Honduras: siege goes on behind coupmakers' theater of dissent
This morning at dawn, hundreds of riot police surrounded and invaded the National Agrarian Institute, arresting at least 50 farmworkers who had been occupying the building since the coup. The campesinos acted to prevent the coup regime from destroying or altering land titles that were in the process of being registered as part of land reform under the Zelaya administration.
Today's arrests are just the latest brutal crackdown under Micheletti's decree suspending the constitution for 45 days -- the one he issued in secret on September 22 but didn't publish in the government register until September 26, over the names of 16 functionaries of his usurper cabinet. When reaction to the decree began to sink in, further shredding the already tattered legitimacy of the widely unrecognized elections, even some of the coup backers distanced themselves. Micheletti, wanting to appear to respond and to spread the responsibility around to his co-conspirators, promised to repeal the coup "as soon as possible", pretending that doing so would require action by the Supreme Court and Congress. That's transparent b.s.: he could repeal the decree by the simple act of issuing another to cancel it.
It's a perfect theatrical setup for the coupmongers: Headlines give the dictatorship credit for "relenting", rightist presidential candidate Porfirio Lobo gets international credit for opposing the antidemocratic decree, but the actual state of siege remains in effect as a cover for not only Monday's military shutdowns of Radio Globo and Channel 36 television, but threatened shutdowns of radio stations in Choluteca and Valle, the removal and arrest of the farmworkers, and assaults on whatever other targets remain on the golpistas' hit list.
And we enter the fourth month of the coup. Barack Obama was one of only two presidents in the hemisphere to make no mention of Honduras in his address to the UN. Thanks so much for all the change, Mr. President.
Update: 1:15 pm, 1 Oct - Even Ramon Custodio gets a role in the theater of dissent, though apparently the script he picked up was not that of the nation's human rights ombudsman. He wants the decree suspending the constitution repealed not because it deprives people of their rights of free assembly and free expression, but because issuing the decree "is to accept that we are no longer able to maintain public order, peace, and is a tacit acceptance which does not reflect the situation in which we are living." Okaaay then...
The illegal decree continues in force, now in its second week. For the first time since the coup, the riot police actually completely prevented the resistance from conducting a march in the capital. Looks like a military dictatorship from here. The people responded last night by holding a pot-banging, horn-blowing show of support for Zelaya in the area around the Brazilian embassy. Take your hands off your ears, Sec. Clinton.
Update 2: 4:15 pm, 1 Oct - Stories running next to each other in Tiempo: The election tribunal wants the decree repealed immediately because it puts the credibility of the elections at risk. The state prosecutor promises the election tribunal he'll send to jail anyone who boycotts or advocates against participation in the elections. Carlos Reyes confirms that he'll withdraw his candidacy for president unless Zelaya and the constitutional order are restored. Hmmmm.....
Image: riot police at National Agrarian Institute.