Honduras: figleaf restitution, not real democracy
As expected, an agreement has apparently been reached for a last-minute, highly symbolic restoration of Zelaya to the presidency, now that the U.S. has involved itself directly. A comparison of the points reported in Honduran papers with Laura Carlsen's October 15 summary of agreements reached at that point shows that the only change is the crucial one, restitution -- dependent on a vote of Congress (as Zelaya's delegation proposed at the time).
The only people at any level of the U.S. government who come out of this sorry episode with my respect are the members of Congress who pushed the administration to put more effective pressure on the coup regime and to explicitly condemn the dictatorship's violence. Their most recent letter to Pres. Obama, sent just before the State Dept. delegation left for Honduras, contains two passages that are worth remembering:
While the siege of the [Brazilian] Embassy is a serious violation of the Vienna Convention, more disturbing is the broad assault against the Honduran people unleashed by the coup regime.
Free and fair elections cannot take place under these conditions.
Though we commend the administration for having strongly stated their support for the restoration of democracy in Honduras, we are concerned that neither you nor the Secretary of State has denounced these serious human rights abuses in a country where US influence could be decisive.
It is now more urgent than ever to break this silence. It is critical that your Administration immediately clearly and unequivocally reject and denounce the repression by this illegitimate regime. We can say sincerely and without hyperbole that this action on your part will save lives.
Obama and Clinton have not done so, and never will. Message received.
Update: 7:45pm, 30 Oct - The agreement has been signed, but its actual text is unlikely to become public for a while, so the coup regime is already citing obstacles in it that are denied by the Zelaya delegation. There's going to be a difficult, tedious process of implementation; see RNS and Laura Carlsen for good overviews.
So it may well be that Zelaya will not even be restored to office until just before the elections, the "last minute goal" alluded to by OAS snake John Biehl. Even in the best-case scenario, too much time has already been allowed to pass for anyone to feel obliged to respect the legitimacy of the upcoming elections -- presided over by an illegally constituted election tribunal, who will now have nominal command of the murderous armed forces.
Update 2: 3:25pm, 31 Oct - The signed agreement is posted as a PDF at Adrienne Pine's and as plain text in a comment by El Cid at Al Giordano's. RAJ has an English translation. The Honorable Raúl Grijalva does even more to earn that title by hosting a visit to Congress on November 5 by Berta Oliva of COFADEH, the Committee of Families of the Disappeared and Detained.
[Image: Resistance participant beaten by police yesterday when they charged a peaceful demo with tear gas and batons, while the State Dept. delegation met with coup negotiators. Honduras Resists]