US Congress Research Office’s report on Honduras

On September 10th, the congressional non-partisan research office presented a report about Honduras. It is invaluable as a source of information about how the US sees the events, and the binational relationship. It is based on official documents and newspaper articles, the latter unfortunately playing too big a role, since they are often full of errors due to simplifications or misunderstandings in translations.

Let me first point out that the author, Peter J. Meyer, left out on page 3 the publication of decree PCB-019-2009 on June 25th, an act that the judicial experts in Honduras considers very serious. Also, the author displays a clear ideological bias in opening statements such as “Zelaya’s forced exile marked the country’s first departure from democratic, constitutional governance” on page 4. Thus, keep in mind that his bias is against Honduras when reading it.

While the report mentions Zelaya’s policies of reducing fuel costs, it leaves out the side effects, some of which I personally experienced when carrying out an expert mission for IAEA, i.e., lack of fuel hampering work and making us loose days of work.

On page 5, Meyer writes “Zelaya has argued that presidential reelection should be possible and that the constitution—drafted in 1982—must be amended…” Actually, if Zelaya had said as much it would be a blatant violation of §239 which would have prompted his immediate removal from office, but the author does not seem aware of the fine details of the constitution. In fact, Zelaya never said that to my knowledge, but his actions were apparently interpreted by the prosecutor and court to imply that. His own justification was that liberal democracy was obsolete and that a new form of democracy was required, with less power to the other institutions of government (beside the president).

Om page 6, the secret arrest warrant of the Supreme Court is mentioned, and the date June 25th given to it. As I have blogged before, there is ample “ear witness” accounts and circumstantial evidence that this is true, and even I was told about it on the 25th, in the form of a hint that some action would be taken against Zelaya.

On page 7 the poll taken shortly after the change of president is mentioned, but unfairly. As reported in this blog (cf. the update), two questions were asked: Was it justified to depose Zelaya? Yes 41%, No 28%; Do you agree with the actions to remove Zelaya from the country? Yes 41%, No 46%. Thus, the majority thinks he should be deposed, but the majority also thinks he should not have been exiled (which is illegal, of course). It is a sign of bias that the report only mentions the second question.

Furthermore, the bias continues by not mentioning the rampant crimes committed by a significant number of people supporting Zelaya in destroying private property. The government has a duty to uphold order and to protect the citizens. To criticize it for doing so when the citizens are under attack, while ignoring the attack, is not fair.

On page 10 the report states that Micheletti rejected the San José Accord. I am rather certain that it is wrong, and it is only based on a foreign newspaper article (New York Times). As far as I am aware, Micheletti has no objection, but the Supreme Court and one other institution have, and furthermore Congress says amnesty can only be granted for political crimes.

The rest in the reportis unrelated, but let me just quote one figure to illustrate that the scholarship seems to be wanting. On page 12 the number of dead as a result of hurricane Mitch in 1998 is given as “more than 5,000” . For years I worked in several reconstruction projects after Mitch, in Honduras and Nicaragua, and this is the first time I hear a figure of under 10,000 dead in Honduras. I can only quote my countryman Axel Oxenstierna: “If you only knew my son, with how little wisdom the world is run” (written 1648).

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