Category Archives: Honduras

Related to Honduras

Knark-kommunisternas planer avslöjade: 15-års “Reich”

Ett dokument som påstås vara upprättat vid ett besök i Nicaragua av Venezuelas president Hugo Chávez (spanska, engelska) lägger fram hela den välgenomtänkta planen för hur Latinamerikanska länder skall tas över, köpta för en miljard dollar per land och år av Venezuela. Vare sig dokumentet är äkta eller förfalskat så är det intressant, för hela strategin som presenteras har redan implementerats i ett eller flera länder. Min egen reflektion då jag läste det var att Chávez verkar ha studerat hur nationalsocialisterna kom till makten i Tyskland, för likheterna i strategin är slående.

Pepe Lobo och Mel Zelaya är inte bara kompisar, de verkar också ha liknande intressen.
Pepe Lobo och Mel Zelaya är inte bara kompisar, de verkar också ha liknande intressen. Lobo har nu startat en process för att ändra grundlagen så att en konstituerande grundlagsförsamling kan hållas - just det projekt som fick Mel att förlora presidentposten den 28 juni, 2009. Projektet är i grund och botten knark-kommunism.

En artikel om dokumentet har även publicerats på Huffington Post, vilket är anmärkningsvärt eftersom det är en blogg på vänsterkanten som tills nyligen varit ensidigt Chávez-vänlig. Detta betyder att vinden kanske har vänt, så Honduras inte längre behöver stå ensamt i kampen mot detta hot mot frihet och demokrati i Amerika. Ojala.

Notera att dokumentet, upprättat i januari 2009 enligt vad källan påstår, säger att Zelaya skall återväljas i november 2009 (presidentval hölls den 29 november). Problemet är att en president inte kan återväljas i Honduras. Därför skulle grundlagen ändras, det är en av punkterna i programmet. I mars 2009 utlyste Zelaya mycket riktigt en folkomröstning den 28 juni, om att hålla en folkomröstning den 29 november, om att tillsätta en konstituerande grundlagsförsamling. Han påstod att han själv inte skulle kunna väljas om, officiellt, men sanningen läckte ändå ut. Ledande personer i Honduras kände till planen redan före den 28 juni.

Planen var att folkomröstningen skulle riggas (Zelaya vann), han skulle på natten förklara att resultatet var så överväldigande att han bestämt sig för att utlysa grundlagsförsamlingen meddetsamma (massvis med Chávez-media var där och nyheten var redan skriven), han skulle så utse sig själv till ordförande för den, skriva om grundlagen så att han kunde bli omvald, och kasta ut resultatet av de redan hållna primärvalen genom fönstret. Det faktum att han inte anslagit några medel till de ordinarie valen visar tydligt att han inte avsåg att de skulle hållas.

Riksåklagaren hade väckt åtal för detta försök till att hålla en grundlagsvidrig folkomröstning, och högsta domstolen hade utfärdad ett direkt förbud mot alla i landet att på något sätt delta i den. De krävde också att presidenten rapporterade senast den 25 juni om deras order att stoppa planerna. Då han inte lämnade någon sådan rapport utfärdades en arresteringsorder för honom. Militären förstod att fienden hade förberett ett motdrag om presidenten arresterades, i form av ett väpnat upplopp lett av beväpnade infiltratörer, stormtrupper, från Venezuela. Därför sändes presidenten istället utomlands, och gränserna stängdes, med hänvisning till nationellt nödvärn. De agerade som om rikets säkerhet var hotat av en irreguljär attack. Dokumentet från Nicaragua stödjer deras hotbild.

Vad dokumentet inte nämner är den starka kopplingen mellan vänstergerillor och knarksmugglare i Sydamerika. Knarksmugglingen är dock inte så omfattande i Nicaragua, där säkerhetsstyrkorna har lyckats bekämpa den rätt effektivt. Honduras däremot fungerar sedan några år som landningsbana för hundratals eller till och med tusentals knarkflygningar varje år. Omkring 150 ton kokain passerar landet, uppskattas det. Medan Nicaragua knappt har några landningsbanor (vilket kunde slutat illa för mig men det är en annan historia) har Honduras massvis eftersom en stor del av landet är väglöst.

Värdet av det kokain som smugglas genom Honduras varje år är mer än dubbelt så stort som landets bruttonationalprodukt, vilket jag skrev om på Newsmill igår. Det är en Davids kamp mot Goliath som det lilla landet som kunde utkämpar. Men en dag, det är jag säker på, kommer de att få erkännande för att ha stått upp för fred, frihet, lag och rätt, den dag de avsatte Zelaya och de 7 månader de, under Micheletti, vägrade vika en tum för omvärldens påtryckningar. Om det finns någon rättvisa i världen så kommer de att hyllas en dag.

PS. Sverige kan ta åt sig en del av äran för att de stått upp för dessa höga värderingar, för vårt land har under flera år hjälp till att bygga upp kompetens inom demokrati, och den institution som även i Honduras kallas “ombudsman” för mänskliga rättigheter.

Publicerat 09:28 ET, sist uppdaterat 17:06 ET.

The Truth Commission in Honduras

The political crisis in Honduras last year ended in an agreement, the Guaymuras Accord, in which it was stipulated in point 6 that a Truth Commission be formed to investigate what really led up to the crisis, so that the risk of repetition can be minimized. The commission is working since this Spring, and the report is due in early 2011.

The text gives these instructions, in my translation: “With the purpose of clarifying the events occurred before and after June 28, 2009, a Truth Commission will also be created that will identify the acts that led to the present situation, and present to the Honduran people elements to avoid that these acts are repeated in the future.” The Spanish original reads, “Con el fin de esclarecer los hechos ocurridos antes y después del 28 de junio de 2009, se creará también una Comisión de la Verdad que identifique los actos que condujeron a la situación actual, y proporcione al pueblo de Honduras elementos para evitar que estos hechos se repitan en el futuro.

On the website of the Truth Commission, a scheme of inquiry is described.

A work plan for the truth commission could rather look something like what I will describe here. It is based on the scientific method, in which one erects an hypothesis and then tries to prove it wrong.

  1. Erect the hypothesis that the institutions (the courts, the congress, etc.) acted correctly in relation to the deposing of Zelaya, and try to disprove this hypothesis. Note that it would be scientifically wrong to erect the hypothesis that they acted incorrectly, since that hypothesis is virtually impossible to disprove. The burden of proof has to be on the one that claims that they acted wrong, not on the one that claims they acted correctly. Therefore, the null hypothesis must be that they acted correctly.
  2. Establish a paper trail for what happened, gather documents and other evidence and try to verify their veracity.
  3. Evaluate the actions (by Zelaya and others) and the reactions (by the judicial branch) step by step, in chronological order, based on the Honduran Constitution, the Honduran law, and Honduran jurisprudence.
  4. Repeat this procedure for each institution, i.e., the legislative, the prosecutor, the military, the police, and so on.
  5. For every case where someone acted outside the law, verify if the case was dealt with appropriately by the judicial.

If no proof of wrongdoing can be found with this approach, then the hypothesis is retained, and the institutions are found to have acted within the law. If some wrongdoing is found, then one must follow up and see how that wrongdoing was dealt with (point 5). If it was dealt with appropriately, then, too, the institutionality of Honduras shall be deemed to have passed the hypothesis-testing.

Jumping the gun, what it will come down to is the expatriation of Zelaya. We already know that those responsible were prosecuted. The question is rather if Zelaya was held harmless;in other words, if his legal rights were respected the same in the light of his illegal expatriation, as they would have been had he instead been thrown in jail as the arrest warrant ordered. This is of course somewhat of an hypothetical, since he has not returned to Honduras to face justice. The only way to find out if there is justice or not is, really, for him to return and defend himself in court.

If the commission does its work appropriately, we will have authoritative answers to these questions:

  1. Does the Supreme Court have the authority of arrest the president (based on Honduran jurisprudence, of course)?
  2. Did the Supreme Court, on June 26 when the arrest warrant was issued, have due cause for issuing the arrest warrant?
  3. Does the Supreme Court have the authority to relieve the president from office, temporarily or permanently?
  4. Does the Congress have the authority to relieve the president from office, temporarily or permanently?
  5. Who issued the order to expatriate Mel Zelaya?
  6. Has the one(s) who issued the order to expatriate Mel Zelaya been prosecuted according to the laws?
  7. Has Zelaya’s legal rights been safeguarded, before and after he was illegally expatriated?

The more important question may not be if the commission will do its job correctly, but if media will report its conclusions correctly.

The Risks and how to Mitigate them

It seems clear beyond reasonable doubt that there is a concerted attack against Honduras carried out by certain groups, the face of which is Hugo Chavez. The tools of the attack are not military, the goal is not a military victory. Rather, the tools are manipulation of the media story by means of false news and control of the media news cycle, and the goal is to make Honduras ungovernable, so that the smuggling of cocaine to the north can be carried out cheap and safely – relatively speaking. Only the cocaine economy can explain the vast investment that is being made in this attack on Honduras institutions of government. We are talking about tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars “invested” in destroying Honduras. This is a cold war precisely as Adolf Hitler intended when he coined the term.

Understanding their goal we can predict their strategy. There is no doubt in my mind that they will write their story-lines and edit their news coverage in advance of the release of the report from the truth commission. Once the report is out they will quickly scan it for a quote that they can use to “support” their story, and then quickly go out with their version of what the commission actually said. By being quick, they hope that the other media, like AP, AFP, EFE, and Reuters, will run with their version instead of taking the time to actually read the report.

Judging from how those news agencies have acted in the past, I’d predict that the strategy is going to work.

The only ones that can prevent this willful distortion of the commissions report is the commission itself. If they desire for the truth to be known, they have to manage the news themselves.

The most important counter-measure is to remove the possibility for the enemy of Honduras to act. The opportunity for the enemy is in the moment when the report is released. The mitigation must therefore be to not release the report all at once at the end. A range of methods can be used, and some have already started.

Social media: The commission is already using social media to communicate with people, thus gradually diffusing information about the process and gaining confidence.

Radio: They could cooperate with radio shows to discuss subjects on air, taking questions and even discussing with people who call in. This, too, will gradually diffuse their findings and undermine the chances for the enemy to spin the story when the final report comes.

Leaks: By leaking findings in advance, the enemy is denied the chance to spin, or lie, about these facts later.

Galleys: Provide copies of the report to select news outlets about a week in advance of the official release date so that they have time to read it and write their own, accurate, stories.

What is essential here is to understand that some media are not news outlets, but propaganda organizations. They must be treated accordingly. While they pretend to be news outlets and claim to be protected by the rules of journalistic freedom, they really are the enemy in disguise. It is a tricky business to on the one hand not violate their rights, and on the other hand not allow them to play the game they want. It’s like a game of chess, but it’s not a game, what is at stake is human lives. Millions of human lives.

First Honduras, now Ecuador?

Update 2010-10-01: The president was brought out from the Police Hospital by the military last night, after a firefight with the police that we could see on live TV here in Miami. There was never a declaration of a coup, and the whole things seems to have been nothing but a protest that went out of hand when someone fired a tear gas grenade in the face of the president. In that respect this event was of a completely different nature than last year’s events in Honduras.

In Honduras, the protests started with peaceful mass demonstrations, in which unarmed civilians dressed in white demanded that the president respect the constitution and the rule of law. At the same time, a judicial process was being carried out against the president in the courts. The first loss of life was many days after the president had been deposed, and then as a result of a deliberate stratagem to create a martyr, staged by the deposed president and his supporters.

In Ecuador the kettle immediately boiled over as a result of seemingly spontaneous protests by the police, and, weapons being fired, it caused the loss of lives on both sides the first day. Yet the situation is similar in many respects in the two countries. Both were members of ALBA, and both presidents were taking bribes from a foreign country, Venezuela (the so-called ALBA “loans”), thus potentially committing treason but at the very least a severe case of corruption.

Another similarity is that both presidents were pursuing policies that threatened the very existence of the popularly elected Congress, the ultimate voice of the people between elections: Zelaya by holding a referendum that would have opened the door for him to abolish the constitution, and Correa by threatening to abolish the Congress and rule by dictates. Anybody concerned with the rule of law and democratic institutions thus had reason to distrust the president in both countries.

Honduras painstakingly pursued a legal process to stop their president, peaceful protests coupled with a judicial process. It is the civilized way to do things.

Coup d’etats can never be justified, and that goes for autogolpes, too. If Correa insists in his plans he will be guilty of an autogolpe, but that in and of itself does not justify the police starting to riot in the streets. The deposing of a self-coupster has to be initiated in the proper democratic institutions, as was the case in Honduras. The rule of law cannot be defended by violating the rule of law.

Original text 2010-09-30: Yesterday I blogged about how Honduras could have started a new centrist trend in Latin America when the democratic institutions, led by the popularly elected Congress – got rid of an increasingly despotic president.

Today the fury of the masses was directed at Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa, who also is showing increasingly despotic traits. The president was taken to a hospital, allegedly injured by tear gas as police was protesting.

The word is that there is a strong sentiment among ordinary people that he has to go, but as I write this nobody has declared that he has been replaced. Perhaps it will, this time, stay at a strong warning sign for Correa, and not develop into a coup. Or maybe not.

At any rate, here is a reminder to him that no president is above the law:

Ceremonial Pajamas of the Republic of Honduras
The Ceremonial Pajamas of the Republic of Honduras is offered as a loan to Ecuador (or Nicaragua, or even Cuba), but they need to return it promptly after use in case it is needed again, I am told.

A friend was flying out today but the flight was cancelled when it was about to take off, as the military blocked the runway. Stay tuned.

Swedish Media: DN.

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.

Why it was good that Sweden left Honduras

This summer Sweden closed its foreign aid office in Tegucigalpa. It was a move that was decided when Zelaya was president, and motivated by the corruption in his administration, from what I have heard. Although this means the gradual termination of assistance to human rights (including the ombudsman for human rights, who the zelayistas love to criticize), women’s groups, and higher education (millions go to UNAH, the strongly left-leaning national university), it may actually be for the better.

Why? Because foreign aid often cements the existing structures, much like government efforts to promote innovation tends to strengthen the existing market structure rather than lead to a re-orientation. It also corrupts.

Unless the aid is given in very specific ways, and with a high degree of understanding of what is going on behind the scenes, it is, IMHO, more often than not counter-productive. For instance, if UNAH gets $8M they are likely to use it for salaries first, building maintenance second, and only the crumbles left over will go to the thing that in the long run is most important: The library, the information, the communication.

Personally I would rather see the money spent on buying subscriptions and the infrastructure needed to use the electronic subscriptions. Also, supporting a domestic high-quality journal would seem important, so that Honduran scholars can start rising to the level where they become a force to count with. That is something that in 20 to 30 years really can make a difference, propelling the country forward as an innovative entrepreneurial center of excellence. Salaries, on the other hand, will just go to buy Chinese imports in the local mall.

During the time of transit all forces must be directed towards creating the conditions for change, for entrepreneurship, for innovation, for starting new businesses, for research. This requires using domestic resources, and the process must be driven by domestic forces. Foreign aid should only amount to goods or services that cannot be made in the country, or purchased for the local currency. Furthermore, it must never compete with local business. It is a problem that the US donates so much goods and services, as it undermines and corrupts the local economy. That has to be phased out, the sooner the better.

I realize that those involved with foreign aid of that kind are going to get on my case now, but somebody has to point out that the emperor is naked. Everyone making a living on aid to Honduras has a vested interest in Honduras remaining poor. For Honduras to rise to glory, she has to say “I am too proud to accept donations!”

Therefore, it was a blessing in disguise that Sweden and ASDI left Honduras, since that leaves the agents of change with a better chance of succeeding. The former US ambassador accurately analyzed the dynamics in June, 2010.

The right-wing push led by IMF over the past few decades was met with a backlash, a leftist, populist, pseudo-democratic movement led by Venezuela and Cuba. However, what happened in Honduras was the first step of a third way, a reaction to both the strong right policies, and the leftist-popular movement; a New Center that is based on the rule of law, strong democratic institutions, liberal trade agreements, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

This Nuevo Centro as I would like to call it is based in the white shirts of 2009, a movement that is full of energy, albeit under the surface at present, acting silently but efficiently to gradually transform the ugly duckling into a swan. They need to be in the shadows because they have no international backing.

USA apparently is split between supporting the IMF and FTAA order on the one hand, and punishing Honduras hand in hand with Chavez on the other. All the ALBA countries are of course for the populist leftist backlash. But wait and see. Honduras is not sleeping. A new center is growing in the ashes of last year’s crisis.

USA needs OAS more than Honduras does

Honduras president “Pepe” Lobo has gone to great extremes to placate OAS so the country can be allowed back in. In the process he seems to have lost almost all support at home.

Already before he was inaugurated he went overseas and signed a paper that said that the deposing of Manuel Zelaya, in an arrest ordered by the Supreme Court for violating the Constitution, was a coup d’état. This was his first major mistake.

For 7 months interim president Micheletti had held the moral high ground by insisting that Zelaya had committed an autogolpe (a self-coup) and that his deposing was constitutional. He had done so under international isolation and sanctions. He had taken over a country without a budget, with ransacked coffers, and all credit in the banks that Honduras was and is a member of was frozen. Yet, in spite of governing over a bankrupt country he held the hill, the moral high ground, to the very end.

The end came not the day that Lobo was inaugurated, but a couple of weeks before when he called the event on June 28th a coup. At that time Micheletti graciously stepped back, refrained from criticizing Lobo, and instead ceded to the president-elect. From the people, on the other hand, a roar of fury went up. Especially, of course, from those who had voted for him.

The others, led by Zelaya, just said “so he is a golpista, now he has admitted what we knew all the time.”

The strategic blunder of giving up the high ground and getting nothing in return was just mind-boggling.

The next precipitous fall in grace came about 10 minutes after he had sworn his oath of office. When giving his inauguration speech he thanked Honduras enemies, those who had harmed the country, but in spite of calls from the audience for him to thank Micheletti – who had made his election possible – he did not do so. At that point half the audience rose up from their seats and left the stadium in protest, according to a blog by an employee of the US embassy. This was hidden from the TV audience, since the cameras stopped panning over the galleries.

I would venture to say that Lobo probably set a new world record in losing support quickly after an election.

Today one would be hard pressed to find someone who defends his policies in Honduras. The redshirts see him as a golpista, and the whiteshirts see him as either a fool or a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

In fact, that is a position he shares with the US ambassador, Hugo Llorens, who is believed by some to be the one who dictates to Lobo what to do and not to do.

Lobo has bent over backwards to be allowed back in to OAS. He seems willing to go as far as to talk about holding a constituyente, even though that is completely anti-constitutional in Honduras, and he risks running afoul of article 239 in the Constitution – the one that says that an elected official who even suggests reforming certain paragraphs in the Constitution immediately loses his office.

But why? Why does he spend so much time and energy to please people like Hugo Chávez, Zelaya, and Insulza, even though it is obvious to any child that there is nothing, NOTHING, that Lobo can say or do that will please them.

Why doesn’t Lobo instead spend all his energy on transforming Honduras into a modern capitalist entrepreneurial country, ready to compete with the world on the global marketplace – but with a socially responsible face?

Maybe the answer is that USA is controlling Lobo, and USA needs the OAS. There are many regional organizations in Latin America that Honduras is a member of, and that can replace OAS, but OAS is the only one that the US is a member of. It is the strategy of Chávez to isolate the US from Latin America by making OAS obsolete.

If Honduras would turn its back to OAS it would contribute to making OAS obsolete, and thus isolate USA. That’s why Obama is so desperate for Honduras to return to OAS.

But is it worth the price?

I’d say no. Honduras and USA would be better off creating a new partnership, with Canada and other countries that truly are for democracy – unlike, as we have seen, OAS under Insulza.

Time for a new course. Stand proud, Honduras, and stop trying to placate your enemies, Obama!

Why the Dems may lose Miami -> Florida -> USA

This year Florida will elect a new senator, in a three-way race between the Democrat Kendrick Meek, the Independent Charlie Crist, and the Republican Marco Rubio. Chances are slim that Meek will win. This is usually attributed to Democratic voters voting for “anybody who can beat Rubio,” but there may be another factor that the pundits have missed.

It is the traditional Achilles heel of the Democrats: Softness on foreign policy. The one causing the dissatisfaction was not Meek, but president Obama, secretary of state Clinton, and Senate foreign relations committee chairman Kerry. And the constituency group that this particularly affects are the Latinos.

Keep in mind that Miami is a Latino city, predominantly. And that Miami is big enough to flip the vote in all of Florida one way or the other. And that Florida is big enough to flip the national vote of president one way or the other – but I’m sure nobody will ever forget that.

Obama did get a significant support by Latinos in 2008, but that support has completely dissipated by now. There may be several reasons, but it seems to me that one reason in particular has not been getting the attention it deserves: Obama’s Latin America policy.

The crucial issue is Honduras

Actually, Honduras is just the tip of the iceberg, the overall issue being the spread of communism in Latin America, which the Democrats seem to do nothing to stop. In fact, it appears to many as though they actually like this change. And that is a sure way to lose voters in Miami…

The different perspective does not come from a difference in world view, but in a difference in information. Latinos typically watch Spanish-language news, the biggest of which is of course Univisión. These networks cover Latin America closely, while English-language networks give about the same amount of coverage to Latin America as they give to Mozambique, or Mongolia, or the Moon for that matter. When it comes to foreign countries about 99% of their coverage has been devoted to Iraq and Afghanistan the last few years.

When the president of Honduras was deposed on June 28, 2009, it therefore came as lightning from a clear sky, for the English-speakers in the U.S. Naturally, they believed the network when they said it was a military coup. They had no reason to think otherwise. English-speaking Democrats either agreed with Obama’s policy, or thought he didn’t go far enough.

Latinos (and others who prefer Spanish-language news due to it having higher quality), on the other hand, knew that a severe political crisis was playing out in Honduras. They knew that the president was openly defying the Supreme Court, the popularly elected Congress, all other institutions of government, and that he was leading a mob against his own military. They had heard over and over that he was suspected of carrying out an auto-golpe, and they knew that he was ignoring the checks and balances of the constitution. They also knew that several other presidents in Latin America had done the same thing in recent years, and that nobody had stopped them: Chávez, Correa, Morales.

When Honduras stopped Zelaya, many, if not most, Latinos in Miami considered it an anti-coup rather than a coup. Honduras became “the little country that could.” Virtually overnight, Obama-stickers disappeared from almost all cars in Miami.

When it comes to Latin America, Washington is rather ignorant. It is clear that at least some of them believe the outrageous lies and spin, no matter how lunatic it really is, that is being prepared by Hugo Chávez and signed by Mel Zelaya. Perhaps they haven’t realized that Mel sold his soul to Chávez to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. Or perhaps they don’t understand what Chávez is up to. Or else, perhaps they haven’t been able to come up with a counter-strategy, so they just stall for time. Who knows.

Meanwhile, unless Obama clearly changes policy visavi Honduras within the next two weeks, my prediction is that Miami will vote for Charlie Crist. Marco Rubio is probably too extreme for the majority (“miamians” may be fiscally conservative, but they are socially progressive), so in an effort to make sure that he won’t win, I figure that many Dems will vote for Crist.

If Obama’s present policy continues for two more years, chances are it will be his last in the White House.

The option

What option does Obama have visavi Honduras? First and foremost, he must clearly distance himself from the outrageous lies that Zelaya is spreading. Secondly, he must make it clear that he understands that,

  1. the Supreme Court of Honduras had the legal authority to issue an arrest order for the president,
  2. there was due cause for the Supreme Court to issue that arrest warrant on June 26,
  3. that the military in Honduras is constitutionally authorized to carry out tasks only done by the police in most other nations (and that it was Zelaya who started using the military for police work on a systematic scale),
  4. that the expatriating of Zelaya was a crime, but that the expatriating of Zelaya does not in any way relieve Zelaya from responsibility for the crimes he carried out before being expatriated,
  5. that the behavior of the security forces during and after the expatriation of Zelaya has been the target of systematic demonization by a deliberately executed and very refined propaganda apparatus, directed by Venezuela’s ruler Hugo Chávez,
  6. that the interim president Micheletti did all that was in his power to maintain public order and security, and to safeguard human rights, in spite of an onslaught of attack by foreign agents, paid demonstrators, and vilification in international media,
  7. that the Attorney General did prosecute the military for the expatriation of Zelaya, and that the Supreme Court did take up the case, but dismissed charges, and
  8. that the Supreme Court of Justice, democratically and constitutionally selected, is the highest legal authority in the country, which means that their rulings are the final word in the matter, as regards the sovereign Republic of Honduras.

A speech to this effect would serve several important purposes: First, it would win back at least a part of the lost support among Latinos who don’t want to see communism take over their native countries. Second, it would assure Hondurans in Honduras that the world has not gone completely mad, and that the rule of law still is the principle upon which civilization is built. Third, it would send a message to president Ortega in Nicaragua that USA has not thrown in the towel to Chávez, so he better stop his plans for an auto-golpe.

Finally, and most importantly, it would set a firm base of law for negotiating a new social pact in Honduras. The spread of popular tyranny in Latin America can be stopped by making it clear that a “constituyente” (i.e., overthrowing the constitution and letting a few more or less self-appointed persons write a new one without democratic input) is totally unacceptable, and that stopping a constituyente by any legal means possible is not just acceptable, but the duty of all who have sworn an oath of office to defend the constitution.

Whatever Obama does, he has to evaluate the strategy carefully, as a seasoned chess player would. Unless he recognizes that Chávez is actively waging a cold war against him, he will stand no chance. Nor will the position of the United States of America in the World.

World pushes Central America towards disaster

Through their response, the nations of the world are contributing to pushing the Central American nations of Nicaragua and Honduras towards disaster. They are already the poorest and second poorest countries of Latin America, and they are both in deep political crises of credibility in the rule of law.

The Nicaraguan president, former revolutionary leader Daniel Ortega, has stacked the Supreme Court illegally, is altering the Constitution illegally, and wants to run for re-election illegally. Yet the reaction from the world is almost non-existing.

The former Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya, tried to stack the Supreme Court but was stopped by the president of Congress, Roberto Micheletti, tried to alter the Constitution but was stopped by the Supreme Court, and tried to make himself a dictator but was deposed by a near unanimous vote in Congress and the Supreme Court. The reaction of the world was to demand his reinstatement.

The stance of the world, including of course the U.S., seriously undermines the faith in the rule of law in Central America. The caudillo wannabe is rewarded, the democratic institutions are chastised.

If the world wanted to create chaos, conflict, even war, they couldn’t have devised a more efficient strategy than the one they are now implementing in Central America.

Several Viking time laws start with the statement “Countries are Built with Laws.” It reflects an understanding that functioning, peaceful societies require that there are rules that are universally accepted, and honored since there is confidence that they are enforced. What is going on in Central America is an undermining of these sentiments, since the presidents that attack the rule of law are seemingly rewarded, and the institutions and persons who defend the rule of law are punished by the world.

Yet, it may all be unintentional. As they say in Washington, never blame on malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

In the case of Zelaya, it is apparent to everyone that a crime was committed when he was sent to Costa Rica. Not knowing the background, the only possible conclusion would be that it was a military coup d’état. However, now that we all have had ample time to study the background, it is equally clear that the Supreme Court of Honduras had the legal authority to arrest the president; that they had due cause to arrest the president; and that they could relieve the president from office during the trials.

They issued an arrest order for the president, not an expatriation order. Expatriating him was a separate crime. Two wrongs don’t make one right. Yet the world demanded that Zelaya be reinstated. From a foreign perspective it seemed like a politically correct stance, not to say the only possible stance. I cannot criticize those who took that stance, since I would have done the same in their positions.

Yet, from a Honduran perspective it was impossible, since it would have meant disaster to reinstate Zelaya. He would rapidly have attacked those that acted to arrest him. To allow him to be reinstated and wield power would have been suicidal for the republic. Thus, I cannot criticize Micheletti either. Both sides did what they had to do.

Was there no possible compromise? The legally acceptable solution, to both sides, should have been to have Zelaya return to Honduras to face jail; to take up the process where it was interrupted. For him to turn himself over to the custody of the military, be brought before a judge, and the judge deciding if he should be removed from office or reinstated. In fact, this is exactly what Micheletti was proposing in the negotiations: That the Supreme Court decide on his reinstatement or not.

However, Zelaya responded by demanding that Congress take that decision, and Micheletti relented. As we know, Congress voted almost unanimously not to reinstate Zelaya.

In summary, although the process went bad when the military expatriated Zelaya, it was brought back on track with the Guaymuras agreement, where the topic of his reinstatement was decided (although it technically should have been done by the Supreme Court, one can argue that Zelaya gave up that right when he himself insisted that Congress should decide instead of the court).

Yet this resolution to the legal situation has not brought back peace and stability to Honduras. Why? It seems the largest problem is the lack of faith in the rule of law in Honduras.

It is very detrimental that other countries accuse the Supreme Court of violating the law.

For instance, the fact that the U.S. has revoked tourist visas for all members of the Supreme Court is a clear vote of lack of confidence in the highest judicial institution in Honduras. If the U.S. doesn’t trust the Supreme Court in Honduras, why would Hondurans? And if they don’t trust the Supreme Court, why would they obey the laws at all? It promotes the attitude that crime pays. And it does, in Honduras. The attitude is, I’m told, that if you don’t stuff your pockets illegally when you have a chance, you’re an idiot.

This attitude is reinforced by the policy of the U.S. and other countries.

So what to do instead?

First, the main principle in dealing with Honduras and Nicaragua must be to reinforce the faith in the rule of law, based, of course, on their domestic jurisprudence and experience, not on that of the U.S. All aspects of law enforcement and justice, including human rights, must be given top priority in institution-building support. This should be done with respect for the local conditions and experiences, to be effective.

A second point is respect for the democratic institutions, including direct diplomatic contacts that bypass the executive branch and go directly to the judicial and legislative branches. Name-calling must of course stop. It is so unprofessional for a staffer in the U.S. Senate to call Honduran Supreme Court justices and Congressmen “golpistas”.

A third point is how to deal with wannabe dictators. The OAS should intervene in the case of Nicaragua today. Once the court is stacked, the rule of law has ceased to exist. One cannot call Nicaragua a democracy any more; the coup d’état has already been sown and all that remains is to harvest it. The world should make clear that it will not accept having Ortega on the ballot, that it will lead to harsh sanctions.

The last point is to engage in the economy of these countries. Right now an environmental disaster is sailing up in Honduras. A beautiful and unique lake, Lago de Yojoa, is being destroyed by unsustainable fish farming. Within a few years the lake will die. Today it is still possible to develop eco-tourism as an alternate source of income in the community, but once the lake dies, so does that possibility. Yet the market forces inevitably drive the development towards that looming disaster. “Adult supervision” is desperately needed, but nothing can be done without risk capital willing to invest in tourism development, thus producing an opposing force to the one that is pressuring for unsustainable exploitation. For this to happen there must be stability and faith in the rule of law. See point 1.

Among those who benefit from the present policy is the military-industrial complex, who get to sell more weapons and security systems when the time comes to put out the fire in Central America, that the present policy promotes. Furthermore, those that sell systems for border security benefit, since ever more Central Americans are destined to migrate illegally to the U.S. Those who hire illegals in the U.S. will also benefit, because the supply of cheap labor will continue. Also the drug cartels in Mexico will benefit, since they can exploit the migrants and force them to work like mules, smuggling cocaine to the U.S. (and if they refuse, they are shot).

As you see, much is at stake also for the U.S. of A. It is time to wisen up.

Footnote: Former US ambassador to Honduras, Charles A Ford, wrote an analysis in June this year in which he – in my opinion – correctly and succinctly described the situation. Read it!

Parlacen does not give Zelaya immunity

Honduras deposed president Mel Zelaya has now been sworn in as a member of Parlacen. Some believe that this will give him immunity in Honduras. That is wrong.

A deputy in Parlacen has, in the other nations than his own, the same status as a diplomat. In his own country he has the same status as a member of the national parliament. The diputados in the Congreso Nacional in Honduras have no immunity. As we all know from last year, not even the president of Honduras has immunity.

Thus, Zelaya will be arrested if he returns to Honduras, since he is still wanted by the law – diputado o no.

On Jan 25 this year I wrote in “Zelaya’s flawed plan for immunity” that nobody can be a member in Parlacen who is not eligible to be a member of the national parliament of his own country. Given the arrest orders against Zelaya he is not, as far as I can understand, eligible to serve in the Congreso Nacional in Honduras. Thus, by swearing him in as a member of Parlacen, the regional congress has in effect said that they do not recognize the administration of Porfirio Lobo in action (only on paper). It appears to be a violation of the treaty. But that’s another story.

Axel Oxenstierna was right

In 1648, if I’m not mistaken, Swedish chancellor Axel Oxenstierna wrote to his son, who he was sending to negotiate the Peace of Westphalia after the Thirty Years War, “If you only knew, my son, with how little wisdom the world is run.”

Today that statement appears more true than ever.

Why? Because I’ve been exchanging some polite emails today with the person who handles Honduras in the U.S. Senate’s foreign relations committee. Instead of me telling you, let me just post it, in chronological order. [UPDATE 2010-09-27: The staffer asked that his words be removed, which I have now done. Just for the record, I did explain upfront when contacting the committee that I was doing research for a book, and I never implied that I intended for our exchange to be off the record.]

From: Ulf Erlingsson
Sent: Friday, September 17, 2010 11:46 AM
To: [withheld] (Foreign Relations)
Subject: Update on Honduras

First, thank you for taking the time to clarify the position of the committee. After our conversation I confronted the person who said that Kerry had stopped the planned arrest on June 25 and asked where he had got that information. He said he couldn’t remember, but it was for sure not from Llorens, “Llorens would never say anything”. He went on to say that he doesn’t think I will get any information from anyone until – pay attention – the truth commission has presented its report.

Incidentally, I proposed that truth commission to interim president Micheletti, and he put it in the proposal in San Jose. My intention was that the truth about why and how Zelaya was deposed should come out, but based on what this source said, it seems not likely to happen. That would be a shame.

What bothers me is WHY people would not talk until the commission is gone. I don’t believe it is because they are hiding a coup. Based on what I have heard in informal talks, it is rather because they are afraid that the truth commission is biased against them. And that the US is also biased against them, and will interfere with the sovereignty of Honduras, negatively affecting its democracy and the rule of law. I don’t know if this is true or not, I’m just telling you what impression I get, and it is disturbing to me.

I realize that you have come to a different conclusion, but let me tell you how I see it. When I grew up my neighbours had fled Germany, and I always wondered why the Germans had not stopped Hitler when he made himself a dictator. What happened in Honduras was that Zelaya in fact made himself a dictator. If the Congress and/or the Supreme Court had NOT deposed him, he would have been a dictator. A dictator is a dictator not because he says so, but because he oversteps his authority and THE OTHER BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT ALLOW HIM to do that. What Honduras democratic institutions did was NOT to allow him. They acted in defense of the constitution. If they overstepped the Constitution in some technical sense [it] is not a cause for reinstating Zelaya, Zelaya was already finished. If there was reason to depose also Micheletti, then the only one who could have taken the presidency was the next person in the succession line, the Supreme Court justice Rivera. And Micheletti made it clear that he was prepared to step down and let Rivera take over.

I have the impression that this view is shared by those who now will not talk about it… And I think you can understand why. If they feel they have done what they had to do for their country, but are being punished by the international community and the US for it, and not getting a fair deal, why talk?

Personally I believe that a judicial process would have been preferable, since it would avoid the political bias altogether. Unfortunately, as far as I know, the new president has effectively stopped all chances of judicial solutions. Incidentally, to me it signals that he has got something to hide himself – and it is for sure not being a part of any “coup” AGAINST Zelaya. As you surely know, he supported Zelaya’s ambition to overthrow the constitution, and many believe he still does.

My advise to you is to listen without prejudice to those involved, including not at least the attorney general and the supreme court. But how can you, when they have no visa to go to the US? There are many who suspect that the main reason to withdraw the visas wasn’t to punish them, but to avoid that they travel to the US and told the truth.

Sincerely,

Ulf Erlingsson, PhD

From: [withheld] (Foreign Relations)
Sent: Friday, September 17, 2010 12:25 PM
To: Ulf Erlingsson
Subject: Re: Update on Honduras

[removed on the author’s request]


I later decided to try to focus on finding some common ground, to be constructive, and wrote the following:

From: Ulf Erlingsson
Sent: Friday, September 17, 2010 4:21 PM
To: [withheld] (Foreign Relations)
Subject: Re: Update on Honduras

If I may give you a piece of advice in all sincerity, I believe that it would be more constructive for a positive development of law and order, democracy, and prosperity, both in Honduras and here, if we all focused more on the things we agree on, and draw the dividing line to those that do not agree on the need for rule of law and democracy. Look at the simple diagram I made. Your view is in the red field, mine is in the white. Until recently I believed that those were the only two, but now I have got it pointed out to me by the author of the book “The Good Coup” that there is a substantial group of people who actually believe it was a coup to depose Zelaya, but who support that (the blue field). These are the golpistas; both the white and the red are democrats.

I think you will find it more fruitful to cooperate with the democrats. The difference in view just reflects a difference in legal analysis, while the two agree on the importance of following the law (well, except those who want to overthrow the Constitution, of course).

There will be people who disobey the law, but the main thing is to rally for the idea of following the law, and to acknowledge the arguments of the opponents as well. If we cannot do that, then we end up in a political situation dominated by loud-mouthed extremists, not unlike the situation today in, eh, the USA…

Classification

From: [withheld] (Foreign Relations)
Sent: Friday, September 17, 2010 16:27 PM
To: Ulf Erlingsson
Subject: Re: Update on Honduras

[removed on the author’s request]


I appreciate that he took the time to respond, but frankly, it might have been advisable to read the email he was responding to first, to avoid beating down open doors. As for the claims that he made in the first response, there is that little problem that in all the cases that I have tried to investigate, I have never found evidence to support it. It is not very professional to write the way he does, especially for someone employed by an actual government. Let alone in a superpower.

To Honduras I say, don’t try to become like USA. Put your ambition level much higher than that!