February 25, 2010

The Honduran 'coup', from someone who lived it

The following article was drafted back in early July 2009 and added to at other times when I thought I might post it. I guess that other things came up that seemed more urgent at the time and I never published it. The article has grown and grown, so now I will post it in parts. Maybe it will be of interest to those of you who were fooled by the bravado.

Mel Zelaya, June 25,2009
Mel Zelaya on June 25, 2009

Many people think that a "coup" occurred in Honduras on June 28, 2009, out of the blue. The truth is that Mel Zelaya's actions and disregard for the constitution and the laws made some sort action against him inevitable. The separation of powers of a democratic government is designed to prevent megalomaniacs like Zelaya from taking control of a country. The June 28 action, which was to prevent an auto-coup by Zelaya, may have been sloppy by world standards, but it worked. Democracy was preserved in Honduras, despite the best efforts by the US, OAS, and Hugo Chávez to intervene.

Months of coup rumors

For more than year prior to June 28, 2009, in Honduras, there had been so many rumors of coups d'etat (or golpes de estado as they are called in Spanish) that I couldn't even count them. Most of the time, the reports were vague, saying things like "There are forces trying to destabilize the democratic institutions of the country."

Honduran General Romeo Vasquez
Those claims would come from Congress, from the President, from political analysts, from former presidents, from everywhere, it seemed, inluding from Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. There were suggestions that an auto-coup was planned, in which Zelaya, with the assistance of the military, would take control and dissolve the other branches of government.

Now, after learning more about recent history in Venezuela and Ecuador, I now have no doubt that is exactly what Zelaya had planned with his constitutional assembly. One way or another, his goal was to stay in power, either as president or president of the constitutional assembly which would run the country. Zelaya's long blatant history of violating the constitution and the laws of Honduras began within weeks of his assuming office. I will write more about that in another article.

My feelings about these reports would fluctuate between "someone is just trying to make someone else look bad" to feeling, frankly, really a little afraid about the whole situation. I am a born and raised US American. What did I know about coups?!

Chávez, ALBA, and the US

When the subject of Honduras joining Chávez's ALBA alliance came up last year, that worried me. It also worried me that the treaty itself was not even made available to the media or even the congress until a week after it was signed by Zelaya. No one knew what Zelaya had agreed to.

Though everyone said that the congress would never ratify the treaty, in the surprise of all surprises, they did, accompanied by reports of secret meetings and L.1 million payments (US $53,000) to some congressmen.

ALBA, Daniel Ortega, Hugo Chávez, Manuel ZelayaDaniel Ortega, Hugo Chávez, Manuel Zelaya, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya 

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, along with other ALBA presidents came to Honduras for the ALBA signing ceremony (please read the comments, too). Business leaders boycotted the ceremony and many of the citizen attendees complained to the media later that they hadn't received their promised payment for attendance.

In his usual manner, Chávez insulted the US, the highly respected Catholic Cardinal Rodriguez of Honduras, and most of all, the Honduran people in his speech. Chávez said that anyone who was against ALBA was ignorant or a vende patria (someone who would sell out their homeland). I believe he made some comment about Hondurans being US bootlickers or something similar. Big mistake in a country where 80% of the population is Catholic and many people value pride and dignity over eating!

Around that same time (August 2008), US Ambassador Charles Ford returned to the US and new Ambassador Hugo Llorens was sent to Honduras. Zelaya refused to accept Llorens' diplomatic credentials and made some rude public comments about the United States, saying he didn't need the Imperalist's permission to sign a treaty, among other things. This was so embarrassing to the Honduran people who had always thought of the US as a friend and ally, not to mention Honduras' largest trading partner and home to many Honduran immigrants. Zelaya accepted the credentials a week or two later and tried to claim that his previous action was just normal and no big deal.

Being a born worrier, I began wondering if Zelaya would also follow Chávez's lead and begin kicking US Americans out of the country, too. I had written several not-so-flattering articles about Zelaya's crazy actions in the past. I began to receive warnings from Hondurans that I should be careful. But being a fearless blogger, I wasn't going to let that stop me from writing about what was happening.

Please visit again for the next part of the story.

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