Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Honduras elections in the U.S.

From Prensa Latina; my translation:
Coup government continues with illegal elections

Tegucigalpa, 19 August (PL) - Despite rejection internally and by the international community, the de facto government of Honduras continues to prepare for the general elections scheduled for this November.

Members of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) and the National Registry of Persons (RNP) are in the United States to process voter registration for Hondurans living there. Reports in local media reveal that the delegation now in the U.S. is headed by the director of elections, Carlos Humberto Romero, and that his intention is to get help from associations of Honduran emigrants to promote the expatriate vote, for which they lack the support of the consular offices.

These diplomatic offices reject elections conducted under the de facto government, installed here by the [mob] military on June 28. According to the daily El Heraldo, the group headed by Romero dismisses the possibility of going through the consular offices.

The technical deputy director of the RNP, Luis Fernando Suazo, said that their presence in the U.S. is for the purpose of processing changes of address, taking applications for identity cards for youths who will vote for the first time, and preparing the infrastructure for setting up voting locations. The coup government is trying to organize voting in the North American cities of Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, Washington, New York, and New Orleans, Honduran papers reported.

The National Front Against the Coup reiterated in several communiques its complete opposition to recognizing any election taking place under current conditions. The international community maintains a similar position, according to statements by the United Nations, the countries belonging to the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), and the Organization of American States (OAS).

On Tuesday [8/18] the foreign ministers of Argentina, Jorge Taiana, and of Mexico, Patricia Espinosa, said that Latin America would not recognize any government created under the de facto regime in Honduras.

The OAS has not, as far as I know, made an official joint declaration that they will not recognize the results of elections taking place under the coup government. Our government could exert some real pressure and walk its multilateral talk by proposing such a resolution, which would be all but certain to pass unanimously if it had U.S. support.

Latin Americanist blogger Boz says there's nothing stopping one of the other OAS governments from introducing that proposal. What may be stopping them is the fear that the U.S. would block or abstain, making any resolution considerably less meaningful and risking the exposure of divisions in the organization (Canada, Colombia, and/or Peru might take the opportunity to follow the U.S. lead).

That concern isn't imaginary, to judge from recent State Department briefings and Amb. Llorens' response to a visiting U.S. delegation that asked about a possible election boycott. The official line appears to be that U.S. rejection of the Honduran election results now (or any other actual pressure on the coup government) would "harm the climate for negotiations" -- as if any real negotiations were happening now or are likely to in the absence of such pressure.

Deadlines are approaching: Official campaigning begins August 31, and the ballots are to be finalized for printing on September 5. If our government doesn't clearly state in the next few days that it won't recognize the results of elections conducted under the coup regime, then one of the OAS member governments that has already taken that position will have to force the issue in the OAS to get the U.S. on the record.

The Inter-American Human Rights Commission will have completed its investigative visit to Honduras by August 22. In the face of their preliminary findings [Sp. link added 24 Aug, Eng. 20 Sept.], the Amnesty International report, and the report of the earlier independent international human rights observation mission, it should be impossible to avoid recognizing that the conditions for legitimate elections don't exist, and cannot exist unless Zelaya is restored to office.

Update: 4:30am, 20 Aug - Late night thought: No visa problems for functionaries of a coup government that our government supposedly doesn't recognize, who come here to arrange election infrastructure explicitly designed to bypass the offices that represent those voters' legitimate government. This really is a free country.

Update 2: 7:30pm, 20 Aug - Carlos Reina, Zelaya's minister of government and head of Liberals Against the Coup, mentions in an interview [Sp.] a UN resolution being discussed this week that would put the General Assembly on record as not recognizing the elections unless Zelaya is restored to office by September 1. Excellent if it happens; every little bit helps.

Update 3: 11:40am, 24 Aug - Support for my speculation about the OAS maneuverings from Mark Weisbrot. Noting the existing resolutions against recognition of the elections, he projects:

The next step would be for the Organization of American States, where all countries in the hemisphere – except Cuba – are represented, to take this position. But it operates mainly by consensus, and the United States is reportedly blocking that move. Of course, Washington can’t be seen to be the sole opposition, so it has recruited some right-wing governments, according to sources involved in the OAS discussions: Canada and Panama, along with a couple of other small country
governments that can be bribed or bullied into joining Washington’s rapidly shrinking regional coalition of the willing.

I'd much rather be proved wrong by a unanimous OAS vote this week...

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At 1:00 AM, August 21, 2009, Anonymous Ovid said...

Thanks again for the information.

At 1:12 AM, August 24, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't miss Zelaya's letter to Llorens in El Libertador.


At 12:07 PM, August 24, 2009, Blogger Nell said...

Thanks for the pointer to that letter, Charles. Frank, indeed! English-speaking readers will be grateful for your extensive translation/paraphrase.

To be scrupulously accurate though, the letter is purportedly from Zelaya's cabinet, not from Zelaya himself, and is without signatures (at least in the version made available to El Libertador). A letter of this kind signed by Zelaya might have created some diplomatic difficulties on his recent swing through the hemisphere's capitals.

It's probably no accident that it's dated August 9, the day that Obama made his first dig about the "irony" of anti-interventionists supposedly seeking U.S. intervention. That little display pretty much erased the fiction of U.S. good faith, and freed up Zelaya's supporters to say what they'd been thinking.

Which is a detailed and thoughtful version of "No, Mr. President, fvck you."


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