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.