From here in Mexico City, the Americas Program straddles the distance between Honduras and Washington, DC. That distance has grown over the past few days.
This week the Obama administration scuttled the Oct. 29 peace agreement that it brokered by revealing a new strategy to keep the coup in power through the spurious elections scheduled for Nov. 29. All signs point to a deal between the State Department and Senate Republicans to sell Honduran democracy down the river in order to obtain confirmations for State Department nominations in the Senate.
With just days until the elections and a now full-blown political crisis in the country, the Honduran Congress has indicated it will not reinstate the president or even vote on the matter in the near future, the National Front against the Coup has declared a boycott of the elections, President Zelaya declared the accord failed and rejected the electoral process as fraud, and the anti-coup independent presidential candidate has pulled out of the race.
You’ll see in these articles a reflection of the ups and downs that have characterized covering the coup and working to break it over the last two weeks. We have been watching and analyzing events as they happen (see my blog and articles by CIP president and former ambassador Robert White) and translating and presenting key declarations and reports.
We’ve been in on-going communication with our reporters on the ground (this issue contains the translation of Dick Emanuelsson’s latest on the violence of the de facto regime) and with members of grassroots organizations (see report on women’s human rights by Feminists in Resistance, below). Most of the time, amazingly, they are the ones who tell us not to get discouraged, as we see Washington policy go from bad to worse. They set a fine example of perseverance, hope, and commitment.
We’ve also been in contact with human rights and Latin America groups in Washington who have been rallying forces to turn back the efforts to maintain the coup in power. The citizen action campaigns, letters to and from Congress, and media actions have made themselves heard but it now appears that the die was cast from the beginning, and that the U.S. government knew that the deal created an out for reinstatement of the president.
OAS General Secretary Jose Insulza has announced that the organization will not send observers to the elections and many countries in Latin America will refuse to recognize the results. Members of Congress have expressed outrage at the duplicitous bungling of the agreement.
This has been a bitter disappointment but the battle is not over.
WHAT’S NEW ON AMERICAS PROGRAM BLOGS:
U.S. State Department Sells Out Honduran Democracy for Senate Confirmations
Communiqué from President Manuel Zelaya on Failure of Accord (translation)
Report on Women’s Human Rights Violations Shows Systematic Attack on Women Under Honduran Coup
Zelaya Asks Clinton for Clarification: Complete Translation
Congress Members Urge Obama to "Break the Silence" on Honduran Rights Violations
New from the Americas Program
It is now possible to reconstruct with a fair degree of accuracy how the Obama administration turned an imminent diplomatic triumph into a negotiated defeat.
On October 20, Senator Jim DeMint stated that he had met with Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon and that he was pleased that the Department of State finally understood "that it is essential that these elections [in Honduras] go forward and are recognized." As a result, DeMint said he was "anxious" to release the holds he had placed on the nominations of Arturo Valenzuela to be assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs and Thomas Shannon, the present assistant secretary, to be ambassador to Brazil.
As Shannon well knew, this impending change of policy would give away the principal leverage the United States could bring to bear to persuade the de facto government to permit the prompt return of President Zelaya.
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On Oct. 29, Honduras’ de facto regime finally agreed to allow Congress to vote to "restore full executive power prior to June 28." Conceding to international and national pressure, the Honduran coup appears to be facing its final days.
If the coup finally falls and Zelaya is restored to power, Honduran society and the international community will score an historic victory. It must be remembered though, that the victory is a defensive one—it marks the successful rollback of anti-democratic forces in a small but determined nation.
Those forces will not desist—in Honduras or in other places where democracy is vulnerable and nefarious interests are strong. Until democracy in the fullest sense—participatory and dedicated to nonviolence—gains ground, the world could be stuck in long battles to defend against attacks instead of moving forward toward societies where this kind of offensive against the rule of law can no longer occur…
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It appears that the crisis in Honduras is coming to a satisfactory conclusion. It is possible that things could still go badly wrong, but Assistant Secretary of State Tom Shannon has made it clear that unless Mel Zelaya sits in the presidential chair prior to the November 29 election neither the United States nor any other government of the hemisphere will recognize the election results. While we can expect some face-saving maneuvers and delays, it is reasonable to conclude that the coup is over and that is has failed.
But I am worried by one statement that appeared in the Honduran press today attributed to Shannon in which he seems to say that regardless of how the congressional vote comes out the U.S. government would accept the result. If this is an accurate quote it could be asking for trouble…
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In this Special Report, Tegucigalpa reporter Dick Emanuelsson and photographer Mirian Huezo Emanuelsson chronicle the terror and repression unleashed by the coup to maintain power. Despite promises to lift the executive decree that imposed a state of siege, the violence continues. These are firsthand accounts from the victims of the strategy of force being employed by the coup. All were wounded by security forces since the return of Zelaya on Sept. 21. This strategy has only intensified, despite talk of an official dialogue, largely frustrated during the recent visit of the Organization of American States (OAS). Even as the OAS ministers and other dignitaries were meeting on Oct. 7 in Tegucigalpa to promote dialogue, the coup and armed forces again attacked peaceful demonstrators in the streets.
Mauricio Maldonado, 18, was shot by the police when he went out to the corner store to buy a bag of churros. It was 8:30 at night on Sept. 24 and the curfew had been imposed since 5 in the afternoon the previous day in the combative neighborhood of La Cañada, in the capital city of Tegucigalpa. The pain is intense and tears stream down the sun-browned face.
"A white Mazda drove into the neighborhood and stopped for a little while in the dark. One of the men said ‘shut off the lights,’ they backed up a little and started to shoot. I fell on the ground, they got me in the stomach," Maldonado tells us.
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On Nov. 2 representatives from Honduran women’s organizations presented a grim panorama of violations of women’s human rights by the de facto regime led by Roberto Micheletti before the Inter-American Human Rights Commission. Their testimonies provided documented proof that the coup regime and its security forces have been responsible for rapes, beatings, murders, and harassment of Honduran women in the resistance movement, and the dictatorial elimination of gains in gender equity. These crimes against women have been committed in the context of impunity for the perpetrators.
The rapid deterioration in respect for women’s rights in Honduras can only be halted by an immediate return to a constitutional government. An agreement brokered by the State Department has so far failed to resolve the crisis and end the coup. This can be attributed in large part to a message from State Department official Tom Shannon that cast doubt on the U.S. commitment to reinstate the elected president, emboldening the coup regime in its efforts to preside over elections currently scheduled for Nov. 29.
In a famous speech to the Beijing conference in 1995, Hillary Clinton proclaimed that "women’s rights are human rights" and that "women will never gain full dignity until their human rights are respected." As secretary of state, she has publicly affirmed that women’s rights will be a pillar of U.S. foreign policy. However, Clinton has yet to acknowledge the growing evidence of the violation of women’s rights under the Honduran coup regime. It is time to take a firm stand to restore respect for the human rights of all Hondurans and end the coup.
Read the summary of the ICHR testimony…
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