Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Honduras hopeful signs

Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, held hostage by the military since Friday with her children in the town of El Paraiso, 12 miles km from the border, has been allowed to told she can proceed [Sp.] to Las Manos to reunite with her husband. She intends to make it a caravan that will bring food, water, and medicine to supporters who've been trapped in the border zone; the military and police have prevented any supplies from reaching them since Saturday.

In a possibly related development, the U.S. State Department has, at long last, revoked the diplomatic visas of four officials of the coup government and is reviewing the cases of others, as well as family members. [Informative comment on diplomatic vs. tourist visas here.] The U.S. embassy spokesman in Honduras declined to name the officials, citing (unspecified) "privacy laws". Two who have acknowledged the U.S. action are Tomas Arita Valle [Sp.], the Supreme Court judge who signed the order for the military to 'arrest' Zelaya, and José Alfredo Saavedra, president of the Honduran Congress, elected to replace Micheletti in that position. Surely Micheletti himself is one of the other two. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Update: 11:40am, 29 July - Excellent: The third confirmed newly visa-less coup participant is Ramon Custodio [Sp.], former human rights activist turned lying pond scum. He's the the government's Human Rights Ombudsman, who's been publicly fighting with Zelaya since before his election. Custodio immediately supported Micheletti as president on June 28, denied there'd been a coup, said since that he's seen no evidence of media suppression or human rights violations, and insisted that Isis Murillo was shot by other demonstrators at the airport on July 5.

Micheletti says he hasn't been notified [Sp.] that his visa has been revoked. Uh huh. I'm surer than ever he was first on the list.

Another hopeful sign from yesterday: Nike, Adidas, The Gap, and Knights Apparel wrote an open letter Monday to Sec. Clinton supporting democracy. Adrienne Pine brings the righteous snark:

Micheletti: when these guys start opposing you, you really know you've gone too far. Nike can move its subcontracting to any number of "stable" regimes, and come out as a promoter of human rights. When they beat the U.S. State Department to it, that's just embarrassing.

It goes without saying that this letter from big U.S. businesses with Honduran manufacturing facilities got way more coverage than similar appeals from visiting Honduran members of Congress who oppose the coup. It might have been what finally provoked the long-overdue cancellation of visas.

Update 2: 1:20pm, 29 July - Another visa revoked. (I think this is in addition to the ones announced yesterday, because State Dept. spokesman Ian Kelly seemed to be saying then that the original four targets were all people currently in Tegucigalpa.) This latest loss of visa is doubly significant, as it belonged to Roberto Flores Bermudez, Honduras' ambassador to the U.S. at the time of the coup, who stayed on to represent the coup government. The step makes way for Enrique Reina, the legitimate ambassador appointed since by Zelaya, to take over the office. (Reina was minister of communication at the time of the coup). With continued pressure, maybe this will result in restoration soon.

Update 3: 12:15 pm, 30 July - Zelaya, still in Nicaragua near the border, named Carlos Ortez Colindres as one of the coup officials to have his U.S. diplomatic visa revoked, and called for the U.S. also to freeze the assets of coup participants. Ortez was the ursurper govenment's first foreign minister, whose racist remarks about Obama forced his removal from that office, but not from the cabinet (he's now the minister of government). This may mean that Micheletti still has his visa. At the end of the Tuxtla summit yesterday (where Vice President Mejia stood in for Zelaya), Oscar Arias called for further sanctions on the coup government; take the hint, Sec. Clinton.

There is clearly some level of disunity in the Honduran military. Several reporters and DC think tank types have said that the communique placed on the armed forces web site this past weekend was drafted by two young colonels in Washington with the aides of a Democratic senator or member of Congress. In interviews with Radio Globo Saturday and the BBC Mundo Monday, Gen. Vasquez gave conflicting interpretations of the statement's apparent support for the "San Jose accord". Today, a document purporting to be from dissident officers surfaced, calling on Gen. Vasquez to step down. If genuine, it's another hopeful sign. If not, it's still a very interesting dishing of dirt on the high command.
[Update 3 edited at 1:30pm July 30 to add links and new information.]

Update 4: 2:15 pm, 30 July - Pres. Zelaya did an interview with Amy Goodman that aired on Democracy Now this morning. At the end, he said, "Many thanks; during the thirty days I’ve been in exile, it’s the best interview I’ve had." He's got that right; a must read (or watch).

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At 11:42 PM, July 28, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yay and Yippee!

This is wonderful news, Nell. The people have been resisting for so long, and this is a bright ray of light from a clear blue sky.

--Charles of MercuryRising

At 10:53 AM, July 29, 2009, Blogger Darlene said...

The wheels of justice really did grind exceedingly slow, but they finally arrived. Great news.


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