Pepe met by protests in Honduras

The president-elect of Honduras, Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo, has got an earful after his surprise stunt to sign an agreement with the Dominican president, Leonel Fernandez. The network organization UCD, Union Civica Democratica, issued a statement yesterday listing numerous reasons for its illegality (La Gringa’s Blogicito has an English translation). Even abroad it has been criticized, such as in this Guatemalan editorial. Basically it appears to have no legal value, and the democratic institutions in Honduras are not recognizing it. In fact, the attorney general is threatening to prosecute any person who signs an illegal document giving free passage for Zelaya.

It has also struck a very sore nerve in Honduras. Under Micheletti people had started to relax, to feel safe again after the turmoil under Zelaya. However, this action by Pepe has made everyone I know there very nervous. Once again, they put their faith in the checks and balances, since they don’t trust the president. -And he hasn’t even taken office yet! I don’t think I have ever seen a worse start of a new presidency.

The interim president Roberto Micheletti declared yesterday that he would withdraw to leave the public room entirely for the new president. Not so fast, says the ombudsman for human rights, Ramon Custodio.* As the sitting president, Micheletti has an obligation under the constitution to hand off to the new Congress at their inaugural session on Monday, January 25th, he points out. If some congressmen object they are free to walk out, but the constitution must be followed to the letter, he insists.

Also yesterday, the case started for real against the military leadership (for having allowed Zelaya to leave the country, instead of holding him on the arrest warrant they had been issued). Until late at night the prosecutor and defense were in session with the Supreme Court, but the defendants were not required to appear. The verdict will be given on Tuesday, possibly in an oral and public statement. It may be one of those times when it is worth tuning in to Honduran TV online.

Finally, there are rumbles in the blogosphere about U.S. diplomats being at risk for scrutiny by the Congress, as soon as the Republicans manage to regain control over at least one chamber. The midterm elections are on November 2. It seems inevitable that the Obama administration will be accused of supporting a coup d’état, from both left and right, both Zelaya’s “autogolpe” and Congress’s “antigolpe”. From a politico point of view it would seem a no-brainer that they should come clean now, when all attention is on Haiti; confess the mistakes, take the consequences, side with their friends and not their enemies, and put this behind them before it becomes an election issue.

*The attitude of the ombudsman would be worthy of an honorable Swedish civil servant, and it might be a relevant observation, since his institution has received aid from Sweden in the areas of Democracy and Human Rights the last few years.