Tag Archives: UCD

White-Shirts Demand Rule of Law

The organization Union Civica Democratica, or UCD, who went out en masse to demand that Zelaya stopped the attempts of overthrowing the Constitution last year, has today taken to the streets again to demand the same thing from the new president, “Pepe” Lobo.

Demonstration by the National Congress in Honduras, 2010-10-20.
Demonstration by the National Congress in Honduras, 2010-10-20.

One sign reads “Why do our leaders have to ask things that they should already know?”, referring to Lobo’s rhetorical statement “How can it be wrong to ask the people?”. Of course, the asking is just a trick to go around the democratic institutions, which is why it is explicitly ruled out as a way to change the constitution (in article 373).

Another sign reads, “Who does a constitutional assembly benefit?” and it has a check mark for “Politicians” but not for “the People”.

A sign in the back reads “Education YES, Re-election NO” (the president cannot be re-elected, and changing that is widely seen as the only credible reason for the call for a constituyente).

One sign near the center reads, “We demand RESPECT for the Constitution and the Rule of Law”. This is the core of the message of the white-shirts.

Without rule of law, no laws, no rights, no freedoms, no democracy matter. And that is why the Constitution must never be changed in an unconstitutional manner, no matter how justified it may be to change it. It is simply not worth the price. Besides, all important changes can be made perfectly legally already today.

While on this matter, a bird sang that people in the U.S. State Department believe that Honduras is at the brink of an insurgency. Since I have known the country, for about 15 years, I have noticed a striking similarity to Finland at the previous turn of century. They had very similar social tensions, they also had a small ethnically distinct upper class, and they had the reds and the whites just like Honduras today.

The Swedes in Finland correspond to the Palestinians in Honduras, and the Gringos in Honduras correspond roughly to the Russians in the Grand Duchy of Finland. On one occasion the red came to the house where my grandfather was alone at home, a young boy, totally defenseless except for a machine gun that he was prepared to use against them, should they break through the door. Fortunately for him the workers in the nearby factory came to save him before he had to pull the trigger. When I was young that machine gun still hang on the wall.

The red insurgency in Finland was beaten down, every time, until the revolution succeeded in Russia and Finland became independent. But that’s not the main point, the point is why did it exist in the first place? My guess is that the ethnic stratification of the country created a glass ceiling for the domestic Finns, just as there is a glass ceiling for the “Indios” in Honduras. It’s unintentional, since the Swedes kept to themselves, the Palestinians keep to themselves, and similarly the Jews in Europe kept to themselves. When an ethnic group comes out on top of the others but keeps to itself, perhaps it is inevitable that resentment is created, that can be exploited to foment racist hatred by cynical persons striving for power (Stalin in Russia, Hitler in Germany, Zelaya in Honduras). This is just an attempt at an explanation, it is by now means an excuse. There is no justification for racism.

It is a fact, though, that Honduras needs democratic reforms, though this has nothing to do with race. However, the reforms must be done with respect for the Constitution. That work should start NOW, not mañana, and the goal must be to make the country rich – for everyone.

The World has Sown a Dragon-Seed of Military Coup

The irresponsible actions of the international community has set back the agenda of Human Rights by decades, and significantly increased the risk for military coups with all the classical connotations: murders of opponents, disappearances, and violations of people’s fundamental rights, to destroy an opposition that is perceived as a threat to the liberal democracy. The place where this was done was Honduras, and the time was the last 12 months.

The organization Union Civica Democratica, UCD, in Honduras is now getting active again after a time of relative obscurity. UCD was created just about a year ago, to protest the intent of self-coup that Honduran president Manuel Zelaya was carrying out. They organized mass demonstrations with participants wearing white shirts. They are thus the essence of the White side in Honduras’s recent politics, with the rebels supporting the efforts to overthrow the constitution being the Red side.

Why do the Whites get active again now? There is one obvious reason: to help build a better society, and one less obvious: to keep defending the constitution against a threat that – remarkably – is still there.

For those of you who mostly follow leftist media this may require a bit of explanation, since the story you have been fed is that there was a “military coup” in Honduras June 28, 2009, at which Roberto Micheletti was made president; and that this was followed by illegitimate elections on November 29, at which Porfirio Lobo was elected president to take office on January 27 this year. This is the story promoted by a group of communist-aligned countries in Latin America, but it has gained international traction since no country has challenged it officially. Except Honduras, of course.

These friends of Castro, Chavez, Correa, Ortega, and Morales – all having gained or perpetuated their rule through unconstitutional means – are further alleging that the Lobo administration is not legitimate, since he was elected during a “military coup regime”, and therefore the Organization for American States (OAS, or OEA in Spanish) is refusing to let Honduras back in. They claim that the alleged military regime perpetrated widespread violations of Human Rights, allegations that are very much over the top, apparently counting on that the world media will think “no smoke without fire” – and they have. Even though they have only swallowed a minute fraction of the allegations, it has been enough to give their readers the image of a brutal military dictatorship. Nothing could be further from the truth, however.

The crimes of then-president Zelaya were dealt with extensively in court, and he was convicted repeatedly before a warrant for his arrest was issued. His violations of the constitution were grave enough to constitute high treason. The Supreme Court had every right to order the military to arrest him, as they did. Roberto Micheletti was next in the succession line to replace him, as he did.

On June 28, 2009, Honduras averted a coup that was being carried out by Zelaya, and saved its constitution by replacing him with Micheletti. The continued democratic Republic of Honduras did not change – it was the world around it that changed by condemning Honduras in the United Nations, and cutting off diplomatic relations to it. This gave encouragement to the communist rebels, who until Zelaya started using their rhetoric in his demagoguery in 2008, and adopted their agenda of overthrowing the constitution, had been an insignificant fringe group. They also got multi-million dollar funding from abroad, and many were pressured to get active in the rebel movement (for instance, Cuba used the threat of withholding education scholarships to pressure Honduran students on the island to become organizers of anti-government rebel activities).

While the rebels carried out widespread sabotage, causing multi-million dollar damage and even murdering people with bus bombs, the government stuck to the principles of human rights. Let it be said that Honduras has a less then perfect record, pretty abysmal actually, when it comes to the performance of the police and the justice system. Of course there were bad things done – you cannot change a poorly operating system overnight! These errors were reported oversees as evidence of repression, while in reality the interim government continued the work of trying to improve the standards of the police (and military, since they in Honduras are used to help the police, as stipulated in the constitution).

As far as I can judge, the Micheletti administration did their best to respect Human Rights and the norms of democracy.

They did this against a rather strong undercurrent in Honduras that believes that this method does not work; that the only thing that works is the methods of the early 1980’s: disappearances, terror, eliminations, dismantling of the rebel side by slowly and gradually picking off people in a seemingly random fashion until nobody is left who dares to pick up the stick.

Now think about it. When a constitutional regime is accused of being a military coup-facade, then what message does it send? When the international community (including the shameless Human Rights-organizations, with only one exception) accuse the government who tries to fight this culture of perpetrating it, then what message does it send?

What message does it send to be ungrateful to efforts to safeguard human rights? It sends the message that there is no point in trying to play by the rules of democracy and human rights.

Those who adhere to the old-school ideas of the hard-line approach have now got a much better argument. They can say, “we tried to follow their soft method, and look what it accomplished? Nothing!”

But I am getting ahead of myself now. I first have to update you on the situation in Honduras. President Lobo is so eager to get the recognition from the “international community”, which really means the OAS, which in turn means that he needs the support of a handful of communist-affiliated countries in Latin America, that he is prepared to sell out his country’s sovereignty for a plate of lentil soup. And not just that, pressure is being put on the democratic institutions of Honduras to violate their constitutional duties to accommodate the whims of those communist-affiliated countries.

Today the Supreme Court has been convened, says UCD, to try to reinstate justices who were dismissed for violating the laws, and to discuss dropping the legal cases against Zelaya. They try to do this today because some regular justices who are against these acts are unavailable, so their substitutes can rule differently. It is done under intense international pressure – including, I have heard, by the United States. Moreover, Lobo is talking about holding the same constituting constitutional assembly for which Zelaya was prosecuted.

In other words, the threat to democracy, the constitution, and the rule of law, appears to persist. Different actors have learned different lessons from the past year.

Chavez and his ALBA group of countries have drawn the conclusion that their communist strategy cannot be stopped.

The majority of Hondurans have drawn the conclusion that Chavez-style coups will not be tolerated in their country.

This, unfortunately, leads us right into the arms of a new confrontation. But this time, the right-wingers may have learned also a second lesson: the international community does not care if they follow the human rights rules or not; if they carry out a military coup or do a constitutional succession – the end result will be the same.

The danger of this precedent is thus that there will be a new attempt at overthrowing the form of government in Honduras, and that next time there will be no holding back of the violence in stopping that coup attempt. The risk is that the next time it will be a bloody military operation, as in a classic military coup, and that tens if not hundreds of activists will be murdered in it.

It would be a sad day indeed if that was to happen. That is why I implore the international community to stand up for the democratic republic of Honduras, to support its democratic institutions as they strive to uphold the law, and to not stand idly by when it is being attacked again. The time to engage in diplomacy is NOW. Don’t let it get out of hands a second time!

Honduras tar avsked av Micheletti

Vid en ceremoni idag på Demokratitorget, utanför presidentpalatset, tog ungefär fem tusen huvudstadsbor klädda i vitt avsked av interimspresidenten Roberto Micheletti. Vid slutet av talet tog denna av sig kavaj och slips och sa att “den 27 januari när jag lämnar presidentposten blir jag ytterligare en vitskjorta”, som de som stött hans kamp för att rädda grundlagen kom att kallas redan före Zelayas försök till statskupp, “och fortsätter att kämpa för vårt lands frihet.”

Han tackade de som hade hjälpt honom, från Honduras folk, via ministrarna, till fd presidenterna Rafael Callejas och Richardo Maduro (vilka faktiskt är från det andra partiet).

Utan ironi tackade han världen som hade lämnat Honduras ensamma i 7 månader, för detta hade “enat folket”, och som han sa, “här bör vi aldrig mer ha klasskillnader, och regeringen har en skyldighet att ta hand om landets problem, att se till att det stora flertalet har jobb, speciellt ungdomarna.”

Micheletti tackade också honduranerna för att “inte ha fallit på knä för någon, bara för Gud.” Mötet hade arrangerats av UCD, en paraplyorganisation för ett trettiotal olika organisationer från alla segment av samhället, som bildades för att väcka opinion mot Zelayas maktmissbruk.

Den största spanskspråkiga nyhetsbyrån i världen, EFE, beskriver händelsen med journalistisk integritet. Detsamma gäller de flesta tidningar och websidor jag sett hittills, då det endast gått några timmar. Det verkar som om de flesta journalister verkar ha fått klart för sig att Micheletti kom till makten med stöd av både lagen och folket, och att majoriteten av hans landsmän stödjer landets demokratiska institutioner.

I skarp kontrast har den franska nyhetsbyrån AFP en grovt vinklad propagandaartikel, i vilken antalet människor uppskattas till “hundratals” istället för “tusentals”, arrangören kallas för “pro-kuppmakare”, och den största delen av artikeln upptas av uttalanden av personer som stödde Zelayas försök till statskupp den 28 juni. Till och rena rena lögner från dessa personer framförs utan kommentar, till exempel påståendet att Micheletti skulla ha fått immunitet. AFP går långt förbi till och med Zelayas anhängare i honduransk press i sin vinkling.

Micheletti tackar “modiga kvinnor” för att ha räddat Honduras

Igår kväll dekorerade Honduras nationalkongress den avgående interimspresidenten Roberto Micheletti med “Grado de Gran Cruz Extraordinaria Placa de Oro” (ungefär ‘extraordinära stora korset med guldbård’), för hans insatser för landet under de cirka 7 månader han tjänstgjort som statschef. Presidenten kom åtföljd av regeringen och militärstaben, under ett stort säkerhetspådrag, vilket säkert betingats av uppgifter att Venezuelas president Hugo Chávez utlovat en miljon amerikanska dollar till den som mördar Micheletti. I början av perioden rörde han sig fritt utan speciella säkerhetsdetaljer.

I sitt tal tackade Micheletti militären, polisen, och Unión Civica Democrática (UCD). Att militären och polisen får speciella tack är inte svårt att förstå; de har många gånger fått utstå svåra provokationer från militanta demonstranter utan att tappa lugnet, till och med blivit beskjutna. Demonstranternas strategi har varit att provocera fram en reaktion från ordningsmakten för att sedan bara publicera bilderna på reaktionen, inte provokationen, men tack vare militärens disciplin lyckades det inte, något som observerats av ett flertal insatta från andra Latinamerikanska länder.

Om UCD (den ‘civila demokratiska unionen’) sa han att det är en grupp “modiga kvinnor” vars auktioner lyckades väcka fosterlandskärleken hos politikerna. UCD bildades då Zelaya var president för att med hjälp av bland annat massdemonstrationer få politikerna att reagera på Zelayas myndighetsmissbruk och övergrepp på grundlagen. Dessa massauktioner under några månader fick politikerna att förstå att de hade folkets stöd om de stod upp mot den då ännu populäre presidenten.

När kongressen i denna veckan beslöt att inte ta upp frågan om amnesti för Zelaya (eller andra) så var det också på uppmaning av UCD. Honduras har en förhållandevis liten andel kvinnor i politiken, men de som finns har ett förhållandevis stort inflytande, och genom UCD har kvinnor visat sig ha ett reellt inflytande som går långt utöver det formella. I ett relativt patriarkaliskt land som Honduras är det kanske inte så smickrande att påpeka det, men på svenska kan det sägas rent ut: Kärntruppen bakom Micheletti har till stor del bestått av kvinnor. Kunniga, välutbildade, erfarna och analytiskt begåvade kvinnor.

Micheletti rekommenderade också kongressen att utlysa en folkomröstning om frågan om politisk amnesti. Han sade sig ha full förståelse för de grupper, både UCD och “resistencian” som motsatt sig Zelayas avsättning, som inte vill ha amnesti därför att det medför straffrihet för de som bröt mot lagen. “Det är ett ämne som gör att många känner sig besvärade, för ingen vill mer i detta land att det finns immunitet för någon som helst form av korruption”, sa han.

Kongressen beslöt att bordlägga ärendet tills nästa kongress har tillträtt, alltså den som valdes den 27 november. Detta betraktades av åklagarämbetet som ett vist beslut.

Amnestin har begärts av den tillträdande presidenten. Hans parti kommer att ha majoritet i den nya kongressen. Michelettis råd är dock mycket vist, dels därför att genom en folkomröstning undviker kongressen att tvingas att välja mellan vad deras president vill att de gör, och vad deras väljare vill att de gör, dels därför att ingen efteråt kan anklaga någon för att bedriva politik om amnesti. Det blir folket självt som fattar beslutet i sann demokratisk anda.

Media: El Heraldo om utmärkelse, El Heraldo om folkomröstning.