Nyspråk år 2009: Lagenlig kupp

Det är aldrig bra när språket förvrids och ordens mening urholkas. Just det har emellertid skett det gångna året då svenska media har kallat den helt lagenliga avsättningen av Honduras president för en “statskupp” och en “militärkupp”. Vi har alltså nu i språket förutom olaglig kupp även lagenlig kupp (eller laglig kupp, lite kortare).

Den engelska motsvarigheten “legal coup” har länge funnits, med betydelsen en juridisk kupp, en oväntad och plötslig manöver inom rättssystemets ramverk. Det stämmer rätt väl på vad som hände i Honduras:

Högsta Domstolen utfärdade ett föreläggande att förberedelserna för en planerad folkomröstning (av president Zelaya kallad opinionsundersökning) inte fick fortsätta därför att den bröt mot grundlagen. Då Zelaya i statens officiella tidning den 25 juni lät publicera ett dekret som visade att han avsåg att hålla omröstningen trots förbudet, så bröt han mot paragraf 239 i grundlagen. Den paragrafens andra stycke säger, att den president som bryter mot den paragrafen omedelbart upphör att vara president.

Enligt honduransk lag hade alltså inte Zelaya längre rätt att utöva presidentämbetet, eller att sitta kvar i presidentpalatset. Det var alltså nödvändigt att låta arrestera honom för att upprätthålla lag och ordning.

Problemet var att USA (senator Kerry för att vara exakt) deklarerade att man skulle betrakta denna lagliga åtgärd som en kupp, och att man inte skulle erkänna den president som efterträdde Zelaya. Därför ställdes arresteringen in, och man valde att tills vidare låta Zelaya sitta kvar medan ett åtal förbereddes.

Zelaya gick dock ännu längre, och tog med våld, i spetsen för en pöbel, material som högsta domstolen hade beslagtagit och lämnat i militärens förvar. Detta var på morgonen den 26 juni.

Detta var naturligtvis en statskupp av Zelaya, eftersom han brukade våld mot de övriga statsmakterna. Han gjorde sig själv till envåldshärskare. Hade han inte blivit arresterad så hade han varit de facto envåldshärskare. Det som gör en statschef till envåldshärskare är just att de andra statsmakterna underlåter att göra sin plikt, efter att statschefen överskridit alla sina befogenheter.

När högsta domstolen och kongressen – de andra två statsmakterna i Honduras – i enlighet med grundlagen lät arrestera Zelaya och utse en ny president, så var det alltså inte bara fullständigt lagligt, utan ett föredömligt agerande. De uppvisade en sisu som alltför ofta saknas av de demokratiska institutionerna i det läget. Vilken historiker som helst kan säkert på rak arm komma ihåg ett halvdussin eller mer fall där en ledare gjort sig till envåldshärskare därför att de som skall skydda demokratin inte har stoppat honom (t.ex. i Sverige, Tyskland, Venezuela).

Det abrupta sätt på vilket den fd presidenten arresterades fick det att se ut som en kupp, men det var helt lagligt (utom att sända honom utomlands, men det har militärerna redan frikänts från då de handlade i nationellt nödvärn). Eftersom ordet kupp har blivit så intimt förknippat med händelsen har vi alltså fått en ny term i vårt språk år 2009: Lagenlig kupp.

Personligen tycker jag inte om den termen för kupp har alltid varit förknippad med något olagligt för mig, så jag kallar detta nyspråk. Själv skulle jag föredragit att kalla det för en lagenlig avsättning, eller ett lagligt tillslag. Allra bäst vore kanske att använda det tydliga och befintliga ordet anti-kupp. Språket blir liksom fattigare när media och politiker använder ordet kupp om en laglig händelse.

Rena “Hollywood” i Honduras

Knarksmugglingen genom Honduras har det senaste året sprängt alla vallar. Det är den politiska krisen från januari 2009 till januari i år som har gjort Honduras till knarkflygarnas drömland (-ningsplats).

Knarkflygplan på hemlig landningsbana i Honduras.
Knarkflygplan på hemlig landningsbana i Honduras.

Enligt honduransk press kommer planen från Venezuela i huvudsak. De har så gott som alltid en registrering från Venezuela, ibland äkta, ibland falsk.

Enligt veckotidningen Semana i Colombia är det visserligen venezolanska plan många av dem, men flygningarna utgår från Colombia, helt nära gränsen. Planen stjäls i Venezuela eller Brasilien, och konverteras för att kunna ta mer last och flyga längre. Direkt efter starten flyger de in över Venezuela, för att inte Colombias flygvapen skall kunna komma åt dem. De flyger genom Venezuela till Karibiska Havet och vidare till Honduras i första hand. Bägge artiklarna ovan nämner namn på personer i denna knarkhandel.

Knarkflygplan i Honduras.
Knarkflygplan på grusväg i Honduras.

Sedan Honduras knarktsar mördades i november har trafiken ökat mycket. Först nu i februari har USA bestämt sig för att åter igen samarbeta med Honduras för att försöka stoppa denna trafik, efter att sedan den 28 juni förra året i någon sorts barnslig protest ha vägrat låta honduranerna få använda de radaranläggnignar som USA har i landet. Säkerligen har hundratals ton kokain passerat Honduras på väg till USA under dessa månader, som en direkt följd av att USA har suttit på sin bak.

Knarkflygplan i Honduras.
Knarkflygplan i Honduras.

De flesta flygplan tankas och flygs ut igen. Några i månaden störtar och bränns (upp till 14 under en enda vecka!). Planen på dessa bilder tillhör den lilla minoritet som polisen fått tag på i tid. Det handlar om allt från enmotoriga Cessna till flermotoriga Antonov fraktflygplan som kan ta upp till 5 ton last. Omfattningen och logistiken runt detta, med flera flygplan om dagen, slår till och med Hollywoods vildaste fantasier. Detta är ett multinationellt storföretag.

Den vidare färden norrut går till Mexico. Från Honduras till Mexico är det bara några timmar med en snabbgående motorbåt, och på vägen finns det korallöar tillhörande Belize i vilka man kan söka skydd vid behov. Det finns gott om sådana båtar i Honduras, relativt öppna båtar gjorda för havsfiske, med en liten förruff, sådär 40 fot långa, och med tre till fyra utombordmotorer, var och en på sådär 200 hk till 250 hk. Dessa båtar ligger inte i hamn utan förvaras på trailer, dragna efter en amerikansk pickup. På båtmässan i Miami (sista dagen idag!) kan man se och köpa dessa nätta båtar. Förutom för utsjöfiske används de även som jollar på megayachts. Men det är en annan historia.

Uppdatering: Bara någon timme efter att detta skrevs meddelades det att Colombia och Honduras undertecknat ett avtal om samarbete för att bekämpa brottslighet. Det handlar förutom om knarksmuggling även om bland annat kidnappningar, ett annat omfattande problem i bägge länderna. Honduras har nu högst mordfrekvens i världen. För några år sedan var det Colombia (och däremellan Irak). President Uribe har lyckats minska brottsfrekvensen med ungefär hälften hittills.

Uppdatering: Ytterligare några timmar senare rapporterades det att Venezuela i lördags hittat en hangar med 28 knarkflygplan.

Uppdatering 2009-02-17: Colombia rapporterar att under en operation kallad “Fronteras” (“Gränser”) uppdagades det att flygtrafikledarna är i maskopi med knarkflygarna. De har arresterat 22 utlänningar i den så kallade “pilotkartellen”. Honduras myndigheter har hittat över 250 smugglingsleder från Venezuela som går genom landet. Drogtrafiken genom Honduras startades av colombianska knarksmugglare men kontrolleras nu i huvudsak av mexikanska karteller, och flygningarna utgår i huvudsak från Venezuela, enligt vad Honduras säkerhetsminister Oscar Alvarez meddelade Colombia i veckans möte. Mexikanska karteller är kända för att vara mycket benägna för våld, vilket säkerligen är huvudorsaken till att Honduras nu har världens högsta mordfrekvens.

Nigeria avslöjar Honduras-hyckleriet

Enligt en blog på World Politics Review visar maktskiftet i Nigeria i förra veckan på vilket hyckleri som råder i världen: Dä presidenten lagligt avsattes av Honduras parlament förra året fördömdes landet av hela världen i FNs generalförsamling, men då Nigerias president avsattes utan stöd av grundlagen av parlamentet förra veckan så hördes inte ett pip. Förklaringen som föreslogs var att det inte fanns något säkerhetshot i Honduras, men det finns det i Nigeria. Stora oljefält som är av vikt för världens energiförsörjning, och en gerilla som är aktiv.

Alltså, ingen risk för omvärlden i Honduras = fritt fram att fördöma trots att det var lagligt.

Men stor risk för omvärlden i Nigeria = håll tyst och sitt still i båten även om det var grundlagsvidrigt.

Vinklinen i TT (se DN) är dock en helt annan. Enligt den texten kan man inte utläsa att det var olagligt. Dock inte heller att det var lagligt, väl att bemärka, utan bara en allmän mörkning och skönmålning av det juridiska läget.

¿Porqué la Comisión de la Verdad?

Quizás vale la pena finalmente explicar el propósito y los pensamientos atrás la Comisión de la Verdad, propuesto por el lado de Micheletti en San José.

Primero, fue para enviar el mensaje que la constitucionalidad hondureña no tenga nada a esconder.

Segundo, fue para crear un documento de referencia para la comunidad internacional, que pueda servir para limpiar la acusación falsa del imagen de Honduras.

Tercero, fue para abrir los ojos de los grupos en Honduras que creían que fue un golpe de Estado, y lograr la reconciliación con ellos, la gran mayoría de los que demostraban en contra de Micheletti.

Nunca fue para lograr reconciliación con la minoría en la llamada resistencia, porque ellos son verdaderos revolucionarios, insurgentes, que realmente quieren destruir esa republica y crear un nuevo en las cenizas. No habrá nunca reconciliación con los enemigos del Estado.

En mi propuesta una amnistía política fue incluida para ellos que abiertamente declararon sus acciones. En mi juicio fue un error otorgar amnistía ciega como el congreso hizo el 27 de enero este año. Sin embargo, este comisión todavía tiene metas importantes.

Todo esto en conjunto sirviera para aumentar la confianza en la ley y las instituciones legales.

Para lograrlo, transparencia es importantísimo. Todo se tiene que hacer en la luz del día. Reuniones cerradas haría la comisión contra-productiva. Espero que el gobierno de Pepe Lobo entienda la importancia de esto.

Chávez, Honduras, and the new Cold War

It is well known in Honduras that Venezuela’s president Hugo Chávez was front and center of last year’s political crisis. In the parallel universe that is international news media, notably AFP, EFE, and Reuters, Chávez has, however, nothing at all to do with Honduras. TeleSur I don’t even count as news, it is simply propaganda, just like “FOX News,” albeit on the opposite end of the new cold war; a media and propaganda war that has Venezuela – Iran – Russia as one axis, and the traditional allied USA – UK as the other pole.

Some articles and bloggers ridicule the notion that Chávez was behind the crisis. Be very wary against any media that ridicules that, since it is easy to show that it is factually correct. There can only be two reasons to ridicule it: Either a high level of ignorance, or willful propaganda. In either case it should raise a red flag for that media outlet in the reader’s mind.

Let me just give you some examples out of the literally hundreds. Chávez threatened war against Honduras in response to something that is clearly a Honduran domestic matter, something that did not threaten international peace and security. If in doubt, consider this: The UN Security Council never took up the issue of Honduras. Nobody reported Honduras to the Security Council, and although Honduras reported Venezuela’s war threats, they didn’t take it up for the sole reason that the UN did not recognize the Micheletti government.

The days before Zelaya was deposed, many tried to talk him out of pursuing his plans for holding a so-called poll which the Supreme Court had ordered that nobody was allowed to partake in (there was an injunction against it; later they tried the case and found it illegal). To one of these persons, who tried to convince him to listen to the Hondurans, Zelaya replied “After God, Chávez!”. In other words, he cared less for what those who elected him said than what Chávez said.

When Zelaya made the infamous attempt to return in an airplane belonging to Venezuela, Chávez has been exposed as having planned the event with the purpose of creating martyrs. I recently got hold of a video from another perspective that day, and could conclude by analyzing the sound (spectrum and echo) that at least one of the demonstrators was firing a gun. It has previously been shown how TeleSur in cohorts with armed demonstrators tried to make it appear as the military was firing on the demonstrators, the second time that Zelaya staged an “attempt” to return (he could have returned any time he wanted, the issue was just that he didn’t want to get arrested, that’s why he stayed away).

There is evidence of several kinds that many demonstrators on the red side were paid. There is photo evidence that Rafael Alegria, a leader of the self-denominated “resistance,” handed out dollars to them. There is a notebook with sums in it that appears to indicate who got what to hand out; Alegria got $5,000 according to it. There is evidence from the banks that significant sums of dollars were introduced into circulation on the days of major red demonstrations (in the tens of thousands of dollars).

Manuel Zelaya did not have that kind of money; I have heard from several sources, in his campaign and in banks, that he received large campaign contributions from South America. He tried to pay back after winning the election, but the money was not accepted. They wanted his services, not the money. In fact, he led a rather modest lifestyle before he became president. The extravagance that we have seen lately, and that the Dominicans are now paying for, was financed with money intended for the poor in Honduras. That is why several countries cut their aid to Honduras when Zelaya was president.

There is essentially one person who had both motive and opportunity to spend that kind of money on those demonstrations: Hugo Chávez. There could be a second interest in the drug cartels, of course, since by binding the police and military resources in controlling demonstrations, they get the countryside free for smuggling cocaine. In Zelaya’s home region of Olancho the drug smuggling has increased a lot the last few months, since the drug czar was murdered. It is reported that about half a dozen planes a day leave their cargo on clandestine fields. The general wisdom in Honduras is that they fly from Venezuela. However, it seems that Chávez is pretty close to the Colombian narco-guerilla FARC, who may well be behind this, so even with this alternative explanation the compass needle swings back to point at Chávez in the end.

It is not hard to see why Hondurans – as most Latin Americans – consider Chávez the driving force in Zelaya’s attempt at overthrowing Honduras’s Constitution. His open support of Zelaya with words and money cannot be dismissed (this support was only terminated when they realized that it created a PR problem for Zelaya, since Chávez’s own approval rating internationally fell drastically when it turned out that Chávez’s generals had given Swedish RPGs to FARC, a group that the EU classifies as terrorists).

Honduras was another one of Chávez’s projects for spreading his so-called “Bolivarian Revolution” to all of Latin America. All his previous attempts have succeeded (e.g., Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia), but in Honduras he met his first defeat. Of course, nobody is expecting that he will give up so easily – Honduras is prepared for new assaults on its Constitution and democracy. However, there may be a new front opening in this cold war: Venezuela.

Chávez’s increasing tyranny, with media closures, expropriations of companies, expropriation of hundreds upon hundreds of family-owned farms without due process and without compensation (so he can give the land to the thugs that he uses to enforce his policies), and abolition of the institutional liberal democracy, undermines whatever popular support that once brought him to power in democratic elections.

The opposition in Venezuela has taken a lesson from the opposition in Iran, and is using Twitter, much to Chávez’s chagrin. Unfortunately for the Venezuelans, they allowed the dismantling of the constitutional democracy to go too far. It is now an uphill battle to restore it.

Although Honduras was the first country in this wave of spreading authoritarian rule that successfully halted the threat to democracy, there are more countries in line. Nicaragua is the one in most imminent danger now.

One can only hope that the lesson they take from Honduras is that it is possible to stop the assault on democracy, and that it is worth the price. Also, chances are that the next time some country is forced to depose of a president to save democracy, they will have at least one ally to argue their case before the international community, namely Honduras. They have been there, done that.

Of course, it would be better to revise the mechanisms of diplomacy so that not just the head of state has a voice, but that also the checks and balances of each country (typically the Supreme Court and or Congress) are recognized by the United Nation, so that they can come to the General Assembly and make their case, in situations when the head of state has been deposed. That would be a simple adjustment to make, I would presume.

Truth Commission in Honduras

The Guatemalan ex vice president Stein, who Pepe Lobo put in charge of forming the Truth Commission that is to investigate what exactly happened in the crisis that started some time in early 2009, culminated on June 25 to 28, and ended either with the November 29 elections or the January 27 inauguration, depending on how you view it.

However, words of caution have been raised today saying that Stein was too close to Zelaya, that he may be a stooge for Insulza in OAS, and that his recent words that the objective of the commission is to propose changes to the Constitution, risks making him appear as little more than a continuation of the “Cuarta Urna”-project. That is the term used for the referendum on creating a Constituting Assembly, something the Supreme Court of Justice in Honduras has found unconstitutional.

Specifically, Stein mentioned that the role of the military in Honduras’s Constitution might need to be looked at. As is well-known, the deposed president, Zelaya, had turned to the military for help with police work, rather than giving the necessary resources to the police for doing their job. This is allowed in Honduras, but Zelaya made it the norm rather than the exception. It is frowned upon internationally, since the military are not trained in the human rights issues that the police must be well versed in. Still, judging from TV footage the military has routinely been more passive than the police in the riots after June 28.

Constitutional Crisis

In fact, in my personal opinion, the passivity of the military may actually be the singular cause of this crisis going international. The Supreme Court impounded the illegal ballots and left them in the custody of the military. On June 26, Zelaya went with a mob to retrieve them, and the military did not offer any resistance.

If the military had done their duty on that occasion, and prevented that the president took the ballots by any means necessary, as they were supposed to, including staring down death if it came to that, then the crisis would have ended very differently.

What actually happened was that Zelaya took the ballots, and his followers distributed them for the illegal referendum on June 28. This forced the Attorney General to request, and the Supreme Court to issue, an arrest warrant for Zelaya. He was arrested at dawn, just after daybreak as can be seen on photos, on June 28. The military as a cautionary action exiled him, which the Supreme Court in January declared justified as an action of national self defence. Congress swore in a new president. This ended the constitutional crisis in Honduras on June 28, but it created an international problem for the country, since the rest of the world declared it a coup and froze the diplomatic relations.

What could have happened if the military stopped them from taking the ballots is that no referendum could have been held, and thus Zelaya would have remained in office, Honduras would have remained recognized internationally, but the constitutional crisis would have continued. Zelaya had already violated the Constitution in such a way that there was ground for his arrest and immediate removal from power, but the U.S. had stated that they would consider any such act a coup, no matter how legal it was under Honduran law. So status quo would have continued, with a bankrupt economy, no budget, and a general election approaching. The fact that there was no budget for the general election was a big concern for all parties.

However, the above hypothetical peaceful scenario is very unlikely. It is well known among people with close insight into the Zelaya presidential palace that they were not preparing to leave power in only 7 months. It is just completely unbelievable that Zelaya and that mob would have left the air force base and the ballots peacefully. There would have been a bloodbath, and Zelaya would have blamed it on the military in an attempt at getting rid of those who did not obey him.

One must not forget that when the present Supreme Court was appointed in early 2009 (they sit for 7 years), Zelaya was not happy with the candidates to the 15 seats. He demanded that he appoint justices, but Micheletti among others refused to give in to his demands – even as he threatened to send out the tanks on the streets. Yes, Zelaya threatened to make a military auto-coup! His most outrageous demand was that the wife of his Minister of the Presidency was made chief justice in the Supreme Court.

The Congress did not yield. If they had, there would have been no way of legally stopping Zelaya’s violations of the Constitution in June, or him dissolving the Constitution and creating a Constituting Assembly with him as president and thus supreme ruler of the country. Of course, he would have used newspeak to describe those actions, since the world apparently only cares about words, not legal realities.

In conclusion, even though it theoretically would have been possible for the military to prevent having to do the action to prevent a coup on June 28, by resisting Zelaya on June 26, a final showdown would probably have been inevitable. From a military strategic perspective they acted correctly, refusing to take the fight on the enemies terms, and instead taking the fight on their terms two days later.

The only way in which things could have been better in this aspect is if the court had left the ballots in the custody of the police instead, and or the police had arrested Zelaya. But this does not require a change of the Constitution.

Diplomatic Crisis

Let us look now at the diplomatic crisis. It started the same day as the constitutional crisis ended, June 28. The reason for it was that the world mistook the action to end the constitutional crisis and the coup attempt by Zelaya for a military coup in itself. The world thus saw a successful white coup when in reality it was an unsuccessful red coup.

Could this have been avoided if the Constitution had been different? Yes, most certainly. Namely if the country would have had a parliamentarian system of government, as is common in Europe. The president in a parliamentarian republic is the head of state, and is thus representing the country internationally, but it is the prime minister who is head of government. In such a system Zelaya as president would not have had the power to create the Constitutional crisis that he created, and as prime minister he could have been dismissed without causing any diplomatic crisis.

If the president in a parliamentarian republic would be thrown out like Zelaya was, it would of course have caused a similar reaction internationally. The key to avoid that from happening, is not to give the president very much authority. If he cannot cause problems there is little reason to depose him. That is the way it is a monarchy such as the Kingdom of Sweden; the King (or Queen) has no power at all. Thus there cannot be any reasonable reason to dethrone him.

I must admit that I still haven’t read the entire Constitution of Honduras (it is quite long and not that well organized), so I don’t know if such a change would be possible. But that’s another story, one that I will probably have reason to return to when the Truth Commission starts working.

Media: Latin America News Dispatch. Statement from the Honduran NGO Pro-Justicia, pointing out biases and concluding that Hondurans have to be alert to defend their democracy and freedom without having confidence in that their government does it, like the previous one did.

The Oxymoronic Discourse on Honduras

Last year Honduras entered its most serious constitutional crisis ever. President Zelaya was pushing for throwing out the Constitution, and create a Constituting Assembly to draft a new one from scratch. Of course he ran afoul of the existing Constitution in so doing, why the checks and balances kicked in, and Zelaya was kicked out.

By the color of the shirts of the people who demonstrated during this crisis, those who are defending the existing democratic constitution have become known as the white, and those who want to overthrow the constitution are called the red.

Regrettably, the world mistook the defence of democracy for a military coup by the white. The reasons have been amply exposed on this blog so I will not repeat them. Suffice it to say that the OAS, USA, and media are all as a minimum guilty of thick-headiness. Hugo Chávez is, on the other hand, a direct culprit; he is the hub that makes the wheel spin.

The remarkable thing is that even though the Honduran crisis is a direct parallel to what has happened in other ALBA countries, this seems to be very hard for media in the non-Spanish-speaking world to understand. Case in point: The Christian Science Monitor yesterday attempted to paint a link between Nicaragua and Honduras. However, they link Ortega’s (who is obviously red) unconstitutional maneuvers with Micheletti’s actions (although he is on the white side). It would be tragicomic if it wasn’t so serious; it is democracy itself that is at stake, and they are not able to tell the attacker from the defender.

The similarity between Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua, and Honduras, is crystal clear, much stronger than what CSMonitor realizes. They just have to compare with Manuel Zelaya, instead of with Roberto Micheletti.

Imagine that the Supreme Court in Managua stops Ortega, and that their Congress deposes him and replaces him with the person who is next in line in the succession order. Now try to figure out, after reading the article in CSMonitor, how that newspaper would present our hypothetical event. Would they present it as a victory for the checks and balances, or as a coup d’état?

That, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what happened in Honduras, and they – still – present it as a coup d’état. A coup d’état committed by the checks and balances, no less. Talk about oxymoron.

Alone against the world

Just like Finland stood alone when the Soviet Union attacked her in WWII, but won against all odds, so has Honduras stood alone against the whole world in this crisis. There are many similarities. Both were small and poor countries, but both had the moral high ground, and they were driven by the willpower of the people to fight for what they knew was right. In both cases it was also a fight between the white and red. Coincidentally, even the flags of the two countries have the same colours: white and blue.

Finland had of course seen a civil war between the red and white back when it was a Grand Duchy in Russia (when I grew up my grandfather used to tell me childhood memories of that conflict). Both countries had strong social tensions, and an upper class of a different ethnicity than the poor majority. There is no doubt that in both cases the red had legitimate grievances, but they were in both cases using very suboptimal methods to achieve their objectives. For many years I have argued for the need for reform in Honduras, but the way the so-called “resistencia” go about it now is completely counterproductive, and must be condemned. The white side has reached out with an olive branch, and anyone who does not take that, but opts for violence, deserves to go to jail.

The foreign minister under Micheletti, Carlos Contreras, said in an interview on January 26, recently published in El Heraldo, that there were countries that recognized that Honduras was acting in defence of democracy, and gave them moral support in secret, but not a single country came out in public and supported them. The diplomats knew that the global public opinion was completely and totally misled into thinking that it was a military coup, why they realized that it would be an uphill battle to try to argue the case.

During the crisis I have heard this myself from third country diplomats. As Contreras says in the interview, diplomacy is about interests, not about what is right and wrong. There was just nobody that had a national interest in defending Honduras, even when they knew she was right.

Other countries were indifferent, and some were openly hostile to Honduras, notably all ALBA countries. One of the many media falsehoods is that the U.S. would have been behind the alleged white coup. Quite the contrary, says Contreras. The U.S. was openly hostile.

This underscores what I have heard from sources with first hand insight into the constitutional crisis that culminated June 25 to 28. Simply put, the Obama administration apparently inadvertently gave Zelaya a green light for bringing to completion the red coup d’état he was executing. What Axel Oxenstierna wrote in 1648, “If you only knew my son, with how little wisdom the world is run”, seems like the understatement of the past millennium.

Pyjamas diplomacy

Given how Zelaya has lied to and manipulated media consistently since June 28, when he changed back to pyjamas before appearing before the TV-cameras in Costa Rica (he left Honduras with clothes, hat, and boots on), his latest actions should come as no surprise. The only surprise is that so much of media doesn’t seem to have seen through the lies yet.

For instance, Zelaya signed the agreement that was worked out in the Guaymuras dialogue. However, he did not live up to a single one of his commitments in that agreement. But rather than being the man for his (infamous) hat, he accused the democratic institutions of Honduras of breaking the deal. Most of the media outside Honduras uncritically reported Zelaya’s version, although it was very easy to find evidence inside Honduras for it being false. If I could find such evidence, surely trained journalists would be able to, right?

Among the things he agreed to was to accept the decision of the Congress; he didn’t. He also signed his name under a promise to support the elections; he didn’t. He further signed on to forming a unity government; he did not cooperate but instead accused the counterpart of having broken that point.

When Oscar Arias made the first draft of the deal that later became the Accord, he had put amnesty into it. Zelaya asked that it be removed, and it was. Zelaya to this day maintains in public that he was against the amnesty that Congress approved in January for his benefit. However, at least two congressmen (Yanny Rosental and Erick Rodriguez) have come out in public and revealed that Zelaya pressured them to vote for the amnesty.

Can you believe that much of the world media keeps repeating the words of such a hypocrite as the unquestionable truth? You know why? The reason is that he was “thrown out in pyjamas,” that’s why their minds are closed. Sokrates’ logic may be ever so perfect, but if those forming the public opinion do not use it, what hope does the truth have? The symbol of the pyjamas trumps all logic. Maybe Ortega, if it one morning becomes his turn, should claim that he sleeps naked. That outta get the world’s attention, right?

Finally, the Accord contains a provision for a Truth Commission, which was suggested by the Micheletti side. It is to be formed the first half of this year, and its task shall be to investigate what happened before and after the culmination of the constitutional crisis on June 28, as well as to propose how to prevent that something like that ever happens again. Personally I feel that this is a very important task, and one that should be carried out mainly by Hondurans, but with advising experts who could be foreigners (as long as they understand Spanish, of course). As mentioned, Zelaya signed on to the entire deal, including this point.

However, many are worried about the implementation of it. The white (who supported Micheletti) are worried that the new president, Pepe Lobo, is giving in to international pressure to let OAS and USA influence the commission so that it can whitewash their respective guilt in the crisis. At the same time, the red (who supported Zelaya and who now profess to be for a militant strategy for overthrowing the constitution), through their coordinator Juan Barahona says that they think the commission was created for whitewashing what they call a “coup d’état”, i.e., the white anti-coup against Zelaya’s red coup.

The third part

What may make this confusing, admittedly, for international media is that there are not two sides in this conflict, but three. There is the red side of Zelaya supporters, who call themselves the “resistance” but who actually are the ones fueling the crisis. According to media friendly to them they openly declare that they are insurgents and that they have decided to go militant. It may be relevant that Honduran arms smugglers were arrested in Florida yesterday in a sting operation when they tried to buy machine guns; they have apparently already smuggled hundreds of weapons to their country. The red boycotted the election campaign, but their understanding of what “boycott” means was wholly unique; it included sabotage of infrastructure, bombing buses, shooting RPGs in cities, and other terrorist acts.

There is also the white side of Union Civica Democratica, who wants peace, democracy, and the rule of law. It is a group formed in opposition to Zelaya, by women, and whose mass actions may well have given the democratic institutions the spine to stand up to the president’s abuse of power.

The third part is not Honduran. It is the Joker in the game. It is a foreign power and its diplomats. It is the United States of America.

Most international media, almost without exception, has taken the side of the red, and has erroneously assumed that the U.S. has been on the side of the white. As mentioned, the U.S. has, however, consistently been hostile to the white. In fact, they have – probably by incompetence – helped the attempted coup by Zelaya. This has left Obama in a spot where he cannot tell the truth without acknowledging being an idiot. Instead he sticks to the “oxymoroniccoup d’état committed by the checks and balances.

And so the tale lives on in media, with falsehoods proliferating, and the truth being all but missing in action. That is exactly why a functioning Truth Commission is needed. It was unfortunate that amnesty was granted, not because the Truth Commission now becomes redundant, but because it may make it much harder for it to succeed. Perhaps that is exactly why the U.S. pushed so hard for the amnesty?

As is well-known from media reports, OAS supported Zelaya’s coup, and OAS is now lending technical support to the Truth Commission. Furthermore, it seems like Jimmy Carter’s center will form a part of it. It thus remains to be seen if OAS and the U.S. somehow can manage to castrate the Truth Commission.

But even if they do, not all is lost. You can rest assured that also the work of the Truth Commission will be among the things that will be scrutinized in the future. There are other cards to play, but I am not at liberty to blog about it yet. All I can say is, the Honduran people will not allow the truth to be buried, no matter what.

The Philosophy of Democracy

It has struck me while following the constitutional crisis that erupted in Honduras June 25 last year, that many of those who are actors in the drama do not seem to have an understanding of democracy on a philosophical level. Without a normative foundation, they end up being blind to the long-term implication of their choices, and are guided only by the immediate benefit they see.

To overcome this problem I believe it is essential to strengthen the knowledge and understanding of democracy, not just in Honduras but in all of the Americas. Yes, including the U.S. of A., the Senate of which appears quite unable to function in a democratic way. In fact, I would propose that this task should be based on the most fundamental of levels, i.e., on the philosophical level.

There is an academic subject called Political Philosophy, which overlaps with what I propose. However, not all democracy is politics, and not all politics is democracy. Democracy is a method of decision-making also outside the political arena, i.e., in societies with voluntary membership and an idealistic purpose, and in corporations (although there the principle is one share = one vote, not one person = one vote).

Democracy and politics overlap, but a large part of democracy exists outside of the political realm.
Democracy and politics overlap, but a large part of democracy exists outside of the political realm.

Democracy in non-political contexts is fundamental in Sweden. Since my early teens I was exposed to the workings of democratic organizations, holding constituting meetings, yearly assemblies, board meetings, and so on. It was a way of cooperation that we took for granted. The formalities were key; although the actual work was quite informal, the formalities were rock solid and always solved any potential conflict before it could grow out of hand. In that sense, the democratic method of holding meetings and taking decisions was a tool for preemptive peace and conflict resolution.

Perhaps it is because the challenges of managing a club with 15 members, and a country of millions, are so different, that we don’t think of them as being related, both being aspects of democracy. Often, especially in the U.S., democracy is thought of as almost a synonym for politics. That in turn is thought of as the intrigues and manipulations of the specifically anglo-saxon form of governance (that has also been exported to Greece), of type “the winner takes it all”. This means that democracy and politics is largely focused on winning elections. In fact, in the U.S. this has gone so far that the very word politics has come to mean only that aspect, and not the art of making decisions.

As I wrote in Democracy for Dummies, the core purpose of democracy is of course to make decisions, not to get elected. It is to make decisions that have legitimacy, that are universally respected, and that can bring the issue forward while avoiding conflicts. The core process in democracy is therefore the meeting (in which the decision is taken), not the election of representatives (which is, incidentally, a means to a means to an end: we elect them to take part in meetings to take decisions on our behalf).

The two main types of democracies

In my opinion, for the purpose of classification and analysis, the most important distinction to make visa-vi democratic organizations is in those with voluntary membership, and those with involuntary membership.

Organizations with voluntary membership are democratic clubs and societies. This also includes typical political parties (note that U.S. political parties are atypical). In the typical case membership is open to everyone who wishes, but subject to some condition, such as paying a fee. In other cases it may be an invitation-only club, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be democratic.

Organizations with involuntary membership are those where membership is implicitly or explicitly required for persons in certain circumstances. The most obvious example is a country, in which the members are the citizens. Another example is a condominium association, in that you have to become a member (and be accepted as a member) to buy the apartment.

Obviously, organizations with involuntary membership in some ways infringe on the individual’s freedom. The very term “involuntary” conveys that. Of course one can leave it, but only if you give up something (e.g., the right to run for election, the possibility to live in a certain apartment). It is therefore only to be expected that most focus is put on this class of democracies.

It is also worth considering that certain rights can be delegated to an organization with involuntary membership, for instance the right to defend ones rights with force. That is the basis for the common defense, and for a police and judicial system. Note that it is not a requirement to have a police force, for instance. In pre-historic Scandinavia there were no policemen, no prosecutors, no justices, no jails. Instead, someone who had broken the law was dealt with in the same way and at the same meeting as all other business, with all the people voting. The worst punishment was to be declared an outlaw, to no longer to be protected by the law, as it was not a crime to kill an outlaw.

It seems to me that the traditional studies of political democracy are done from a biased position, i.e., from the implicit assumption that the state comes before democracy. But it does not have to be that way. What I propose is to study democracy as a subject in its own right, and see what that leads to in terms of the requirements on the state.

It also seems to me that this has some urgency to it, since there is a rather strong political movement towards re-inventing democracy, namely “The Bolivarian Revolution” a.k.a. “Socialism in the XXI Century”. This is of course the project of Hugo Chavez with the moral support of Fidel Castro. However, there seems to be no scholarly foundation under this building. It therefore risks wreaking havoc and creating utter chaos in the countries where it is implemented, such as Venezuela.

Honduras recently stopped this change in its tracks. It gives them breathing room for analysis and thought. I would propose that they use this opportunity to seriously analyze the philosophy of democracy, and come up with a workable solution to obtain the objectives without getting into trouble with human rights, loss of economic activity, and other predictable risks.

When will Zelaya’s supporters denounce violence?

Over and over again, media supportive of the self-labeled “resistencia” in Honduras are reporting that they openly confess to being a militant group. For instance, yesterday a Canadian site reported one of the leaders, Rafael Alegria, as saying that their intention is “to convert ourselves into a militant political force which will work toward taking political power in our country” [my emphasis].

When will these Zelaya-supporters stop advocating militant solutions and start denouncing violence?

When will the international community stop supporting this terrorist organization?

It surely is a strange new world we are living in. The UN and OAS support a coupster – Zelaya – against the democratic government of Honduras. The U.S. demands amnesty for terrorists in Honduras (who caused millions of damages and even bodily injuries), while at the same time holding alleged terrorists without due process on the flimsiest of grounds in an illegally occupied naval base on Cuba.

Too many people dismiss the truth with the argument that they “know” it was a military coup, with no other argument than that it is “self-evident”. Well, it once was equally self-evident that the sun rotated around the Earth…

Footnote: Rafael Alegria was implicated last year in handing out large amounts of cash to rioters, in the form of US dollars that apparently came from Hugo Chavez. The total amounts of hard currency that showed up in the economy on the days of riots was so large that it could be counted in the banking system, in the tens of millions of dollars, it has been reported. (Ironically, this inflow of currency partly offset the negative effects of the sanctions imposed on Honduras, by providing an alternative source of dollars for paying foreign debts.)

MSM lägger locket på om Honduras

Det är nu den 4 februari 2010. Dagens Nyheter har inte skrivit en enda notis om krisen i Honduras sedan den 21 januari kl 6 på morgonen. Det var någon timme efter att jag skrev att Obama orsakade den akuta krisen genom att i praktiken ge klartecken till Zelaya att göra vad han ville.

Parantetiskt kan nämnas att tre läsare i kommentarer till den sista DN-artikeln har påpekat att texten är felaktig: Valet var inte extrainsatt utan ordinarie. Det finns också blogglänkar till artikeln (vilka DN inte visar) som säger samma sak. Trots detta låter tidningen den felaktiga uppgiften stå kvar. Liksom att de kallar det en kupp.

Sedan dess har mycket hänt, varav åtminstone ett halvt dussin stora nyheter. Men DN har inte med ett ord nämnt något av detta.

Inte att USA drog in visum för ytterligare ett antal personer, vilka tog det som en hedersbetygelse och ett bevis på att de är patrioter och inte medlöpare till USA.

Inte att militärerna frikändes från ansvar för att ha flugit Zelaya ur landet, vilket betyder att högsta domstolen godtog deras försvar att de handlade utifrån ett övervägande om rikets säkerhet, i syfte att minimera riskerna, och baserat på trovärdiga hotbilder.

Inte amnestin som mer eller mindre tvingades på Honduras av USA (Micheletti föreslog en folkomröstning om amnestin, men den nyvalda kongressen gick USA till mötes).

Inte att en ny president har tillträtt, Pepe Lobo, eller att vid ceremonin i landets nationalstadium de tusentals människorna på läktarna buade ut alla som stött Zelaya, inklusive USA. De buade framför allt ut en utländsk president som var närvarande, Fernandez från Dominikanska Republiken, för att han (uppenbarligen som “målvakt” åt USA) hade kommit för att hämta Zelaya och förhindra att denne ställdes inför rätta i Honduras.

Inte heller har DN nämnt att den diplomatiska krisen nu är över och Honduras åter är erkänt av FN sedan den 1 februari, men att den ekonomiska krisen kvarstår och landet står på ruinens brant.

Framför allt har inte DN nämnt att orsaken till denna situation är att omvärlden gjorde ett fatalt misstag, och straffade ett land vars demokratiska institutioner bara följde lagen.

Och allra minst har de nämnt att denna draksådd nu används för att ytterligare hota demokratin i Latinamerika.

Lyckligtvis är inte latinamerikanarna så okunniga eller ointresserade av sin politiska verklighet, utan stora delar har genomskådat den så kallade bolivarianska revolutionen, och dess så kallade socialism i 21:a århundradet för vad det är: En strategi för att bryta ner de demokratiska institutionerna och rättsstaten genom att ersätta beprövade institutionella system med nya, baserade på pöbelvälde. Denna strategi är naturligtvis inte ny, det är bara namnet som är nytt. Samma strategi har använts av tyranner sedan de gamla grekernas tid, och ända fram till nazister och kommunister i vår egen tid.

Så varför skriver inte DN om detta? Jag förutspådde redan då jag startade denna blogg i början av juli förra året att då till slut MSM (mainstream media) inser att de haft fel, så kommer de inte att medge det, utan bara att lägga locket på och sluta skriva om Honduras.

Ulf Erlingsson