Honduras – the World, 1-0

After seven months of hardship, Honduras can today consider itself the victor in the drawn out struggle for the world to recognize its right to depose an omnipotent president.

This is the day the interim president gave his final speech to the nation from that position. He thanked the people, all the people, for the help they had given him, and he expressed profound gratitude for the opportunity destiny had given him to serve his fatherland in these the most arduous of times.

This is also the day that it was revealed that BCIE, Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica, on January 18 decided to resume normal operations with Honduras again. Honduras is a partner in the bank and has sued it for breach of contract, since it for purely political reasons stopped making payments.

Also the Central American trade agreement with the European Union is back on track today, with Honduras included. It is expected to be signed in May.

As for the future of the deposed president, Zelaya, he has today decided conditionally to accept the free passage to the Dominican Republic that president-elect Porfirio Lobo has promised to issue on January 27, the day he takes office. There may also be legal problems due to the arrest warrants issued for him – including international ones. Logically, if Zelaya accepts the free passage he recognizes that Lobo was elected president of Honduras in a legitimate election (which he hasn’t done yet), which means that he also has to accept the validity of the arrest warrants from the Republic of Honduras. There are still some knots to untie. The easiest would be if Zelaya just walked out and faced his prosecutors like a man.

However, those are details now. The main thing is that Honduras democratic institutions saved the rule of law, enforced the separation of powers, and – when the entire world turned on them – stood up for what they knew was right, and won.

This is perhaps a first. History is full of countries that have had their democracy destroyed, from ancient tyrants to present-day chavism. Every time one wonders, why didn’t they stop it? Why didn’t they do this, or that? Why not?

Well, Honduras did to this and that. They had the right on their side, and executed it under extreme pressure, against an opponent that was acting fast. They had no time to plan; in fact, they barely had time to act. Most of all, they had no time to spin it for the media.

Their opponent had, though. He was well prepared for virtually all eventualities. Which forced the Hondurans to take some extreme and unexpected measures. Call it “pajamas diplomacy” if you like. Although in reality Zelaya was of course allowed to get dressed before they flew him to Costa Rica.

This left the impression of a military coup. Due to the circumstances, the country was already full of media ready to spread the story. Result: Instant saturation of the global airwaves with the spin that a military coup had taken place, while in reality they had prevented an autogolpe.

So now we know “why not”. It is very, very hard.

But they did it, and for that, the little country on the Central American isthmus, the former “banana republic” of Honduras will for ever be inscribed in the History of Democracy.

And so will president Roberto Micheletti Bain, and his last speech.

As a personal note, it has been an astonishingly interesting time to have had the privilege to be able to follow closely the fight of this government to preserve their nation’s freedom and democracy. I want to sincerely thank all those who have helped me with information, because it is they who have made it possible for me to get beyond the clichés. ¡Viva Honduras!

2010-01-22 11:40, corrected to Dominican Republic as the country accepting Zelaya.

Honduras as Obama’s Czechoslovakia

Today, when interim president Micheletti has decided to step aside and leave the public space for the elected president Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo, it may be appropriate to consider the historical significance of his time at the helm.

In 1938, the until then free, sovereign, and independent country of Czechoslovakia was sacrificed on the altar of the elusive “Peace for our time,” as British foreign minister Neville Chamberlain infamously put it, in the Munich betrayal. Nazi Germany subsequently pressured the Czech Prime Minster to give up his country’s freedom, and he did, knowing that they stood alone, abandoned by the world.

Where and when Barack Obama promised Hugo Chávez that he could take over Honduras on June 28, 2009, without opposition from the U.S., is not in the history books. Witnesses say, though, that the U.S. ambassador to Honduras, Hugo Llorens, around June 23 or 24 vowed not to recognize Honduras, if the other branches of government were to stop the coup d’état planned by Chávez’s Quisling, Zelaya (i.e., an autogolpe).

Obama and Chavez.
Obama and Chavez in April 2009.

However, although equally abandoned by the world, Honduras did not follow the example of Czechoslovakia.

They stopped the coup on June 28. The Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant for the president for violating the constitution and valid decisions from the other branches of government, and the Congress replaced Zelaya with Micheletti within hours. A virtually united world demanded that the coupster be reinstated, and started punishing the democratic government.

For 7 months Micheletti has faced down virtually the entire world, in defense of his country’s freedom, independence, and democracy. Never before has the population stood so steadfastly around its president.

Except, of course, for the revolutionary clic that aspired to overthrow the government with foreign assistance. In fact, just the other day they reaffirmed their decision to overthrow the government and constitution, according to their webpage. Given the tens of millions of dollars they have got from Chávez, who can blame them? It’s a well-paying gig to be a traitor in Honduras these days.

It is also much less risky than the alternative method of getting rich quick: Smuggling drugs. As a narco-trafficker you are on your own, but as bomb-throwing revolutionaries the entire global human rights-establishment is backing them up, unfortunately. It’s a sad fact that the latter community has allowed themselves to be manipulated to the “wrong side of peace.”

Yesterday Pepe Lobo signed a deal that would allow Zelaya to leave, and not have to face justice. Micheletti held his peace in respect for the vote of the people, but the people is today up in arms over what they feel is a betrayal on part of Pepe. Time will show if he manages to get the people behind him, but Micheletti is a very hard act to follow. He managed to get a hero status among big sectors of the population.

What we see from this is that politics is complicated, and public opinion is a difficult thing to try to please. However, there are still court cases that can bring out the truth and settle the crimes (unless Pepe’s amnesty gets in the way), and then there are the university scholars, who with time will analyze the events from all possible and impossible angles. So my advice to anyone who has to chose between a narrow path or an easy road is this:

You just have to do the right thing,
and circumstances will change before your eyes.
Things aren’t always what they seem to be.

With time, doing the right thing will always be rewarded. Just make very sure that it is the right thing that you do.