Tuesday, November 10, 2009

WNU #1011: Honduran Resistance Rejects “Afghanistan-Style” Elections

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #1011, November 8, 2009

1. Honduras: Resistance Rejects “Afghanistan-Style” Elections
2. Honduras: US and Latin America Split Over Elections
3. In Other News: Mexico, Cuba, Haiti
4. Links to alternative sources on: Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Central America, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Cuba, Biodiversity, Indigenous, Economy, Media

ISSN#: 1084‑922X. Weekly News Update on the Americas covers news from Latin America and the Caribbean, compiled and written from a progressive perspective. It has been published weekly by the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York since 1990. For a subscription, write to weeklynewsupdate@gmail.com . It is archived at http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com/

*1. Honduras: Resistance Rejects “Afghanistan-Style” Elections
As of the evening of Nov. 7 talks in Tegucigalpa between representatives of Honduran president José Manuel Zelaya Rosales and de facto president Roberto Micheletti Bain had failed to revive the Tegucigalpa/San José Accord, an agreement the two sides signed on Oct. 30, a little more than one week earlier. Members of a Verification Commission established by the agreement had tried to salvage the accord by having the two sides meet again on Nov. 7.

Zelaya’s representatives apparently signed the Oct. 30 agreement on the understanding that the National Congress would return Zelaya to the presidency--from which he was removed by a June 28 military coup backed by the Congress and Supreme Court--and that he would then form a multi-party Government of Unity and National Reconciliation. The agreement stipulated that the new government would be in place by the end of Nov. 5 [see Update #1010]. But the Congress, which is in recess until general elections scheduled for Nov. 29, failed to reconvene, and Micheletti proceeded to name a multi-party cabinet which Zelaya refused to recognize. Micheletti’s new cabinet had the same ministers as the old de facto government in key ministries: foreign relations, finance, agriculture, defense, security and the presidency. (Honduras Coup 2009 blog 11/8/09; El Día (Spain) 11/8/09 from EFE; La Jornada (Mexico) 11/7/09 from correspondent)

On Nov. 3 the US government, which had brokered the Tegucigalpa/San José Accord, abruptly dropped its commitment not to recognize the Nov. 29 elections if Zelaya wasn’t returned to office. During an interview with the CNN en Español television network, US assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs Thomas Shannon was asked whether the US would recognize the elections without Zelaya’s restitution. “The future of Honduran democracy is in the hands of the Hondurans,” Shannon replied. The interviewer then asked more explicitly: “The US, whatever may happen, in the process will recognize whatever happens on Nov. 29?” Shannon answered: “Yes, exactly.” (El Heraldo (Tegucigalpa) 11/4/09)

“I don’t want Afghanistan-style elections for my country,” Zelaya told the opposition Radio Globo station on Nov. 6, referring to the reelection of US-backed Afghani president Hamid Karzai in August balloting marred by reports of widespread fraud. The grassroots movement against the coup is calling for a boycott of the elections. Some resistance activists want to go further. “It’s not just about not going to vote,” indigenous leader Salvador Zúñiga said on Nov. 6. “The same way they took away our ballot box on June 28, we have to take theirs away from them.” The June 28 coup prevented Zelaya’s government from holding a nonbinding referendum that day to ask Hondurans whether they wanted to vote in the Nov. 29 elections on a Constituent Assembly to rewrite the 1982 Constitution.

“From now on,” Zúñiga said, “it’s going to be forbidden for politicians to come into our neighborhoods and communities, and we’re going to forbid them to set up the voting places.” (LJ 11/7/09)

*2. Honduras: US and Latin America Split Over Elections
The rapid failure of an Oct. 30 accord between Honduran president Manuel Zelaya and the country’s de facto government “leaves egg on the faces of US and regional diplomats who had engineered the deal,” according to an analysis piece by the Reuters news service. (Reuters 11/6/09)

The agreement’s collapse also increases the distance between the government of US president Barack Obama—which is now in effect siding with the de facto regime--and most governments in Latin America and the Caribbean. On Nov. 6 the 12-member Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) demanded Zelaya’s “immediate restitution,” as did foreign ministers at a meeting of the Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean (CALC) in Jamaica the same day.

Even diplomats and leaders who maintain good relations with the US implicitly criticized the US position. “The measures in the accord are clear and were subscribed to by the free will of the parties,” Organization of American States (OAS) general secretary José Miguel Insulza said on Nov. 5 after de facto president Roberto Micheletti named a “unity government” not backed by Zelaya. “I expect [these measures] to be fulfilled without more subterfuges, in order to reestablish democracy, institutional legitimacy and coexistence among the Hondurans.” “[N]aturally, the person who was elected by the Honduran people to exercise the function of the president of the republic should preside” over the unity government, Insulza said in Washington. (Prensa Latina 11/6/09; Adital 11/6/09; LJ 11/7/09)

In an interview with CNN en Español on 11/7/09, former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos (2000-2006), the highest-ranking member of the accord’s Verification Commission, was equally clear that Micheletti had violated the agreement when he named his own “unity government.” Asked who should head the Government of Unity and National Reconciliation, Lagos answered: “[T]he logic of this accord is that in the event that Zelaya Rosales was installed as president…there would be a national unity cabinet.” “When we met with Mr. Micheletti and he said what he was doing [naming a unity cabinet], we told him that this wasn’t what was agreed to and that he couldn’t do it.”

Costa Rican president Oscar Arias, generally a supporter of the US and a leader in the negotiations that led to the accord, distanced himself from the de facto government on Nov. 7: “They are looking, by means of delaying tactics, to pass the time until the elections come, risking that the future government will not be recognized by some countries," he said. (Honduras Coup 2009 blog 11/8/09; El Tiempo (San Pedro Sula) 11/8/09; El Día (Spain) 11/8/09 from EFE)

In the US, Congress members from the Republican Party are supporting the Obama administration’s new position. But criticism is coming from forces that usually side with the Democratic president. “If the Obama administration chooses to recognize the election without Zelaya first being reinstated, it will find itself at odds with the rest of Latin America,” a Los Angeles Times editorial warned on Nov. 5. “That would be a setback for democracy and for the United States.” (LAT 11/5/09) “An election run by the coup plotters won’t be credible to Hondurans—and it shouldn’t be to anyone else,” the editors of the New York Times wrote on Nov. 7. (NYT 11/7/09)

At the same time, other forces on the liberal side seem to pushing for the US to recognize the Nov. 29 elections. The “pragmatic middle ground” might be for the US and the OAS to recognize the elections “under protest of how they came about,” according to Shelley A. McConnell, an assistant professor of government at St. Lawrence University and a former analyst for the Carter Center, a prestigious election-monitoring organization founded by liberal former US president Jimmy Carter (1977-1981). “You don’t punish the next guy,” she told the New York Times. (NYT 11/7/09) [The frontrunner in the Honduran presidential race is Profirio (“Pepe”) Lobo of the center-right National Party (PN); he and his party backed the June 28 coup.]

*3. In Other News: Mexico, Cuba, Haiti
The Mexican government announced in mid-October that it had approved 35 requests to test-plant genetically modified (GM) corn. The announcement said the testing would be strictly monitored and would be confined to closed areas. Environmental activists and campesinos have staged protests in recent years to demand a total ban on GM corn, which they say could threaten the country’s 200 existing varieties of corn. (Xinhua 10/21/09) … The United Nations General Assembly voted on Oct. 28 to condemn the US embargo on trade with Cuba that has been in effect since 1962. This is the 18th time the General Assembly has supported a nonbinding resolution against the embargo. The vote was 187-3 with two abstentions; last year’s tally was 185-3 with one abstention [see Update #966]. The US, Israel and Palau voted against the resolution; the Marshall Islands and Micronesia abstained. (Reuters 10/28/09) … On Nov. 7 Haiti’s Chamber of Deputies voted 52-0 with two abstentions to confirm Planning and External Cooperation Minister Jean-Max Bellerive as the next prime minister. The Senate had approved him the day before. Bellerive will replace Michèle Duvivier Pierre-Louis, who was voted out of office by the Senate on Oct. 30 [see Update #1011]. (AlterPresse (Haiti) 11/8/09)

*4. Links to alternative sources on: Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Central America, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Cuba, Biodiversity, Indigenous, Economy, Media

Argentina's last dictator stands trial in rights absues

Argentina: Kraft Firings Feed Protests

Hope and Disappointment in Uruguay's Elections

Paraguay: military shake-up amid coup rumblings

Peru: indigenous people face off with Hunt Oil in rainforest

Peru: Hunt Oil Contract to Reignite Amazon Uprising?

Peru: US Oil Company Threatened with Eviction from Amazon

Ecuador: The Battle for Natural Resources Intensifies

U.S. Military Documents Show Colombia Base Agreement Poses Threat to Region

Authorized’ Minga in Colombia? The Challenges of Popular Movements

Colombia: court rules against US bases plan as more details revealed

Border violence, US base plans escalate tensions between Bogotá and Caracas

Venezeula: isolated Amazon people die in "swine flu" epidemic

Suspects Arrested in Murder of Venezuelan Indigenous, but Chief’s Detention Fuels Conflict

Constitutional Reform Cuts Both Ways in Central America: The Right Pushes Back

Clandestine Graves Re-emerge in El Salvador

My Thoughts on Honduras--Robert White

Nothing resolved in Honduras

Honduras: US and coupsters pull bait-and-switch on Zelaya?

The Real Winner in Honduras: The United States?

Unilateral "Unity Government" Announced in Honduras; Deal "Dead"

President Obama's Credibility on the Line in Honduras

Honduras: political deal "dead"; bogus "unity government" declared

Mexico: campesino leader killed in Sonora massacre

Mexico: extraditions to US reach record high

International Tribunal on Trade Union Freedom Condemns Mexican Presidency

The Case of the Cuban Five

Biodiversity Report

Indigenous Uranium Forum Denounces Mining, Militarization, and Hate Crimes in Indian Country

Facing Economic Crisis, Citizen Organizations in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Mexico Fight Back Against Structural Adjustment

Inter American Press Association: free speech under attack across hemisphere

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