US reaction to Honduran Crisis 2009

The wikileaked daily security briefing from the US Department of State, June 29, 2009, the morning after Honduras’ president Manuel Zelaya had been deposed, reveals that DoS did not label it a coup d’état. On the contrary, the text starts (in paragraph 13) with stating that “Honduran military forces arrested President Manuel Zelaya June 28 according to orders issued by the National Congress and the Supreme Court of Honduras.

Thus, with access to information from the ground in Honduras, USA DoS did not label it a coup. The text continues: “Zelaya was taken to a local air force base and flown to Costa Rica. Emergency Action Committee (EAC) Tegucigalpa subsequently met to discuss the ramifications of the seizure of the president by host-cost country military forces. The RSO noted the general climate in the capital was calm … Later in the day, Congress officially named Roberto Micheletti interim president”. The remainder relates only to the safety of US personnel on the ground.

From this security briefing, classified as SECRET//NOFORN (secret, no foreigners), two things are apparent: First, that the US Department of State did not regard the event as a coup; and second, that there is no indication of US involvement.

In combination with the cable sent by Ambassador Llorens July 23, this cable seems to confirm the suspicions in Honduras that the Department of State and the Embassy were not on the same page. While the DoS clearly seems to regard the change of president as legal, the ambassador clearly did not.

A detailed account of the events of June 28 have recently become available in a 622-page Spanish book by Honduran journalist Armando Cerrato (see Honduras Weekly). Among other things, he details how Zelaya was dressed, and what happened at his arrest, citing eye-witness accounts from the president’s own neighbors.

The very pajamas that Mel Zelaya was NOT wearing when he was flown to Costa Rica.

The very pajamas that Mel Zelaya was NOT wearing when he was flown to Costa Rica.

It turns out that a lot of the “facts” that has stirred the public opinion outside Honduras has been fabrications and propaganda lies. From the pajamas story to the concentration camps, insanely hysterical lies have been spread by Zelaya and his associates. Many of whom are criminals, according to another leaked cable, from the former ambassador – who warned of the power-grab that Zelaya was attempting.

The Truth Commission is still active in Honduras, so these leaked cables may be taken into account in their work to find out what happened. It is getting time to close this chapter. There are lots of facts that are not in dispute.

Nobody disputes that Zelaya was trying to hold a constituting constitutional assembly, nor that such an assembly is unconstitutional in Honduras. The difference is what weight one puts on the fact that it is unconstitutional. Zelaya’s supporters don’t care one bit that it is unconstitutional. His detractors do; they want rule of law.

Nobody disputes that the Supreme Court of Justice had ordered Zelaya to stop his plans. The difference is just that Zelaya’s supporters don’t care what the court says. His detractors do; they want rule of law.

Nobody disputes that Zelaya openly mocked the Supreme Court of Justice, the Election Tribunal, and the National Congress. The difference is just that Zelaya’s supporters don’t care. His detractors do; they want rule of law.

Nobody disputes that it was illegal for the military to send Zelaya in exile, but while Zelaya’s supporters regard that as proof of it being a military coup, his detractors don’t. They agree that it was illegal, but given that Zelaya would be deposed as president anyway by completely legal means, they see it as a justifiable crime to prevent the loss of life (the militaries have already been charged for it, and the court dismissed the charges for exactly that reason).

There is only one thing that speaks for it being a coup, and that is the way in which the president physically was removed from office. Everything else speaks for it being a constitutional succession in defense of an attempted coup by the president himself. So ask yourself, what matters more for justice: appearance, or substance?

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