Nothing Resolved in Honduras

7 Nov 2009

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On Friday, 30 October 2009, it was announced that the crisis in Honduras was over, as the military coup that had exiled President Manuel Zelaya and brought four months of repression and human rights violations to the country had been resolved.

Days later, however, the agreement appears more like an attempt to legitimize the coup than to reverse it.

All parties involved supported the original word of a breakthrough, a week ago, with ousted President Zelaya expecting his reinstatement to the Presidency.

However, Zelaya has not yet been reinstated and celebrations in the country have given way to grave concerns, as the details of the agreement brokered between the coup government and his team emerge.

The central points of the agreement, the San José Accord, are as follows:

- Honduran Congress to vote on Zelaya's reinstatement.

- The creation of a government of national unity and reconciliation.

- No amnesty for crimes committed both before and during the coup.

- Zelaya is to renounce his calls for a national constitutional assembly.

Within hours of the accord being signed, it became clear that the document meant different things to different parties.

The accord established Thursday, 5 November 2009, as the deadline for the establishment of a unity government. 

However, many also interpreted this as the deadline for congress to decide Zelaya's fate. But the coup government, the congress and United States (US) officials had different ideas in mind and determined that a unity government can be formed without a president or that the coup leader Michelleti could remain in power.

When Thursday arrived, the congress, which is technically on recess till the scheduled elections of 29 November 2009 had yet to schedule an emergency meeting -- the same kind of meeting that was convened within hours on 29 June 2009 in order to vote Zelaya out of office.

Further delaying the decision, the congressional leadership has asked for legal advice from the Supreme Court, the attorney general and the human rights ombudsman.

This comes as a shock to many who understood the accord to represent Zelaya's return to power, including former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, who was selected together with US Secretary of Labour, Hilda Solis, as the international witnesses to verify the accord.

Lagos argues that in order to have a government of national unity and at the same time to restore the democratic institutions that existed on 28 June 2009, when Zelaya was in power, "what we are trying to implement is (an) agreement that means that Zelaya must return to power."

But in an interview with the BBC, the spokesperson for the Supreme Court said that Zelaya would most likely not be reinstated and that even if he were, he would be arrested for treason as soon as he left the Brazilian embassy -- adding that by rejecting amnesty in the accord, Zelaya's representatives had condemned him to the gallows.

Many are confused about the concessions that Zelaya made in the agreement.

However, Bertha Oliva of the Honduran Human Rights Monitor argues that the accord was bound to have a bad outcome from the outset because it was negotiated under conditions of “imposition and repression.” 

The fundamental flaw with the flaw is that it does not address the human rights violations that emerged with Zelaya's was ousted -- including the murder of pro-democracy protestors.

The accord was brokered by the US and while the official US position has always been that Zelaya is the legitimate president of Honduras, the state department's top official for Latin America, pledged US support for the upcoming Honduran elections, regardless of whether or not Zelaya is returned to power before hand.

Many are interpreting this as confirmation of previous suspicion that the US has been willing to accept the coup all along and that the US has been doing its part to help the coup regime to "lay" until the November elections when its rule becomes legitimized. 

Oliva says that the upcoming elections are not gong to solve Honduras' problems. "What makes them think that the Honduran people are going to gather to vote when those who are the guarding the ballots are the same soldiers that overthrew and expelled President Zelaya and the same soldiers and police that have repressed the Honduran people throughout this dictatorship?"

For pro-democracy protestors, this agreement has not brought any relief. Both Zelaya and Michelleti have agreed that the constitution cannot be re-written. 

However, for coup resistors, this remains a key obstacle that must be overcome.

Oliva contends, "It is urgent that the Honduran, but above all the international community understand that the coup regime is doing work through their corporate media that they have used for disinformation, to misinform and manipulate the international population. The situation in Honduras is worse than ever. It's worse now because the dictatorship is positioned. Positioning themselves means they have absolute control over everything."

You can find this page online at http://sacsis.org.za/site/article/185.19.

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