Honduras: elections a sick joke
The coup regime has made a mockery of the agreement, the U.S. is playing along, and Bertha Oliva of COFADEH (Committee of the Families of the Disappeared/Detained, Honduras' largest human rights organization) has the appropriate response:
...[T]he United States government is silent while Hondurans are subjected to arbitrary arrest, the closure of independent media, police beatings, torture and even killings by security forces. ... And now the U.S. government says we can have free elections in less than three weeks. That is a sick joke.
She was speaking in Washington yesterday, where she met with members of Congress.
While Oliva was in DC, the State Department continued its months-long practice of issuing statements encouraging rightist intransigence and undercutting the pretense that this administration supports democracy. Undersecretary Thomas Shannon, who negotiated the agreement a week ago, said that the U.S. would recognize the November elections whether or not Zelaya was restored. Sen. Jim DeMint said that Sec. Clinton told him the same thing, and expressed his satisfaction by releasing the long-standing holds he'd put on two nominations (Shannon as ambassador to Brazil and Arturo Valenzuela as his successor for Western Hemisphere Affairs). The closest State Dept. spokesman/punching bag Ian Kelly came to walking back the damage: "[W]e believe [Zelaya] should be restored to power. ... Let’s just see how it works out."
How it's working out: Verification commission members Richard Lagos and Hilda Solis returned to their countries yesterday after barely 48 hours in Honduras. That's a mighty casual approach to implementation of a difficult agreement on a tight deadline. The coup-supporting leaders of the national congress are stalling on a vote on Zelaya's restitution. Micheletti has named a "unity government" headed by himself, with no nominations from Zelaya or from the Liberal or National parties -- apparently taking 'unity' in its sense of 'one'.
Brazil and the ALBA governments aren't amused, reaffirming their refusal to recognize the result of elections without Zelaya's restoration as president. The resistance is at the point of no return on rejecting the elections. Sec. Clinton has not had the courtesy to respond, in person or through intermediaries, to Pres. Zelaya's request four days ago for a formal clarification of U.S. policy. Even the LA Times can see what's going on: 'A U.S.-brokered deal to return ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to office is unraveling, and the Obama administration seems to be wavering'. Conclusion:
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. That would be a setback for democracy and for the United States.
When fascists like Jim DeMint are satisfied with your foreign policy, you're doing it wrong.
Update: 3:15pm, 6 Nov - The agreement is dead. Zelaya retains his dignity and integrity; the coup-makers blew their chance to have their phony elections blessed. The crisis is bigger than ever now. Heckuva job, U.S. gov!
Update 2: 10:20am, 9 Nov - Another excellent video report by Jesse Freeston of the Real News Network on the breakdown of the agreement, including footage of Shannon's damning remarks. Carlos Reyes has withdrawn his candidacy, and the Front reaffirms it's actively rejecting the elections regardless of what happens with Zelaya's restitution. There are talks to try to revive the agreement, but given the U.S. government's apparent determination to pretend that elections are a way out of the crisis, there's little basis for optimism. The agreement appears more than ever to have been a way out of Tom Shannon's personal crisis of having his ambassadorship held up, and to hell with the Honduran people.