December 31, 2009

Out with the old, in with the new

At top, Pepe Lobo (in case you aren't familiar)
In the bag, Mel Zelaya and Roberto Micheletti

This cartoon was on the front page of La Prensa today. Very fitting and very funny. Honduras − the only country with three presidents. One actual president, one deposed (who still isn't giving up), and one on the way in, though the changeover won't take effect until January 27.

Roberto Micheletti recently gave a speech in which he still says he has no intentions of resigning prior to January 27, despite the pressure being put on Pepe Lobo to try to force that. The "international community", particularly Spain, shows their complete lack of respect for democratic institutions by making demands on President-elect Lobo that he has no constitutional authority to perform. All that in the name of "restoring constitutional order". Hypocrites!

I am sooo glad that 2009 is over! And I'm hoping that 2010 brings peace and prosperity to Honduras and gets the freakin' misguided "international community" off our backs!

Happy New Year, readers!

December 30, 2009

Celebrate 2009

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Enjoy the 2009 highlights video. Funny!


El Jefe and I have been enjoying a movie marathon during the past week or so.

I recommend The Hunting Party with Richard Gere, if you haven't seen it. (This is from 2007; don't confuse it with the 1970's Hunting Party.) Richard Gere and Terrence Howard are journalists who decide to capture a war criminal in Bosnia, though it isn't near as dark as that may sound. The movie gives a shocking view of the "international community", the incompetent United Nations, and the duplicitous US.

Another movie that we enjoyed was Defiance, a movie about Jews fighting back in Belarus during World War II. Both of these movies are based on true stories. By the way, El Jefe gives both movies a thumbs up as well.


For the first time, I cooked a traditional pork leg for Christmas. Yum! I will do that again. That made for a lot of lazy meals of sliced pork sandwiches on homemade rolls a favorite holiday meal in La Ceiba, believe it or not.

Honduran tamalesYesterday − all day − Arexy and I made tamales with the leftover pork. That was another first. It was a bit of the case of the blind leading the blind since Arexy had only made them once years ago, but we muddled through it and they turned out pretty well in the end. The photo shows some of the 36 tamales that we made.

There was a bit of a disaster but with my gringa ingenuity, I repaired that. For those who have been in on previous tamale conversations, steaming is the way to go. I will never let anyone talk me into boiling tamales (the Honduran way) again.

I made a new ice cream which is a delectable substitute for my former all time favorite: Ben and Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar, which I haven't had in nine long years! I'll give you the recipe some time. Remind me if I forget.


recycled plastic bag bagsSince I can never just sit and watch television, movie watching came with a lot of crocheting. I was working on using up some of my plastic bag stash. These are some of my latest recycled plastic bag bags. Pretty cool, huh?

I've been having a great and hugely needed break and will probably get back to regular blogging after the New Year.

December 24, 2009

Dear Santa...

The Ultimate Option
Letter for Santa
Restitution to power
I've been super good.
Mel Zelaya

Oh, well. Truthfulness is not one of Mel's strong points. He forgets that this is the age of the internet and everyone knows everything.

Reuters did this sweet article about poor Mel's Christmas. "No family would want to go through what we are going through unless they were perverse, cruel or heartless," Zelaya said. I would say: No leader would put his country through what they have been going through unless he was perverse, cruel, or heartless. Mel always loved to play the victim, long before June 28, too.

Llorens visit to Zelaya

Several articles were written about US Ambassador Hugo Llorens' visit to Zelaya over the weekend, but only the Honduran La Prensa and El Heraldo newspapers noted that he was accompanied by Zelaya's three Guaymuras negotiators. Maybe the others didn't realize the significance of that.

With all of Zelaya's claims about what the Tegucigalpa Accord was "really" supposed to do (return him to office, as dutifully and erroneously reported by all of the news media outside of Honduras), no one seemed to notice that the three Zelaya negotiators never backed up his claims. They have been completely out of the public eye since the Accord was signed.

To me, that signifies that they were completely aware that there was no guarantee that Zelaya would be returned to office and that they only agreed to the congressional vote and the removal of any amnesty provision precisely because Zelaya demanded it.

I think their visit to Zelaya was to remind him of exactly what he agreed to and possibly to put pressure on him to give it up. A deal is a deal and their signatures on the Accord should mean something.

There is talk now of asylum in the Dominican Republic. But as someone in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs put it, "The only way Zelaya is leaving Honduras is by political asylum or flying saucer." Political asylum would mean an end to his political actions against Honduras.
Foreign Relations Minister Carlos López Contreras says that they are perfectly willing to grant a salvoconducto as long as any request meets the standards of international law. To date, they have received no request.

I'm not sure what political asylum would mean as far as his and his associates' crimes of corruption. All of the Hondurans that I know want them all to be tried and punished for those crimes. Comments from Hondurans on newspaper articles and TV polls are overwhelmingly against granting him amnesty for either political or common crimes.

(TV poll: Do you agree with giving ample and unconditional amnesty to Manuel Zelaya and his associates? Yes - 18%; No 82%)

I'm not sure that the freakin' 'international community' would ever allow him to be tried for any crimes − in the interest of 'reconciliation'. On the other hand, they will continue to blast Honduras for corruption, even though the US is leading the pack for institutionalizing Honduran corruption by forgiving Zelaya. If Zelaya is granted amnesty, how can the others be charged? That is just not right.

I realize that Pepe Lobo is between a rock and a hard place trying to please the international community as well as Hondurans. But I hope that he thinks deeply about what he plans to do.

Chicks can't share

broody hens, La Ceiba, HondurasTwo broody hens after a yogurt break

These two silly hens both went broody at the same time. They began laying their eggs in this little jardinera (planter box) outside the hall window. This jardinera gets too much shade for anything to grow so the hens started using it for their dusting box. Hens roll around in a dusty area to rid themselves of insects like lice and mites. (Apparently that works.) For whatever reason, and much to my annoyance, the hens quit laying their eggs in the coop several months ago.

broody hens, La Ceiba, HondurasI thought this was very smart of them to lay their eggs in an area protected by the rain. It was also very handy for me, since I could just open the window and gather the eggs for the day. Nice! I moved the little nesting bowl out there for their convenience and mine. Not to be discouraged by a lack of eggs, both hens shared the nesting bowl with only one egg.

I had a thought that it might not be such a good idea as my hens don't like to share their chicks, but I didn't do anything to try to "break the broodiness" of one of the hens. They seemed fine with sharing. So they sat and sat and sat side by side, until finally about 10 days ago their little chick hatched. (See the close up in the photo below. The chick is peeking out between the two hens.)

hens with chick, La Ceiba, HondurasThings seemed to be going okay until about the third day. Because the jardinera is about two feet high (60 cm.), I had to help the chick to get back in each afternoon. As I was returning the chick to the jardinera, I noticed one of the mother hens' head was all dirty like it had been digging into something head first. When I picked up the other one, I realized that it wasn't dirt, but was dried blood and one of the eyes of the other hen was swollen shut. So, the two mother hens apparently had a fight over the chick. Not good.

I decided to remove the hen who had gotten the worst of the fight and leave the chick with the stronger one. I put brown-headed one out with the other chickens for the evening and she settled in with one of the roosters. I didn't know for a couple of days whether her eye was going to be alright, but I soaked with a warm, wet cloth and eventually it opened and seems to be okay.

However, the next morning when I was feeding the chickens, I saw the orange headed hen and there was no chick with her. I rushed to the jardinera, thinking that the chick must have died but there it was, with the other mother. Since that time, the 'weak' mother and the chick have been inseparable, while the 'strong' mother has gone off for amor with one of the roosters. The mother hen squawks and squawks every afternoon about 4 p.m. because she can't get her chick back into the jardinera and I obediently go out, often in the pouring rain, to catch the chick and deposit her back into the little nesting bowl.

I couldn't put the chick and mother in the chicken coup because that is being occupied by another mother hen with five older chicks. That hen also chose a jardinera for her clutch of eggs, but it was very difficult to catch five chicks every evening to put them back in their jardinera, especially since all the commotion attracts the dogs who think chasing chicks into hiding is a great game to play.

So, after catching the chicks one evening, I locked them into the coup for a couple of days with their mother (and food and water, of course) until they learned that was their home. They now obediently go inside every evening for safety − very important right now because we have had some cold weather and very heavy rains for the past couple of weeks. In the way of chickens, the older chicks or their mother would attack the younger chick so I have to keep them separate, at least until the chick gets a little bigger.

bantam chickens, La Ceiba, HondurasChickens roosting on the terraza railing

bantam chickens, La Ceiba, HondurasEventually I want to teach all the chickens (again!) to go into the coup at night. The others currently roost on the terraza railing at night which makes for a not-so-nice mess on the terraza floor. What a minute! Didn't I say that six months ago?

December 23, 2009

Lemon harvest 2009

lemon, La Ceiba, HondurasLa Gringa's lemon

lemon, La Ceiba, HondurasThat is lemon, singular. The above photo is of my first spring harvest, March 28 − one lemon!

It looked perfect but I was hiding the part where it split open. Hahaha. I'm thinking that maybe a deluge of rain caused it to expand too fast, but I don't know. It was really delicious anyway and very juicy. But it didn't make too much of a dent in our lemon purchasing needs since we use about a dozen a week, mostly for ice tea.

I need to do some reading about lemon trees but I've had no time for anything for the past few months. I have no idea how long it should take for the lemons to get ripe or how you can tell whether they are ripe or not.

larvae on lemon treeDoes anyone know what these nasty things are? We discovered them devouring the lemon leaves about 6 weeks before the first harvest. There were so many and they had done such damage that I just cut off the ends of the branches where they were and drowned them in a bucket of water.

This poor tree has been through a lot. First, right after it was planted, some other flowering plants grew up around it. I wanted to leave those plants for awhile and eventually I forgot the lemon tree (about 18 inches tall - 46 cm.) was there, so it grew sideways trying to find some sun.

lemon tree branchThen a worker trimmed it for us in the most god-awful way, cutting off the main trunk about 12 inches from the ground (30 cm.). You can see in this photo that the branches are growing about a foot above the grass. Then because it was growing sideways with branches on only one side, the rootstock (probably sour orange) began to grow from the trunk. Luckily I noticed that part of the tree was completely different. It grew stiff and straight up with thick leaves and heavy thorns, so I cut all that off.

lemon, La Ceiba, HondurasThis is a photo of my winter harvest, December 10 − again, one lemon! Oh, well, there are four or five small ones still on the tree. I guess that isn't too bad for a young, badly neglected and deformed tree. It is barely five feet tall and scrawny.

I'm hoping that as the tree grows, we can do something about the shape, although I'm not sure how.

So these are my two lemon harvests, not because of what I've done, but despite what I have and haven't done.

December 19, 2009

Discover Honduras!

Take a four minute trip around Honduras. Enjoy!

December 16, 2009

La Gringa Rumana

It is a small, small world.

Once upon a time there was a pretty young woman way across the world in Romania who wanted to learn more about life in Honduras. She was in love with a Honduran man and considering moving to Honduras to spend her life with him.

Searching the internet for information, she came across La Gringa's Blogicito and started reading it regularly. Some things that she read were not so different than her home country. Some things made her laugh. Some things made her shiver. Some things she took with a grain of salt, thinking, "Hmmm, well maybe this American is a little bit spoiled." (..."as most Americans are," she could have added but was too polite to do so. ;-D )

The biggest surprise came when she actually realised (by making some connections and deductions) that La Gringa is not just an American (spoiled or not) who came to Honduras and had been living there for almost seven years, but also.....her sister-in-law!!!! Funny, eh?

She was just meaning to dig in for more information on the country where she intended to move and there she was, discovering a new relative. That captured her attention even more and since that day, checking the Blogicito became a daily routine.

She got to know pretty much about La Gringa's way of living, about her habits, about the things that make her happy or drive her crazy, about life in Honduras in general. And even if she quit seeing Honduras as a tropical Caribbean paradise as shown in the photos posted on different tourist sites, at least she got down to earth as far as her expectations were concerned.

Following La Gringa's sage advice, she came for an extended visit and lived with her Honduran family to find out for herself what living in Honduras was like.

After she met La Gringa, she said, "I've been reading your Blogicito and I want to say: THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!" Everything you wrote was true. EVERYTHING! I think it would have been very hard for me if I had not been prepared for the reality by reading your blog."

Since she came to Honduras, day by day she had the chance to see that almost everything La Gringa wrote is not fiction, but reality. There are days when she swears that when this holiday is over, she'll go back to Romania and never set foot again in Honduras and days when she thinks that Honduras is not the worst place to live after all, and with love, patience, and good will she can overcome all obstacles.

One of those days, while sitting together for lunch, watching her add plenty of Salsa Picante Chile Tabasco in her food (because she likes spicy food), her mother-in-law told her smiling: "Whoever comes to Honduras and tastes chile, will spend the rest of his life here" (Cualquiera que venga a Honduras y guste de comer chile, pasara el tiempo de su vida aqui.)

Is she right or not? Who knows? Only time will tell....

Co-written by La Gringa and La Gringa Rumana.

December 15, 2009

Guest blog: Enough is enough!

L-R, Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias,
and Honduran President-elect Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo
Photo: El Heraldo, Honduras

Honduran Manifesto to the International Community
Guest blog by Jorge Gallardo Ruís

Enough is Enough! The International Community expressed its intention to honor an accord convened by both sides of the Honduran crisis and promised that things would go back to normal for Honduras and its people if it was honored.

They have repeatedly demanded that the Micheletti government honor its side of the bargain, which it has done. Every point in the accord has been honored by the Micheletti government in time and essence: The installation of the Verification Commission, naming its representatives to the Unity government, supporting the electoral process and respecting the results, accepting Congress’s decision to re-instate or not Zelaya and supporting the transition to the newly elected government.

Meanwhile, the Zelaya side has broken every one of its commitments: He retracted his representatives to the Verification Commission; he has continued calling for insurrection and threatening with violence; He called for a boycott of the elections, he has declared that he doesn’t accept the vote in Congress, he is calling on the International Community to reject the electoral process and the newly elected government.

Now the International Community demands new conditions on the Micheletti government while it keeps silent about Zelaya’s flagrantly dishonorable actions.

First, they demand that Zelaya be awarded political amnesty, an issue that was not excluded from the accord but instead, amply discussed and rejected by both sides.

Second, they are asking that Micheletti resign as President. This option was offered to Zelaya in good time and form, before Congress made its decision, and was rejected by Zelaya with the support of the International Community. Now that Congress has made its decision and Zelaya will not be re-instated, they want to return to an option that had previously been rejected and is not part of the Tegucigalpa – San Jose Accord. It's like he had been offered a tie, and after he lost, wanting to go back and accept the tie.

Apparently, the International Community has not fully understood the depth of the decision by Congress on December 4th. Congress didn’t vote directly on the question whether to re-instate Zelaya or not. They reviewed the legal proceedings of June 28th and by an overwhelming majority 111-14 deemed the procedure legal. Thus, they not only voted NOT to re-instate Zelaya, but upheld the legality of Micheletti’s succession, making him a legal, constitutional successor to the Presidency.

Enough! The Honduran people are tired of the International Community playing games with our government and our people.

Zelaya has caused enormous damage to the Honduran people. After having reduced our foreign debt to manageable levels in the previous government, with great sacrifices by the Honduran people, to achieve reasonable macroeconomic stability, Zelaya initiated his term with a “served table”, the resources ripe for the great social actions that would combat poverty and move Honduras to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Yet in 3 years, he put us back to the levels of foreign debt held before it was condoned without advancing an inch towards achievement of these goals. Not only that, but during his mandate, our internal debt has doubled, leaving Honduras in a financial crisis that will sorely affect social programs in the new government.

More than US $300 million undocumented expenditures and more than US $20 million spent on an illegal political campaign are all part of Zelaya’s inheritance to our nation. The Poverty Reduction Strategy was strangulated, hospitals were kept without medicines, more school days have been lost than in any other period of our history affecting our nation’s youth and the country’s infrastructure has steadily deteriorated.

Throughout this crisis, Zelaya has demanded to be reinstated for political reasons and not once has he expressed regret for the damage he caused to our nation and our people before and after June 28th. And the International Community has backed this whole mess and not once demanded that Zelaya even honor his commitments to the Honduran people and to them as sovereign states.

So, no sirs, enough is enough. As long as the International Community doesn’t start demanding that Zelaya honor his commitments, that Brazil resolve its diplomatic bungling in the crisis and that the ALBA nations cease their threats and attacks to our nation, the Honduran people will not accept any conditioning not included in the Tegucigalpa – San Jose Accord. Micheletti stays and no amnesty.


Many thanks go to Jorge Gallardo for allowing me to post this article.

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

December 14, 2009

If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em

Honduran poll
TV poll taken August 25, 2009
Do you believe that the US is showing us that it is
an untrustworthy allied country?

93% said yes

I honestly have no idea what side the US is on anymore. I'm so confused, so tired, so burned out, so disgusted with US policy − or better said, tired of 'trying to figure out what is the US policy'.

Honduran pollIn the beginning, they were totally against Honduras and demanded that Zelaya be put back into office despite the US Library of Congress report which they have managed to ignore, despite the fact that they have evidence of his corruption and narcotrafficking ties, and despite the fact that the US knew that Zelaya was violating a Supreme Court order before June 28. (Poll Aug 28: Since June 28, do you think that Honduran democracy has strengthened? Yes, 91%. Click on images to enlarge.)

When demands and condemnations did nothing, they backed the Arias strong-arm negotiation. When that fell through, they blamed the Honduran government even though it was Zelaya's negotiator who said that "the talks were dead" and it was Zelaya who continued to violate the supposed Accord by publicly pushing the constitutional assembly (including in a CNN interview within hours of Zelaya telling Hillary Clinton that he agreed to the San José Accord which prohibited pursuing a constitutional assembly!).

Honduran pollThe OAS then sent another failed delegation of Ambassadors to Honduras to try to force compliance with their wishes. This included Insulza, several OAS representatives and several US representatives. Honduras continued to stand strong for their constitution and sovereignty, while asking the OAS to look at the facts. (Aug. 24 poll: How much hope do you have that the OAS commission will contribute to the solution of the political crisis? Much 17%; None 83%.)

Honduran pollThen Arias was happy when Zelaya snuck back into the country and started riots, since that would make it easier to conclude the negotiations.
(Aug. 29 poll: What perception do you have of US Ambassador Hugo Llorens? Good, 16%; Bad 84%)

Then they pushed the OAS-led Guaymuras dialogue. When that was going nowhere, they blamed it on the Honduran government again and sent a strong arm in to close the deal, reportedly with threats to both sides. The US publicly PROMISED to respect a Honduran solution to the Honduran problem. José Insulza of the OAS also PROMISED to respect the agreement.

With much effort, an accord was reached and signed by both sides. Within 24 hours, Zelaya was reneging on the agreement, and the US and OAS again and again blamed the Honduran government. It was a negotiated agreement. Zelaya was either out-negotiated or thought that he had a backdoor deal. He lost and now he wants a rematch.

First the US blamed Micheletti for trying "to unilaterally form a unity government" which was not true − Micheletti, unlike Zelaya who only considers his personal interests, consulted all sectors in a true effort at reconciliation.

Zelaya publicly stated hundreds of times not only that he will not submit names for the cabinet, but that he completely disavows the Accord. Still the US pounds on Honduras to implement the Tegucigalpa Accord. How?

Honduran pollThen the US 'suggested' that President Micheletti step aside for a week during the election and the vote in congress.
(Nov. 21 poll: Do you believe that it is correct that Roberto Micheletti retire temporarily from the presidency of the Republic? No 85%)

President-elect Pepe Lobo has gotten involved, with full cooperation from Micheletti. He started a "national dialogue" and invited the resistance to participate. The resistance refused, saying they wouldn't talk to him, don't recognize him, and that it was a slap in the face. Lobo has been pushing the unity government, but what can he do to satisfy the US if Zelaya will not submit names?

How crazy is it to even propose changing the entire government leadership for the remaining seven weeks until Lobo takes office? Obviously, this would not serve Honduras and would make Lobo's transition even more difficult since he and his transition team would be working with people who know nothing about what the government has been doing. Does this make any sense at all? Would it save face for the US and OAS, or only make them look the bullying, hypocritical fools that they have been?

The clause in the Tegucigalpa Accord which refers to the Unity and Reconciliation Government includes a reference to Article 246 of the Constitution. That Article refers to the Secretaries of State and heads of other government institutions, NOT the president. Not even Zelaya's own negotiators have tried to claim that the unity government has anything to do with removing Micheletti as president.

Honduran poll
Dec. 11 poll: Should Pepe Lobo take the presidency early
or should Micheletti finalize his government (on January 27)?
Pepe should take possession 15%
Micheletti should finish his term 85%

Honduran pollBut now, once again, the US is going back on their word to respect "the Honduran solution" and are insisting, through Arias and Martinelli, that Micheletti resign. That is not in the agreement. Isn't it a little hypocritical to demand an unconstitutional removal of a president from a country who claims to believe that the last president was removed unconstitutionally?
(Dec. 3 poll: Do you agree with conceding political amnesty to Manuel Zelaya? No, 76%)

Honduran pollHonduras does not need and does not want a new president for seven weeks. If the US and OAS think that would satisfy the resistance, they are even more ignorant about Honduras than I thought. (By the way, rumor has it that the US intelligence people in Honduras have been replaced. True?)
(Sept. 29 poll: Do you believe that it is impossible that Manuel Zelaya be restored to the presidency of the Republic? Yes, 90%. Note the vote count, about 6 times the normal amount.)

Another by-the-way: just who is it that the US would find acceptable to be Honduras' president for the next seven weeks? Zelaya and the media have basically painted the whole country as being golpistas? Maybe the US should just come out of the closet, cut out the middle man, and pick a president, since they aren't at all interested in Honduras following its constitution (or the Tegucigalpa Accord) except as it concerns their interpretation of Zelaya's rights. Or, maybe they already have.

US State Department Arturo Valenzuela is calling on Latin America to make a "final and collective effort" for a definitive solution to the crisis in Honduras which would better be passed "to solution of the countries of Central America". What happened to the Honduran solution?

Now we are to believe that Honduras' fate is in the hands of Central American countries? Is he calling for an effort for recognize Pepe Lobo as the next president of Honduras? Or an effort to intervene in Honduras to force its constitutional president to resign? I have no idea, but Insulza declared his proposal 'correct', so that is a very bad sign.

Craig Kelly (US State Dept.) went to the Dominican Republic the day before DR President Fernández announced that he was going to help negotiate a new solution. (The comments on this article are more interesting than the article itself.) Are we to believe there was no connection between Kelly's visit and Fernández's involvement in the Mexico, Brazil, DR plot to get Zelaya out of the country?

When Pepe Lobo returned from his meeting with Arias and Martinelli in Costa Rica, he said that the international community wanted amnesty for all and for Micheletti to resign in addition to implementation of the Tegucigalpa Accord. With that, US $2 billion (yes, that is billion with a 'B') would be made available to Honduras (through aid, loans, etc. from the "international community". On a morning talk show on Friday, it was mentioned that the US offered US $2 billion for Micheletti to resign.

Both the US and OAS have shown that they don't keep their word. Why should Honduras trust them now? Who is to say that they wouldn't come up with some additional requirement if these latest two demands were to be met?

So, with all that the US/OAS have done to try to break Honduras and couldn't, now they are trying to buy their sovereignty. How much would it cost US taxpayers for the Obama Administration save face on the Honduran issue? Because the payoffs won't only be to Honduras, they may have to pay off many of the Chávez allies to change their minds, too.

December 11, 2009

Zelaya needs a better travel agent

Wait a minute! I changed my mind.

According to the Foreign Relations Minister of Honduras, no request has been received from President Leonel Fernández for Mel Zelaya to travel to the Dominican Republic for a meeting with Honduran President-elect Pepe Lobo, even though Fernández announced the meeting. It really makes no sense for them to meet there when they are both in Honduras. Maybe Fernández is going for next year's Nobel Peace Prize.

Proceso Digital quotes Fernández as saying, "According to the criteria of the international community, Zelaya will cease to be president in January 2010, when he transfers the mandate to the president elect." − with no mention of the signed Tegucigalpa Accord, the congressional vote, or the 'Honduran solution'.

President Fernández arrogantly adds, "What was needed to complete the outcome of that electoral process was just a political dialogue. Here we have the second element of that equation and we believe that it finally could be the solution to the drama that Honduras has been suffering." Again, with no mention of the months of dialogue and negotiation that Honduras has been through, or the final Accord which was reached.

Just a few days ago, we heard that the "international community" wanted the Tegucigalpa Accord implemented as soon as possible. Obviously, there is no united international community.

Lobo is quoted as saying the plan was to dialogue and sign a new agreement! What? Lobo does not have the authority to negotiate anything for Honduras. There is already a signed Accord. This is going back to the OAS viewpoint where the only people who matter are the presidents. And finally, I would hope that Lobo realizes that Zelaya is not going abide by any agreement. Is Honduras going to be subject to every country in the world taking turns deciding what is best for Honduras, while Zelaya breaks agreement after agreement? How many do-overs does he get?

Zelaya's embassy sidekick Rasel Tomé spoke with Channel 6 this evening, and mentioned Fernández's willingness to help Honduras find an "exit" to this crisis, but he would not confirm either that Zelaya would visit the DR or that he had asked for asylum there. He said he would have more information in the next hours.

Does this proposed offshore meeting have to do with a suitcase full of cash and that's why it can't be done in the embassy? If so, where did the cash come from and who gets it?

But it is interesting to note that 'the closer' Craig Kelly of the US State Department met with Fernández yesterday. Something is up.

Update 12/12: An unnamed source within the government said: "Unless he leaves on a flying saucer, Zelaya is not going anywhere," the source said. "The only legal way for him to leave the country is under the condition of political asylum."


After lots of confusion Wednesday night, we learned that former president Manuel Zelaya would not accept political asylum because of the legal restrictions that would put on his intentions to continue his campaign to drum up political support to return to office, as well as to attend the upcoming ALBA meeting in Cuba.

Mexico's original request for safe conduct included Zelaya's family members and Rasel Tomé, former head of Conatel. Mexico was informed that the family members were free to leave the embassy and country whenever they liked. They were also informed that Rasel Tomé was a wanted criminal with an outstanding arrest warrant. When charges were filed against Tomé a few months ago, at the initial court hearing, he requested and was granted substitute measures instead of being held in jail awaiting trial. He was ordered to report to the court once a week. Once Tomé entered the Brazilian Embassy and stopped reporting to the court, he violated the terms of the substitute measures, and Brazil was harboring two criminals.

Mexico resubmitted their request to include only Manuel Zelaya, but according to Honduras' Foreign Minister, the request was 'confused' and did not meet international standards for asylum as presented in the Caracas Convention. The Mexican documents can be found at El Heraldo. Mexico has since announced cryptically that "conditions are not right" to receive Zelaya in Mexico − whatever that means. Hopefully it means that they finally realize that Zelaya cannot be trusted.

What really happened

La Prensa accuses the governments of Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic of being involved in a plot to deceive the Honduran government into believing that Zelaya was asking for political asylum when they were planning to help him start a new media offensive against the Micheletti government.

Danilo Orellana, police commissioner, gave more information on a television show last night. Speaking frankly, he stated that Mel Zelaya called a Micheletti official on Saturday, December 5, to say that he was desperate, he couldn't stand it any longer, and he wanted to seek political asylum. Zelaya admitted that he had begun talks with Mexico. This was discussed with President Micheletti who agreed to let Zelaya go.

Orellana was called into the meeting with the Foreign Relations folks. He warned them that Zelaya would retract his request, that he wouldn't leave because he has mental problems, he is a "megalomaniac" − and that is what happened. "He made a mockery of the good faith of the Honduran authorities."

Commissioner Orellana said that Zelaya was even willing to sign a statement committing to abide by the Tegucigalpa Accord, recognize the elections, and not refer anymore to the Honduran crisis because he accepted that he was an ex-president. But at the last minute Zelaya changed his mind, just as Orellana predicted. "He is a case for a psychologist." said Orellana. (They should have realized this after Zelaya denied signing his resignation, reneged on every aspect of the Tegucigalpa Accord, and all the other lies he has told in the past months.) Then of course, Zelaya twisted the story for the media and the media bought it.

Proceso Digital gives more details.

In what must have been dozens of telephone interviews going late into the night Wednesday, Zelaya proposed renegotiating an entirely new agreement. He said, over and over again, that he is looking for peace for his country, for a negotiated exit, that the country cannot be reconciled without him. Nice words, but his actions have shown his intentions to be something entirely different.

Though Zelaya said that he was willing to stay in the embassy for 10 years, Brazil announced yesterday that Zelaya must leave the embassy by January 27, 2010, the day that his term expires. Then today, they may have changed that to extend his welcome.

Information Minister Rene Zepeda said Thursday, "If these countries want to get Zelaya out of Honduras, they will have to do it according to the law: by giving him asylum in their territories, but without a title. If that happens, our government will accept that and they can take him immediately without any problem."

Zelaya was quoted, "The whole purpose of leaving was to find a neutral place where we could establish a dialogue with Porfirio Lobo,'' Zelaya said. Lobo has previously asked to talk with Zelaya and Zelaya refused! In that same article, Zelaya also says that the US agreed to his plan to go to Mexico, which US Embassy officials in Honduras refute. This article quotes Zelaya as saying he was on the telephone with US Ambassador Hugo Llorens at the same time he achieved agreement with Mexico.

Why now?

What do you suppose brought on this new effort from Zelaya? I think he was emboldened by Arias' demand that that Micheletti resign and by the Chávez-led countries who claim they will never recognize Pepe Lobo as president. He probably thought, "Here's my chance! I can convince the world to put me back!"

Zelaya is just delusional. His country, with the exception of a small group who mostly have been manipulated and mislead with bad information, does not want him. Not for seven weeks, not for seven days, not for seven minutes.

December 9, 2009

Zelaya is (not?) leaving Honduras

(Updated below)

Proceso Digital, an online Honduran newspaper, reports that Mel Zelaya has requested a 'salvoconducto' (safe conduct) and may be leaving for Mexico in the next hours. Radio Globo reported earlier in the day that they had information that Zelaya was making arrangements to leave the country.

Television news (channels 10 and 3) are reporting that he is leaving within minutes. A small crowd of onlookers (doesn't appear to be protesters) is gathering. The gates have been lifted and are being moved toward the crowd.

Last week, the majority of the security forces were removed from the Brazilian Embassy,  leaving only a few police officers. Tonight, Channel 10 is showing a lot of activity around the embassy − not the number of soldiers as in September when Zelaya first arrived, but more than last week.

However, media reports from Nicaragua indicated that preparations are being made to provide a luxury complex to Zelaya, his family, and certain of his ministers (some of whom have outstanding arrest warrants for sacking millions in public funds).

Update 7:40 pm: Honduras' equivalent of the FAA has granted permission to land to a Mexican-registered plane. A 'commission' is arriving soon to escort ex-president Zelaya and his family.

Political analysts are discussing the fact that political asylum cannot be given for criminal charges.

Update 8:23: Zelaya is on the phone with channel 3. He would not confirm he is going to Mexico and has said that he has never asked for political asylum from any country. Says he will remain the president of Honduras until January 27. Announcer asked him three times whether he was leaving for Mexico and he evaded the questions! The last time he was asked, he said he was having problems communicating on this phone line and that he would call back later. Click! The crowd is getting larger and noisier.

Update 8:28: Cholusat Sur also received a call from Zelaya. He would not confirm to them either that he was leaving the country. Esdras and his sidekick are congratulating themselves that they are the only serious media source with the correct story. Hahaha.

Update 8:35: Chancellor of Honduras confirms that a salvoconducto has been granted to Zelaya and his family.

Update 8:45: "A president should never be treated this way. I've never in my life had a charge against me. When the US changed their position..... I wanted to have elections but under a democratic government. I want to revisit the terms of the Accord. The Accord is outside of all that makes sense. The elections don't resolve anything." − Zelaya on the phone with channel 11. The crowd is growing and shouting for the media. So leave already! before another riot starts. 

Update 8:50: Zelaya advisor and fugitive from justice Rasel Tome confirmed to CNN today that Zelaya had spoken with leaders of several countries today, but would not confirm that he had asked for political asylum. (Interesting: Maybe the international media cameras were turned off, because all of sudden, the crowd is quiet again and seems to be thinning out.)

Update 9:00: Channel 3 is reporting that President Micheletti suspended the salvoconducto. Channel 36 is still congratulating themselves that they are the only professional media in the country. "It's not easy," they say. Yes, they have hardly had time tonight to read their Facebook entries or text messages to the audience.

Update 9:00: Apparently Mexico was going to receive Zelaya as a distinguished guest rather than grant him political asylum, and Zelaya wanted to attend the ALBA meeting in Cuba on December 14. The Mexican plane, however, they say, has left for El Salvador without its passengers.

Update 9:35: This is very confusing. I'm reading that the Honduran government granted the salvoconducto (safe conduct), but that Zelaya refused to travel under a salvoconducto, because he's "still the president of Honduras!" But it doesn't look like he will be leaving tonight. The lights are turned off at the airport.

Channel 10 reports that some members of the resistance are intimidating (Honduran) journalists. (They love foreign journalists.) There are a couple of dozen people jumping up and down for the cameras.

Update 10:00: Enrique Flores Lanza, former Minister of the Presidency (who also has charges against him for withdrawing L.40 million in cash from the national bank two days before the proposed June 28 poll), has confirmed to Telesur that Zelaya has not asked for political asylum.  The Mexican Chancellor confirmed that Zelaya does not have political asylum in Mexico. Political asylum would prevent Zelaya from political activities and apparently his intent was to do some last minute campaigning with foreign governments to try to return to office. As mentioned above, he's now talking about negotiating a new agreement of some sort. Please! He's violated every clause of every agreement so far.

Update 10:20: Oh, never mind....

The tides have turned for Honduras

Hillary Clinton with Carmen Lomellin, 
new US Ambassador to the OAS

Note: I've been trying to get this article finished since I started it last Friday. It seems now that it should read that the tide turned until the latest tsunami hit. Sorry for the delay, but I thought that the statements from the US and Panamá would still be interesting to you.

Finally, after five long months and six days, the tides turned for Honduras. After the voice of the Honduran people was heard at the polls on November 29 and through their congressmen on December 2, it was no longer possible to ignore the majority of the Honduran people.

Friday afternoon several Facebook friends and I watched the live streaming video of the OAS special meeting to discuss the situation in Honduras. Though you wouldn't know it from reading Secretary General José Insulza's press release, there was strong dessension not only about the OAS's position on the elections but about the facts surrounding the Tegucigalpa Accord.

The meeting began with Insulza's highly biased and misleading report, including this logic: he refused to send OAS election observers therefore elections cannot be recognized because the OAS did not send election observers. He encouraged all countries to not recognize the election. He made it crystal clear that he, speaking for the OAS, never had any intention of respecting the Tegucigalpa Accord or a "Honduran solution to the Honduran problem."

In his press release, he states that president-elect Pepe Lobo should "break clearly and publicly from what happened in these months" which indicates divisiveness and a desire for revenge more than a move toward reconciliation of Hondurans. In effect, Insulza is recommending that Honduras' new president break from 80% of the population, the people who elected him.

Obviously the OAS cannot be trusted to keep their promise, a promise that Insulza and other OAS representatives personally made to Honduras as inducement to negociate, that a Honduran solution (the Accord) would be respected by the OAS. Insulza chose instead to grasp at Zelaya's own failure to comply with the agreement as a reason to further harm Honduras.

Most of the statements from the various country's ambassadors that followed were more of the usual: "We will not recognize the elections. We will not recognize the new president. We demand that the Brazilian Embassy be respected. We demand that Jose Manuel Zelaya be reinstated to office." Blah, blah, blah. It was looking glum, but not surprising to those of us watching.

Then, along came a white knight in the form of new US Ambassador to the OAS, Carmen Lomellin. In her first official statement on her very first day, Ambassador Lomellin began to read a statement in a shaky voice. The statement began by condemning not 'the coup' but "Zelaya's expulsion from Honduras .... not because he was removed but because of the way in which he was removed". Read that carefully. That is a huge change from previous US statements. "Every country has the right to remove an official who abuses authority or breaks the law."

Lomellin stressed that both sides agreed to the Tegucigalpa Accord, "I repeat: Both sides," and that it was Zelaya's idea to have the congress decide. "We note that President Zelaya renounced the Accord, made inaccurate statements about the electoral process and US policy, and called for a boycott of elections."

Ambassador Lomellin was highly complimentary about the elections, but noted that "the roughly one million voters in the US and elsewhere, unfortunately, found it difficult to vote because Honduran Consulates and Embassies loyal to President Zelaya discouraged them from doing so. .... Honduran voters indicated their wish to move forward .... and the OAS should help them to do so."

"President Zelaya committed himself to the Accord, to support the elections, and to accept the decision of congress concerning his return to office. He should honor those commitments. It is time to move on. That issue is over. We all need to recognize that." she said.

Then came another white knight in the form of the Panamanian Ambassador Guillermo Alberto Cochez. He started out by saying that some of the previous statements from his colleagues reminded him of a joke from his university days:

"What would be the reaction of a right winger, a christian democrat and a communist faced with the infidelity of their spouses? The right winger would beat her, the christian democrat would sit down with her and ask her not to do it again, and the communist would throw rocks at the nearest American embassy."

Heee-lar-i-ous! I couldn't believe my ears. Neither could the other people in the meeting who guffawed loudly. Cochez was flamboyent, waving his arms, and showing the others to be the hypocrites that they are. He blasted them for "seeing the speck in someone else's eye but ignoring the gigantic beam in their own eye" (a common Spanish saying from the bible meaning 'judge not, that ye be not judged').

He spoke of coups in other countries by name. "These are realities that no one can ignore."

It was really quite incredible the way he said all the things that have needed to be said in OAS meetings.

Ambassador Cochez said, "There are other political problems against democracy which need our attention as well. There are violations of human rights. There are other countries who don't want the OAS human rights commissions to visit." (Venezuela will not allow human rights groups to visit to investigate complaints.)

The following is translated and paraphrased from his speech:
There are manipulations and criticisms of elections in other countries [which had the blessing of the OAS] and we guard our silence. There are [countries where] separation of powers doesn't exist, two judges of the election tribunal are of the president's party, violating the total meaning of democracy that we are here to defend. There are countries who change court verdits, a supreme court who changes the constitution of its country, closure of media, persecution, institutional fomentation of violence.

There is talk of a media dictatorship, but is there any media dictator worse than someone who takes over the airwaves and subjects his people to 8-10-12-hour national broadcasts up to three times in the same day?! We talk of governments who act in a cunning manner, of false democrats. 'False democrats?', or better said, false socialists, the new rich, of giving campaign money to other countries in suitcases, which we saw on a video a few weeks ago.

Ambassador Cochez said that it is time to look forward. "Honduras has the right to decide its own destiny and no one can impose one."

Hooray for Panamá and hooray for their sensible new President Martinelli, who no doubt blessed this message.

The US State Department in its press releases is finally admitting some of Zelaya's actions and distortions of the truth − that I have been telling you about here for months − that the Accord in no way required congress to return Zelaya to office, that Zelaya knew that and it was "crystal clear". They also mentioned Zelaya's negative stance toward elections, in violation of the Accord, and his refusal to participate in the Unity Government, and that the elections were scheduled long before June 28, not in an attempt to "whitewash the coup".

Interestingly, a State Department official also mentions "this government of national unity is going to have to address also issues including amnesties and other things like that." Other things like that? Other things not in the Tegucigalpa Accord? The issue of amnesty was in the original Arias San José Accord but was not included in the Tegucigalpa Accord at Zelaya's request. So the US, in their infinite wisdom about what is good for Honduras, is requiring Honduras to submit to the Tegucigalpa Accord even though Zelaya has denounced it, and requiring them to submit to select clauses that they want included from the San José Accord!

I don't expect that many, or maybe any, countries will ever admit that they were taken in by the Chávez-funded disinformation campaign in the early days and weeks and admit that this was a sloppy constitutional succession not a coup d'etat, but I don't think that many countries will continue the ridiculous stand of not recognizing the Republic of Honduras or the democratically elected president Porfirior "Pepe" Lobo.

If you understand Spanish, you can watch the entire set of videos of the December 4th meeting at the OAS website. If you only want to see the US (in English) and Panamá (in Spanish) speeches, look for the video which begins with the US Ambassador.

Canadian readers might also want to listen to the audio only of Canada.
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