Category: Honduras

Honduras (very late) Update

By , February 13, 2011 2:21 pm

As I mention in the previous post, I wrote a number of posts about the constitutional crisis in Honduras in 2009, the U.S.’s response to it. I realized that I hadn’t followed what happened about the crises quieted down–or at least fell off my radar.

Here’s a quick update, beginning with then-President Micheletti’s July 27, 2009 letter to the Wall Street Journal, to sort of get you up to speed as to who he is and what happened in Honduras, at least according to him (and to me for that matter, since I agree with what he wrote).

The nut paragraph in that letter, for my purposes, is:

The way forward is to work with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. He is proposing ways to ensure that Mr. Zelaya complies with Honduras’s laws and its constitution and allows the people of Honduras to elect a new president in the regularly scheduled Nov. 29 elections (or perhaps earlier, if the date is moved up as President Arias has suggested and as Honduran law allows).(emphasis supplied)

Note the date on the letter. The so-called coup took place one month earlier on June 28, 2009. So just one month latter, President Micheletti is talking about regularly scheduled elections where the people can elect a new president.

According to The Economist, that happened as scheduled, when centre-right candidate Porfirio Lobo Sosa won the election. Later reports confirmed that he won 55% of the vote. Turnout was “robust,” rivaling turnouts in U.S. elections. As The Economist wrote on December 3, 2009,

On November 29th the de facto government led by Roberto Micheletti achieved its main aim of holding a presidential election to choose Mr Zelaya’s successor. All five political parties took part, including the far-left Democratic Unification party, which reneged on a promise to withdraw if Mr Zelaya was not reinstated. Despite warnings of violent protests and a call to boycott the election by Mr Zelaya’s “resistance” movement, voting took place fairly calmly, disturbed only by one clash between police and demonstrators in San Pedro Sula, the country’s second city.

Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo, the amiable leader of the centre-right National Party, won a clear mandate with 55% of the vote—primarily because the rival Liberal Party was divided between backers of Mr Micheletti and Mr Zelaya. Turnout seems to have been around the 55% mark reached in the 2005 election, when Mr Zelaya narrowly beat Mr Lobo.

I reviewed that to write this: On December 9, 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at the First Diplomacy Briefing Series Meeting in Washington D.C. said the following about the election:

Now, the culmination of what was a year-long electoral process occurred on November 29th when the Honduran people expressed their feelings and their commitment to a democratic future. They turned out in large numbers and they threw out, in effect, the party of both President Zelaya and the de facto leader, Mr. Micheletti. Since then, President-elect Lobo has launched a national dialogue. He’s called for the formation of a national unity government and a truth commission as set forth among the requirements in the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord. That is an agreement that the Hondurans themselves reached. We helped to facilitate it, but the Hondurans decided they wanted a local resolution. (emphasis supplied)

I find her choice of words–threw out, in effect–weaselly. Taking Micheletti at his word, he was pushing for elections from almost the very beginning. In fact, the elections that did occur were regularly scheduled. To me the U.S. got in the way from the very beginning. I think the Honduran people in general and the Honduran government in particular acted very much like a mature democracy. They should be proud.

Coup News: Honduras Then, Egypt Now

By , February 13, 2011 1:38 pm

Summer 2009, I wrote a series of posts about the coup (or not to coup) in Honduras. I’ve kind of lost track of whether the Obama administration finally declared that what happened down there was a coup or not.

That said, I have not forgotten that the administration opposed what happened and actively campaigned for the return of Manuel Zelaya to power, even though that country’s Congress and Supreme Court approved his approval. In short, what appeared, at least to me, to be a constitutional transfer of power by constitutionally constituted bodies–a transfer necessitated by the fear that Zelaya was attempting to become the region’s next Chavez–was some sort of coup to our administration.

With this in mind, consider the news of the last few days out of Egypt: Mubarak surrendered power to the Egyptian military, which today dissolved parliament, suspended the nation’s constitution, and promised elections in 6 months–in what The New York Times reports the military called “a democratic transition.”

Now I support what is happening in Egypt. It appears at this point that the military is acting in harmony with the public’s will, justifying, in the military’s mind at least, its claim of a democratic transition. What I’m waiting for now is for the Obama administration to call this a coup.

What? They’re not going to do that?

Then why all the fuss over Honduras, where a democratically elected congress and the supreme court transferred power?

Critics of the Obama administration have questioned why he didn’t offer similar support for those who protested in Iran in 2009-2010. They should add Honduras to the list of inconsistencies.

All The Coups That’s Fit To Print

By , August 4, 2009 11:20 am

Well, it’s been what, over a month since the State Department started the process to determine whether the events in Honduras amounted to a coup, legally speaking, as opposed to, you know, Presidential or Secretary of State speaking.

The answer, as of the August 3rd Daily Briefing at the Department of State, is:

QUESTION: Do you acknowledge that it was a coup, a military coup? 

MR. CROWLEY: Well, there are legal issues there that we have chosen not to exercise at this point. But clearly, in every way possible, we have said that what happened in Honduras is a violation of the OAS Charter, which is why we took action against Honduras. It’s a violation of the Inter-American Charter, the Inter-American Democratic Charter. And we continue to work intensively to try to resolve the situation. 

Stay tuned for further updates. In the meantime, I can assure you of one thing: This gang couldn’t shoot straight if they owned a gun in the first place.


By , July 5, 2009 4:41 pm

This is maddening. In a July 1, 2009, State Department “Background Briefing,” an unidentified “Senior Administration Official One” responded to a reporter’s question/statement that “earlier this week, Secretary Clinton gave us to understand that you were holding off on a determination on whether [the removal of President Zelaya] was indeed a military coup. . . . that the Legal Advisor’s Office has begun the process of determining whether [the removal] was a military coup . . .” by saying:

In regard to the first question, both the President and the Secretary have described events in Honduras as a coup, which they certainly were once the current claimant to the presidency swore – was sworn in before the congress after the forcible removal of the legal and constitutional president, Mel Zelaya. 

Fine, so “this is properly classified as a military coup, right?

“Senior Administration Official One” again:

Well, I mean, it’s a golpe de estado. The military moved against the president; they removed him from his home and they expelled him from a country, so the military participated in a coup. However, the transfer of leadership was not a military action. The transfer of leadership was done by the Honduran congress, and therefore the coup, while it had a military component, it has a larger – it is a larger event.

So it’s a at least a coup then, if not a full blown military one? I mean, really, “I’d like to know if you have finished the formal review to declare officially the expulsion of President Zelaya as a coup-d’etat.”
This time “Senior Administration Official Two” steps to the plate:
. . . as I believe it was answered earlier, the review is ongoing.
Got that? These guys can’t shoot straight.

Coup Knew?

By , July 3, 2009 12:19 pm

I just wrote Edward Schumacher-Matos about the so-called “coup” in Honduras, so called, because the State Department has yet to decide if, legally speaking, it was actually a coup. Below is my correspondence with Mr. Schumacher-Matos, a writer syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group, who, by the way, says the Hillary Clinton “declined to call the action a coup.” Not if you believe what she said on Monday, June 29 at a State Department Briefing. 

Per the former Senator, in response to a reporter’s question: “Well, we do think that this has evolved into a coup.” 

Any way, here’s my correspondence:

I’ve read most of the Washington Post’s coverage and virtually all of the New York Times’, but I’ve yet to read what I read today in the Christian Science Monitor. So I ask–because you seem to know what you’re talking about–why is what happened in Honduras a coup? How/why is Mr. Sanchez (the author of the CS Monitor piece) wrong? And why has neither the WaPo nor the NYT (to my knowledge) mentioned Article 239 of the Honduran constitution in their coverage?
Thanks in advance for responding,
Greg Taggart
As a P.S. I note that the State Department–Hillary Clinton’s and President Obama’s statements notwithstanding–has not decided that what happened in Honduras as actually a “coup.” And I quote, from Ian Kelly’s Daily Press Briefing of July 1, 2009:
QUESTION: To start with Honduras, yesterday, you told us that the Legal Adviser’s Office has begun its formal review of whether the U.S. Government regards this as a military coup.            

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: And therefore triggers the aid cutoff.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Is that review complete? You had also said you didn’t think it would take that long.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Is it complete, and have you made a determination?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. It’s always dangerous when you put any kind of time-related adverb on any statement. In point of fact, we have not completed our legal determination. As I said yesterday, though, our legal advisers are actively assessing the facts and the law in question, which we take very seriously. We take our obligations under that law very seriously. And of course, I’ll let you know as soon as this determination is made.

That’s on the legal side. Of course, there’s also the diplomatic side, which has been extremely active. We’re very focused on this multilateral process that’s taking place now, particularly through the Organization of American States. As you know, the Secretary General Insulza of the OAS has a mandate to get the government that – the self-proclaimed government down there to step down and restore the duly elected president, Mr. Zelaya. The Secretary General has, as you know, 72 hours to do this. And we, of course, are – want to play a constructive role in that process. 

And from his July 2 briefing:
QUESTION: Do you have any news on the review of possible aid cutoff to Honduras?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I do have an update for you on that if you’ll just hold on a second.

The legal review is ongoing. We’re trying to determine if Section 7008 of the Foreign Assistance Act must be applied. In the meantime, we’ve taken some actions to hit the pause button, let’s say, on assistance programs that we would be legally required to terminate if it is determined – if the events of June 28 are determined to have been, as defined – I’m sounding more and more like a lawyer here – as defined, under the Section 7008 of the Foreign Assistance Act, as defined as a military coup. 

Frankly, I find the Obama/Clinton reaction to Honduras odd and more than a bit from the hip. Can this gang shoot straight? 

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