 deputies is only 10% of the total, the very fact that the issue has penetrated that far is a good sign.

The Mexican chancellor Patricia Espinosasays that the coup menaces democracy throughout the region.

Taxi drivers who are seeking the payment of a ($474 in Tegucigalpa and $263 elsewhere) fuel subsidy offered by Zelaya (but withheld by the coup) engaged in blockades in Tegucigalpa and were hassled by the police. What the police actually did is unclear.

Mark Weisbrot had an interesting piece in The Guardian a few days ago:

A few days ago, an official of the Zelaya government told the press that this plane actually stopped at the Palmerola airbase in Honduras, home to 600 US troops, on its way out of the country. According to the Associated Press, the official offered this as evidence that the US was involved in the coup. US officials declined immediate comment, but later followed up with a statement that the US “had no knowledge or part in the decisions made for the plane to land, refuel and take off.”

This does not seem to be a credible story. To believe this denial, we would have to believe that the US military has such complete confidence in Honduran security that it allows them to monitor and control the airspace over this base where 600 US troops are stationed, as well as takeoffs and landings – without any involvement of US personnel. A tough swallow, especially given the post-9/11 concerns about terrorist attacks against US military personnel stationed abroad.

The one thing we can be pretty sure of is that no major US media outlet will look further into this matter.

On Radio Globo: The anti-coup Congressmen issued a communique affirming their loyalty to LP principles and re-affirming their rejection of the coup.

As mentioned yesterday, a letter from President Zelaya (or, more accurately, attributed to Zelaya’s cabinet and dated 8/17: thanks for delicately pointing these things out, RAJ) to US Ambassador Hugo Llorens expressed in frank terms frustration with the US over its ambiguous (duplicitous) policy toward the legitimate government.

But there’s a very good reason to think that the (unsigned) letter was written by Zelaya himself: the letter, which circumspectly uses the third first person plural slips into first person singular, saying “Also, I haven’t seen the coupistas regretting anything. The only laments I hear are of the Honduran people, to which you and your government have turned a deaf ear [lit: have made your ears deaf].” While the bulk of the letter could have been written by someone else–indeed, it lacks the evangelical language into which Zelaya often lapses–that shift into the first person singular voice is characteristic of someone passionately engaged in an issue.

Yet remarkably, this letter has been out there apparently for six days without any discussion that I am aware of. Added: RAJ tells me that there are some doubts about the provenance of the letter.

Radio Globo: A demo walking on Central American Blvd. Juan Barahona: No one is surrendering. We will never renounce the fight. (Spanish Judge) Baltazar Garzon is here, as well as Insulza. So expectations are high. The resistance is getting stronger every day [stream gets interrupted]. Wednesday, a car caravan.

 ::Musical noteHonduras, el pueblo esta contigo::  ::Musical note::

Alberto Gutierrez: [stream gets interrupted] at the National Agricultural Institute is the only institution in the coupista government [where there has been an occupation]a colonel Rodriguez I was talking to him and he was upset [stream gets interrupted] 230 people in this building. We won’t have serious difficulties. We’re ready for whatever happens. They asked me where does Concha X live, where is Daisy Y? [stream interrupted] This institution belongs to us, the farmers. [stream interrupted]. Carlos Paz in front of the hotel where the chancellors are: [very difficult to follow] The leadership of the anti-Coup front (or at least the Congressmen) has been invited. Interviews. The commission doesn’t have the solution to this problem at hand. Hondurans have to solve it. [and with that I have to move on.]

On DK, Robert Naiman has a full description on the rape of Irma Villanueva. Her statement, which was reportedly played on Radio Progreso and replayed on Radio Globo, was noted here several days ago. In comments there Mexico will not recognize any government elected under the coup

The Honduran Embassy has posted the preliminary comments of the Interamerican Center for Human Rights. They are extensive and can’t even be summarized here. But most relevant for the United States’s increasingly pathetic attempts to pretend this is not a militarycoup and hence exempt from being cut off from funding under US Law, the CIDH remarked that:

The Commission was able to verify during its visit that the interruption of the constitutional order brought about by the coup d’état has been accompanied by a strong military presence in various spheres of civilian life; the suspension of guarantees through the implementation of a curfew that does not meet the standards of the inter-American system; and the ineffectiveness of judicial remedies to safeguard people’s fundamental rights.

Along these lines, the Commission received information about the strong military presence in schools and at the National University, and the Army’s shutdown and occupation of television and radio channels during the coup d’état.

It is also of concern to the Commission that the Army has actively participated, along with the National Police, in controlling demonstrations. While under exceptional circumstances the armed forces may be called on to participate in controlling demonstrations, this exercise must be limited to the maximum extent, because the armed forces lack the necessary training to control internal disturbances.

Looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…. this is a military coup under the meaning of US law.

6 Responses to “Honduras coup, Act III, Day 32/update 2”

  1. If the military is now in charge, then it is a military coup.

    • Charles II said

      Mike, the Armed Forces have been in charge from the beginning. Honduras has never really had a civilian government– heck, it’s not even clear that the US military is really under civilian control– it’s a family-based oligarchy in which the Armed Forces do what business leaders want. What the resistance has done has been to strip some of the veneer from the surface.

      • But surely your contention is not that Zelaya was a military leader or puppet. So if they had a civilian government at the time he was president, and now the military is in charge, there has been a change as I described.

      • Charles II said

        Zelaya was certainly not a puppet, but since he owed his continuance in office to the good graces of the military, he was a figurehead. The military was always capable of taking control, and they have done so many times in the past.

        Honduras has been trying to make the transition to being a full democracy for a very long time. It has only been a decade since the President became the commander in chief. The longer that the military stays out of politics, the more uncomfortable the average officer becomes with intervention.

        So, rather than say that the expulsion of Zelaya marks a clear change from the past, I would say plus ca change….

        But one’s mileage may vary.

      • Evidently Zelaya was not commander in chief, except perhaps in name, or the military could not have deposed him. I get your point that Honduras has never been far from military control, but it does seem counterproductive to argue that this was not a military coup. It may have been incipient for a long time, and Zelaya’s hold on power may always have been tenuous, but if I’m to say that it wasn’t a military coup then how would you describe the situation?

      • Charles II said

        Mike says, “Evidently Zelaya was not commander in chief, except perhaps in name, or the military could not have deposed him.”


        When a figurehead is displaced by the real power, it’s a coup. But one might also say that the pretense of a civilian government–which was required for membership in the UN and the OAS and for receiving financial aid, among many other benefits–was a fraud perpetrated on the international community. Of course, if the power behind the figurehead were to remain passive for a very long time and the figurehead were to gain power sufficient to control his master, then what was once a fraud would cease to be so, and a coup would become impossible.

        That, I believe, is the situation in which Honduras was in prior to the coup: on uneasy ground between a military dictatorship and a democratic government, where it could have gone either way.

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