Category Archives: Editorial

Opinions, arguments

USA warned Zelaya dangerous for democracy a year before he tried to overthrow the constitution

In a cable written by former US ambassador to Honduras, Charles Ford, to his successor Hugo Llorens, on May 15, 2008, Ford warns Llorens about Honduras’ president Manuel Zelaya in no uncertain terms.

The cable represents a staunch warning of an imminent threat to democracy in a country that traditionally had been a close ally to the USA.

Ford’s account reflects getting to know the Honduran president during two and a half years of sometimes rather close contacts. It led Ford to conclude that Zelaya is “almost a caricature of a land-owner ‘caudillo’ in terms of his leadership style and tone,” a ‘caudillo’ being akin to a dictator.

The ambassador’s description of the president is blunt: “Zelaya’s principal goal in office is to enrich himself and his family while leaving a public legacy as a martyr who tried to do good but was thwarted at every turn by powerful, unnamed interests” (the emphasis is mine). He hammers home this assessment by immediately adding that Zelaya ”would be quite comfortable as a martyr who tried but failed honorably in his attempt to seek out social justice for the poor.”

Ford finishes the summary of the cable by warning of the anti-democratic tendencies: ”[Zelaya] resents the very existence of the Congress, the Attorney General and Supreme Court. Over his two and a half years in office, he has become increasingly surrounded by those involved in organized crime activities” (again, my emphasis).

The cable ends on a rather pessimistic note: “I believe we can engage Zelaya intensely in the hope of so as to minimizing damage to Honduran democracy and the economy.”

With the benefit of hindsight, Charles Ford’s warning appears to have been prophetic. Manuel Zelaya tried to hold a referendum in 2009, aimed at establishing a “constituting constitutional assembly.” Since it would have implied to overthrow the constitution of Honduras, it was declared illegal and ordered stopped by the Supreme Court (see video account of events, and an analysis I made in April 2010).

As Zelaya ignored the court and persisted with the plans for a referendum on June 28, 2009, he was arrested by the military at dawn, on an arrest order from the Supreme Court. However, due to the military illegally exiling him the act was deemed a coup d’état by other countries, in spite of the Congress in Honduras voting by a large majority to replace Zelaya by the person who was next in the succession line, Roberto Micheletti. This decision was later upheld by Congress, again by a very large vote margin. After Zelaya’s deposal the attorney general filed charges for a number of large corruption scandals, also involving a person mentioned by Ford in this cable.

Today Zelaya is living in exile in the Dominican Republic, refusing to return to his home country to face corruption charges. Just as Ford predicted in the leaked cable, Zelaya has become a martyr for the poor and those who consider his deposal a coup d’état.

It is noteworthy that the cable that Hugo Llorens sent home July 24, 2009, after Zelaya’s deposal, ignores completely what happened before June 28. The only reference to it is by saying that there was “near unanimity among the institutions of the state and the political class that Zelaya had abused his powers in violation of the Constitution” while at the same time saying that the violation was “not proven”.

This is disingenuous, since Zelaya had violated a direct court order, failing to take the required act within the deadline given (i.e., submit a report indicating obedience of a ruling, by June 25). The prosecutor thus had due cause to ask the court for an arrest warrant for the president, and the Supreme Court had the legal authority to issue that arrest warrant, as they did on June 26. Yet none of this is even mentioned by Hugo Llorens.

In combination, these two cables from Tegucigalpa released so far by Wikileaks, raise questions regarding the role of ambassador Llorens in Zelaya’s attempt to overthrow the constitution of the Republic of Honduras. The fact that Llorens and Zelaya knew each other from previous dealings in the 1990’s has been brought up before. This is something that the US Congress can look into, and I predict they will, once the Republicans take over the House next year. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, from Miami, has made herself known as a strong supporter of the defenders of democracy in Honduras, and she will take over the chairmanship of the foreign affairs committee. So I expect action, and that the truth will win in the end.

Climate Debate with a Believer

On an email list maintained by NOAA, a little debate erupted recently over how to argue and convince the rest of the community that anthropogenic climate change is a significant threat. I offered some advice, namely that they should stick to science, use relevant arguments, and avoid hype and hysteria. The reaction was hilarious. Read the exchange with professor Risk for yourselves!

On 2010-11-23, at 08:48, Melbourne Briscoe wrote:

Isn’t the point that what we are doing is not working? So, we do not stop trying, but we have the CHANGE what we are doing….what do we change?

Constant repetition of facts is demonstrably an unsuccessful strategy. Get over it. What do we do instead?

On Tue, 23 Nov 2010 10:28 Ulf Erlingsson wrote:

As long as there are serious scientists who are not convinced, it will be hard to convince all of the non-scientists.

I propose to try to debate with and convince those who consider that the case has not yet been made.

Listen to their arguments. Meet them. And DON’T CALL THEM NAMES.

I think the debate went seriously wrong at the moment when proponents of the hypothesis lost their temper. Bad idea.

Also, look for common ground instead of seeing conflicts. Example:

Nobody is denying that pollution is bad. So why not focus on decreasing the air pollution? After all, the methods are rather similar: Decrease the burning of fossil fuels. What does it matter to nature WHY we decrease it?

There is a difference, but put the difference aside and work for results rather than getting hung up on that difference.

Ulf

On 2010-11-23, at 11:11, Michael Risk wrote:

Ulf: That won’t work. Many (but not ALL) the scientists on the denial side are well-funded by oil companies. Unless and until someone can break that chain, reason will lose out to self-interest. Examples:

Gene Shinn is an honest man who enjoys keeping the rest of us honest.

Tim Ball is a hack who gets tons of oil money.

Which of these two will “recant” if shown the data?

Mike

On Tue, 23 Nov 2010 11:37 Ulf Erlingsson wrote:

Mike,
The thing is that the MAJORITY of people in my scientific discipline and network are not yet convinced.

Why do you call us deniers? From our point of view, it is you who are acting in an un-scientific way, using hysteria rather than solid arguments. Most importantly, those on your side IGNORE the counter-arguments, and use irrelevant arguments (such as name calling, threats, hysteria) rather than relevant scientific arguments.

At least that is how I experience it. If you are right, then your side needs to improve the communication skills… 😉

Ulf

On 2010-11-23, at 12:58, Michael Risk wrote:

Hello Ulf.
I know better than to try to convince anyone in this debate. Positions have hardened.

There is NO ONE in my field of research who does not accept the consequences of increased CO2. To me/us this seems so obvious as to need no debate.

All the various arguments erected by deniers (and that is what they are) have been shot down repeatedly.

-yes, CO2 lags temp during interglacials. Because the ocean degasses.
-yes, water vapour is a potent gh gas-it is an effect, not a cause.
-yes, the climate has changed in the past. This is beyond bullshit. OF COURSE it has, we all know this. Some of us even have a handle on rates.
-yes, there is a real hockey stick.
-no, the leaked emails do NOT amount to a climategate, they simply show us that scientists are people. Although the TIMING of the release is suspicious: whoever the hackers were, they held the emails almost a year, until just before Copenhagen.
-yes, of course it’s getting warmer. There are now three huge independent data sets, open to all, that say the same thing.

…and on and on.

As you may or may not be aware, much of the denial material is managed and processed by the same consultants that worked for Big Tobacco, telling is cigarette smoke did no harm. Those same ad agencies were picked up holus-bolus by Big Oil. So you are on shakey ground when you insult me, personally, in this way, accusing me of using hysteria. You are the one who is in bed with the snakeoil salesmen.

If you read some of my papers, you might change your mind-but I doubt it.

Mike

On 2010-11-23, at 1:23 PM, Ulf Erlingsson wrote:

Hi,
What is being predicted? On what assumptions? Are those assumptions realistic? What if the predictions are correct, is that really significant?

Those are the questions that I still haven’t seen answered, after years and decades of debate.

Best,

Ulf Erlingsson

On 2010-11-23, at 13:58, Michael Risk wrote:

Ulf, I will do you the favour of not lumping you with the Dollar Deniers, of whom there are plenty. But that still doesn’t get you off the hook. In some ways, you are the worst sort of denier, the logical-sounding scientist who simply wants all the doubt to be removed before he acts. You cannot allow yourself to see the forest for the trees.

These are facts:
-the globe is warming.
-the oceans are warming, and growing more acidic.
-sea level is rising.
-atmospheric CO2 has risen.

You had better have a good story to tell your kids to explain why you didn’t act. This exchange is over.

Dr. Michael J Risk
Professor of Biology and Geology

On 2010-11-23, at 2:22 PM, Ulf Erlingsson wrote:

Mike,

“This exchange is over”? ROFL

Admit it, you ran out of arguments. You used a plethora of irrelevant arguments towards me, but the one who has to be prepared to explain his actions, or lack thereof, is YOU, professor Risk.

In the last country where I worked in the field, about 2/3 of the population lived below the poverty line. Fully 1/3 suffered from some degree of starvation. Still, that is not their biggest problem: their biggest problem is the rampant violence with a murder rate higher than that in Baghdad in the height of the insurgency – and this violence is fueled by cocaine-users in the United States of America.

And you seriously think that a temperature change of a degree or two several generations into the future should be my main concern?

Your arrogance is mind-boggling, professor Risk. Absolutely mind-boggling. In fact, so mind-boggling that I will write about this on my blog. I just feel sick to my stomach from what you wrote.

Ulf

Said and done.

Blogs & Debate and the Constituyente

The thing with the call for a constituyente is that it is a solution in search of a problem. The resistencia is pushing hard for a constituyente, but they never give an intelligent argument for why it is desirable. Instead of arguing for why it is necessary, they make the laughable case that the present constitution no longer is in effect, having been somehow “broken” by the “coup” last year.

What they mean by the “coup” was the arrest of Zelaya, to prevent him from bringing to completion the coup that he was carrying out. The method of Zelaya’s coup was to hold a constituyente. In other words, the resistencia’s argument is that the constituyente is necessary in order to restore constitutionality after Zelaya had been deposed for trying to hold a constituyente.

But hang on, why did Zelaya want to hold the constituyente in the first place? Their argument is recursive. And what about the fact that it is unconstitutional to hold a constituyente in Honduras?

The simple truth is that they want power. Nothing else. If they had had democracy at heart, they would not have violated the rule of law, because nothing that is based on a crime can survive. The only way to true democracy with participation for all segments of the population is to respect the rule of law, and to respect the rights of others.

One can never accept a coup d’état against a democratic government. One can never accept to throw a democratic constitution out the window – especially not without having any idea of what comes instead. What the resistencia is insisting, is that Honduras abandons the rule of law, abandons democracy, abandons civil liberties, and instead places the destiny of the country in the hands of a more or less self-appointed “savior”. The old Greeks used to call such persons “tyrants.”

If you would like to defend the position of the resistencia you are welcome to write an editorial and I will publish it here – provided that you present a coherent argument that refrains from advocating that which is unconstitutional, illegal, or against international law.

There are a number of blogs that discuss and debate the politics of Honduras, in light of the political crisis last year and the insistence on a part of some groups of holding a constituting constitutional assembly, a “constituyente“. This blog is one of them.

To see the others, click on Further Information in the bottom right corner of the screen. There you can also find the link to register and to log in.

In the Menu, the header above the posts, you can see the categories which at present contain posts. Click on them to retrieve existing posts (early posts are not yet categorized, so you may also want to use the tag cloud of the search button in the footer).

Advice to the Red in Honduras

Are you a sympathizer with the “resistencia” in Honduras? Then this is for you. Learning from the history you can avoid some costly mistakes.

We all know Honduras needs democratic reforms, rule of law, and an improved standard of living for the poor. If someone wants to make you believe that the rich in the country don’t want that, they are selling you snake oil. The only thing they object to are the false prophets who are preaching solidarity, while in reality they have a completely different agenda.

Let me take two examples from history, the French and the Russian revolutions, as examples to learn from.

A French journalist who writes about Honduras in US newspapers, wrote as follows: “Working in Central America, where journalists are often accused of conspiring against the status quo, can be daunting. Perched on the highest rungs of government, a crypto-fascist element continues to regard incorruptible and outspoken journalists as gadflies and muckrakers, meddlers, purveyors of social discontent, and blabbermouths who threaten the established order. People in positions of power and influence still equate popular aspirations — the quest for truth, justice, respect for human rights and calls for transparency by the governing elite with political agitation and left-wing subversion.”

Since the deposal of Zelaya last year, I have consistently tried to get the truth out, argued for justice and the respect for human rights, and called for transparency in government in Honduras. Have I been rejected by them? No. On the contrary, they have thanked me for doing exactly that. So why has this journalist such a different experience? Perhaps the real reason is revealed in a letter he sent me, in which he wrote: “… and the “Constituyente” of 1790 rid France of its parasitic gangrene — a bloated aristocracy and a corrupt, all-powerful clergy. It drafted and promulgated the Declaration of the Rights of Man, established a secular state and instituted a radical and absolute separation between Church and State — a mandate that is fiercely enforced to this day. A few heads in a basket is not too high a price to pay to purge a country from its feudal masters….”

“A few heads in a basket”? He is advocating political murder, and wonders why those he wants to murder don’t like him? Is he for real?

Lesson: You have to respect human rights yourself, if you want others to respect your human rights. The one who breaks the law becomes unprotected by the law. It is never, ever, justified to kill any person for any reason, nor to torture.

But what about the French Revolution, doesn’t he have a point? Keep in mind what happened next, before you declare it a success. A dictatorship under Napoleon, the self-declared emperor, who threw all of Europe in war, who killed millions through his wars. Is that a success? Not in my book. The French Revolution is an example of what NOT to do.

But let’s take another example, one that is more relevant to Honduras today: the Russian Revolution. In 1809 Russia conquered the part of Sweden known as Finland. They were allowed to continue using the Swedish laws and form of public administration, since it was more advanced than the Russian. Also the Congress was kept in place. By 1860 the Finnish language, spoken by the poor majority, was given official status.

The social gap in Finland at that time was perhaps the strongest one anywhere in the world. The Russian capital St. Petersburg was built to be the world’s most splendid capital, and it was close to the border to the Grand Duchy of Finland. Not far on the other side of the border Finns still lived in primitive huts in the forest, at about the same standard of living as the poor in Honduras today. The gradient was mind-boggling, and it was accompanied by an ethnic division; the swedish-speakers were the economic elite, the Russians had the power, and the finnish-speakers had nothing but growing ambitions based largely on socialist ideals.

However, by 1899 an intense Russification started, led by general governor Bobrikov. The oppression was intense, the “walls had ears” as my grandfather said. On one occasion his 10-year old classmate was to be sent to Siberia for calling a man who worked for the Russians a “traitor”, but luckily the boy’s father sent him abroad before the police came. Most time in school was taken up with learning Russian, and they used Russian officers as teachers. In 1904 Bobrikov was murdered, and in 1905 the first Russian Revolution came – including in Finland, where a general strike was held in late October.

At the general strike the White and Red united. The White demanded Rule of Law; that the Czar respect the agreement with the Finns, that he respect their Constitution, their Congress, their laws. The Red demanded a constitutional assembly, a “constituyente”. In distress, the Czar agreed to the demands of the White, and they ended the strike.

The Red, however, continued in their demands for a constituyente. What I am about to tell you does not appear in the Wikipedia article about this time, but the Red turned their anger against the White. They went around murdering businessmen and other swedish-speakers whom they considered to be with the White side, with the “oligarchy”. They came also to my great grandfather’s house, but his workers stopped them, saying that he was a good employer and pleaded with them to save him. But it was a terror at the time.

In 1906 the Constitution of Finland was changed to become more democratic still. They created a unicameral Congress with equal rights not just to vote, but also to be elected, regardless of land ownership and sex. It was the first place in the world where women could be elected, and the second, after New Zealand, where women could vote. It would seem that this should satisfy the Red, right?

It did, for a while. But then the oppression from Russia started again, World War I came, and in early 1917 a second Russian Revolution at which the Czar abdicated. After that, Finland started working to be more independent from Russia. The Finnish Congress, which had a socialist majority, passed a law that it, not the provisional government in Russia, was the head of state of Finland. The Russian prime minister Kerenskij did not accept that, dissolved the Finnish Congress and called for new elections. This time the liberals won. Shortly after, in late 1917, the third Russian Revolution occurred, the Bolsheviks took power, and Russia started its long period as the Soviet Union.

However, Finland declared itself independent when that happened. The socialists considered the dissolving of the Congress and subsequent election invalid. Russia acknowledged Finland’s independence on January 4th, 1918, and the liberals in Congress started preparing for converting Finland into a sovereign parliamentarian monarchy. The socialists terminated their cooperation, and an uprising started. This led to what the left has called the Finnish Revolution, the right has called the War of Liberation (since Russian troops helped the Red), but which is now neutrally called the Finnish Civil War. The White side won, but the loss of lives was great on both sides.

World War II also brought great hardship to Finland. Attacked by the Soviet Union, and abandoned by the western democracies that chose to cooperate with Stalin (even though he at the time was a much bigger murderer and dictator than Hitler), Finland fought, at one time or another, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and Nazi Germany. It was the only belligerent on mainland Europe to maintain democracy throughout the war. Together with London and Moscow, the Finnish capital Helsinki was the only one in Europe never to be occupied, of the countries taking part in the war.

The Finns got a rough deal after the war, and had to pay restitution to the Soviet Union – while Germany got the Marshall help from USA.

Today Finland is one of the richest and most successful countries in the world. Why?

They learned the lesson, and they learned it well. You are the master of your own destiny, you and nobody else. To the White and Red in Honduras the message is clear: You have to cooperate and find common ground. If you let others interfere in your country, they will not have your best interest in mind. Only you can have your best interest in mind. And that common interest is best served by a fair and just democracy, in which all have a stake, and in which no minority is oppressed, but the rights of everyone are assured.

The Organization of American States is lost

Nine years ago the OAS members signed a special charter tasking the organization with safeguarding democracy in the Americas. Yet they did nothing when former president Zelaya of Honduras violated the Constitution. They did nothing when president Ortega of Nicaragua now violates its Constitution. They were quick to side with president Correa’s questionable claims in Ecuador, calling it a coup attempt although witnesses say that the president himself ordered the military to fire on the hospital.

While OAS utterly failed to criticize these three ALBA presidents, affiliated with Hugo Chávez, their secretary general, Insulza, has humiliated Honduras at any chance he has got since that country stopped the attempted coup d’état by Zelaya on June 28, 2009.

Insulza’s organization even pushes for Honduras’s new president, Lobo, to violates his country’s constitution by discussing to hold a constituyente, something that is explicitly illegal in the Honduran constitution. The idea of a constituyente was even put aside “for ever” by Zelaya himself in the agreement he signed with Micheletti. Yet, the OAS (!) is now bringing it back on the agenda.

Even the Washington Post is today calling OAS hypocrites, since they have done nothing to stop the blatant disregard for democracy in Nicaragua lately. They write, “Mr. Ortega’s assault on Nicaragua’s constitution makes both Mr. Zelaya and the Honduran army look timid.”

Latin America is overflowing with cocaine money, especially the isthmus. This obviously corrupts, lower levels, middle levels, high levels, national levels, and – apparently – also international levels such as the OAS. What other explanation can there be?

Saving Democracy in Latin America

Under the leadership of Venezuela’s president and former failed military coupster Hugo Chávez, self-declared Marxist, a number of Latin American countries in the ALBA alliance are moving towards what they call more “popular democracy.” Fidel Castro calls it communism, though.

The call for this “popular democracy” has reached also Honduras, where former president Manuel Zelaya argued that the people have a right to decide their own destiny, and therefore nobody should object when he was to hold a referendum that would lead to the constitution of the republic being thrown out. Never mind that the poll was fixed, and never mind that it had not been decided in democratic order. If The People does something, it has to be approved. And now the new president, Porfirio Lobo, is using the same arguments, the same words, while trying a different strategy that at the end of his term will lead to the same result: The constitution being thrown out so that he can be re-elected.

While neither of the two gentlemen say openly that their re-election is the one and only purpose of the maneuvers, one can deduce as much, since no other purpose would explain their acts.

I’m the first to admit that Honduras needs some reforms to decrease corruption and increase the rule of law and democracy. What these presidents are doing is, however, the polar opposite – while managing to convince part of the population that they are doing it to help them. It’s the classical trick of popular tyranny, practiced for thousands of years.

Forms of government, with Presidential Republic - the present form of government in Honduras - in the center.
Forms of government, with Presidential Republic - the present form of government in Honduras - in the center. Chávez, Zelaya, and the boys want to go left and make the parliament weaker. Experience shows more democracy is found to the right, with a stronger parliament. Click for full size.

Honduras – as most of Latin America – has a Presidential Republic form of government today (center in the illustration). Chávez’s “Socialism in the 21st Century” changes the constitutions to undermine the democratic institutions and introduce organizations that are outside institutional control (left in the image). Adolf Hitler did precisely the same thing to undermine the democratic checks and balances. They claim that it is done to give more popular democracy, but it is done at the expense of rule of law. The only one who really benefits is the president – now turned dictator.

A change that can be made totally legally in Honduras, without running afoul of the articles “cut in stone”, is to go to the right instead. A parliamentary democracy increases the rule of law and decreases corruption, there is empirical data to support that. It also provides a better protection against coups such as the one attempted by Zelaya.

The democracy can thus be strengthened by Congress, today, without changing the fundamental form of government. It will still be a Republic, the President will still be separate from Congress and elected directly by the people for a single four-year term. The only change is that his cabinet must be approved by Congress, and that Congress can fire them if they disapprove of their work. Also, the decisions must be taken by the Cabinet in a quorum, although formally it is the President as the head of the executive who will sign off on them.

Democracy in Latin America is under attack. With this little graph I hope that I have illustrated what can done to protect and improve democracy on the continent instead.

An earlier post on a similar topic: http://blog.erlingsson.com/?p=3319

Why Parliamentary Republics beat Presidential Republics

Parliamentary republics have separated the roles of head of state  and head of government. They are thus quite  similar to parliamentary monarchies, but the head of state is an elected president rather than a king or queen. Parliamentary constitutions are based on the premise that all power emanates from the people, and that the power is vested in their elected representatives in congress between the elections – just like the shareholders of a corporation elect a board of directors to manage business between the annual meetings.

Parliamentary constitutions are based on the principle of the sovereignty of the people, whereas presidential republics are based on the principle of separation of powers.

In practice this means that the government is dependent on the support of the congress, since the congress has the power to dismiss the head of government (and thus all of his cabinet). While in a presidential republic it would take a recall vote to depose the president (and thus all of his cabinet) for political reasons, in a parliamentary republic the cabinet can be dismissed by a vote in the parliament on short notice. This gives more political control over the government, and gives a voice to a larger segment of society.

The parliamentarians are elected in such a way as to represent the full range of diversity in the country, and proportional to the actual situation in the electorate. This is important; there cannot be one-person districts, because if so, a large percentage of the constituents may end up lacking representation. How large? Well over 50%, perhaps up to 67% or so, thanks to gerrymandering. If one third rules over two thirds, is that democracy? In a parliamentarian system with proportional representation, all parties larger than some 5% of the electorate can be represented in the parliament in proportion to their actual support.

A president only needs 50.01% of the electorate to win, and less if the vote counting is not proportional (as in the USA). Furthermore, presidential republics tend to be two party systems, just one up from one party systems. Thus, to buy the presidency it is enough to buy two candidates. It is self-evident that it is much harder to buy the government in a parliamentarian system, since you would have to buy the support of a majority of the congressmen.

Empirical Evidence

In a report from the World Bank titled “Accountability and Corruption – Political Institutions Matter” (World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 2708, 2001) the authors conclude that:

“The main results show that political institutions seem to be extremely important in determining the prevalence of corruption. In short, democracies, parliamentary systems, political stability, and freedom of press are all associated with lower corruption. Additionally, we show that common results of the previous empirical literature on the determinants of corruption – related to openness and legal tradition – do not hold once political variables are taken into account.” (my emphasis)

Also the political stability is higher in parliamentary systems. In How Democratic is the American Constitution? (2001), Robert A. Dahl writes that since 1950, only 22 nations have managed to remain stable with no coups or other discontinuity of the constitutional order. Of those 22, only 2 are presidential republics (USA and Costa Rica). The remaining 20 are parliamentary, 11 republics and 9 monarchies.

As for rule of law, see a previous post on Rule of Law Index 2010.

There is thus empirical evidence that parliamentary democracies:

  • offer better protection against coup d’états
  • foster less corruption
  • foster more rule of law

Another reporter murdered in Honduras – my hypothesis seems to hold

Update 2010-03-13: La Prensa reports today that the minister of security, Óscar Álvarez, is taking this case very seriously, in view of it being the second murder of a journalist in two weeks, and the fifth in a year. A special task force has been formed with detectives from both Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. The newspaper also describes how the situation for the press in Honduras has gradually deteriorated from the first murder of a journalist in 2003, after the return to democracy in 1981. From 2006 they consider that the situation has got gradually worse, with open hostility shown towards the press from some sectors of society.

If anything good can come of this, it may be that media starts focusing like a laser beam on crime and corruption, so that the people can get on the same page and start fighting, as one man, those who destroy the country. Yesterday I heard a Greek say about his country’s deep economical troubles that poverty stems from corruption, not the other way around. In both countries the medicine is thus the same: The people needs to stand shoulder to shoulder against any and all corruption. As long as there is corruption, crime cannot be defeated, and the murders will continue. It has come to the point in Honduras that it is a matter of life or death to stop corruption; the country has the highest murder rate in the world. This HAS to stop, and it has to stop NOW.

Original text 2010-03-12: A couple of weeks ago a reporter in Tegucigalpa, Joseph Ochoa, was shot dead in what presumably was an attack on his passenger, the more well-known reporter Karol Cabrera. Yesterday the reporter David Meza was shot dead in La Ceiba.

The latter murder seems to have as a common denominator with some others not politics, but drugs. This hypothesis I presented on my blog February 27, and what has happened since unfortunately just seems to confirm it.

Journalists in San Pedro Sula are now also suspecting that drug smugglers are responsible, since Meza had reported on narco-trafficking. These journalists, and others working with media, will be taking to the streets Monday in San Pedro Sula to ask the government to investigate the drug traffickers in Honduras with utmost urgency.

The drug czar of Honduras was murdered in November. One may suspect that the cartels are eliminating people who are opposing them, while at the same time killing a lot of other people to hide the pattern. What is more, by violating the human rights of those sympathizing with the opposition, and claiming to represent the president, they may even be fueling the political crisis according to the old principle of Divide and Conquer, although in a new variant.

The decision by the journalists to take to the streets is a hopeful sign, in that they are trying to unite all political sides against a perceived common enemy: The criminals, the multi-national drug cartels.

Reportrar Utan Gränser förolämpar mördad journalist i Honduras

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

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

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

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

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

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

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