October 4, 2010

Lobo calls for Constituyente discussions

Honduran President Porfirio (Pepe) Lobo

Note: all links in this article are in Spanish unless otherwise indicated.

The Guaymuras/Tegucigalpa/San Jose Accord [summary in English] was negotiated back in October by representatives of former president Manual (Mel) Zelaya and president (at the time) Roberto Micheletti under the auspices of the US and OAS (Organization of American States). The US and OAS also both agreed to respect "the Honduran solution" to last year's constitutional crisis. Neither Zelaya, the US, or the OAS [both articles in English] have respected the terms of the Accord. Instead, they continue to this day to try to impose additional conditions on Honduras, including those such as amnesty which violate the constitution and laws of Honduras, as well as international laws.

One of the terms of the Guaymuras Accord was that all parties agreed to renounce any direct or indirect attempts to convoke a constitutional assembly. Mel Zelaya was willing to give that up when he thought that he would be reinstated as president. Zelaya was the one who insisted that the National Congress decide the issue of his return, and unfortunately for him, the congress decided with a huge majority [article in English] that he should not return.

Zelaya was also the one who insisted that amnesty (included in the original San José Accord) be removed from the final Accord because he wanted to take revenge on those who he has labeled golpistas, but then, through OAS pressure, was able to get amnesty for political crimes approved by the Honduran Congress when that was to his benefit, and continues to try to get amnesty for himself and his followers for crimes of financial corruption.

Early last week, Vice President Marie Antoinette Bográn fielded questions from reporters about new rumors of President Porfirio Lobo supporting a constituyente (constitutional assembly to write a new constitution). She rather irritatedly assured reporters that President Lobo's administration had developed and was implementing the 20-year "National Plan" and the plan includes no constituyente. Period. End of story. That news clip was shown over and over again on national television.

Later in the week, however, President Lobo announced that he would be holding meetings with all sectors to discuss a constituyente! The meetings are to be held separately with the two factions of the Resistance (the FNRP and the Liberales en Resistencia), political parties, civic organizations, unions, campesino groups, and churches to get their input and find out exactly what they want, because that is something that the Resistance has never been clear about. Lobo states that he is not promoting a constitutional assembly, merely listening to what the people want. Some say that this is another imposition of the OAS, yet another demand in order for Honduras to be readmitted to the organization.

Unfortunately, the meetings will be held in private and the media will not be allowed. With the vast amount of misinformation put out by Resistance followers and bias in the media (some real and some perceived), I think that the public might have benefited greatly from broadcasting these meetings on the national government television channel.

This new attempt at reconciliation, or possible compromise, or even — though extremely unlikely — possible agreement was promptly sabotaged by former president Mel Zelaya. Zelaya assured the Resistance that this was a fraud, a trick, a trap, and he ordered his followers not to attend the meetings. President Lobo accused Zelaya of believing that he is still president. He also suggested that Zelaya should devote himself to his work as a member of Parlacen, a position that Zelaya himself solicited and was imposed by the OAS, though Zelaya didn't even attend the first meeting.

Zelaya has shown time and time again that his personal benefit is the only thing that he cares about. He wants to be sure that he doesn't have to answer for his financial crimes and he wants the OAS to be ensure that doesn't happen.

As mentioned above, Mel readily agreed to forgo the possibility of a constituyente — the prime issue of the Resistance — because he thought that signing the agreement would get him back in power.

The Resistance had two candidates in the November 2009 elections. Zelaya not only did not use his political influence to endorse either candidate (who were both supporting him!), he pressured them to resign from the race so he could claim that the elections were fraudulent. One candidate did resign, but the other still did not get Zelaya's endorsement. Instead Zelaya gave almost daily press conferences insisting that the Resistance should boycott the elections, that the elections were a trick, a trap, a fraud, a slap in the face.

Cesar Ham, the pro-constituyente candidate received less than 2% of the vote, the smallest of any of the five candidates. But rather than proving to the world that the pro-constituyente/resistance population was in the extreme minority, Zelaya claimed that the results were not legitimate since the opposition 'boycotted' the election and alternatively when it suited him, that they were repressed and prevented from voting. To encourage his followers to vote would have shown how little following he really had.

After Lobo was elected, he called for a meeting with the Resistance to hear their demands. They refused to meet with him, following Zelaya's lead again in claiming Lobo was not the legitimate president. The only times that Zelaya has recognized Lobo as the president have been when it has been of benefit to him personally, such as when Lobo escorted him out of the Brazilian Embassy, preventing his arrest.

Now, the Resistance has another chance to make their views known in these meetings with President Lobo. And again, Zelaya throws his followers under the bus and has taken the same action: calling it a trick, a trap, a fraud and insisting that they boycott the meetings. The Liberales en Resistencia met with Lobo today, but the FRNP did not. The Liberals in Resistance demand that all criminal charges against Zelaya be dropped.

If the leaders of the Resistance don't want to talk about the issues or the constituyente, what do they want? Do they want a revolution? Do they want an invasion to force themselves into power? Do they want to continue protesting in the streets and smashing windows? I really don't know.

If only all parties could try to think of the betterment of Honduras and forget the anger, hate, and name calling long enough to discuss the important issues. I know — yes, I'll boldly state that I know! — that the important issues for the Honduran people are the same on both sides of the political fence: Crime, corruption, education, health care, jobs have been at the top of every public poll taken in Honduras for as long as I have lived here. Laws and 98% of the constitution can be changed without dissolving the current form of government.

If both sides could focus and agree on the top issues, they could pressure the government to take action for changes for the better in Honduras — and no doubt they would have the full support and pressure of the international community. Instead, Zelaya and the Resistance leaders seem intent on keeping the country divided and in turmoil. They are wasting this grand opportunity that may never come again.

Comments (paraphrased from Spanish) from notable Hondurans:

Former president Ricardo Maduro: It's incredible that the group who insists on a constituyente refuses to come to a meeting to discuss it. The principal problem is not that we need a new constitution but the lack of compliance with the one we have.

President of the Congress Juan Orlando Hernández: Honduras needs profound changes but he doesn't believe that Hondurans will support the radical groups who polarize the people.

PINU Congressman Tobilio Aguilera: Work, not a constituyente, is what will help Honduras.

Related articles on Honduran blogs:

Pensieve: La Trampa de Lobo (‘Wolf”s Trap) [in English]

The Honduras Journal: El presidente Porfirio Lobo comete delito con solo insinuar una asamblea nacional constituyente

MelWars: Inocua casta de políticos vende patrias
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