Last year Honduras entered its most serious constitutional crisis ever. President Zelaya was pushing for throwing out the Constitution, and create a Constituting Assembly to draft a new one from scratch. Of course he ran afoul of the existing Constitution in so doing, why the checks and balances kicked in, and Zelaya was kicked out.
By the color of the shirts of the people who demonstrated during this crisis, those who are defending the existing democratic constitution have become known as the white, and those who want to overthrow the constitution are called the red.
Regrettably, the world mistook the defence of democracy for a military coup by the white. The reasons have been amply exposed on this blog so I will not repeat them. Suffice it to say that the OAS, USA, and media are all as a minimum guilty of thick-headiness. Hugo Chávez is, on the other hand, a direct culprit; he is the hub that makes the wheel spin.
The remarkable thing is that even though the Honduran crisis is a direct parallel to what has happened in other ALBA countries, this seems to be very hard for media in the non-Spanish-speaking world to understand. Case in point: The Christian Science Monitor yesterday attempted to paint a link between Nicaragua and Honduras. However, they link Ortega’s (who is obviously red) unconstitutional maneuvers with Micheletti’s actions (although he is on the white side). It would be tragicomic if it wasn’t so serious; it is democracy itself that is at stake, and they are not able to tell the attacker from the defender.
The similarity between Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua, and Honduras, is crystal clear, much stronger than what CSMonitor realizes. They just have to compare with Manuel Zelaya, instead of with Roberto Micheletti.
Imagine that the Supreme Court in Managua stops Ortega, and that their Congress deposes him and replaces him with the person who is next in line in the succession order. Now try to figure out, after reading the article in CSMonitor, how that newspaper would present our hypothetical event. Would they present it as a victory for the checks and balances, or as a coup d’état?
That, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what happened in Honduras, and they – still – present it as a coup d’état. A coup d’état committed by the checks and balances, no less. Talk about oxymoron.
Alone against the world
Just like Finland stood alone when the Soviet Union attacked her in WWII, but won against all odds, so has Honduras stood alone against the whole world in this crisis. There are many similarities. Both were small and poor countries, but both had the moral high ground, and they were driven by the willpower of the people to fight for what they knew was right. In both cases it was also a fight between the white and red. Coincidentally, even the flags of the two countries have the same colours: white and blue.
Finland had of course seen a civil war between the red and white back when it was a Grand Duchy in Russia (when I grew up my grandfather used to tell me childhood memories of that conflict). Both countries had strong social tensions, and an upper class of a different ethnicity than the poor majority. There is no doubt that in both cases the red had legitimate grievances, but they were in both cases using very suboptimal methods to achieve their objectives. For many years I have argued for the need for reform in Honduras, but the way the so-called “resistencia” go about it now is completely counterproductive, and must be condemned. The white side has reached out with an olive branch, and anyone who does not take that, but opts for violence, deserves to go to jail.
The foreign minister under Micheletti, Carlos Contreras, said in an interview on January 26, recently published in El Heraldo, that there were countries that recognized that Honduras was acting in defence of democracy, and gave them moral support in secret, but not a single country came out in public and supported them. The diplomats knew that the global public opinion was completely and totally misled into thinking that it was a military coup, why they realized that it would be an uphill battle to try to argue the case.
During the crisis I have heard this myself from third country diplomats. As Contreras says in the interview, diplomacy is about interests, not about what is right and wrong. There was just nobody that had a national interest in defending Honduras, even when they knew she was right.
Other countries were indifferent, and some were openly hostile to Honduras, notably all ALBA countries. One of the many media falsehoods is that the U.S. would have been behind the alleged white coup. Quite the contrary, says Contreras. The U.S. was openly hostile.
This underscores what I have heard from sources with first hand insight into the constitutional crisis that culminated June 25 to 28. Simply put, the Obama administration apparently inadvertently gave Zelaya a green light for bringing to completion the red coup d’état he was executing. What Axel Oxenstierna wrote in 1648, “If you only knew my son, with how little wisdom the world is run”, seems like the understatement of the past millennium.
Given how Zelaya has lied to and manipulated media consistently since June 28, when he changed back to pyjamas before appearing before the TV-cameras in Costa Rica (he left Honduras with clothes, hat, and boots on), his latest actions should come as no surprise. The only surprise is that so much of media doesn’t seem to have seen through the lies yet.
For instance, Zelaya signed the agreement that was worked out in the Guaymuras dialogue. However, he did not live up to a single one of his commitments in that agreement. But rather than being the man for his (infamous) hat, he accused the democratic institutions of Honduras of breaking the deal. Most of the media outside Honduras uncritically reported Zelaya’s version, although it was very easy to find evidence inside Honduras for it being false. If I could find such evidence, surely trained journalists would be able to, right?
Among the things he agreed to was to accept the decision of the Congress; he didn’t. He also signed his name under a promise to support the elections; he didn’t. He further signed on to forming a unity government; he did not cooperate but instead accused the counterpart of having broken that point.
When Oscar Arias made the first draft of the deal that later became the Accord, he had put amnesty into it. Zelaya asked that it be removed, and it was. Zelaya to this day maintains in public that he was against the amnesty that Congress approved in January for his benefit. However, at least two congressmen (Yanny Rosental and Erick Rodriguez) have come out in public and revealed that Zelaya pressured them to vote for the amnesty.
Can you believe that much of the world media keeps repeating the words of such a hypocrite as the unquestionable truth? You know why? The reason is that he was “thrown out in pyjamas,” that’s why their minds are closed. Sokrates’ logic may be ever so perfect, but if those forming the public opinion do not use it, what hope does the truth have? The symbol of the pyjamas trumps all logic. Maybe Ortega, if it one morning becomes his turn, should claim that he sleeps naked. That outta get the world’s attention, right?
Finally, the Accord contains a provision for a Truth Commission, which was suggested by the Micheletti side. It is to be formed the first half of this year, and its task shall be to investigate what happened before and after the culmination of the constitutional crisis on June 28, as well as to propose how to prevent that something like that ever happens again. Personally I feel that this is a very important task, and one that should be carried out mainly by Hondurans, but with advising experts who could be foreigners (as long as they understand Spanish, of course). As mentioned, Zelaya signed on to the entire deal, including this point.
However, many are worried about the implementation of it. The white (who supported Micheletti) are worried that the new president, Pepe Lobo, is giving in to international pressure to let OAS and USA influence the commission so that it can whitewash their respective guilt in the crisis. At the same time, the red (who supported Zelaya and who now profess to be for a militant strategy for overthrowing the constitution), through their coordinator Juan Barahona says that they think the commission was created for whitewashing what they call a “coup d’état”, i.e., the white anti-coup against Zelaya’s red coup.
The third part
What may make this confusing, admittedly, for international media is that there are not two sides in this conflict, but three. There is the red side of Zelaya supporters, who call themselves the “resistance” but who actually are the ones fueling the crisis. According to media friendly to them they openly declare that they are insurgents and that they have decided to go militant. It may be relevant that Honduran arms smugglers were arrested in Florida yesterday in a sting operation when they tried to buy machine guns; they have apparently already smuggled hundreds of weapons to their country. The red boycotted the election campaign, but their understanding of what “boycott” means was wholly unique; it included sabotage of infrastructure, bombing buses, shooting RPGs in cities, and other terrorist acts.
There is also the white side of Union Civica Democratica, who wants peace, democracy, and the rule of law. It is a group formed in opposition to Zelaya, by women, and whose mass actions may well have given the democratic institutions the spine to stand up to the president’s abuse of power.
The third part is not Honduran. It is the Joker in the game. It is a foreign power and its diplomats. It is the United States of America.
Most international media, almost without exception, has taken the side of the red, and has erroneously assumed that the U.S. has been on the side of the white. As mentioned, the U.S. has, however, consistently been hostile to the white. In fact, they have – probably by incompetence – helped the attempted coup by Zelaya. This has left Obama in a spot where he cannot tell the truth without acknowledging being an idiot. Instead he sticks to the “oxymoronic” coup d’état committed by the checks and balances.
And so the tale lives on in media, with falsehoods proliferating, and the truth being all but missing in action. That is exactly why a functioning Truth Commission is needed. It was unfortunate that amnesty was granted, not because the Truth Commission now becomes redundant, but because it may make it much harder for it to succeed. Perhaps that is exactly why the U.S. pushed so hard for the amnesty?
As is well-known from media reports, OAS supported Zelaya’s coup, and OAS is now lending technical support to the Truth Commission. Furthermore, it seems like Jimmy Carter’s center will form a part of it. It thus remains to be seen if OAS and the U.S. somehow can manage to castrate the Truth Commission.
But even if they do, not all is lost. You can rest assured that also the work of the Truth Commission will be among the things that will be scrutinized in the future. There are other cards to play, but I am not at liberty to blog about it yet. All I can say is, the Honduran people will not allow the truth to be buried, no matter what.