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Honduras: Two Latin American views on the deal to restore Manuel Zelaya

Honduras: The struggle must be more intense than ever

By Ricardo Salgado

October 30, 2009 -- Cubadebate -- Those who claimed several weeks ago that the president would be restored at the beginning of November, though bound by his hands and feet, in order to legitimate the elections, managed to describe the end that we are witnessing now. But let the record show that it is not the end of the coup; this continues in effect, its purposes prevail; the conditions that brought it about continue just as they were on June 28.

The political agreement made under pressure from gringo diplomacy does not cover critical issues, but rather tries to ignore critical matters and highlights the preeminence of oligarchic interests. President Zelaya signed a restoration that can only be interpreted as the victory of the coup and the putschists. The details continue to be thorny: there is as yet no firm schedule for the actions that will take Zelaya back to the presidential palace. Technically the agreement may keep the constitutional president imprisoned for several more days in the Brazilian embassy, since it is the National Congress that must decide the fate of the country.

This same congress committed the crime of forging the president's signature and which decreed his removal. Just a small agreement where the thief decides what kind of justice his victim will receive. The Supreme Court, which ordered the arrest and deportation of Manuel Zelaya Rosales, will have to give its legal opinion in order to guide the congress. Brilliant solution.

There are several commissions to be formed: follow-up, truth and who-knows-what else. Within the framework of this mess the oligarchy wins the recognition of the fraudulent elections [for Nov. 29]; now Zelaya will lend his efforts to reopen the gates of international aid to the now wrecked Honduran economy. In the end there are no guarantees of what is going to happen, neither how nor when. As has happened during these tragic months, uncertainty dominates the landscape. We continue to depend on the tricks of the assassins who invent decrees that they themselves don't respect.

Yesterday, contrasting with the negotiating table, the resistance was brutally repressed. In spite of having the required permits, the police and military decided to give the popular movement a new dose of tear gas, blows and bullets, as a reminder that agreements don't eliminate the repression; they don't eliminate human rights violations.

It would be very ingenuous to think that we have managed to solve something. The military maintain a very autonomous position with respect to the politicians and obey their business masters, who continue with the idea that their interests will be maintained by beating up the people. The repressive decrees signed by Micheletti also remain in effect. The machine of human rights violations is still alive, well oiled and above all, active against the Honduran people.

It seems that the negotiation, at least up until now that I am writing these lines, has forgotten the huge jail that the de facto regime has created. It is worth asking ourselves what will happen now with President Zelaya; will he have the same honour guard? What will be his relationship to the armed forces? And his relationship to Micheletti's congress?

On the other hand, the matter of the crimes against humanity committed by the military with the complicity of the de facto regime and the criminal oligarchy remains pending. Fortunately for the Honduran people, through arrogance or clumsiness, the putschists obviated the issue of the amnesty that Oscar Arias had given them in his original plan.

Very important questions for the Honduran popular movement will come. The coup was precipitated by the just demands of the Honduran people, which continue without an answer from the ruling classes. Perhaps the latter gained time in order to delay the process of change in Honduras.

What is going to happen with the electoral process? There is a fraud that is also not included in the negotiation. Nevertheless, there now will be a lot of pressure for the progressive candidacies to participate in this process. This delicate issue requires a very on-the-mark analysis. Nevertheless, participation in this electoral process, independently of the results, may allow the popular mobilisation to continue.

Now our vision must be long term; we must choose very wisely the actions that we are going to take, without renouncing our principles or our demands. The political situation presents new challenges, and now unity is a critical matter; not for electioneering ends; the conjuncture obliges us to give answers to the people; answers that include giving our people their political space. It is worth recalling here the many arguments that were made, through all of the comrades' contributions, which have generated opinion. It is worth recalling that the action of the resistance has been key to forcing the dark forces of the right to negotiate positions. Without the popular movement this conclusion would not have been necessary.

The protagonism that the people of this country have earned has been a central element for an unusual phenomenon in the history of Latin America to have arisen: an overthrown president is restored to his position. I fervently hope that President Zelaya never forgets that it has been the actions of the people that have won his restoration; that he does not forget his moral debt to the refounding of Honduras.

This is a people's victory, but it is only a triumph on the road of much suffering and despair that will surely come in the search for a new country, where we can all live in peace. The oligarchy and the empire have shown that they will give us nothing. If we want to conquer our freedom we must struggle for it. In this way, the slogans remain.

Today we celebrate, but we stay alert. The struggle is perhaps more intense today than ever. Today many traitors will emerge once again from the shadows; today we must remember our martyrs with more intensity than ever, to whom we owe the conquering of a dream: the independence of Honduras.

Let us remember: the struggle begins here. Let us not make the mistake of mistaking this for our aspirations.

For the assassins, neither forgetfulness nor pardon.

[Ricardo Arturo Salgado is a Honduran sociologist and writer working with rural workers and fishers. He is an active member of the National Resistance Front Against the Coup (FNRG) and resides in Tegucigalpa. This translation first appeared at Diana Barahona's blog. The original Spanish article is at Cubadebate.]

Honduras: An improbable solution

By Atilio A. Boron, translated by Machetera

November 1, 2009 -- Has the political crisis in Honduras been resolved? Although a window of opportunity has opened, every indicator suggests that there is not a lot of room for optimism. It’s worth recalling what we said here before when the coup d’etat took place: that Micheletti would only remain in power as long as he could count on the support, whether active or passive, of Washington. It took four months for the White House to understand the high cost that a coup regime would exact in the region.

Beset by the various problems which he faces in his foreign policy, above all, by the rapid deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the miring of his troops in Iraq, Obama wrested the steering wheel from his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the main architect of support for the putschists, and sent Thomas Shannon to Tegucigalpa with the task of restoring order in the tumultuous backyard. Shortly afterwards, Micheletti shelved his bravado and meekly accepted what had previously been unacceptable. Of course, Shannon had just laid down the imperial mandate. To sweeten the moment, he publicly expressed his admiration for the two leaders of Honduran democracy: the putschist and the deposed.

Zelaya proposes a three-point program: restoraton, amnesty and a government of national reconciliation. The first will be resolved by the Honduran Congress, the same which enthusiastically validated the coup d’etat and was unsparing in its insults and lies against him. The outcome remains to be seen, but it will not be simple. Amnesty, for whom? For the civilian and military employees of a government which violated human rights and infringed upon every freedom? Or for Zelaya, for crimes he did not commit, such as having the audacity to try to ask his people if they were in favuor of holding a constitutional convention? And of the third, closely tied to the second, the less said the better. Because under current conditions, isn’t a government of national reconciliation simply a passport to oblivion, to forgetfulness, to impunity?

A cursory review of the crisis and its apparent resolution reveals that the putschists can feel satisfied because they preserved their two main objectives: deposing Zelaya, even if he re-assumes the presidency for a few months until the end of his term; and having achieved international recognition for the flawed elections scheduled for November 29, something that Shannon took upon himself to assure.

For its part, the Honduran oligarchy removes itself from the danger of more aggressive action by the United States against its properties and privileges; something that might have occurred if an agreement had not been reached. A stickier sort of control by Washington over their assets and funds in the United States caused them sleepless nights, and Micheletti’s intransigence had become an unnecessary threat to their interests.

For Zelaya, the balance is far more complex, and that is precisely what overshadows the Honduran landscape. His restoration doesn’t remove the underlying causes that provoked the coup d’etat, not in the slightest. Furthermore, as a result, would it not simply validate the results of elections plagued with extremely serious irregularities and a campaign that unfolded under the climate of violence and terror imposed by the putschists? Micheletti has already been beating the war drums. The agreement was barely sealed when he told CNN en Español that once restored to power, “Zelaya and the people who come with him are sure to undertake a campaign of retribution. Only someone who is unaware of Zelaya’s attitude could believe that there will not be consequences.” What will the response be should the government be restored? Amnesty for the putschists, reconciliation with them, hugs for Micheletti?

But Zelaya is far from being the only actor in this drama: How may the heroic militants who risked their lives and their physical integrity to defend their legitimate government react, especially once the possibility of calling a popular referendum to reform the constitution has also been completely ruled out? There are many dead and wounded, much imprisonment and humiliation along the way. Will these men and women who won the streets in Honduras accept the forgetting of so many crimes and the pardon of their victimisers? Also, the one lesson taken by the efforts of the people and social movements over the past four months of resistance is that if they organise themselves and mobilise their influence in the political juncture can be decisive, much more than they realised before. The crisis taught them, brutally, that they can stop being history’s objects and turn themselves into its protagonists.

And perhaps because of that, beyond what has taken place with this accord, they may decide to continue onward with their struggles for a different Honduras, one that does not come about with unjust amnesties or spurious reconciliations.

[Dr. Atilio A. Boron is director of the Programa Latinoamericano de Educación a Distancia en Ciencias Sociales, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Visit Boron's web site at http://www.atilioboron.com.]

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