January 21, 2010

Pepe's deal with Zelaya Part 1

Porfirio Lobo with Leonel FernándezHonduran President elect Porfirio Lobo
with Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández

Oh, where do I start without writing a book?

Rather than me giving the details of yesterday's Pepe Lobo/Mel Zelaya/Dominican Republic deal, let me direct you to these articles for the background:

Zelaya Will Travel to Dominican Republic as "Distinguished Guest"

Why the Dominican Republic?

First of all: Dominican Republic? Why? The Dominican Republic, or at least its president Leonel Fernández, has been one of the major and rudest critics of Honduras (next to Chávez and Arias), not to mention the DR's strong connection with Chávez. The DR doesn't have exactly a stellar reputation in the field of diplomacy, and in fact has a reputation for corruption, much like Honduras. Not only that, but Fernández has been working on his constitution to increase his powers as well. The DR does not recognize Honduras and up until yesterday, did not recognize our election or our president elect, Pepe Lobo!

For those of you who keep up with these things, please make a note of the amount of foreign aid that the US and UN have given the Dominican Republic in the past couple of years and then please compare that with what they get this year or next year. I have no doubt you will see a huge increase. Maybe it will be funneled in some indirect way to try to cover it up and maybe there will be assistance from Chávez as well. But, there will be payment. Watch and see.

The US pretends to be the good guy

The US once again is hiding behind yet another country or organization while they intervene to force their will on Honduras. It's as simple as that. President Obama and the US State Department are every bit as much or more interventionists in the internal sovereign matters of Honduras as any previous administration. He just tries to hide it while the State Department claims that they are only following the will the "international community". Bull. Sorry if this is a surprise to anyone, but it's true.

Does anyone really believe that Leo Fernández just felt so confident of his abilities and compelled to get personally involved in this disastrous situation after Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias failed, the OAS (representing the force of the entire hemisphere) failed, and the US (representing a huge chunk of Honduras' economy) failed? Come on! Get real. The US must really think that we are gullible to swallow that.

The last thing that President Obama needs right now is another loss, but Honduras is a no win situation for the Obama administration. They can:

a) show that they are still a power who can force its misguided will on small countries ignoring the harm done in the process (and angering some of the world),
b) stick to Obama's non-interventionist claims (angering many of the world's presidents), or,
c) admit that they made a mistake in calling this a coup to start with.

No wins there.

The US solution appears to be:

a) force their will on a poor, small country,
b) pretend that they are not intervening, and,
c) use amnesty and exile to prevent the truth from coming out.

Again I have to point out that Barack Obama's pledge to treat Latin American countries "as equal partners ....[and with] mutual respect" sounded good but was a false and empty promise. I've been continually shocked at the rude, insulting, and demeaning public comments issued by the US State Department as well as the blatant interference in internal matters of Honduras.

What happened to the last Accord?

Honduras already has an Accord. It's called the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord. On October 30, both sides, both Manuel Zelaya and Micheletti's government, agreed to the document after huge pressure (and many say threats) from the US and OAS. The announcement was greeted with much fanfare from Hillary Clinton, José Insulza, and Oscar Arias, who just couldn't congratulate each other enough for their excellent diplomacy skills.

The original dialogues were forced upon Honduras by the US and OAS, who both specifically and publicly agreed to abide by the "Honduran solution." The US pushed for amnesty, but at Zelaya's insistence, provisions for amnesty were not included in the agreement. Pepe Lobo and all of the other presidential candidates also agreed to respect the Accord.

By November 1, Zelaya declared it dead, a trick, a trap, a fraud, and refused to cooperate in any way. He had simply made a bad deal to accept the flip of a coin (a congressional vote, which was his own idea) and tried to renege on it when it came up tails. Interestingly, the US blamed that on Micheletti as well. The Accord also made some requests of the "international community", which were not respected by the international community.

As a part of the Accord, a Verification Commission was named with two heavy-hitting OAS representatives, who both seemed to have no understanding of the document because they publicly stated or implied that their only goal was to force Roberto Micheletti to resign, something that was not agreed to or even addressed in the Accord. This clearly showed the OAS's extreme bias and willingness to ignore what the actual document said.

The actual duties of the Verification Commission, as defined in the Accord, are to ensure compliance and resolve any disputes regarding the implementation of the Accord. Zelaya says the terms of the Accord were not followed, as he claims that the only purpose of the Accord was to restore him to office. José Insulza of the OAS and Ricardo Lagos of the Verification Commission have publicly stated that they agree with Zelaya. Anyone who has read the document knows that is false and you don't have to be an attorney to understand that. Micheletti says that Zelaya did not comply with the agreement. The US and OAS say that Micheletti did not comply with the agreement.

So we have all these claims of non-compliance, but where is the Verification Commission? Why aren't they doing their job? Why are they not complying with the Accord? The truth is that they spent less than a day in Honduras on November 2 to give a press conference, quickly left the country before the first important deadline, and haven't been seen since. The OAS did not like the Honduras solution, so they ignore it.

The US publicly gave lip-service to the Accord, but behind the scenes, continued to pressure and threaten to get Micheletti to resign and to provide amnesty for all. They even pressured Honduras' presidential candidates. Only one of them had the guts to complain about it publicly. I'm going to guess that Hilda Solís (the US representative to the Verification Commission) will never set foot in Honduras again. Her failure to fulfill her responsibilities would reflect on Obama and the State Department.

Guillermo Alberto ChochezThe international media is not going to remind the short-memoried public that the OAS, US, and international community also had responsibilities under the agreement, so they can just pretend that it is all Micheletti's fault, which they do on a daily basis. Most notable among the few countries who have lived up to their promises are Panamá, Taiwan, and Colombia.

OAS Secretary General José Miguel InsulzaJosé Insulza, Secretary-General of the OAS, personally promised that if Honduras went through the hellish weeks of dialogue and reached an agreement with Zelaya, that the OAS would respect the Honduran solution, would support the elections, would push for recognition of Honduras, etc., etc. He lied. Again, it is as simple as that. He is an unethical person, a lapdog of Chávez, whose word means nothing. He tried to trick Honduras but it didn't work.

Behind the scenes entire teams from the OAS and US State Department were pressuring for the 'right' solution, not the Honduran solution. When Insulza's top man, John Biehl, began giving press conferences saying that a third-party president might be the solution (Micheletti's suggestion) and rebuking those (like Zelaya) who called for violence, he was quickly removed from Honduras and from the limelight of press conferences. To my knowledge, he has not been back even though he was the person with the most knowledgeable about the Accord. Zelaya asked for his removal because Biehl wasn't biased enough and Insulza complied.

More petty sanctions from the US

Here we are a week before the inauguration and the Obama Administration is still punishing Hondurans. They suspended the visas of five members of Micheletti's cabinet and Channel 11 news reported last night that the US has another 100 visa revocations in process. How incredibly petty and backstabbing and two-faced. They claim their reason is that because, somehow, these particular people have not complied with the Tegucigalpa Accord. Have they revoked any of the visas of the criminals who have been accused of stealing and misusing hundreds of millions of government funds? Have they revoked Zelaya's visa for refusing to comply with the Accord? My guess is no, but we'll never know since that is 'secret' information.

Backfired: The Minister of Culture, Arts,and Sports, Mirna Castro, stated that if her visa was revoked for following the constitution, then she is proud. Many feel that way. One person said that he would frame the revocation notification letter from the US, hang it on the wall, and someday proudly tell his grandchildren about 'earning' that recognition by defending the constitution and sovereignty of the Republic of Honduras. It is people like this who make Hondurans proud.

And now we have a new Accord

So, the point of all this is show that Honduras has a legal, formal, official, recognized Accord. While many Honduran were not happy with all the terms, Honduras has complied with everything that does not depend upon Zelaya's cooperation and despite Zelaya's attempt to sabotage every step. Everyone else ignores their own responsibilities under the Accord, ignores Zelaya's violations of the agreement, cherry picks the parts that they want to enforce upon Honduras, adds new requirements, or just plain ignores that the agreement exists, as suits their convenience, sometimes doing all five! [related article: Enough is enough]

After agonizing months to achieve that agreement, now president-elect Pepe Lobo has decided unilaterally − to much shock and dismay among Honduran citizens and the voters who elected him − to change the terms.


Okay, it looks like this is going to be a book, so I'll continue in the next article.

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