Honduran Militaries to be Sentenced Tuesday

In the case against the joint chiefs of staff in Honduras for having flown Zelaya to Costa Rica rather than thrown him in jail, a sentence is expected Tuesday January 26. One day before the inauguration of the new president. It is probably on purpose, since the security risks are considered very high on Wednesday, why it must be clear that those in command have complete authority under the constitution.

This case has been deemed the pivoting point for the entire issue of legality of the deposing of Manuel Zelaya on June 28, 2009. Not just in the first post on this blog, but also by Freedom House and their annual report on the state of freedom in the world. In the 2009 report they removed Honduras from the list of countries with an elected leader, but with the comment that if the military had been prosecuted, the country would have remained on the list.

Unfortunately the prosecutor did not have his case ready for indictment until January 6, too late for last year’s report. But now that they have been prosecuted, the case has to be declared closed, regardless of what the sentence will be: There was no military coup in Honduras.

With this case it has been proven that the democratic form of government in Honduras is unbroken. The world has punished the poor country for almost seven months without cause. The Micheletti government fought against wind and tide for half a year, opposed by not just the international community, but also by a small but vocal part of the population, which was fooled by the international community into thinking that their head of state was a coupster – although he was the legitimate president all along.

Honduras has made tremendous economical losses, and even losses in human life, due to this mistake on part of the international community. Who will pay for that?

There is no place where to send the invoice. The moral of the story is for the Hondurans that they cannot count on anybody but themselves. The only compensation that they will have, is that they have learned a lesson: If you stand alone any gust of wind can bring you down on your knees, but if you stand arm in arm and support each other, you can face the storm standing tall.

Honduras is a re-born country because of this. “Yes we can!” has replaced “What’s the point?”

From what I hear, the feeling is that the lesson was worth the price, even though it was a very high price. If future governments live by it, the people who died – regardless of political opinion – will not have died in vain, but died for the country. Whether they supported Micheletti or the resistance, if they died in the passion of the struggle, they died for their country.

Chávez’s “Ragnarök” may be approaching

The countdown to the final destiny of Venezuela’s de facto dictator Hugo Chávez may well have begun in the high halls of heaven. His grand plan was interrupted prematurely by the totally unscripted heroic deed of Honduras, where the Attorney General, the Supreme Court, the National Congress, and the Military Forces, in an unexpected feat did their duty to perfection (and a little bit beyond, in the latter case).

In a similar way, Adolf Hitler’s grand plan was interrupted prematurely when Britain honored their promise to Poland, and declared war after Nazi Germany invaded the Slavic nation (that coincidentally had financed much of Germany’s “economical miracle” with loans). Hitler’s armament plans were incomplete. He would not have his high seas navy ready until in 1942. The premature start of the war, from his point of view, may have been what caused him to loose it.

We must never forget how popular Hitler was in the 1930’s. It wasn’t until he took Czechoslovakia by betrayal in 1938 that his superstar status started to fade.

In a similar way, Hugo Chávez has gained a superstar status in European press. The warning signs have been ignored or dismissed. When Chávez tried to take over Honduras through his point man Zelaya, and the democratic institutions stopped it, the world sided with Chávez even though he threatened with military force both before and after the deposing of Zelaya. However, the event did offer an indication to Europe that Chávez was not the person they had thought.

Another warning came a month later, when it was discovered (and first reported in Sweden on this blog) that Swedish-made shoulder-fired anti-tank missiles, AT-4, that had been delivered to Venezuela almost 20 years ago had ended up in the hands of the leftist narco-guerilla FARC in Colombia. Within hours, Sweden stopped all weapons exports to Venezuela.

Further alarm was raised when Chávez made a tour to countries such as Syria and Russia, in a bid to acquire tanks, jet fighter planes, medium range missiles, and nuclear technology (from Iran). It became obvious that he was setting the stage for an axis against the usual allies, the U.S., the U.K., and other western democracies; no longer just a Latin American axis from Cuba to Tierra del Fuego, but a global axis that seems to have as only rule that “an enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

Hugo Chávez seems to have a propaganda ministry that is more ambitious and effective than that of Josef Göring himself. His talking points can be read in blogs in virtually all western countries, in many languages. He has to his disposal an international TV news network, Telesur, which is now cooperating with Al Jazeera.

This brings me to the last sign of the impending downfall. These news outlets and their appendages in the blogosphere are peddling totally ludicrous accusations against the U.S. in relation to Haiti. When it came to Honduras they accused the U.S. for the “military coup”, even though (1) the U.S. had informed ahead of time that they would not recognize whoever became president if Zelaya was deposed, and (2) it was no coup since the democratic institutions acted within the constitution in deposing Zelaya. Still, at least the accusation was plausible on its face.

But when it comes to Haiti, they accuse the U.S. of occupying the country militarily, and – and this is the tin-foil hat part – of having caused the earthquake in the first place.

If anybody reading this believes that it could be possible, I can assure you, as a geoscientist, that it is not. You might as well accuse them of having taken down the moon. It is as out-of-this-world lunatic as those who suggest the Antarctic was Atlantis “when it was ice free there 13,000 years ago”. Scientific evidence shows that it has been completely ice covered for 5 million years. Get my point?

So why does Chávez’s ministry of propaganda go out with something so outlandish? I can only think of one explanation: Desperation. The opportunity is starting to slip through his fingers, so he becomes desperate, just like Hitler did.

Yesterday’s demonstration against Chávez in Venezuela illustrates that his days may be counted. The danger is though, that he does something dramatic to hold on to it. This is not the time to let down the guard for that golpista.

Honduras at a Cross-Roads

Published 2010-01-24, 12:52, last edited 2010-01-26 10:25 ET: The president-elect of Honduras, Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo, stirred up a huge reaction when he last week signed a deal in the Dominican Republic that among other things would let Zelaya leave the country without political asylum. There is criticism from the prosecutor, from the human rights ombudsman, and from the civilian society, among others. The list of objections is long, and includes a number of legal issues, violating both domestic and international law. The bottom line is that Pepe, who was elected with the highest vote count ever in Honduras, may have set a new world record in loosing political capital: All lost before even taking office.

If he wants to be able to do anything at all the next 4 years, he now has to start over trying to win some confidence.

As for Zelaya, his plan is, based on what his associates have said, to continue from Dominica to Mexico, and to eventually take a seat in Parlacen, the Central American Parliament. Every ex-president has a seat there, until his successor’s term is out. While a delegate, and for life say some, he will apparently have immunity. It appears that his plan is to return to Honduras under protection of that immunity.

Of course, Zelaya has never been a good student (a college drop-out, actually). Apparently surrounded by less-than-average intellectually endowed advisors at that, he may not realize the flaws of said plan.

For Honduras it is not Zelaya that is the previous president, but Micheletti, although he has announced that he does not plan to sit in Parlacen. Apart from that, Zelaya is a wanted criminal.

The leadership of Parlacen may want to give a seat to Zelaya in spite of his pending arrest, for purely political reasons, but it will likely lead to a showdown in the parliament. UPDATE: See “Zelaya’s flawed plan for immunity“. If Lobo sides with them, then this might create another constitutional showdown in Honduras. Given how honorably the prosecutor and courts have acted in the past year, and how much the population has backed them up, it is very unlikely that Lobo will win such a showdown.

If Lobo and Parlacen accept Zelaya, then we may have a situation in which (A) Zelaya is not able to return to Honduras regardless, (B) other countries may be willing to recognize Lobo but Lobo has no political clout in his country, and (C) Lobo may – in the worst case – face destitution just like Zelaya if he does not submit to the checks and balances. Although this time Honduras would be better prepared, and depose him in a way that is obviously democratic and constitutional also on the face of it, not just at close scrutiny as the last time around.

Honduras is not the same any more

Over and over I hear this phrase from Hondurans. They have sacrificed so much for getting here, and they are not going to give it all up for nothing. If Pepe believes that, he has another thing coming. If he believes that the lesson from the past 7 months was that the president should not be deposed, and that he therefore can do as he pleases, he is a fool.

The lesson is the exact opposite. If a president misbehaves, he will be stopped, and nothing can stop the democratic institutions from doing their duty to the fatherland. Nothing. Even if the whole world turns against them, they will not fall on their knees. “Pajamas diplomacy” is a last resort, but it is not unthinkable, if that is what it takes to defend democracy.

With this stern warning I would suggest that Pepe – who is planning to have the communist party leader Ham from UD in the government, and who was educated in Moscow – would be well advised to do as he promised in the election campaign and listen to the people. Rather than what he is promising now: To do what he thinks is best because the people are ignorant and not worth listening to.

The fight is not over. It is just a change of act. My prediction is that the next act will start with the judicial system in Honduras trying to prevent the above-mentioned drawn-out conflict by simply insisting on the application of the law as regards the salvoconducto, which will prevent Zelaya from leaving the country, so that he instead can face justice. Once he is tried and sentenced, then if found innocent, he can sit in Parlacen and travel the world.

If there is any grain of honor left in Zelaya, this is what he should do:

Walk out and face his accusers as a man.