HRF blasts OAS over Honduran crisis

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) in a 300-page legal report published March 9th blasts the Organization for American States (OAS) for having lit the fuse that led to the deposing of Manuel Zelaya in Honduras on June 28th last year.

This statement is in perfect agreement with the position taken by the democratic institutions and the civil society of Honduras: If it hadn’t been for the OAS legitimizing Zelaya’s coup d’état with their unprecedented ‘Mission of Accompaniment’ to Honduras, the court and congress could have handled the matter with calm and let things play themselves out.

However, the act by OAS secretary general Insulza to send this mission to legitimize an unconstitutional referendum, already forbidden as illegal by the highest judicial authority in Honduras, was nothing short of a foreign illegal and hostile interference in a sovereign state. It was, in my opinion, an act of Cold War by Insulza against one of the member states of OAS.

HRF rightly calls for the resignation of Insulza. I would also like to see him brought to the International Criminal Court, and face justice, because his illegal actions has caused the death of a number of people in Honduras.

As regards HRF calling it a coup, that is subject to debate. They seem to fail to look at the overall picture, the purpose of the democratic constitution. It is as if in Sweden a court would rule on the letter of the law without looking at the preparatory works (förarbetena). I guess one could say that they are reading the law-book as the devil reads the Bible. However, that does not detract from the main conclusion: HRF has clearly given Honduras a big victory in its fight for international recognition of its democracy and rule of law.

Meanwhile, others continue with the same old, same old rhetoric on the alleged “coup” in Honduras, although as we know (if you have read my blog) that it really was an anti-coup.

Human Rights-case against Honduras is good news

The case that Zelaya and his colleagues brought against Honduras before the Interamerican Human Rights Court is good news for Honduras. They accuse the “state of Honduras” to have committed a “coup d’état” on June 28, 2009. There are several reasons why this is good news:

  1. Zelaya has no case. His claim is baseless. The only complaint is that there is no due process in Honduras, but this is contradicted by the fact that two of the plaintiffs are in a process in Honduras at this very moment, and due process is observed.
  2. What Honduras has wanted more than anything since the UN General Assembly condemned the deposing of Zelaya last year as a “coup”, is to have an international judicial institution examine the legalities of the case, since that would provide independent third-party confirmation that it was a legal and constitutional succession. By bringing this case Zelaya has therefore done what Honduras couldn’t.
  3. The country has previously been reported to the International Criminal Court, ICC, but nothing has happened in that case, and most likely nothing will. This case is therefore a better chance for Honduras to defend its reputation as a democracy that respects the rule of law.
  4. Politically, this means that Zelaya has stabbed his benefactor president Pepe Lobo in the back. By letting the ex president leave the country, Lobo took a risk. When Zelaya continues to argue against the recognition of Lobo, and denouncing the country before international courts, it only serves to strengthen Lobo’s credibility within Honduras and make it easier for him to govern – while Zelaya becomes ever more irrelevant.

Next Tuesday the reply from Honduras to the commission investigating the case will be ready. The deadline for the reply is March 26.

    Zelaya blir rättshaverist

    Uppdatering 2010-03-10: Honduras institutioner har samlat en expertpanel av jurister, vilka igår höll ett möte för att diskutera ärendet. Saken har inte gått till den interamerikanska domstolen för mänskliga rättigheter än, utan är föremål för preliminär utredning av den till domstolen kopplade kommissionen, vilken har ställt ett antal frågor till Honduras högsta domstol och kongress. Fristen för att besvara dessa går ut den 26 mars.

    Enligt ordföranden för den mänskliga rättighetskommitté som handlägger ärendet i Honduras, Ricardo Rodríguez (se La Prensa och El Heraldo), har inte Zelaya och hans kollegor något som helst juridiskt argument, utan besväret gäller enbart att de inte har getts en chans att försvara sig i domstol. Detta motsägs emellertid av fakta, då två av dem (Rixi Moncada och Arístides Mejía) redan har inställt sig till domstol och har fått samma behandling som de i januari åtalade militärerna som sände Zelaya ut ur landet: De har försatts på fri fot i väntan på rättegång.

    Ursprunglig text 2010-03-08: Honduras avsatte president vänder sig nu till den Interamerikanska Kommissionen för Mänskliga Rättigheter, tillsammans med några av hans fd medarbetare, och anklagar Honduras högsta domstol för att ha begått en “statskupp” då den utfärdade en arresteringsorder för honom. Tydligen anser denne herre att en president i Honduras har rätt att fullständigt skita i vad övriga statsmakter beslutar, och om de insisterar på att han skall följa HDs explicita order, ja då är det en “statskupp”.

    Det är tragiskt att se hur en person kan vara så fullständigt verklighetsfrämmande, och tro sig själv om att ha rätt oavsett hur solida de juridiska argumenten är mot honom. Snacka om rättshaverist.

    Faktist finns det lite komik i anmälan också, genom att de anklagar “staten Honduras” för att ha “genomfört statskuppen den 28 juni” (!). Tydligen tänker Zelaya att det är han som är den rättmätige Ledaren för landet, och om de övriga statsmakterna, alltså “staten”, stoppar honom från att göra vad fanken han vill, ja då är det en “statskupp”. ROFL typ.

    PS. DN och andra MSM media som har tagit parti för Zelaya fortsätter att tiga som muren nu då de insett att de inte kan vinna debatten med relevanta argument.

    Zelaya to become political leader of PetroCaribe

    Venezuela’s president and former military coupster Hugo Chavez has offered Honduras’ deposed president Manuel Zelaya the post as head of a newly formed political council in the PetroCaribe organization. PetroCaribe was formed to sell oil from Venezuela to poor countries in the Caribbean and Central America under very favourable credit terms.

    A number of news stories talk about Zelaya becoming the head of PetroCaribe, but I have only found one in English, a Russian site, that is stating that he is to head a newly formed political council. Given how close Venezuela and Russia are, especially in PR (i.e., “Propaganda Related”; cf. e.g. how Pravda and Chavez both claimed that the U.S. had caused the earthquake on Haiti; weapons deals; presidential visits; etc), I’d keep an open mind to the possibility that it is the Russian source that is the correct one. When searching in Spanish this was seemingly confirmed by this Cuban site.

    Zelaya’s role will be to “promote democracy.” We all know how well that went in his native Honduras, where he was found by the Supreme Court to be acting to overthrow the democratic constitution in place since 1981, and deposed by Congress after the court had ordered his arrest. He overstepped an article (239) that leads to immediately ceasing to be president, and he did so after the court had issued an injunction for him not to do so. Those who claim that his removal was a coup because he has the right to due process are thus misinformed; due process was followed, why it was no coup.

    When PetroCaribe was formed, the critics – or conspiracy theorists if you prefer – said that it would become an instrument for putting political pressure on the members who were indebted to Chavez. The idea is not new, and now it seems that they are openly laying their cards on the table by creating this political council, intended to get involved in what is happening in the member states politically.

    It has been expoused how the west uses that strategy with the world bank system (e.g., in “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man“): Put a country in debt, and then demand that they follow your will, or else. Those leaders who are so obstinate that they don’t give in not matter what arm-twisting is employed, are eliminated. The basic idea is to lend money to Third World countries to put them on the hook, making sure they cannot pay it back, ever. Those negotiating the loans have a bonus pay, so they get more bonus the more they can inflate the loan. This is not supposed to be public information, so the employee who told me made me promise not to reveal his name. However, I can deduce that it is true from other evidence. I once was asked to put a price tag on a project in Honduras, so I asked a Swedish colleague with many years expertise in exactly that field. However, the bank was very unhappy, and wanted me to inflate the price by a factor ten or so. In other words, the strategy is as follows:

    Finance a project with a loan, give favorable interest (one to a few percent), but inflate the price so much that the project will never be profitable. It is important that the profit is taken out of the Third World country by giving the job to a First World company. This way the country stays poor and indebted for ever, while the cost for the rich county is not all that high since the money just goes around and quickly comes back into the national economy.

    What Chavez – perhaps in cohorts not only with Cuba but also with Russia – is doing is not to duplicate this strategy, but to create another version of it. Chavez does not have coffers full of money, but he has oil. Instead of providing money he provides oil.

    It does seem, though, that his plan is not all that well thought out. He is in fact lending money, since he is not getting paid until later. And unlike the world bank projects, the money does not immediately come back as income for Venezuelan consulting and construction companies. Chavez is actually providing something of value. He is, however, taking this from his citizens, the people of Venezuela. His country is going downhill rapidly, with hyperinflation, water shortages, electricity shortages, and security problems.

    In short, the PetroCaribe plan has turned out not to be sustainable. Perhaps that is why Chavez has decided to openly try to cash in on it now, before the economy completlygoes belly up.

    His political plans have already stalled; it started with Honduras stopping Zelaya’s coup attempt, and continued with a right-wing president being elected in Chile. Also Argentina and Brazil may loose their left-wing regimes soon according to opinion polls. The wind in Latin America seems to have shifted against him. When his economical power base now also is failing, Chavez has little choice but to act as swiftly as possible, before his chances are gone for good.

    Zelaya has already proven that his attitude is “full steam ahead, damn the torpedoes” – even when there is nothing but torpedoes ahead. The question is how far can a conflict go? If it was just Venezuela and ALBA, there would be no worry. Although Venezuela has some of the best Russian-made fighter planes, they have no pilots trained on them, and not even manuals in Spanish. How many Venezuelan pilots read Russian?

    However, Russia has decided to send its fleet back to the Caribbean. And Cuba has Spanish-speaking pilots who have studied Russian. Plus, what stops Putin from having Russian pilots flying the planes? USA allegedely had American pilots fly planes painted in Israeli colors during the 1967 war (although nobody has claimed they flew combat missions). By placing top-modern Russian war equipment in Venezuela, Russia has the equipment on stage so to say, in case a conflict would get ignited. Hopefully this is defensive in nature, and not offensive, even though Chavez did threaten war against Honduras, and keeps doing so against Colombia.

    This may just be a sign that a new Cold War might be sailing up off Florida. What is a country like Honduras to do in this scenario?

    My best advice is to not trust either side, but to seek out a neutral road of self-reliance. Nobody is thinking about Honduras’ well-being except Hondurans. Neither Obama nor Chavez has anything good to offer Honduras (beyond trade, of course). It is time that the country stopped pandering for recognition, stuck to its laws, and started working diligently on its own long-term economical plan.

    Footnote: There are also ALBA loans for buying oil from Chavez. Zelaya used them, and so does president and former dictator Ortega of Nicaragua. The purchasing president only pays a fraction of the price to Venezuela, but sells it at full price. The remainder is a long-term loan, like 25 years. It sounds very similar to the PetroCaribe loans, and I am not sure what difference – if any – there is. Zelaya tried to convince the private sector in Honduras to get on board with this, arguing that 25 years is an eternity, so they didn’t have to worry about ever paying it back. They refused, though, wisely. The cash that this deal generates for the president is used as an illegal source of political cash, and is employed for corrupting the political process. While Honduras stood up to this corruption attempt, Nicaragua is now the next target, and only time will tell if it will succeed or not.

    USA-imperialismen i Latinamerika fortsätter

    Härom dagen kallade USAs ambassadör i Honduras, Hugo Llorens, till sig ledarna för det Liberala Partiet. Omedelbart därefter sa Roberto Micheletti upp sig som partiledare [Rättelse: Ledningen röstade att avsätta Micheletti med endast 3 röster mot, och en nerlagd, enligt senare uppgifter]. Enligt min källa är alla utom 3 eller 4 i ledningen nu inne på att Manuel Zelaya skall komma tillbaka till Honduras, få alla anklagelser om korruption avskrivna, och återuppta sitt politiska engagemang som partiledare trots att han försökt begå en statskupp. Men å andra sidan, Hugo Chavez i Venezuela och Adolf Hitler i Tyskland begick också statskuppförsök, satt i fängelse för dem, men återvände sedan till att väljas till ledare för sina respektive länder (där de helt förutsägbart sedan förstörde demokratin). Så det finns ju prejudikat.

    Men varför i böveln reser inte vänstern sig som en man och protesterar mot denna USA-imperialism, att blanda sig i hur ett politiskt parti i ett annat land väljer sina ledare? Har vänstern gått och blivit cynisk nu när USA går deras ärende? Har de ingen etisk och moralisk kompass? Är de lika korrupta som fascisterna?

    Reportrar Utan Gränser förolämpar mördad journalist i Honduras

    Ursprunglig text 2010-03-01: Medan jag skrev den förra bloggposten genomförde de som kallar sig motståndsrörelsen ett attentat mot en journalist som varit kritisk mot dem, Karol Cabrera. Hon är sårad, men hennes kollega som skjutsade henne dog. Karols 16-åriga dotter mördades den 15 december förra året, nerskjuten av två personer på motorcykel. President Micheletti kallade då till en presskonferens i vilken han anklagade de som kallar sig motståndsrörelsen för mordet, och uppmanade de media som stödjer dem till att upphöra med sin hatkampanj.

    Det går inte att två sina händer om man sprider hat. De som förmedlar hat via radio och TV har också blod på sina händer, även om de aldrig lämnar studion. Pennan är mäktigare än svärdet, men mikrofonen är ännu mäktigare.

    Uppdatering 2010-03-03: Karol Cabrera sände live på radion då hon sköts. Sändningen kan höras här, klicka bara på bilden på bilen till höger (“Momento en que atentant contra Karol Cabrera”). La Prensa skriver att den ihjälskjutne var Joseph Ochoa, journalist på den privata kanalen “51”, men att attentatet säkert var riktat mot Cabrera, reporter på den statliga TV-kanalen Canal 8 och på den privata radiokanalen RCV. Mordet ägde rum på samma plats där Cabreras 16-åriga gravida dotter mördades den 15 december då hon färdades i en bil tillhörande Karol, och tillvägagångssättet var detsamma. De som kallar sig motståndsrörelsen har hotat henne därför att hon öppet stödjer högsta domstolens och kongressens avsättande av president Zelaya den 28 juni förra året.

    Det kan därför inte råda något rimligt tvivel om att det var “de som kallar sig” som utförde bägge dessa mord, vilket även USAs ambassadör till Honduras Hugo Llorens säger, men trots det säger Reportrar Utan Gränser att man inte bör koppla detta mord till (den avstyrda) statskuppen förra året. Personligen tycker jag att Reportrar Utan Gränser (RSF) prostituerar sig när de så öppet tar politisk ställning för “de som kallar sig”. Fy skäms!

    Som om inte detta vore nog så slår RSF salt i såren då de försöker vrida hela historien till att det är regeringen som förtrycker regeringskritiska journalister, och lite längre ner skriver om ett par reportrar på Radio Globo som valt att lämna landet. Det djupt förolämpande i detta är att det är just denna radiokanal som bedrivit den hatkampanj som med intill visshet gränsande sannolikhet lett till detta mord på en regeringsvänlig journalist. RSF har lyckats att förolämpa den mördade genom att i hans egen dödsruna vända sin sympati till dem med blod på sina händer!

    Förresten rapporteras att Karol Cabrera är allvarligt skadad men att läget är stabilt.

    Addendum: Human Rights Watch skrev idag (3 mars) till Honduras riksåklagare och uppmanade honom att undersöka brott med misstänkta politiska förtecken mot regeringsfientliga personer, inklusive de två från Radio Globo, men nämner ingenting om ovanstående mord eller andra politiska brott mot de som stödjer regeringen. Tyvärr gör det att organisationen inte längre framstår som ojävig, utan att de bara bryr sig om mänskliga rättigheter för de personer som delar deras politiska uppfattning. Därmed blir de helt irrelevanta.

    Rapport varnar för möjlig gerilla i Honduras

    En underrättelserapport som lästs av La Prensa i San Pedro Sula varnar för att bondeorganisationer i Aguandalen i nordöstra Honduras har ingått en strategisk allians med vänsterorganisationer, den kommunistiska knarkgerillan FARC i Colombia, och med drogkarteller som smugglar kokain genom Honduras. De lär redan vara beväpnade med grovkalibriga vapen, och instruktörer från FARC skall vara på väg för att lära dem använda granater och andra vapen. De har ockuperat odlingar av afrikansk oljepalm (källan till oljan bakom många vardagsprodukter, tänk Palmolive). Odlingarna tillhörde ett kooperativ från 1981 till 1993, då tillgångarna såldes under omständigheter som tydligen är ifrågasatta.

    Dessa lantarbetare i Aguan har sedan valet i slutet av november kommit i fokus för de politiska konflikterna i Honduras. Det är kanske kärnan av det som kallats “motståndsrörelsen” mot “statskuppen” av dem själva, men som andra kallar “insistencian” eftersom de insisterar på att kullkasta statsskicket, med vilka som helst till buds stående medel. Den nationella ledaren för denna gruppering är Rafael Alegria, och även om de själva påstår sig vara fredliga, så har media som är välvilligt inställda till dem rapporterat att de beslutat ta till “militanta” metoder för att få till stånd en “konstituerande grundlagsförsamling”, vilket naturligtvis förutsätter att det existerande statsskicket först kullkastas – något som bara kan ske genom revolution eller statskupp (som den Zelaya försökte genomföra förra året men vilken stoppades av HD och kongressen den 28 juni).

    De allianser med FARC för vapen och träning, och drogkarteller för finansiering, som rapporten nämner, förefaller stämma in i den strategin. Vad drogkartellerna får ut av det hela är naturligtvis en fristad i Centralamerika om projektet lyckas. Att de mexikanska kartellerna nu flyttar sin bas från Mexiko till Centralamerika beror på de hårdare polisiära insatserna i deras hemland, enligt en rapport från USAs UD, refererad av El Heraldo.

    Något gerillakrig har inte startat i Honduras, utan rapporten varnar för möjliga hot så att landets säkerhetstjänst kan ta itu med dem innan situationen spårar ur. Förhoppningsvis kommer situationen att kunna hanteras på fredlig väg i domstolar, och genom presidentens personliga insats i att medla i konflikten mellan bönderna och den registrerade ägaren av marken.

    PS. Medan jag skrev detta genomfördes ett journalistmord, se nästa post.

    Uppdatering 2010-03-03: Beträffande situationen i nedre Aguan så hävdar släktingar till de 6 som skjutits hittills (5 vakter och ett barn) att de som mördade dem inte kan vara bönder, för bönder använder inte den typen av vapen eller taktik, utan de är terrorister och måste behandlas som sådana av myndigheterna, skriver La Prensa. Tidningens journalister kunde inte ta sig hem till dessa släktingar för de blev beskjutna, så mötet ägde rum på annan plats.

    Pepe Lobo, and dirty war in Honduras

    Since Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo Sosa took office as President of Honduras on January 27, 2010, there have been reports on the web of an apparent increase of murders targeting those who want to overthrow the form of government and institute a new constituting assembly.

    The self-denominated “Popular Resistance Movement” consists of members of a range of organizations, including several trade unions, groups of landless farmers (or farmers whose right to the land they cultivate is disputed), and indigenous organizations. They have reportedly decided to continue insisting on a “constituting assembly,” even though said institution has already been declared unconstitutional by the highest court of the country. Moreover, the report said that they had decided to use “militant” methods in the struggle.

    It might seem obvious to an outside observer that the movement thus has placed itself squarely outside the law, and that the appropriate response from the government would be to use the judicial system and the police force to prevent them from succeeding with any criminal objective.

    The reports of a new dirty war in Honduras, targeting these individuals and their family with beatings, rape, and murder, thus seems illogical – provided that the judicial system in Honduras works. The problem is that it doesn’t work very well, in the opinion of many. Crimes can often be committed with impunity, since only a fraction of the 14 murders per day in average in the country are solved. In fact, lynchings are not uncommon as people get frustrated over the lack of justice, and a while ago there was a shootout in a neighbourhood of the capital when thieves tried to rob a water truck (all the thieves were shot and most died).

    Honduras had a dirty war, with over one hundred trade union activists murdered, just a couple of decades ago. Unless clear signals are sent now, from the president and others who can sway the opinion, a new dirty war risks starting – or continue, if it already has.

    This is the time for Pepe Lobo to go out in a televised address to the nation and say, in no uncertain terms, that his government has a zero tolerance for extra-judicial punishment. He needs to clearly denounce all aspects of the dirty war, and in so strong words that there can be no doubt about his sincerity.

    Pepe needs to do this in order for all those who might be tempted to “help” him, to understand that their “help” is entirely unwelcome and counter-productive. It is not enough for him not to approve it. He has to actively disapprove of it, or else it will start – that is my prediction now. I base that prediction on the attitude of people I have talked with. Just like Dick Cheney and many others in the U.S. have an attitude that some forms of torture is acceptable (by not calling it torture), there are those in Honduras who tacitly accept the need to “cleanse” the country of certain “elements,” so to say. In each case the fight against (real or imagined) terrorism might be used as justification for violating human rights (even though this is entirely unsupported by law).

    Incidentally, the fact that those in the U.S. who approved, ordered, and carried out torture in violation of international law, have not been prosecuted after all these years, can be taken as a sign by people in Honduras that it is OK to violate human rights when dealing with terrorists. In fact, USA – including President Obama – has a major responsibility for possibly opening the floodgates for a new wave of human rights abuses in the world. A difference is, though, that Honduras is subject to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, and they are watching what the country is doing in terms of human rights (unlike the case with USA). However, by the time they would intervene it would already be too late; the crimes would already have been committed, the damage already done.

    So the question is, will Pepe Lobo denounce the dirty war as a tactic? Will he stake out a third path, a path of peaceful reconciliation, and forcefully denounce violence and illegal acts on both sides in the social conflict?

    If he does not, Honduras will remain at status quo for several decades more. This means continued desperate poverty, so desperate that millions prefer to live illegally in the U.S., or getting involved with crime. No country in North America can afford to let this happen. Pepe must instill confidence in law and order, for all law abiding citizens, and he must forcefully insist in respect for the fundamental human rights of life and liberty.

    Footnote: While writing this, the word on the web is that Pepe Lobo is getting too close to Zelaya, that he may be dropping the charges and allowing him back, and even to serve in the Central American parliament Parlacen. Personally I believe that this is just part of a psychological war, part of the effort to create uncertainty. As I have written previously, the party that has most to gain from this is the drug cartels. They also have most to gain from a new dirty war, in my analysis, but it does not detract from the need for Pepe Lobo to clearly come out against it. On the contrary, it makes it even more important for him to try to unite the people against the threat of organized, international crime.