Category Archives: English

Posts in English or with significant English parts

Cold war in America, says Honduran industry leader

Adolfo Facussé, chairman of the National Association of Industry (ANDI) in Honduras was turned back when arriving to Miami last Saturday, after the US has revoked the visas for a large number of businessmen who have expressed support for the presidential succession in Honduras on June 8th this year. When returning he warned of a “psychological war” and asked Hondurans to stay calm.

Facussé was traveling with his young son, who had a medical appointment in Miami.

Today at the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, the meeting was blocked all morning by the group of Latin American and Caribbean countries, since they were opposed to the presence of the Honduran ambassador Delmer Urbizo, because he views the presidential succession on June 28th as constitutional. The Venezuelan ambassador, representing Honduras’ main cold war enemy president Hugo Chávez, as well as the Dominican Republic, indicated that their position was that Honduras should leave the meeting. When the Honduran ambassador refused, Argentina and Brazil raised it as a question of meeting order, whereupon the chair scheduled the debate for the afternoon.

Honduras is not part of the Human Rights Committee at present, but has as all countries the right to participate in the meetings and in the debate. Since the country has been accused of violating the human rights of citizens after June 28th, ambassador Urbizo chose to exercise that right in order to defend his country in the face of these accusations, something that Honduras’ enemies appear not to like at all.

EU and USA are destabilizing Latin America

Last Thursday the EU declared that they do not intend to accept the election in Honduras on Nov 29, but it is not a final decision. This has motivated the opposition of redshirt chavistas, who want Zelaya back and the constitution to be rewritten, to intensify their campaign to derail the election using sabotage, street fights, and sheer terror methods.

The election is, however, constitutional, and it has nothing to do with the deposing of Zelaya as president on June 28. The demand from EU, USA and others that Zelaya is reinstated, is incompatible with the Constitution according to the Supreme Court of Justice.

What the world is demanding is thus that politics shall go before law, which violates the principles of a Rechtsstaat and liberal democracy. They probably hope and maybe even believe that Honduras will yield, but it seems a futile hope, perhaps based on ignorance, which in turn may be based on lack of interest.

In the worst case it is instead a cynical game in which the EU and USA try to avoid appearing as the enemy of Chávez. If they appear as his enemy it would serve his purposes, and he is a much greater threat. If so, the leading democracies in the world are deliberately sacrificing the liberal democracy of Honduras on the alter of world politics.

Regardless of which of the two explanations is true, it is wrong. When one is not absolutely sure about what applies (i.e., all the time), this rule applies:

One just has to do what is right,
and the circumstances may change before ones eyes;
things aren’t always what they seem to be.

It means in this case that one has to support law and democracy in Honduras, and preferably help make sure the election is fair, but at any rate not support opposing forces.

The threat of both the US and now the EU not to acknowledge the election results have motivated the anti-democratic forces in Honduras to intensify their campaign to derail the election. These groups, supported by Chávez and dressed in red shirts, want to replace the present liberal democracy in Honduras with something else, not yet specified what, but presumably something similar to the undemocratic system that Chávez has created in Venezuela, where corporations increasingly are taking over government functions. Their main goal is not that Zelaya returns, but that the present democratic constitution is abandoned.

Their methods to sabotage the election are unfortunately not entirely peaceful. The strategy includes a substantial amount of violence intended to spread terror. The methods are not new, as they were widely used by brownshirts in the 1930’s. The only difference now is that the chavistas are using red shirts.

The tragedy is that the actions of the EU and USA motivate these small but determined anti-democratic groups. If the world hadn’t supported them morally, Chávez might not have financed them, and the violence might soon have ebbed out. What is worse, if the EU and USA had declared clearly that they will not recognize the elections, those groups could have rested since they would have won. But by only threatening not to recognize the outcome, the groups feel compelled to increase the level of violence, since they cannot quite yet taste victory.

Thus, the EU and USA are sadly contributing very effectively in pulling Honduras into a multi-year problem with terrorism and guerrillas. The already sky-high common criminality with kidnappings and murders is likely to increase even more. Given the central location of Honduras in Central America, and the key position of the country as regards trade, a destabilization of Honduras can severaly affect the economy of the entire region. Furthermore, the smuggling of cocaine to the US will for sure increase, since that is an important source of income for these guerrilla groups.

I only hope that sanity will prevail, and that the world politicians will find so much wisdom that they cease to act “useful idiots” to Chávez, the commandante of the redshirts.

PS. Here is a sept 13 article on this topic.

Saving Honduras’ Democracy

The supporters of the deposed president Manuel Zelaya in Honduras, self-labeled the “resistance,” have now united around a policy of not acknowledging the constitutionally mandated elections on November 29th. Furthermore, they use thugs to disrupt election meetings and to destroy campaign material. Strangely, they only do so for the candidate of Zelaya’s own Liberal party, his former vice president, Elvin Santos.

Instead of the constitutional elections, they want a new constitution, the very plan for which Zelaya was removed from office by the Supreme Court of Justice.

This means that Zelaya’s supporters are fundamentally opposed to the liberal democracy and to the Rechtsstaat, “el Estado de Ley” in Spanish. Like their financial backer Hugo Chávez, president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, they apparently want to replace the existing democratic institutions with new ones.

Furthermore, Chávez, and now Zelaya in his exile, are using language that is sharply critical of the traditional elite (to which Zelaya himself belongs). Rather than focusing on bad policies, they focus on “bad people.” That does not belong in a democracy and Rechtsstaat, and is more reminiscent of the racism of times past.

In an article published in August of 2006, professor Francis Fukuyama said about himself and Hugo Chávez: “Early on in Hugo Chávez’s political career, the Venezuelan president attacked my notion that liberal democracy together with a market economy represents the ultimate evolutionary direction for modern societies — the “end of history.” When asked what lay beyond the end of history, he offered a one-word reply: ‘Chavismo.’ ” The Washington Post, The End of Chávez: History’s Against Him (Francis Fukuyama) Sunday, August 6, 2006 at B01.

Chávez has even said, “Liberal democracy is no good, its time has passed, new models must be invented, new formulas….

Dismissing liberal democracy and market economy is something Chávez has in common with the National Socialists and Adolf Hitler. In fact, in 2007, congressional leaders in Brazil referred to Chávez as a “cheap Hitler and Mussolini,” a “dictator in disguise,” and a threat “to peace on the continent”. The reaction came after Chávez took an opposition TV-station off the air.

Fascist Criticism

Two central tenets of modern society were rejected by the Fascists in the 1930’s: Democracy, and that all people are of equal value and shall have their rights protected under the law. In other words, they rejected liberal democracy.

Democracy was criticized by them for providing some power to small groups seen as outsiders in society. For the National Socialists, those who got power that they should not have had were ethnic groups, such as Jews and Gypsies. For Marxists it is instead the rich, the elite, the privileged that get undue power in a democracy. Civil liberties were criticized for much the same reasons, their opinion being that people are not equal, and that the “others” should not have the same rights as “we”. When Socialists made difference between people and people, George Orwell wrote, “All animals are equal, but pigs are more equal than other animals.”

Note that both Nazis and Communists are Socialists, and both see the world as “we” versus “them”. The difference is just the criteria for dividing people into groups. For Communists the division is along class lines, for National Socialists it is along ethnic lines.

This is why Hitler could cooperate with industrialists such as Thyssen (as long as they were not Jews), creating an alliance between the Nazi state and big capital that actually resembled Fascism. In spite of this ethnic focus, he had no trouble creating alliances with non-Aryan countries, as he saw it, such as Italy and Japan. Apparently the basis for that was the principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Hugo Chávez

President Chávez in Venezuela has in common with Hitler that they both were lower military officers. They both made failed attempts at coups before resorting to a “legal” strategy to gain power. They are both “outsiders” in their countries (Hitler was born in Austria-Hungary, not Germany; Chávez ethnical roots places him low down in the unwritten social hierarchy of Venezuela). They were both democratically elected but never with a majority of the votes. They both set up parallel institutions (Chávez’s “new democracy”; Hitler’s party hierarchy) and gradually dismantled the institutions of the liberal democracy.

Thus, neither one undermined the Rule of Law, but instead redefined Law to no longer include the institutions and principles of a liberal democracy. During Hitler’s time the Universal Declaration of Human Rights did not yet exist—it was created in reaction to Hitler—but Chávez is now bound by it, so there is no reason to expect the latter to carry out the same atrocities as the former. Each one is doing what he can get away with within the law, but it is clear that neither one of them has any built-in moral respect for civil liberties, democracy, or even peace. They both engage in open belligerent speech to arouse the emotions of their respective followers.

Manuel Zelaya

Former president Zelaya in Honduras has a sharply different background in that he comes from the elite, a land-owner with a large estate in the cattle-raising highland province of Olancho. His father, by the same name, went to prison for his role in the murder of over a dozen peaceful demonstrators, including several priests during the previous military dictatorship.

From September 13 to November 11, 1827, a José Jerónimo Zelaya was leader of the state of Honduras, assigned by the National Constituting Assembly. This was during the time of the Central American union, which ended around 1839, but the re-establishment of which remained official Honduran policy for almost a century.

Another José Zelaya took power in Nicaragua on July 25, 1893, and held on to it until December 17, 1909. It was also his dream to re-unite Central America. His policy was liberal, not to say neo-liberal, and after 30 years of conservative policies in Nicaragua with stability, his years at the helm ended that stability. The family name is thus as much old-wealth elite as it gets.

Manuel Zelaya was elected president in Honduras on the ticket of the Liberal party. After a few years the global financial crisis led to economical difficulties. The astronomical oil prices in 2007 were especially difficult, since 80% of the electricity is generated using imported diesel. At that time Zelaya started to deal with Chávez, the contact being facilitated by Zelaya’s foreign minister, Patricia Rodas (herself the daughter of a presidential candidate who never became president since a military coup stopped the elections in 1963).

After Zelaya started dealing with Chávez he began using socialist vocabulary, claiming to help the poor (although the costly programs he bragged about were never turned into law or financed, since he neglected the budget process for a long time before being deposed).

Changing the Constitution of Honduras

Importantly, Zelaya also started using the rhetoric that the rich elite, the “oligarchs”, have control over the state through the democratic institutions. For that reason, he argues, the constitution has to be changed. This is very significant, and something that has largely been ignored.

The debate has focused on how he wanted to change the constitution, and the paragraphs cut in stone. Those are five paragraphs that center on not allowing the president to be re-elected. The argument goes that any change to the constitution that does not involve that matter can be initiated by the president himself, so when he suggested a constituting constitutional assembly, the only reasonable reason would be to change the text so that the president can be re-elected—and thus, so that he himself could be re-elected.

However, Zelaya’s counter-argument is that the referendum on creating a constitutional assembly (the so-called quarta urna, forth ballot box) would not be held until together with the next presidential elections, so there is no way he could get re-elected. The counter-argument to this is that Zelaya would not have played by the books, once the forged results of the “opinion poll” were in on the eve of June 28th, but that’s another story.

Let us instead look at what the changes are that he himself hold up as the reason for changing the Constitution: Manuel Zelaya claims that the institutions of the liberal democracy are tools for the rich elite to control the country. That is why a new constitution is needed in Honduras, according to him and according to Hugo Chávez.

Zelaya is in effect, according to himself, aiming to dismantle the liberal democracy—the institutions of the state—and he is singling out a group as the “enemy”: The rich elite, now with the new name “Golpistas,” ‘coupsters’. His followers are implementing his policy by spraying “Golpistas” on the homes and businesses of those they dislike, just like the Nazi brownshirts harassed the Jews.

Suppose he was telling the truth about his justification for changing the constitution; that his intention was not to change the presidential terms, but to do away with the institutions of the liberal democracy, like Chávez has done in Venezuela, and others of his ALBA-partners have done in their countries. Many of the Zelaya-apologists seem to accept this argument, but is it valid?

Logical Flaw

Those who demand Zelaya’s return to the presidency tacitly accept the argument by Chávez and his disciple Zelaya, that…

  1. the institutions of the liberal democracy are undemocratic, which
  2. made it acceptable for Zelaya to use unconstitutional means to change the constitution, since it was done in the name of democracy, and
  3. hence they demand that the “democratically elected” president Zelaya be reinstated.

However, if Zelaya was “democratically elected” then there is democracy, which invalidates point 1 above. There is thus nothing that motivates unconstitutional methods to change the constitution, why also point 2 falls by the wayside.

The argument is thus self-contradictory, the most obvious way in which an argument can be erroneous. If one accepts that Zelaya was “democratically elected,” which everyone does, then one cannot accept that he may legally violate the constitution and the institutions of the liberal democracy. One cannot both have the cake and eat it.

It seems that his basic objection is that he as president cannot do what he wants. Actually, he is not supposed to. It is the whole point of the checks and balances that he wants to do away with, like Chávez already has.

The Future

Although Honduras has saved itself from the immediate threat of having its liberal democracy and democratic institutions destroyed and replaced by a more or less fascistoid or nazistoid state, Chávez with all his other puppet regimes are still there (he bribes them big time with so-called ALBA loans, which is why I call them puppets). Analysis of the fascist states in Europe has shown that the basic dynamics behind such societies is a mob rule, in which the mob must always be kept strongly emotionally engaged in something that upsets them greatly, so that they do not get idle and start complaining about the real problems of their everyday life. There must always be some project, some outer enemy, or both, and the leader will always use hyperbole in his more or less regular diatribes.

Chávez has institutionalized his diatribes in the form of a multi hour TV show every Sunday, called “Aló Presidente” (‘Hello President’). In it he attacks leaders for foreign nations, makes cheap jokes, hires and fires ministers, and orders his subordinates to disobey court orders and laws.

He is encouraging the poor of Colombia to make revolution and to join Venezuela. He is talking about Greater Colombia (the previously united northern South America), and others are talking about a reunited Central America. He is apparently supporting the narco-guerilla FARC in Colombia, providing them with anti-tank missiles from Sweden. He is threatening war against Colombia for accepting US help in fighting the drug lords, and Honduras for deposing his Quisling, Manuel Zelaya.

Chávez’s tone has for years been so exaggerated that it is hard to imagine what else he can do to keep people focused on his agenda. He has already ordered all the stations to air all his appearances. Can he order his citizens to watch TV? Of course, but if he doesn’t have anything to say that will engage them, it will only backfire.

He can also close down opposition media, and he has been working on that for years. There is strong opposition within Venezuela. Perhaps some think that to be a difference to the Third Reich. Actually, it is not. Strong criticism was allowed also against Nazi policies, at least until the start of the war.

PS. Chávez is reportedly interested in buying 100 tanks, 3 subs, 10 war helicopters, and a “large number” of fighting vehicles from Russia. Update: This includes modern 300 mm “Stalin organs,” i.e., rocket launchers.

PS.PS. Russia apparently has agreed to selling those weapons to Venezuela, and furthermore, they will soon deliver missiles with a range of 185 miles (300 km). That is too short to reach major Colombian cities from Venezuela, but far enough to reach Miami from Cuba. By the way, during his recent trip to Iran and Russia, Chávez was pursuing nuclear technology. As he said, his nuclear intentions are every bit as peaceful as those of Ahmedinejad’s Iran. (As I was looking away I did not see if he was winking as he said that.)

Chávez’s Nationalistic Socialism vs. Hitler’s National Socialism

"Fatherland, socialism or death" - the ubiquitous slogan for Chávez's "bolivarian revolution"
"Fatherland, socialism or death" - the ubiquitous slogan for Chávez's "bolivarian revolution"

Venezuela’s president Hugo Chávez is leading a “Bolivarian revolution” to introduce “21st century socialism” in Venezuela and the rest of Latin America. Adolf Hitler lead the National Socialist German Worker’s Party (commonly abbreviated as the Nazi Party in English) which had on its agenda to nationalize industry in Germany.

Chávez is actively nationalizing industry in Venezuela, with one wave in 2007 and a new one earlier this year (see this article translated from Spiegel). Hitler, on the other hand, privatized businesses, even though it ran completely contrary to his party ideology (which he himself had written). The explanation offered is that he was in desperate need of financing for his grandiose political plans.

By privatizing banks (that had been nationalized as a result of the Great Depression) and some other businesses, he both raised money (1.37% of the total revenues) and increased his political support among industrialists. To prevent capitalism from causing damage to the interests of the state, as he saw them, he instead heavily regulated what private business could do outside of their own four walls. In other words, the privatization was purely pragmatic, the overarching goals being those of the state. Although the Nazis were socialists, Hitler thus came to employ a fascist policy, contrary to what many in the party advocated.

Since Chávez has oil revenues he does not need to borrow; in fact, he can lend money, and uses that as a tool to expand his influence. So he has no worries about nationalization. Why waste money on compensation? He just steals private companies.

Both men use a nationalistic and militant vocabulary. Unlike many other socialists, they are belligerent. They are not, however, nationalists in the sense of a nation-state. The Nation, or Patria, in their case refers to a certain group, not a certain country. For Hitler it was the Germans, and he spoke of Great Germany (Großdeutchland, often translated Greater Germany for some reason). For Chávez it is the Latinos (especially those of African descent according to this Venezuelan blogger), and he speaks of Great Colombia (Gran Colombia; recall that Colombia originally was the name proposed for the continent discovered by Christopher Columbus, i.e., America).

Furthermore, they both have a dedicated enemy, The Soviet Union, and the United States of America, respectively. While Hitler saw bolshevism as waging a war on the Germans, in a conspiracy with the Jews, Chávez sees the power structure behind Washington as waging a war on Latin America, again with Jews in a prominent role.

A further similarity is that both use local committees, on neighbourhood level, that are loyal to the party rather than to the state. In the case of the Third Reich, workers compensation and social services were moved from public to party responsibility. This helped the appearance of the state finances, but it also gave the party goodwill, and a source of corruption money. In the case of Bolivarian Venezuela (Chávez had the country renamed), funds are also diverted from public to party organizations. Although Chávez calls this local democracy, the system does not seem to be based on the principles of democracy, but rather to be a parallel to Hitler’s system.

Both men have also seen to that old friends who initially helped them ended up in a concentration camp, and in jail, respectively. Furthermore, they both exhibit behaviour consistent with cocaine abuse, it has been claimed.

As for trade unions, both started out working with unions, just to later ban them in favor of their own state-controlled ones. They are both demanding sacrifices to the homeland (Vaterland / Patria). In both instances the auto-declaration as a socialist ideology has been questioned from the left, and Chávez regimen has been called out as Nazism of the XXI century.

Both men have also been given extraordinary powers by the respective parliaments, effectively making them dictators. And just like Hitler had his Josef Göbbels, Chávez has his minister of propaganda in William Lara. This blog cites the head of Instituto de Prensa Internacional (‘International Press Institute’), Johann Fritz, as having said that “The communication policies of Mr Chávez are identical to those used by the Nazi Minister of Propaganda, Josef Göbbels.” This judgment was based on their 2005 annual report.

Here is an analysis in Spanish of fascism / nazism on the one hand, and chavism on the other. It is from 2007. The “progress” since then has been significant. Outside Latin America, however, the awareness seems to be very low, as evidenced by, e.g., these articles in DN and SvD.

PS: A detailed comparison by a Dutch investigative reporter.

USA is waging Cold War on Honduras

An editorial in the Washington Post writes about Obama’s decision to pressure Honduras to re-instate Zelaya as president, by cutting aid and visas:

“The administration’s action was not without risk. If the Micheletti regime digs in its heels, the result could be the very destabilization that the United States and its moderate allies hope to avoid.”

Given that the vast majority of Hondurans, all major presidential candidates in the upcoming elections, and all branches of government including the Supreme Court, support the country’s policy, no informed observer can reasonably believe that the pressure from the United States of America will lead to Zelaya being re-instated as president.

The Supreme Court of Justice of Honduras has in effect declared that Zelaya cannot be re-instated. What the United States of America is aiming for is therefore, in practice, nothing less than to defeat the sovereignty of the Republic of Honduras.

To defeat a sovereign nation without resorting to open war is called Cold War. The strategy has been said to be invented by Adolf Hitler, who successfully applied it to Austria and Czechoslovakia. Soon after, the Soviet Union applied it to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and – without success – to Finland, a country that heroically defeated the superpower in the Winter War, using inter alia Molotov cocktails.

It is true that the US government has not instigated the conflict like Germany and the Soviet Union did. However, the US ambassador to Honduras knew about the political developments leading up to Zelaya’s treason that got him ousted, and did not prevent the escalation of the conflict.

Obama wants to mend relations to Latin America, and for that reason he cannot let a coup d’état stand. However, since Zelaya was no longer president when he was expelled, having violated §239 of the Constitution, there was no coup.

What the US should do is to contribute to making the truth known, and – privately – to advice Zelaya to resign peacefully in return for amnesty, at least for his political crimes. That would be the wise thing to do.

But as Axel Oxenstierna wrote back in 1648, “If you only knew, my son, with how little wisdom the world is run.”

PS. Here is an English blog from inside Honduras, revealing how Zelaya is openly declaring his intent not to abide by the peace accord if he is re-instated: La Gringa’s Blogecito

US Congressman new Chamberlain?

Just read an opinion piece in LA Times by Howard L. Berman (D-Valley Village), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

He writes, “The de facto government claims that Zelaya was trying to subvert the Honduran Constitution and convert the country into a satellite of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez. That may be.” and furthermore, “No matter what we think of Zelaya (and I don’t think highly of him) and his actions to change the Honduran Constitution, it is a fact that his mandate to govern was gained in a fully transparent election.”

Berman talks like he’s disconnected from reality. He admits that Zelaya was violating the Constitution, which would be the equivalent of High Crimes in USA, and still he argues he should stay in power.

The poor guy appears to have no idea what democracy is. Land is built with law. Enforcing the law is not optional.

No wonder Bush was not impeached or prosecuted in spite of blatant crimes, including war crimes.

Never in my wildest dreams had I thought that Honduras would be the country to defend democracy, and USA to be the gravedigger for it. Yet, that is what we are witnessing now. The Republicans and Democrats have now both gone utterly mad, albeit in different ways. The Republicans have got too big balls (which I presume is why they walk like cowboys), and the Democrats have got no balls at all.

The problem is not the regime change in Honduras. The problem is that countries such as USA treat presidents as if they were kings. King Barack wants to restore King Mel to power, and so do King Hugo and King Fidel.

I’ve got news for you guys over here in the young world: The old world has already tried that idea with kings, and guess what, it didn’t work out so well. Which is why we in Sweden introduced parliamentarism in 1748. Parliamentarism means the parliament elects the head of government. Funny thing, president Micheletti was elected by the parliament of Honduras, came to think of it.

America is such a young country that it has not yet had a single ruler turned dictator. Maybe that is the reason for the naïveté that Berman displays, and which makes him remarkably similar to Chamberlain with his “Peace in our times”. It’s pitiful, though.

Preliminary Human Rights-report on Honduras

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, or in Spanish Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH), has now presented their preliminary report in Spanish from their visit to Honduras on August 17 to 21, 2009.

In the introduction they mention the point of view of the international community that the events of June 28 constituted a coup d’état (“golpe de estado” in Spanish), along with the legal opinion of the competent authorities of Honduras that it was a constitutional succession. They go on to say that regardless of the constitutionality of the events of that date, the human rights of all persons should be guaranteed by the state. The human rights are of course also guaranteed by the Honduran Constitution, which the government in Tegucigalpa claims to follow. There is thus no disagreement as regards the objectives.

The CIDH commission keeps referring to the events of June 28 as a “golpe de estado”, but without using quotation marks. Given that it is not considered a “golpe de estado” in Honduras, by the democratically elected and appointed constitutional authorities, it is somewhat remarkable that they use such biased language.

They mention that the whereabouts of two persons is still unknown. One was last seen at a demonstration on July 12, the other was kidnapped from her home on July 26. For a foreign reader the latter might seem suspicious, so let me just point out that kidnappings are rampant in Honduras, and chances are that it was just an ordinary criminal kidnapping. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of those every year (and almost 10 murders per day in average).

They go on to write that “the golpe de estado executed by removing the constitutional president has an immediate impact on the Rechtsstaat and the human rights in Honduras. The Commission could observe during its visit that the break of the constitutional order was accompanied by a strong military presence … and the inefficiency of the legal resources to safeguard the essential rights of persons.” That analysis is of course based in the opinion that it was a coup d’état in the first place, which again makes their report biased.

Another observer might instead conclude that the violent and illegal mass actions undertaken by the supporters of Manuel Zelaya, starting with the storming of the Air Force base some days prior to June 28, and continuing virtually uninterrupted until today, has strained the police and court system to beyond their abilities. In fact, the police was strained beyond their capacity already in 2006, the year in which Zelaya himself started using the military for pure police work. It does not take a whole lot of imagination to see that the very strategy of Zelaya, and his supporter and financier, Hugo Chávez, has been all along to wear out the Rechtsstaat (the constitutional institutions responsible for the rule of law), so that it reaches the point of desperation where it has to suspend certain rights in order to defend itself – and then to attack it diplomatically for doing so. It is weak by CIDH not to offer this alternative view in their report.

The fact that there are (military) police in the schools and that ether media was closed during the arrest of Zelaya is brought up as evidence, but in the light of an informed view of what has transpired, all of this has a perfectly logical explanation within the Rechtsstaat.

The commission expresses concern that the military participates in controlling demonstrations, but fails to mention – or realize? – that the blame for that falls on ex-president Zelaya, since he gave the military that role rather than giving the police the resources they required for upholding public order and guaranteeing the rights of the citizenry.

[Continuation added Aug 24, whereas the above was published Aug 23:]

The report mentions that the suspension of civil rights, such as curfew, is allowed under certain conditions. It can be noted that if the events of June 28 are interpreted as a golpe de estado, it would not be permissible, but if the events are regarded as a legitimate succession in accordance with the constitution, it would be. However, the report also points out that the curfew was not published in the official journal of the state except for 72 hours, whereas in reality it lasted for almost a month (they erroneously write for over a month).

They also mention the special curfew on the eve of July 5th in Tegucigalpa. However, they fail to mention the fact that a foreign state, Venezuela, has been reported by Honduras to the Security Council of the United Nations for their part in instigating violence on that date in Tegucigalpa (the UN ignored the filing since they do not recognize the government of Honduras, but it does not make the facts any less factual). Given that a foreign state was supporting the violence, Honduras was in a sense in a state of illegal and asymmetric war, and as we all know, in self defense a nation is allowed to take extreme measures to protect its citizens.

In the paragraph starting with “Aún dentro…”, CIDH criticizes the fact that the curfew was not applied equally in all the territory, while at the same time pointing out that it has to be justifiable in all its parts. They are thus contradicting themselves, which suggests that they may be on a mission, that they may have a bias.

In the following paragraph they criticize the lack of legal protection “in the context of the coup d’état”. It is well known that the legal protection in Honduras is wanting. Everyone has a story of extra-judicial actions. This short-coming, the need to improve the judicial security in the country, has been known for decades, so it is flatly disingenuous by the commission to make believe that it only applies “in the context of the coup d’état”. The police and the court system desperately need more resources and training in order to deal with the rampant criminality in the country, which ranks among the 10 most dangerous in the world. The deposed president Zelaya just made things worse by calling in the military for police work since 2006.

When it comes to priorities, I agree fully with the commission that guaranteeing the civil and political rights of all citizens, regardless of political affiliation, should be on the top of the agenda. I would suggest, though, that Honduras might benefit from some specific foreign aid in this field, such as from Scandinavian democracies with a long and strong tradition in the field. Too much of their training comes from the United States of America, a country not famous for their human rights record. Rather than to cut off aid, I would recommend countries like my own, Sweden, to offer concrete assistance in strengthening the ability of Honduras in this important field.

The commission has got information from all sources that the majority of Habeas Corpus cases are resolved quickly. The only complaint was that in some cases too many people are kept in too small a cell for several hours. On the other hand, they did acknowledge that some judges have been prevented from executing these cases by the use of violence, or the threat of it, which may have contributed in creating longer detentions than necessary.

When it comes to the serious issue of the right of education, the commission avoids giving an opinion. The problem is that the teachers union has decided to go on strike, which means that many children have not got any education for weeks. Instead of denouncing this illegal strike, the commission vaguely blames the situation on “the closing of the democratic space” (as a geographer I’d like to know where that is located) and promises to evaluate all the complaints it has received and to inform about its conclusions at some opportunity.

Under the heading “Violations of human rights” they list a number of acts, but fail to mention the wanton destruction of private property in central San Pedro Sula that I personally witnessed through a webcast, in an area that the illegal demonstrators had sealed off with barricades so the police could not enter. Within that area the unions failed to maintain public order. Windows were smashed on banks, the cathedral was vandalized, and eventually a hardware store was burned down to the ground. Only when the vandalism got completely out of hands the military was called in to arrest the vandals, and to protect the human rights of the property owners in the downtown area.

They also mention acts against elected officials supporting Zelaya, but fail to mention that all of those who violated the court order of May 27, and actively participated in preparing the illegal referendum, could be legally removed from office according to §239 second paragraph in the constitution. Considering how many election localities were involved, that must surely be hundreds of officials who could be legally charged, but who have been allowed to stay in office.

Under the heading “Excessive use of force at public demonstrations”, they say that they have received reports that the majority of demonstrations have been peaceful, with some exceptions, some of them serious. However, the cases they mention are not conclusive. The level of violence in the illegal street protests (as it correctly should be labeled, and not “public demonstrations”) has been much higher than what the report suggests. The cost for individual private citizens and the national economy has also been very high. Their claim that excessive force has been used routinely does not square at all well with the photo below. In fact, the Miami police used a much higher level of force (and they started it, at that) in connection with the union’s legal demonstration against FTAA in downtown Miami in 2003, than what seems typical for the Honduran police and military. Having said that, I do not in any way condone the methods used by the Miami police – but where is the CIDH report on that?

Protests in the streets of Tegucigalpa
Protesters in the streets of Tegucigalpa throwing rocks at the police.

Just like in Miami, there are a number of reports of violations by the police in Honduras. These are unacceptable, and should be investigated and – if justified – prosecuted. The fact that it was not done here in Miami should not be used as an excuse not to do it in Honduras.

When it comes to the media, CIDH observes that they have become polarized after June 28th (although I suspect they really became polarized in the time preceding that date), and that media on both sides of the issue have been the target of attacks and intimidation. However, although they mention specifically the capacity of the Honduran government to intimidate, they fail to mention the evidence for Venezuelan government involvement on the other side.

In a specific case, a photographer of Tiempo is said to have been beaten by members of the police when he was photographing the demonstration outside UNAH. According to the police, the demonstrators broke cameras of some photographers from media they did not like, but this claim is not mentioned in the CIDH report, even though they mention some other attacks and even death threats originating from the apparently Chávez-supported thugs that operate in Honduras.

The committee quite correctly recommends that the state protects all media of communication, and – naturally – refrains from interfering in editorial decisions.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the committee claims to have noted during its visit that “the coup d’état of June 28 has created a state of democratic illegitimacy”. However, having read the entire report, there is only one paragraph that even mentions the decisions of the two branches of government in Honduras that remain unchanged: The Supreme Court of Justice, and the National Congress. Their decisions are mentioned, but subsequently ignored.

The whole report is thus biased. It is based on a pre-formed opinion, and it fails utterly in evaluating the legality of the presidential succession of the country. Not that the commission reasonably would be competent or capable of doing so, since it is not formed as a court of law. However, for this very reason it would have been becoming for the commission to use a neutral language in the report, and to evaluate all ambiguous facts from both points of view.

In other words, their report ought also to evaluate how the acts of the government would be interpreted, in terms of human rights, if one looks at the course of events as the Honduran state is looking at them. I would strongly encourage the CIDH commission to add this point of view, and this is the reason:

The whole purpose of the report is to improve the Human Rights conditions on the ground, not to get into politics. For the state of Honduras to be able to accurately interpret and relate to the report, it has to be framed in the way that they see reality. The way it is written now, it risks getting misinterpreted, and important advice in it may be obscured and overlooked.

Thus, CIDH would do the people of Honduras a favor if they ignored politics and just wrote a report – or an appendix to the report – that focused on advising the actual government in Tegucigalpa – call it de facto or interim as they want – on how they best can proceed, without pointing any finger. This re-writing should include the right of property and of making a living. The police has an obligation to protect these rights, but that justification for breaking up mobs committing illegal acts has not been touched upon at all so far.

Israel does not deny stealing organs from Palestinians

The Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet wrote Monday about how the Israeli defense forces are killing young Palestinian men and then stealing their organs for use in transplantations. The provoked a very strong reaction from the foreign department of Israel in which they condemn the fact that Sweden does not have a media censorship that can prevent the publication of this kind of information, according to DN and SvD today. There is no mentioning, however, about the claims being false. To me, that is the bigger news. The reaction of one who is guilty is commonly to get mad at the accuser, rather than to deny the accusation.

After googling the news for a while I have still not found a single article talking about the need to investigate such a serious allegation. Until Israel can demonstrate that there is no organ-stealing going on, the suspicion will for sure linger. Therefore, my recommendation to Israel is to stop calling for censorship in Sweden, and instead get their own act together with cleaning up in the organ trade business.

Confusion in USA over “health care reform”

President Obama is facing strong opposition over the proposed – and crucial – reforms to the legislation that governs the so-called “health care” sector. The problem seems to be partly related to this misnomer, since it really is about caring for the sick and injured, not for the healthy. Furthermore, it is only partly about the care itself; mostly it is about who should pay for it, and how. The core of the issue is thus medical insurance reform.

The favorite argument of those who oppose the health care reform is to ask why people from other countries come to get health care in the US, if the system is so bad. Actually, one good answer that I haven’t heard yet is, “Because they have the insurance that allows them to afford it.” Unlike 47 million Americans.

Also, patients go to other countries too, for treatment, including Americans, and without a proper study one cannot assume that patients come to the US for treatment more than to other countries with advanced medicine. That is only hearsay.

The main point has to be, though, that access to medical care is a Human Right. Those who oppose it do not consider it a right. That is where the ideological divide is. Shall we allow people to die because they are poor? The American right screams “Yes!” to that question.

OAS’s secretary sabotages diplomacy

Update 20:05 ET – Insulza just folded. They met half way, meaning that he will come along but only as an observer. A new date for the visit will be set in the next two days, according to a new press release from the Honduran foreign department, dated 2009-08-09.

Original text 18:16 ET – In a press release today, the government of Micheletti announces that the delegation that was to visit Honduras on Tuesday must change their plans. The reason is that the secretary of OAS, José Miguel Insulza, insists on participating and he is not welcome.

The initiative to the visit came from the new government themselves. The background is that no foreign diplomats have been briefed, still, by the democratic institutions of Honduras about the events of June 28, when Micheletti replaced Zelaya as president. The international community delegated to OAS (the Organization of American States) to do this, and their secretary, Insulza, went to Tegucigalpa.

However, during the visit he refused to meet with people who had come to inform him. He declared that he was not there on a fact-finding mission, but to leave an ultimatum: If Zelaya was not restored as president within 72 hours Honduras would be suspended from OAS.

After his departure Honduras itself left OAS, since they considered the organization compromised. OAS did not accept the resignation since they did not accept its government. Insulza’s report was the basis for suspending Honduras instead.

Oscar Arias later disqualified Insulza’s report, why Honduras has good grounds for accusing him for lack of objectivity, impartiality, and professionalism, as they do in the press release.

After the talks in Costa Rica under Oscar Arias stalled, Honduras suggested that Arias should send a delegation of foreign ministers to the country, so they could receive the briefing that Insulza had refused. It seemed clear the other day that the participants would come from Argentina, Canada, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico.

Insulza is, however, insisting that he himself also should participate, which now has led Honduras to announce that the delegation is not welcome as long as he is part of it. If he is replaced by someone else from the OAS, a new date can be planned.

Since the visit is a strong desire on the part of Honduras, the behavior of Insulza cannot be interpreted as anything else than a deliberate attempt at sabotaging the country’s desire to mend its broken diplomatic relations. The fact that this undermines the peace in Latin America seems to be of no concern to Insulza, who may have a good chance at getting re-elected next year with the support of Hugo Chávez and his coalition of countries with doubtful democracy.

The European Union, and its presidency country Sweden, does not seem concerned over these authoritarian tendencies, but appears to continue to have complete faith in OAS and Insulza. According to a source at the Swedish foreign department this policy is set by Spain, a country that allegedly has a large and sensitive oil-related contract with Venezuela.