Sowing the Future

Right now, the Future of Honduras and Latin America is sown.

The Right

For three decades a project for modernizing Latin America with the help of neo-conservatism has been carried out. Pieces in this puzzle have been strong demands from IMF on the countries budgets, cutting social spending, and opening up for free trade, resulting in hardships for significant groups of the population in the countries in question.

This has led to much resentment and a growing leftist backlash.

The Left

The focus of the backlash is in the form of the Bolivarian Revolution, also known as Socialism in the XXI Century, and their alliance, ALBA. They speak about participatory democracy, and holding constituting constitutional assemblies (constituyente) to re-found countries. The other side of the coin is an undermining of the institutional structures that have been developed over the course of centuries, and whose role it is to safeguard both the rule of law and human rights. The result is a popular tyranny, lawlessness, and the only sectors of the economy that really benefit from the change are the drug cartels and the corruption.

President Manuel Zelaya took Honduras into ALBA. The main reason was the lucrative oil contracts. When the global oil prices went through the roof the other year, Honduras – which produces a lot of its electricity in diesel-powered plants – was in deep economical trouble. Zelaya’s foreign minister Patricia Rodas, who grew up in revolutionary Nicaragua, put Zelaya in contact with Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, the founder of ALBA. That opened the door to buying oil at a discount price from the South American nation, whose slogan now is “Fatherland, Socialism or Death!”

Chávez also offered a personal incentive to Zelaya, as he also does to Ortega and others. If Zelaya bought oil for say $100 millions for Honduras, he collecting that amount from the companies that actually sold it, but he only needed to pay $50 millions of it to Chávez. The rest was his to use as he pleased. Formally it was a loan that didn’t have to paid pack for over 20 years, but in private Zelaya admitted that it didn’t actually have to be paid back – ever. In other words, it was a kickback to him. From a foreign state, which in many countries risks falling under the definition of treason. At any rate he circumvented the budget process, which is in violation of the constitution.

This leftist project is closely connected to cocaine smuggling, not at least via the Colombian communist guerilla FARC. The cartels benefit greatly when people lose confidence in the police, or when a crime wave overwhelms the government.

Several ALBA presidents have changed their constitutions to enable themselves to remain in power. The process that they prefer is to hold a constituyente, which in itself is a circumvention of the constitutional democratic process. Through that stratagem Chávez, Correa, and Morales have managed to short-circuit the institutional checks and balances. However, when Mel Zelaya tried the same method in Honduras, he drew the shortest straw. The Supreme Court sent the army to arrest him.

Sowing the seeds of the future

The reaction of the world was to declare the event a military coup, but that was clearly a case of jumping to conclusions without having all the facts. Hardly surprising, the key country setting the tone of how to treat Honduras, is USA. However, the signals from USA have been anything but clear.

The foreign relations committee in the Senate is chaired by senator Kerry. It seems that they are taking the statements from Zelaya for truths. They call the deposing of Zelaya a coup, and thus side with the left.

On the other hand, the secretary of state in the US, Hillary Clinton, is engaging with the new president, “Pepe” Lobo. They recently signed a document of understanding. I am guessing that Clinton is continuing to use the same playbook as her husband in the 90’s, i.e., IMF, free trade agreements, and other things belonging to the agenda of the right. This has caused Zelaya and his allies to accuse the US of having been behind what they call a coup, in order to turn the clock back in Honduras, to the neo-conservative agenda.

If this analysis is correct, there is a conflict between Clinton holding on to the old Right, and Kerry embracing the new Left. But what is happening in Honduras itself? Which side will prevail?

Apparently Pepe Lobo from the Nacionalista party is dancing with the Right, while Zelaya, albeit deposed, from the left wing of the Liberal party, is dancing with the Left and with the resistencia, FNRP. But where is the majority of the people?

The Center

The majority does not have a well-defined political leader at present. However, we can probably find the majority as those who made up the camisas blancas, the white-shirts, in last year’s huge demonstrations that as the most basic common denominator had a call for the rule of law.

I think it would be a huge mistake to think that these are the same as the supporters of the neo-conservative agenda. Many of the white-shirts surely share the goals of many who demonstrated in red shirts, but they don’t agree with the methods of populism and “dictatorship of the majority”. They seem to want reform and a socially responsible government, but under the rule of law, with full respect for individual rights and freedoms.

This new center is still under the surface, but it is not inactive. They are working with hands-on tasks aimed at transforming Honduras – the transformation that the politicians have been unable or unwilling to bring. They fight corruption, they work for the rule of law, but they have to stay under the radar since they have very powerful enemies: The drug cartels and the criminal networks (which stretch into politics) have everything to lose if they succeed.

Honduras is staking out its own future, a new path in the center of Latin American politics.

If they succeed, and they just might, innovation and entrepreneurship will be driving the country’s economy in ten year’s time; not maquilas. Institutional reforms, a modernized public administration system, and stringent rules and principles for legislation, may make away with corruption as the governing principle of the republic. Education, free trade, consequence-neutral regulation, renewable energy, and a access to capital can propel the country into the realm of developed nations. Today all of this seems like a remote dream. But remember, why aim for the possible? It has already been done. It is only the impossible that remains to be done. And it is only the first one over the line that wins.

This new center has to grow from within. All that the international community can and should do is to get out of the way during the birth process. Unfortunately Chávez keeps spending money and diplomatic effort on sabotaging it, and the US is apparently fighting internally.

If I could have one wish, it would be that Obama took sides neither for the Right nor for the Left, but for the new Center, and dedicated his diplomatic effort to give that Center the space it needs to grow organically.

7 thoughts on “Sowing the Future”

  1. Tegucigalpa – El presidente, Porfirio Lobo, convocó formalmente hoy a diferentes sectores sociales, incluyendo el autodenominado Frente Nacional de Resistencia, que preside el ex mandatario Manuel Zelaya, y la Unión Cívica Democrática (UCD), a reuniones para abrir un diálogo sobre temas de interés nacional, entre ellas la asamblea nacional constituyente.

    Lobo convocó a Juan Barahona y Edgardo Casaña, dirigentes en Honduras del Frente de Resistencia, para las nueve de la mañana del lunes en casa presidencial.

    En la convocatoria a este grupo dice que quiere “conocer las expectativas y alcances sobre su propuesta política de la asamblea nacional constituyente”.

    Para las 11:00 de la mañana del mismo día, está convocando a Carlos Eduardo Reina, coordinador del Frente de Liberales en Resistencia, a una reunión con el mismo propósito.

    “El presidente ha invitado a los partidos políticos, a las iglesias, a representantes de toda la sociedad a que vengan a dialogar con él todos los temas importantes que ellos tienen”, dijo el ministro de Comunicaciones, Miguel Ángel Bonilla.

    “Nos parece que es un paso positivo”, dijo Carlos Eduardo Reina a Hoy Mismo, al ser consultado sobre el tema.

    Aunque dijo no haber recibido formalmente la convocatoria, se mostró de acuerdo con las mismas.

    “Creo que es un paso importante, donde debemos todo buen hondureño que desea que este país avance, utilizar el camino del diálogo como primer paso para encontrar algunos consensos y ojalá pronto poder encontrar algún arreglo político que lleve a nuestro país a un mejor momento, a un encuentro de la sociedad hondureña y a que la impunidad se acabe en nuestro país”.

    Adelantó que para ellos es vital “el retorno de nuestro líder” Manuel Zelaya “para que este proceso pueda avanzar como debe”.

    Anunció que asistirán a la convocatoria “porque hemos luchado durante mucho tiempo por la constituyente, y no vamos a dejar ningún espacio para defender nuestras posiciones, por tanto estamos dispuestos a discutirlos con el presidente de la república y con quien sea”.

    Jimmy Dacaret, coordinador de la UCD, calificó “de importante” el que se les convoque a un diálogo.

    “Nosotros creemos muy importante este inicio y allí estaremos presentes como sociedad responsable y defendiendo el estado de derecho en todos sus sentidos porque los hondureños creemos que la unión se basa en que todos aprendamos a respetar la ley que nos norma la Constitución de la República”, dijo Dacaret.

    El empresario adelantó que se limitarán, en las reuniones, a defender su posición que Honduras requiere cambios y que estos se pueden hacer sin ninguna constituyente, la que en su opinión, “solo significa un objeto para conseguir el poder sin llegar a las elecciones. La constituyente nos trae más perjuicios que beneficios, por lo tanto estaremos con un no profundo”, apuntó.

    Felicitó al presidente Lobo por la iniciativa, ya que considera urgente “quitar esa sombra de la constituyente de la agenda del país, porque nos está haciendo mucho daño a todos los hondureños”.

    El presidente convocó también al ex aspirante presidencial del Partido Liberal Elvin Santos, con quien, según la nota enviada, abordará “temas de interés nacional”.

    El espinoso tema de una asamblea nacional constituyente con el propósito de reformar la constitución de la república fue uno de los principales puntos de la agenda política del defenestrado presidente Manuel Zelaya Rosales, el 28 de junio de 2009.

    Para lograr su propósito, Zelaya Rosales convocó para el 28 de junio de 2009 a una encuesta popular denominada la cuarta urna, con la que pretendía abrir las puertas a la instalación de una asamblea nacional constituyente que se encargaría de redactar una nueva constitución, en la que se eliminarían los artículos pétreos que prohíben en Honduras la reelección.

    Y entonces en que quedamos ???por esto mismo es que se le dio a Zelaya el Golpe de ESTADO en junio pasado !!!

    1. Also president Micheletti invited all groups in Honduras to discuss these themes, but the “resistencia” stubbornly refused the invitation.

      It shows that they are not good negotiators. When they held the strongest cards they refused to talk. Now, when they have a very weak hand, they are ready to talk.

      If anything this shows that Honduras is moving beyond the “resistencia” and that the middle, the camisas blancas, are the ones that will patronage the reforms.

  2. El violador de la constitucion – Micheletti- invitando a dialogar??? Por favor, es un insulto a la inteligencia del pueblo , pensar que se aceptaria dialogar con alguien que llego al poder del pais por la fuerza,apoyado por el ejercito , con las garantias constitucionales suspendidas- estado de sitio – medios de comunicacion cancelados, y el pueblo atropellado en todos sus derechos!!! imposible , definitivamente el mal negociador fue el golpista, creyendo que todos iban a aceptarle con respeto, fue un triste episodio en la historia de Honduras que su “mandato presidencial” solo fue recocido por sus companeros de aventura, y nadie mas.

    1. Ah yes, “an insult to the intelligence of the people to think that they would negotiate with” Micheletti… Several statesmen have said, e.g. Bismarck, Palme, that “politics is the art of the possible”. If you truly want to help the poor in Honduras, and not just grandstand in the poverty, you should heed that advice.

  3. Ulf, I want to congratulate you on this piece. It summarizes our struggle very well and talks about the uncertain future we have. We feel alone. Truthfully, not one country in the world is supporting our struggle, on the contrary we face strong enemies working through the OAS. And please, don’t confuse us with Ecuador. What happened over there has nothing to do with Honduras.

    The struggle for the center begins with the fact that the traditional political parties don’t want to accept their role in the military coups of the 60s and 70s. Then we had Constituent Assemblies as a power mechanism to whitewash the Dictator. These Assemblies were people with “leaders” from the Partido Nacional and Partido Liberal. So they don’t talk about the role of Constituent Assemblies during the Military Coups. The Zelayistas want to take us back there.

    We want to move forward. With independent branches of government. With an independent Auditing body (TSC) and with an independent Human Rights Commissioner (Ombudsman). An independent Electoral body (TSE). Forced alternation in power offices. Transparency and resposnsability. Health and Education our main objectives.

    I can see why you say its a pretty tall order. But thank you for saying it.

  4. Excellent piece. However, try to work the problem backwards and do not think of it in terms of right or left because “pushing” in either direction will cause further division. Determine the desired outcome for ALL the citizens of Honduras and work your way backward toward the immediate, interim and long-term changes that will bring this about. Education, health, human rights, economy, well-established middle class, etc.; what does Honduras need to do to achieve these for its people. Understand that there is a huge difference between a political party’s agenda and the desired outcome by those affected by the policies.

    1. Agree. I wasn’t trying to make any case, but analyze what has happened and is happening. And you are right, everyone pushing a certain agenda (for pay) has a vested interest. Imagine if poverty was eliminated. What would those employed by fundraisers who use images of poverty to make people open their wallets do then?

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