Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Manuel Zelaya returns to Honduras intending to challenge the post-coup regime

To show I don't only watch videos from PBS Newshour and Aljazeera, even though I've posted quite a few from both lately. This is from The Real News dated 05/28/2011, about Honduras on the occasion of the return of the overthrown President Manuel Zelaya as a private citizen, under the Cartagena Accord, an agreement negotiated by Colombia and Venezuela, two countries who often find themselves at odds over foreign policy. That cooperation is an illustration of the general Latin American concern over the military coup of 2009 in Honduras. Zelaya's declaration on returning home, "Golpes de Estado nunca jamás" (No coup d'etat's ever again), finds great resonance throughout Latin America.

See also Zelaya vuelve a Honduras dos años después del golpe Clarín 28.05.2011; Thelma Mejía, Zelaya Says Coup Was International Conspiracy Inter Press Service 05/30/2011; and Is U.S. covering up reality in Honduras? McClatchy News, also a video report from The Real News dated 04/08/2010.

On the question of the US showing itself as a friend of democracy, the Obama Administration could have made a more demonstrative show of support for the elected government of Honduras at the time of the coup and immediately afterward.

New elections in Honduras are scheduled for 2013. Zelaya describes his goal as "refundar Honduras" (to re-found Honduras). This is the video from the McClatchy link above from 2010, giving some idea of the human rights situation under the coup regime and the not-especially-noble role the Obama Administration played in the post-coup period:

This raises again the dilemma I discussed in a recent post: at what point should the United States recognize a regime that has taken effective power in a country? And in what ways should the US attempt to support the restoration of democracy in such a case? What kind of aid is appropriate to provide to a non-democratic regime like the post-coup government in Honduras if it is deemed to be appropriate to recognize it?

That report gives a suggestion of the problem of viewing recognition as a reward. In this case, the Obama Administration decided it was appropriate to recognize the government that was in fact in control in Honduras. But because recognition by the US is treated by our government as a kind of special benefit, recognition required minimizing the human rights abuses taking place there. Which doesn't enhance the United States' reputation as a friend of democracy and human rights in other countries. If recognition of governments were treated as a more straightforwardly pragmatic manner, the US would be in a better position in such a case to recognize the government but still criticize its human rights abuses straightforwardly. Assuming the US government at a given moment wants to do so.

In yet another report from The Real News, this one dated 04/22/2011, which discusses one of the less encouraging developments under the current Honduran government, the incursion of Mexican drug cartels into Honduras:

This story is also reported by Tim Johnson in Drug gangs muscle into new territory: Central America McClatchy Newspapers 04/21/2011:

The extent of the infiltration is breathtaking. Drug cartels now control large parts of the countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America. They've bought off politicians and police, moved cocaine processing laboratories up from the Andes, and are obtaining rockets and other heavy armament that make them more than a match for Central America's weak militaries.

Air Force Gen. Douglas Fraser, chief of the U.S. Southern Command in Miami, told a March 30 Pentagon news briefing that Central America "has probably become the deadliest zone in the world" outside of Iraq and Afghanistan. Homicide rates in cities such as San Pedro Sula in northern Honduras are soaring, making them as deadly as Mogadishu, Somalia, or the Taliban home base of Kandahar, Afghanistan.

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