USA needs OAS more than Honduras does

Honduras president “Pepe” Lobo has gone to great extremes to placate OAS so the country can be allowed back in. In the process he seems to have lost almost all support at home.

Already before he was inaugurated he went overseas and signed a paper that said that the deposing of Manuel Zelaya, in an arrest ordered by the Supreme Court for violating the Constitution, was a coup d’état. This was his first major mistake.

For 7 months interim president Micheletti had held the moral high ground by insisting that Zelaya had committed an autogolpe (a self-coup) and that his deposing was constitutional. He had done so under international isolation and sanctions. He had taken over a country without a budget, with ransacked coffers, and all credit in the banks that Honduras was and is a member of was frozen. Yet, in spite of governing over a bankrupt country he held the hill, the moral high ground, to the very end.

The end came not the day that Lobo was inaugurated, but a couple of weeks before when he called the event on June 28th a coup. At that time Micheletti graciously stepped back, refrained from criticizing Lobo, and instead ceded to the president-elect. From the people, on the other hand, a roar of fury went up. Especially, of course, from those who had voted for him.

The others, led by Zelaya, just said “so he is a golpista, now he has admitted what we knew all the time.”

The strategic blunder of giving up the high ground and getting nothing in return was just mind-boggling.

The next precipitous fall in grace came about 10 minutes after he had sworn his oath of office. When giving his inauguration speech he thanked Honduras enemies, those who had harmed the country, but in spite of calls from the audience for him to thank Micheletti – who had made his election possible – he did not do so. At that point half the audience rose up from their seats and left the stadium in protest, according to a blog by an employee of the US embassy. This was hidden from the TV audience, since the cameras stopped panning over the galleries.

I would venture to say that Lobo probably set a new world record in losing support quickly after an election.

Today one would be hard pressed to find someone who defends his policies in Honduras. The redshirts see him as a golpista, and the whiteshirts see him as either a fool or a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

In fact, that is a position he shares with the US ambassador, Hugo Llorens, who is believed by some to be the one who dictates to Lobo what to do and not to do.

Lobo has bent over backwards to be allowed back in to OAS. He seems willing to go as far as to talk about holding a constituyente, even though that is completely anti-constitutional in Honduras, and he risks running afoul of article 239 in the Constitution – the one that says that an elected official who even suggests reforming certain paragraphs in the Constitution immediately loses his office.

But why? Why does he spend so much time and energy to please people like Hugo Chávez, Zelaya, and Insulza, even though it is obvious to any child that there is nothing, NOTHING, that Lobo can say or do that will please them.

Why doesn’t Lobo instead spend all his energy on transforming Honduras into a modern capitalist entrepreneurial country, ready to compete with the world on the global marketplace – but with a socially responsible face?

Maybe the answer is that USA is controlling Lobo, and USA needs the OAS. There are many regional organizations in Latin America that Honduras is a member of, and that can replace OAS, but OAS is the only one that the US is a member of. It is the strategy of Chávez to isolate the US from Latin America by making OAS obsolete.

If Honduras would turn its back to OAS it would contribute to making OAS obsolete, and thus isolate USA. That’s why Obama is so desperate for Honduras to return to OAS.

But is it worth the price?

I’d say no. Honduras and USA would be better off creating a new partnership, with Canada and other countries that truly are for democracy – unlike, as we have seen, OAS under Insulza.

Time for a new course. Stand proud, Honduras, and stop trying to placate your enemies, Obama!