The political crisis of Honduras that culminated in June 2009 has brought out people of many different backgrounds to the political process. This is what makes me more optimist than ever about the bright future of the country. It has resources, it has potential, but it also has some problems to deal with.
Unfortunately there are internal and external enemies who do not wish the country well. The drug smugglers want to create a narco-state, a country of chaos, in which they can operate freely to transport their poison from South America to the U.S. and Canada. They deliberately try to divide Hondurans against each other. Take heed, ye Hondurans who want peace, democracy, and prosperity: Do not pay attention to anyone who tries to divide you in different groups, no matter on what ground, whether based on wealth (“oligarquia”), ethnicity (“turcos”), or political views (“golpistas”). Sowing division is never acceptable in a democracy and “estado de derecho”, Rechtsstaat.
Another method of theirs to sow division is to accuse the government of human rights abuses, thereby implying that it is a repressive dictatorship, so as to strengthen the conviction of those who believe that the change of president on June 28th was a military coup d’état.
Nobody is denying that for a police to shoot an innocent person in cold blood is a crime. However, unless it was ordered or condoned by the state, that crime does not reflect on the state. If the state is actively trying to bring the offending police officer to justice, no blame can fall on the state as such. It must, however, demonstrate that it is using no less resources in investigating a crime committed by a police or military, than what would be used if the suspect of the crime had been anybody else. Preferably much more resources should be spent, though.
The enemies of a strong democratic Rechtsstaat are using provocateurs to create situations forcing the police to use violence, so as to later be able to accuse them of using violence. Every person should be aware of this deliberate strategy, and not fall for it. Consider that peaceful demonstrations are legal, and were allowed after June 28. When the police did not intervene and the days passed (as I witnessed in San Pedro Sula), provocateurs were sent in to destroy private property.
Since the state has an obligation to maintain public order, it had to intervene and stop the destruction. This gave the enemies of the state images and accounts to use in accusing the state of applying force to demonstrators.
Another method was civil disobedience, such as by blocking public streets, roads, and main highways. As this dragged out for days and weeks, it started to threaten the supply of essential goods, including food, to the population. Again, the state has an obligation to protect its citizens, and therefor had to intervene to allow essential transit to take place. Emergency measures were taken to ban also peaceful protests temporarily, since the actions of a small group was putting the lives and livelihoods of the many in danger. To do this is not merely a right, but an obligation, of the state.
The reason why this has been somewhat effective is by playing into a pre-conceived notion of the government being a military junta, and people’s expectations of how a junta acts. However, if you believe it was a coup, then make this little thought experiment: Assume that a democratic government is faced with these same protests, widespread vandalism of private and public property, disruption of the transportation network for weeks and months, storming of the airport by destroying the fence, and so on. What would be the result of inaction? The fall of democracy, would be the result.
A democracy has the right to defend itself when under attack. Honduras is and remains a constitutional democracy as long as the Supreme Court of Justice is neither compromised nor rules against the change of president.
The one thing I would like to see is solid proof that the SCJ is not compromised. For the military top brass to face justice for having illegally exiled Zelaya would be such solid proof. However, supporting unrest in the streets is entirely counter-productive for bringing peace and reconciliation. It only helps those who want Honduras to become a narco-state.
I have found that every Honduran I have talked to agree about most things: The desire for peace, democracy, that Zelaya was a bad apple, that it was illegal to exile him, that both Zelaya and the militaries who exiled him should face justice, that more needs to be done so every Honduran gets a stake in the economy, and more. Nobody is interested in amnesty; amnesty only serves to perpetuate the privileges of those who have more access to power than most, and that is not in the interest of the majority. It is incomprehensible (well, not entirely) that foreign presidents such as Oscar Arias insist on amnesty. By advocating for amnesty, he reveals that he is no friend of normal Hondurans, who want to fight corruption, not reward it.
This basic consensus is what makes me optimistic about the future of Honduras. There is a general desire to make the cake larger, and not just to divide it more equitable. The only danger to a positive development is from the influence of those enemies of the country who try to divide the population against itself. That is why I want to warn all Hondurans: Beware of those who try to sow seeds of doubt about the intentions of your fellow countrymen! To succeed you have to trust people by default, and only distrust those who have proven unworthy of your trust.
May the Christmas spirit bring peace and tranquility to the New Year!