January 31, 2010

Body language

I provide these photos for your discussion. (Click the photos to enlarge.) Enjoy! I'm looking forward to some clever explanations. ;-)

Photo #1
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in Trinidad and Tobago for the Summit of the Americas, April 2009. I would give anything to know what had been said just before this photo was snapped! Does anyone know?

Porfirio Lobo with Leonel FernándezPhoto #2:
Honduran President elect Porfirio Lobo with Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández upon the signing of the new "Accord" in the Dominican Republic.

Photo #3:
US State Department representatives meeting with Pepe Lobo the day before his inauguration

Photo #4:
US Ambassador Hugo Llorens first official meeting (as Ambassador) with then President Manuel Zelaya, August 2008

January 28, 2010

A little gratitude

Roberto and Xiomara MichelettiMission accomplished! Democracy saved in Honduras
Ex-president Roberto Micheletti and his wife, Siomara

Honduras Weekly published an article, Mel the Grateful, about Manuel Zelaya's inability to show appreciation to Porfirio Lobo for his efforts on Zelaya's behalf.

Zelaya did later rectify that to a very small extent, but insisting that his departure from Honduras disrupt Lobo's inauguration day celebrations shows that Mel still believes that the world should revolve around him. Lobo showed graciousness, and I would even say bravery, in accompanying Zelaya to the airport. Based on past experience with Zelaya and his followers, anything could have happened.

On the other hand, Lobo also has shown a lack of gratefulness. One very important point is that Pepe Lobo should remember that he has Roberto Micheletti to thank for his election. While dozens of presidents and international organizations around the world were trying to stop the Honduran elections (at the same time they were lamenting the need for "the return to institutional democracy in Honduras"), it was Roberto Micheletti and only Roberto Micheletti who ensured that the elections would occur.

As early as June 28, in his first speech, and in every one of the many speeches and press conferences after that, Micheletti told the Honduran people that free and democratic elections would occur on November 29, as scheduled, and that "no one, absolutely no one" would stop them.

We never had any reason to doubt him and neither did any of the presidential candidates, who could have easily cried to the world if they thought otherwise. Even the two Resistance candidates who called Micheletti a dictator knew it wasn't true. A dictator wouldn't have held elections and certainly wouldn't have allowed them to speak their minds.

President Roberto Micheletti never promoted the candidate of his own party (or any other party) and never denigrated any of the candidates in any way. He behaved with dignity and impartiality. In his farewell speech, he called upon the Honduran people to give greater understanding and support to Porfirio Lobo, and made an appeal to the international community to do the same.

Unfortunately, Pepe Lobo not only has not shown gratitude for that, but he's also smeared Micheletti by making vague comments about "both sides", throwing Zelaya (who did everything humanly possible to stop elections) and Micheletti into the same pot. Lobo publicly pushed for Micheletti's resignation. He announced that he didn't want Micheletti at the inauguration without showing the courtesy to discuss it with Micheletti first. He worried about the dignity of ex-president Zelaya, who demonstrated no dignity, but not that of President Micheletti.

There was much celebration and cheering yesterday, but during President Lobo's inauguration speech, when he thanked Costa Rica President Oscar Arias, the crowd booed. He thanked US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton − the crowd booed. He thanked US Ambassador Hugo Llorens − the crowd booed. He thanked OAS Secretary General José Insulza − the crowd booed. He thanked Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández − the crowd booed to such an extent that Fernández looked quite uncomfortable. All had tried to force the resignation of Roberto Micheletti and the return Zelaya to power in Honduras.

In contrast, when Lobo thanked Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, the crowd cheered to such an extent that Martinelli rose from his seat to acknowledge the crowd. The crowd then cried, "Say thanks to Micheletti! Thank Micheletti." Lobo did not, though a person sitting near to him said that he must have heard the pleas from the crowd.

Porfirio Lobo and General Romeo VasquezLess reported is this: With each name mentioned, more and more people started leaving the stadium. By the end of President's Lobo's speech, no more than 60% of crowd remained. Not a promising start. (Photo: Porfirio Lobo with General Romeo Vasquez, El Heraldo)

Just a small public thank you would have meant a lot.

Hat tip to Ulf, Inti, and Mitch

January 27, 2010

Outside interference and Honduran reaction

Porfirio (Pepe) Lobo inaugurated in HondurasHonduran President Porfirio (Pepe) Lobo
Photo: El Heraldo

The Honduran congress voted for amnesty this morning (more on that later), Porfirio (Pepe) Lobo was inaugurated (without incident), and Mel Zelaya is gone (without incident), but I wanted to finish up this article:

It's ironic (or hypocritical if you prefer) that so many outside of Honduras say that "even if Zelaya was a bad president, the ends don't justify the means", but those same people seemed to believe that any law could be broken to restore Zelaya to power. Foreign presidents and international organizations have been trying for seven months to force illegal, undemocratic, and unconstitutional actions on Honduras in the name of "restoring democracy".

Unfortunately, this interference in Honduras' internal affairs is not going to end with Pepe Lobo's inauguration.

Guatemala President Alvaro ColomGuatemalan President Colom's (photo) suggestion that Pepe allow Mel Zelaya to be president for a few minutes takes the prize as the most idiotic. It's frightening to think that people like this are running countries!

Just how can a president-elect make someone President? After Pepe Lobo is inaugurated and actually has any legal powers, the only way Zelaya could be president, even if illegally and even if for a few minutes, is if Lobo steps aside. According to Honduras' constitution, anyone who has served as President (no matter how short the time) can never serve as president again, thus Lobo would be out and the new president of the congress would replace him, according to the order of succession set out in the constitution. Hah!

DR President Leonel FernandezDominican Republic President Leonel Fernández (photo), the US's front man for the latest "accord", hopes that Honduras will return to "civilized coexistence" with the international community. Hmmm, I know Honduras needs reconciliation but I did not realize that we had left civilization.

I had a terrible fear that Fernández and Colom and/or the US State Department would try to force Lobo to allow Zelaya to attend the inauguration. I can't even imagine how the Honduran audience would have reacted to that.

Zelaya will try to steal the limelight today and probably more international journalists are focused on him today than on Honduras' new president. Apparently he was denied the opportunity for grand farewell (I'll be back!) speech at the airport. Depending upon his timing, Zelaya may be up against US President Obama's state of the union address. The score on that one will be Honduras - 0, US - 1.

Brazil, who hypocritically prides itself on its "nonintervention diplomacy", comes right out and says that they are pressuring Honduras to ignore Zelaya's crimes and are pushing for (undefined) changes to Honduras' constitution:
"But the key will be gaining Brazil’s support. That will require an amnesty for Mr Zelaya, a unity government including some of his supporters and a willingness to discuss constitutional reform, says a Brazilian diplomat."
Hopefully the only change to the constitution that Brazil is pushing is the reincorporation of the impeachment clause, because any other suggestions are unwanted interference in the government of another country.

Costa Rica President Oscar AriasCosta Rica President Oscar Arias (photo) was just as bad and should be accused of promoting a coup in Honduras. Arias seems to think that a president-elect should have the power to force a sitting president out of power and replace him with a previous one.

Arias publicly insulted Pepe Lobo, calling him too weak because he couldn't accomplish this, and saying that the Honduran people deserved better (forgetting that Honduras has had a strong president for seven months and Arias did not like that at all!). To ponder the idiocy, just think about this: It's December 2008. Picture president elect Obama trying to force out George Bush and replace him with Bill Clinton! Is that an idiotic thing for a president of another country to propose?

I certainly hope that the next president of Costa Rica gives Honduras a well deserved apology for all of the tasteless remarks and insults from its former president.

OAS Secretary General José Miguel InsulzaJosé Insulza of the OAS (photo) has issued several warning statements that Lobo should disassociate himself from the golpistas (coupsters). And this relates to peace and reconciliation in what way? Who are the golpistas? Micheletti? The cabinet members who agreed to upset their lives for 7 months serving their country in a difficult time? The military? The Supreme Court? The congress who voted 111-14 to not restore Zelaya to office (and of whom 54 have been reelected)? The churches? The civic groups?

Insulza is promoting division in Honduras, not reconciliation, by suggesting that Lobo disassociate himself from 80% of the population. Reconciliation doesn't mean appeasing the resistance. Reconciliation involves inclusion of both sides.

Hondurans are angry

So what is the result all of this outside intervention in Honduras in the name of the Honduran people? Angry comments from Hondurans about amnesty and Lobo's deal to allow Zelaya to leave Honduras abound on newspaper articles, Facebook and Twitter. The email chain letters are afire again, this time with a tone of indignation. Some are even using the word "traitor". This "accord" was an unexpected shock to many.

Lobo's remarks that he was elected by the people and will now make the decisions that he thinks best (regardless of the opinions of the people or other powers of state or the laws) are frighteningly reminiscent of Zelaya who acted as if he had been made king of Honduras. Those comments are also in direct opposition to what he told voters during the campaign. Pepe Lobo promised that his decisions would be based on national dialogues with the people after the election.

Honduran blogger Aaron of Pensieve is angered by the US's violation of Honduras' sovereignty. Forcing the Constitutional President of Honduras, Roberto Micheletti, to symbolically "retire" from the presidential palace in the days before the election is just another example of the US putting the boot to the neck of Honduras, just because they can. It serves no real purpose except to humiliate Honduras and show "who is boss". The resistance is now protesting dictator Lobo instead of dictator Micheletti.

Honduran blogger Dennis of Universal Honduras expressed his displeasure in De Puño de Hierro a Blandengue (From Iron Fist to Softie). Daniel of Cascabel Team of Destruction voices his opinion in Una Discutible Decisión de Lobo (A controversial decision of Lobo). Ardegas at Born in Honduras gives his analysis at Pepe Lobo, new Honduran President. Marco Cáceres sees it a different way.

Some spontaneous reactions were noted by Ulf Erlingsson during the inauguration:

The inauguration continued after posting this, and the people in the stadium loudly booed president Oscar Arias from Costa Rica, president Fernandez from Dominica, ambassador Llorens from USA, and OAS with Insulza… but applauded president Martinelli from Panama.

There was a not so loud booing of the amnesty – but no applauds. Now he is signing it. Louder boos.

Lobo the coward has still not in his speech acknowledged the work of Micheletti, even though without him, he would not be president now. If he doesn’t, he will do himself a tremendous disfavor, and ruin the political consensus that existed since June 28.

Who wrote this new accord?

I had a hunch about this new agreement with DR president Leonel Fernández. I clicked Google's translate button and sure enough, the agreement translated almost perfectly to English - a sign that it may have been written in English and translated to Spanish for publication. Generally the Spanish sentence structure varies a lot causing translation problems with Google. Since both the DR and Honduras are Spanish speaking countries, what English-language country do you suppose might have written this document?

Related articles:

Pepe met by protests in Honduras

Honduras at a Cross-Roads

Wall Street Journal: Hammering Honduras

January 26, 2010

Mel Zelaya was not wearing pajamas

mel zelaya in pjs for the camerasWho can forget the outrage? A president in pjs!

There were no pajamas!

Ex-president Manuel Zelaya was NOT taken to Costa Rica in his pajamas.

It was all a lie. The question is, how many presidents knew it was a lie?

mel zelaya in pjs for the camerasWhen removed from Honduras on June 28, Mel Zelaya was fully dressed up to and including his cowboy boots. We heard rumors of this from the beginning, including from neighbors who saw him leave with the military fully dressed. We also heard that there was a video of Zelaya's exit that was shown to José Insulza of the OAS, who nevertheless continued the lie. But who was going to believe Honduras, when victim Zelaya was saying otherwise to CNN, Telesur, and the NY Times, who dutifully reported it without investigation.

This would be a minor detail except for the thousands of newspaper articles and outraged exclamations of presidents and pundits around the world, crying "in his pajamas!" - which you would think ranked right up there with a bullet in the head. That press conference of Zelaya in his pajamas with bed-hair set the tone and had huge impact on the way that Honduras was treated by the world.

mel zelaya in pjs for the cameras
But even worse, Costa Rica and its President Oscar Arias must have known that he arrived fully dressed and donned the pjs and messed up his hair later. Are we to believe that this fact just slipped the mind of airport personnel and Zelaya's escort to the Presidential Palace in San José? So Arias knew about the great lie but said nothing for seven months, making him an accomplice to the lying propaganda spewed against Honduras by Zelaya.

manuel zelaya in pjsIs there any chance that the US did not know this was a lie? Is there any chance that US State Department officials have not been shown the video? What else does the US State Department know that Zelaya is lying about? What about the crimes? What about the narcotrafficking ties? What about the foreign bank accounts? Will they ever tell the US population the truth?

How will the international media react now, knowing that they were played? Admit it? Or pretend this news doesn't exist? My guess is the latter. It has been hours since the Honduran news reports and I haven't seen anything yet in searches of Google News.

Related articles in the Honduran news:

Proceso Digital: Revelan que Mel Zelaya no salió en pijama de Honduras (Revealed that Mel Zelaya did not leave Honduras in pajamas)

El Heraldo: Zelaya no vestía pijama cuando salió de Honduras (Zelaya wasn't dressed in pajamas when he left Honduras)

The "unbiased" El Tiempo fails to mention the pajama issue at all: Sobreseen a militares acusados por expulsión de Zelaya

Note: Google translate has changed and I can no longer provide translated links, but you can download the Google toolbar to translate them yourselves.


I guess I have my answer. Reuters published a story at 22:31 today, including this recap: "Soldiers arrested Zelaya in an early-morning raid on his house on June 28 and flew him to neighboring Costa Rica, still in his pajamas." Europa Press includes this:"....militares entrara por sorpresa en su vivienda mientras dormía y lo llevara en pijama hasta el aeropuerto...."

BBC announced the verdict and rehashed the story, but omits any mention of pajamas. Associated Press does the same, with no mention of pajamas.

Honduran military found not guilty

Judge Jorge Rivera at the end of the table
Photo: La Tribuna

Honduras' Supreme Court President Jorge Rivera issued his verdict absolving the military commanders from abuse of authority and illegal expatriation of former President Manuel Zelaya on the grounds that there was a real and imminent danger to life and property in the country, from both foreigners and Zelaya's followers. The judge pointed to the actual violence instigated by Zelaya and his followers and his motto: Restitution or death.

From Jorge Gallardo:

The courts declared the Armed Forces not guilty of violating the law for sending Zelaya into exile. According to this report, the defense was able to prove using intelligence reports that Venezuela and Cuba were taking part in the attempt to eliminate the Honduran constitution and that there were over 900 armed agents from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Spain in Honduras taking part in these political activities.

Since this is the only accusation that has been leveled against the institutions that took part in Zelaya's removal, it means that the arguments to promote an amnesty are only meant to protect Zelaya for the 24 counts of abuse of power, malfeasance, fraud, etc., against the Honduran people and his cohorts for similar charges against them.

This morning, the most popular early morning talk show featured a group of the defense attorneys. Most of them were civilian lawyers. They agreed that if at any time they had suspected that the trial was going to be a sham, they would have resigned immediately.

On the contrary, they were expecting to breeze through on the "state of necessity" argument and it turned out that the prosecution had prepared a counterargument. The prosecution argued that "state of necessity" didn't apply because the consequences were part of the duties that the Armed Forces are supposed to deal with. For instance, a fireman can't argue that he didn't try to stop a fire because he feared for his life, because he has been trained for that and it is his duty to fight the fire.

The defense argued based on the need to save lives, not the soldiers' lives, but civilian lives. They had to declassify certain information and swear them into secrecy on other information which are part of ongoing investigations. (Photo El Heraldo: Demonstrators supporting the heroes of the military)

Another of the arguments that the defense made was that the consequences of taking Zelaya out of the country, versus the possible loss of life, were disproportionate. I guess it was at this point where they had to log into evidence proof that Zelaya was taken out fully dressed, even his boots.

It was in Costa Rica that he changed into pajamas and disheveled his hair. The civilian lawyers said they were surprised at the amount of evidence the military had and hinted of assassination of military officers. I think this has to do with the assassination of Zelaya's "edecan" who is generally believed to have been killed by Zelaya mercenaries because he was going to turn over evidence of Zelaya's behaviour.

Later a Spanish lawyer, Professor of Constitutional Law, came on the program. He criticized the defense because they hadn't argued enough the state of necessity based on the defense of the constitutional system, which he had hoped they would, but instead had focused on the saving of lives. They also talked about a group of lawyers who support Zelaya who had presented an injunction in defense of Zelaya, but their writs were knocked out because they hadn't presented evidence of representing anyone, which, according to Honduran law, they must (unless the state acts directly).

These lawyers said they didn't do that because it was a coup and the courts were partial and the whole political argument. They only want to present it at an international court. The Spanish lawyer called the argument ridiculous, because, as lawyers, they should know that before an international court takes on the case, they must first prove that they have exhausted the legal procedures in the country of origin.

Also, they did mention that according to military intelligence there were over 900 agents from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, etc., who were here involved in coordinating political activities and many with military training.

And, according to the Supreme Tribunal of Accounts (like the US GAO), shortly before the events of June 28th, there were over 190 news media representatives from said country who were staying in hotels and riding in rented cars all paid by the President. This is why the original story came out so partial against Honduras.
− Jorge Gallardo

Related articles:

Ulf Erlingsson's Blogg: Militaries exonerated in Honduras

Related articles in the Honduran news (Español):

La Prensa: Dictan sobreseimiento a favor de cúpula militar

La Tribuna: Dictan sobreseimiento definitivo a favor de la Junta de Comandantes

Proceso Digital: Tribunal absuelve de responsabilidad penal a militares por expatriación de Zelaya

January 24, 2010

Goal, goal, goooooooooooooal

US-Honduras game score
US-1; Honduras 3

Honduras soccer team
Honduran team

An internet friend sent me a note and these photos (click to enlarge), which I thought you might enjoy if you couldn't be there. I'm superstitious about the games. I don't watch them, but I can keep up with at least one side of the score by the shouts from downstairs and the celebratory gunshots from the neighborhood:

US-Honduras game crowdHello!
Yesterday, Saturday, January 23rd, was Honduras' night against the United States at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles! We won!

3 to 1 ... screamers! The game was more exciting but we were also excited to be in a stadium full of Honduran people! Lots of blue and white, many flags! It gave me pride to see that we are peaceful and how exciting to see Honduran football!

US-Honduras game crowdMaking waves with flags, shouting "Honduras", "Ole", and once in a while the traditional "Culero. We felt the happiness of the fans.

How thoughtful that Hondurans have time to have fun, but the economy goes wrong. They had 18,626 people and most Catrachos! There, we send a few photos. Viva Honduras! world and now in Africa! Memories. −DP
US-Honduras game flag

January 22, 2010

Pepe's deal with Zelaya - Part 2

Pepe Lobo, Mel ZelayaOut with the old, in with the new
Pepe and Mel

Lobo's dilemma

We can understand Honduras president-elect Pepe Lobo's dilemma. Besides the political pressure, he's inheriting a bankrupt government. I've used the term "between a rock and a hard place" a couple of times.

Manuel Zelaya stepped into a cushy financial position in 2006, at least cushy by Honduras' poor standards. Many hundreds of millions of US dollars of debt had been forgiven thanks to efforts by the previous president, Ricardo Maduro. New aid was flowing in.

Zelaya received a government in as good financial shape as it has ever been. He took advantage of that and ran it into the ground with expensive failed projects, increases in government jobs, malfeasance, corruption, and extreme excesses, including the 61% raise in the minimum wage which his own government didn't have the money to pay to its employees. (Many government salaries by law are based on multiples of the minimum wage so the increase not only affected minimum wage employees.)

Eventually, aid began to be reduced because, for example, the UN and Sweden complained of poverty funds being used to meet government payroll and campaign promises rather than being used for the poor. Couple that with the effects of the international financial crisis and the resulting large reduction in family remesas, the economy is a mess. The internal debt is now at L. 23 billion (US $1.2 billion), more than tripled from 2006. The external debt of Honduras in 2008 reached the same levels as 2005, before the condonation.

That is the state that Micheletti received. There had been no budget, no financial reports. They didn't know where the money had gone − except the L. 50 million in cash withdrawn from the national bank which was caught on video on June 26. The country again had huge debts, virtually no aid, and no access to BCIE or the IMF for loans and disbursements on government projects already approved and underway.

Without the immediate restoration of aid and access to loans, there will be no money to meet payrolls, much less continue projects and meet Lobo's campaign promises.

So, Porfirio Lobo will be in a bad spot when he takes over. He has been getting pressure from the US and OAS for months. Oscar Arias ominously threatened that Honduras could become the Albania of Latin America.

Surprise, surprise!

On the one hand we have had President Roberto Micheletti who has strongly and consistently stood up with dignity against the intervention of the international community for seven long months. However, on the other hand, we have a president-elect who didn't make it even one day in office. That doesn't sit well with many, including many in Lobo's own party.

Everyone seemed to be surprised by this new accord. There was apparently no discussion with civic groups prior to making this decision which implies that Pepe Lobo has placed more importance on pleasing the international community than pleasing the people of Honduras. Some analysts on television say that this shows disrespect for the court and attorney general, who have outstanding criminal charges against Zelaya and others. That is ironic, since disrespect for the other institutions of government was a big part of Zelaya's downfall.

Rasel TomeThere also is the huge problem of the rule of law. There are pending court cases and accusations of crimes of corruption and financial malfeasance on the part of Zelaya and that undefined "intimate circle of friends" who will also be guaranteed safe passage out of Honduras. One of his inner circle, Rasel Tome (photo), has violated a court order and has been prohibited by the court from leaving the country. The Unión Cívica Democrática issued a strong pronouncement on that.

The Honduran people have been victims of corruption and impunity for far too long. They thought they were going to see justice. If Zelaya and his ministers who are guilty of financial crimes do not have to face justice, why should Pepe Lobo and his ministers or the next administration have any fear of justice either? Will we go back to business as usual in Honduras, from the new "yes, we can" attitude back to the old, "what's the use?" attitude?

Harmony, reconciliation, and all that jazz

Pepe LoboPepe Lobo (photo) talks and has always talked during the campaign of peace and reconciliation and dialogue. During the campaign, he was criticized for refusing to take a stand on several issues, saying only that he would dialogue with the people first. Apparently, he didn't.

Now Pepe says, "They tell me that 85% are against amnesty and 15% in favor, but they elected me president to govern and not to be popular, they elected me to do what is correct for Honduras and I will do it to bring peace to the nation."

Peace and reconciliation are badly needed, however, Pepe has been rebuffed by the resistance who refused to participate in the formation of the national plan and who have a big protest planned for inauguration day. He's been rebuffed by the teachers' unions who walked out of a meeting rather than agreeing to follow the law and who are currently planning their first teacher strike to coincide with the first day of the new school year, February 1. Lobo has also been rebuffed by Mel Zelaya, who refused to even recognize him as president elect, and only does so now because of personal benefit. There really is nothing Pepe Lobo can do that will appease either Zelaya or the resistance − nothing short of a constitutional assembly putting them in charge of the country.

So while it's fine to talk of dignity, pragmatism, forgiveness, and so forth as being needed to reconcile the country, I just don't believe it will happen. That would be assuming that Zelaya is a reasonable person who would show some dignity and love for his country and react accordingly − working on his part for reconciliation of the people as hard as he worked to divide them. Zelaya instead has shown himself to be a person who is not reasonable and cannot be trusted. I hope that I'm wrong, but I don't think I will be.

Dangerous decision

Regardless of the reasons for or acceptance or not of Lobo's decision to sign this agreement, I think that it will very likely be the worst decision that Pepe Lobo has ever made.

While this new 'agreement' puts many requirements on Pepe Lobo, it puts none on Manuel Zelaya or the international community. I can't even fathom how Fernández in his wildest dreams can claim to represent the international community, unless, of course, we want to admit that the US gave him the go ahead. Even that US blessing on the Tegucigalpa Accord had no noticeable effect on the subsequent actions of the international community.

Honduran analysts and attorneys have opined that there is no such thing as a "distinguished guest" category in international law. Some have said that Lobo has overstepped his bounds and even has broken the law, since in his current status as president-elect, he has no power to commit Honduras to anything. The Attorney General has indicated that this agreement has no effect on pending legal charges.

After going to the Dominican Republic, I predict that Zelaya's first many hours will be spent giving flamboyant press conferences in which he will expound on the abuses of the 'dictatorship' and claiming a 'win' for his side. It is becoming abundantly clear that the Dominican Republic is only a stopping off place, so we may be seeing another world tour from Zelaya in which he tries to continue to harm Honduras.

Cesar HamAs a matter of fact, César Ham (photo), former presidential candidate of the UD (resistance) party told reporters Wednesday night that Zelaya's plans included travelling to Mexico and visiting other Latin American countries to help strengthen the resistance, and eventually returning to Honduras to push for a constitutional assembly.

Leonel Fernández told Telesur that Zelaya wished to settle in Mexico and wished to become a member of the Central American Parliament.

Telesur failed to note that members of the Central American Parliament (Parlacen) have automatic immunity for any and all crimes. Parlacen has the reputation of a useless, expensive, and corrupt ex-presidents club in which they can avoid prosecution for their misdeeds. Costa Rica is not a member and Panamá recently withdrew from the organization for those reasons.

With political asylum, Mel Zelaya would be subject to restrictions against political activities. Under this agreement, Zelaya is free to go to any country and to perform any acts. There is nothing to stop him from trying to develop influence against Lobo's government both within and outside of Honduras. Zelaya will be free to continue to promote insurrection and try to destabilize the country. We can also presume that he will have the financial support of Chávez to do this.

Some have already gone so far as to predict a future coup d'etat attempt by Zelaya against Lobo. A Venezuelan journalist reported Wednesday that Chávez has already met with Castro, Ortega, and FARC to plan the destabilization of Honduras using paramilitary forces.

Lobo has probably gotten assurances from the US or others that Zelaya won't do those things or that they won't allow that to happen. We already know what assurances from Zelaya, the US, and OAS are worth: nothing!

Mel ZelayaSame old Zelaya

Just to prove my point that there will be no peace and reconciliation from Zelaya, Honduran newspapers quote Zelaya as saying, "For me it is a good gesture from Porfirio Lobo, I feel that he is making it to unmask the dictatorship of Roberto Micheletti." Does that sound like peace is in Honduras' future? Oh, and by the way, many international news articles include the first part of the quote but omit the second partwhy? Like in many other instances over the past seven months, to not reveal what a crazy, vindictive person the US and OAS are supporting.

Interestingly, while all the news reported that Zelaya is leaving for the DR, in typical Zelaya fashion, his spokesman reported that Zelaya "was considering the offer" to go the Dominican Republic if the conditions are right.


No one can deny that Pepe Lobo must have credibility among the international community. But in the long run, much more important to Honduras will be his having credibility among the Honduran people. Ensuring that corruptos, regardless of their political affiliation or social status, are prosecuted will go a long way toward that goal.

Related articles:

Pepe's deal with Zelaya - Part 1

UCD pronounces on the Lobo-Fernández agreement

UCD pronounces on the Lobo-Fernández agreement

Pepe Lobo and Leonel Fernández sign an accordPepe Lobo and Leonel Fernández sign an accord

The recent agreement signed by Honduran president-elect Porfirio (Pepe) Lobo with Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández regarding the exit of former president Manuel Zelaya, his family, and "inner circle" can be found
here in Spanish. A Google translation of the document to English can be found here.

Honduras' Unión Cívica Democrática (UCD), a coalition of Honduran civic groups formed to defend democracy in Honduras, has analyzed the agreement and objects strongly to the terms which they believe violate the rule of law of Honduras. Additionally, UCD questions the legal authority of a president-elect to commit the country, as well as President Fernández' authority to represent the "international community". 

The following is my (unofficial) translation of the pronouncement issued by UCD. The original version of the UCD document in Spanish can be found here.


The Civic Democratic Union (UCD) is an organization composed of different groups of civil society, representative and committed to democratic values, peace, freedom, order and progress for Honduras and fundamentally united on the defense of the Constitution of the Republic, the rule of law and general welfare of the people.

The UCD, consistent with its patriotic commitments in relation to the contents of the document ''Agreement for National Reconciliation and Strengthening of Democracy in Honduras," also known as ''Reconciliation Act'' signed by Mr. Leonel Fernández, President of the Dominican Republic, Porfirio Lobo Sosa, president-elect of Honduras, and as witnesses of honor, Mr. Elvin Santos, César Ham, Felícito Avila, Ricardo Alvarez, and Mario Canahuati, signed at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on the 20th day of January this year, pronounces as follows:

I. The document does not fill the requirements to be an agreement between governments, has not been followed by legal and formal procedures established in our legal system and international law, which is summarized as follows:

a) The referenced document only includes requirements for the President-elect of Honduras and none for the President of the Dominican Republic, who can not, as was said, sign as a representative of the International Community;

b) The commitment to a Government of Unity and Reconciliation is a constitutional obligation as it is manifested in the same document and is also an obligation under the Agreement Tegucigalpa-San Jose. That is, it is not an option but a constitutional obligation;

c) In relation to the ''safe conduct'' in the documents, it violates our domestic law and international law as stipulated in the Convention on the Law of Asylum and applicable international treaties;

d) Also, the ''order of safe conduct'' violates the law because it seeks to grant the condition of President to a person who ceased to be president as of June 28m as agreed upon and ratified by the Legislature, the Judiciary, and other official institutions of the country. The President Elect has no power to decide the matter;

e) The President Elect is also committing to respect human rights. That is a requirement referred to in our Constitution, international treaties and other laws, an obligation to be contracted when he is sworn in his capacity as President of the Republic; therefore, it is unnecessary to do so in front of a president of another nation;

f) In relation to that Mr Zelaya's ''family and inner circle" can go to the Dominican Republic on the 27th of the current month as guests of that country, this is found to violate the law because Mr. Zelaya and some of his companions have arrest warrants, tax requirements, and court orders for common crimes, such as the prohibition to leave the country;

g) The President Elect has no power to suspend the restriction of citizenship rights to people who have outstanding legal claims, as is the case of Mr. Zelaya and some of his companions; and,

h) Finally, it is unnecessary for the President Elect to commit to the President of the Dominican Republic to manage the international recognition of his government because it is a national commitment contained in Tegucigalpa-San Jose Agreement, signed by representatives authorized by the former-President Zelaya and representatives of the Constitutional President Roberto Micheletti, representing the executive branch.

II. The document in question provides that its validity is from the time it is signed, the 20th instant, at which time the President-elect of Honduras has not taken office, has not given the Constitutional Oath, and neither has the mandate nor the powers characteristic of a current President.

Consequently, the UCD agrees:

1) Respectfully requires of the President-Elect compliance with the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord in the only outstanding point, that is the formation of the Truth Commission, composed of professionals of probity, impartiality, and recognized ability in their countries of origin, preferably European countries, excluding countries of ALBA and the like.

2) To support all efforts made by the President-Elect from the exercise of his administration to overcome the political, economic and social problems, provided that they fall within the rule of law, meaning that no political action should be done outside the legal context. Politics does not justify the violation of the law.

3) Respectfully and strongly request of the President Elect to not administer any kind of Amnesty nor grant Pardon until the results of the Truth Commission are known. Otherwise, the Reconciliation of the Honduran people will be impossible and at the same will promote the division between the Honduran society.

The UCD calls upon all its member organizations to continue steadfast in the defense of democracy and the rule of law

Given in Tegucigalpa, Republic of Honduras, on the 21st day of January 2010.


You are free to use and distribute this translation, but please credit me and link back to the Blogicito.

Related articles:

Pepe's deal with Zelaya - Part 1
Pepe's deal with Zelaya - Part 2

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.

January 20, 2010

The day my floor exploded

tile floor problemNice floor, huh?

I usually spend most of my computer time upstairs, just because that room gets a little better breeze and it is generally cooler up there. One night − I don't remember why − I happened to be at the breakfast room table downstairs and had the unexpected joy of watching my tile floor explode.

I was on the computer reading news stories when I heard a faint pop-pop-pop. Initially I thought it was Chloe (the Rottweiler) scratching and bumping into something on the terraza and didn't pay much attention, but then the pop-pop-pop got louder.

January 18, 2010

Guest blog: The Education Crisis in Honduras

Honduran students
Much has been written about the Honduran political crisis, but there is another Honduran crisis that has been going on for a decade or more that affects many more people and is much more serious for the future of Honduras. That crisis is education. The quality of public school education in Honduras is horrendously poor (please see the UN, World Bank, and other reports linked here).

Though much effort and much money has been thrown at education, one thing seems clear and that is that money alone will never fix the problem. The fledgling group of parents described below, with a vested, non-political interest in improving education for their children, may be the solution. Please consider whether you have some expertise or resources that you could offer to them. − LG

The Education Crisis in Honduras
- by Jorge Gallardo Rius

Education and Development

One of the indexes used to measure the educational level of a population is the average amount of years of formal schooling. In Honduras, that index is 6.5, that is, the average Honduran has 6.5 years of formal schooling. It grows one school year every 10 years.

In the early 1960s, this index was similar for Honduras as for Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and other nations known as the Asian Tigers for their rapid economic growth. Since, these countries have advanced the education of their people and their index is now above 12 years.

If you make a graph of the average years of formal schooling and compare it to a graph of the people’s income in that country, you will find that both follow a similar pattern. The close relationship between education and economic development is unquestioned today.

Public education is a form of wealth. In Honduras, many people still don’t see it that way. Yet many parents pay private schools that do nothing better than complete the public study plan, because usually the public schools don’t complete it. In developed nations, the quality of public schools has even been linked to the value of real estate: properties are worth more in districts where the quality of public schools is higher.

The quality of public education is not only a matter for the parents who have their children in public schools, but a matter that should concern all Hondurans interested in living in a better country.

Education and the Political Crisis

In Honduras, we have a saying that “It’s not the same thing to see her coming, as talking to her.” When Zelaya boosted the minimum salary by 62%, teachers’ salaries, which are a multiple of the minimum salary, skyrocketed. But not only did their salaries jump, also the side benefits, like the contribution that the government makes to the teachers’ pension fund, also skyrocketed. So it didn’t come as a surprise that, when Zelaya’s government went to the bank, there weren’t enough funds to pay the new salaries.

Before Zelaya’s ouster on June 28th, it had already been a conflictive year between the government and the teacher unions. Not only was the government behind on payment of their salaries, as usual, the government was also withholding both the government portion and the amounts deducted from teachers’ salaries as contribution to the Teachers’ pension fund, something which had never happened before. The Pension fund (IMPREMA) faced a lack of liquidity with which to pay the pensions of retired teachers.

Teachers had been on and off strikes for months and naturally, the children’s education suffered. Suddenly, 5-6 days before the illegal referendum of June 28th, the government made a partial payment of teachers’ salaries and the major union leaders came on national TV announcing their support of Zelaya’s illegal Constituent Assembly. No one doubted they had been bought off.

After June 28th, the teacher unions called another national strike, as always with suspension of classes, but this time for indefinite time, until Zelaya was reinstated as President, they said.

And that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Parents rose in anger, tired of teachers making their children the victims of politics. They demanded that politics not be mixed with education and that their children’s human right to a quality education be respected. The Interim Government and the Human Rights Commission assigned inspectors to witness teacher’s absences and threatened to deduct missed school days from teachers’ salaries. In the end, most teachers, conscious of their rightful duty, returned to the classrooms and the government backed away from their threat.

ASOPAFA – Asociación de Padres de Familia

The rebellion of the parents was spontaneous. They were disorganized and lacked the resources to sustain greater actions. Recently, they have become a legal NGO and are struggling to implement coherent actions to protect and advance their children’s education under very tough circumstances.

Once again, the teachers are rebelling against the start of the new academic year, refusing to follow the calendar established by the Ministry of Education. Currently, they have postponed the start of school activities from January 18th to February 1st under the pretext that they don’t recognize the Interim government (although they accept the government’s paychecks). But they threaten to not start classes even then, if the government is not fully up-to-date with their payments, which has never happened before because it’s a new year under new contracts. In other words, they’re making unreal demands.

ASOPAFA is facing enormous challenges for the present and the future of education of Honduras. They must find a way to break the interference of politics in the national school system. For years, the administration of public schools has been left in the hands of inefficient government and union appointees, who use the public school system as a means to hire their political activists, with no clear-cut rules of accountability for their misdeeds and mismanagement of national resources.

In many schools, they face serious social problems with drug-trafficking, prostitution and gang violence. They face serious health issues, such as the lack of drinking water, food and epidemics. Some schools are in such dire physical conditions that they pose a threat to safety of the attendants. There is a lack of materials, such as textbooks, desks, blackboards, and computers, even chalk, pencils and paper are in short supply and hard to acquire by poor parents.

The parents need instruction on how to plan and manage a school budget and how to assist their children’s school in better ways. The Parents Association has 15,000 registered members of about 2.5 million possible, but their contact data is stashed in cardboard boxes. They receive calls from towns outside the capital with hundreds of parents who need help and want to join up, but don’t have the means to visit and assist them. They lack the organizational know-how and resources, yet they recently sponsored a televised forum of the presidential candidates speaking on their public education programs, with no other resources than a concentrated effort and a strong will to do everything in their power to better their children’s education.

La Union studentsPersonally, I have always believed that a good public education system is a key to achieve progress and development in a country, and that the key to advance the public education system is that parents become involved in their schools. We now have the opportunity to promote progress and development in Honduras by strengthening ASOPAFA. I encourage all of you to search for ways to support this group of concerned parents with your time, efforts, ideas and resources, whichever way you can, to advance their cause for a good quality education in the Honduran public school system.

We are currently working to get their website up and running, and will continue to keep you posted on the progress they make. In the meantime, please contact me at jgallardo515 at yahoo.com .


Jorge Gallardo Rius is a Honduran citizen who was born in La Ceiba and currently lives in Tegucigalpa. He studied in Louisiana, Houston, and Romania and is currently an Information Systems Analyst. Jorge's mother was a US citizen so he grew up speaking both languages at home. For a time, he wrote a weekly column on Education and Technology for an English-language weekly newspaper. He offers English/Spanish and Spanish/English translations. Sr. Gallardo can be contacted at jgallardo515 at yahoo.com
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