October 25, 2009

Day 120 of the Honduras crisis, October 25, 2009

John Biehl, OAS representative
Photo: La Prensa, Honduras

Day 120 of the Honduran crisis, day 35 of Mel Zelaya's misguided hijacking of the Brazilian Embassy, 35 days before the presidential election, 94 days before the newly elected president takes office, and day 125 of my blogging about it.

Again on Friday, Micheletti's negotiating team announced the proposal that Roberto Micheletti would resign in favor of a government of reconciliation, if Zelaya would renounce his campaign to return to power for the remaining three months of his term.

As many have been suggesting, a third party as president would be a way to take "personalities" and "egos" out of the equation and allow Honduras to move forward. After all, at this point, we are talking about 94 days of a presidential term, with the country and many of its people suffering economically in the meantime.

Zelaya announced that it would be unseemly, indecent for the Honduran people if he were to negotiate the position for which he was elected − though he was not exactly the democratically elected president, since he admitted that he won the elections through fraud in a televised interview which is on YouTube (in Spanish).

Friday evening, Vilma Morales of the Micheletti team said that they have submitted ten proposals to Zelaya's team and each have been rejected. She lamented the rupture of the dialogue and indicated that Zelay's commission had demonstrated intransigence and intolerance in the dialogue table.

In a press conference before he left for Washington, D.C., John Biehl, OAS "observer" to the talks, said that there is no reason that the talks not continue. However, if there is no accord reached, the OAS will not recognize elections. [google translation]

Biehl stated that any accord reached by the Hondurans would be respected by the OAS − I have no idea how that correlates with the numerous statements made by Secretary General Insulza and other OAS member states that ONLY the restoration of Zelaya will be accepted.

Biehl, pointing to a survey which will be released later, said that the majority of Hondurans are in favor of a third party replacement as a way out of the crisis. He also may have been the first OAS representative to publicly rebuke those who call for violence, saying that "is not the way." Possibly his three weeks in Honduras have given him a better picture of where the risk of violence is coming from.

Biehl qualified the previous proposals as "extremely reasonable" and referred to the current break in talks as a "recess". A blogger inside the Brazilian Embassy described Biehl as "visibly upset" after leaving a meeting with Zelaya at the Embassy Friday night.

In a Carter Center press conference, representatives made it clear that "it would be difficult to observe elections" unless an agreement is reached.

The Brazilian blogger inside the Embassy today writes that Zelaya received a positive signal from the US last night − which is likely to mean that the US will announce non-recognition of the elections or more drastic economic sanctions. The blogger also says that Hugo Llorens, US Ambassador, promised last week that the US "would have a goal after 49 minutes", referring to the world cup game. Today, on Sunday, the blogger revealed the reason for Zelaya's pleasure − he received a call from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Nothing makes Zelaya or Patty Rodas happier than some new sanction against their beloved homeland. [google translation]

Last week, the Washington, D.C., Honduran Consul was threatened with "removal by the US Secret Service" by Patty Rodas, former Foreign Minister of Honduras. The consul and employees were later removed by force by unnamed persons and the locks were changed on the office. This is the only location in the US that can provide Honduran passport services. [translated Proceso Digital article]

Consulate services to Hondurans in the US and other countries have already been decimated with the removal of several Ambassadors and Consuls who chose loyalty to Honduras and Honduran citizens over signing a loyalty agreement to Zelaya personally, putting into risk the ability to vote of expatriate Honduran citizens in a free and fair election in November.

The European Union has announced that it will not support Honduran elections.

UD party Diputada Silvia Ayala asked French Senators to not send election observers to Honduras.

Thursday's announced "massive" protests by the Resistance resulted in an estimated 100 and 150 protesters at two marches.

Although there is much howling about repression of civil rights, the Honduran government is just enforcing the same kind of common sense controls that the USA and most first world countries use in order to protect the rights and safety of all citizens. According to the US Embassy:
"the law requires that the Policia Preventiva or the local municipal authorities be notified in writing of any public gathering or demonstration at least 24 hours in advance. This written notice must include the reason for the public gathering or demonstration, start and end times, place and route that will be taken."
Does that sound like repression or violation of civil rights to you? This has cut down on traffic disruptions and violence and most citizens are grateful.

Today in a telephone interview with Radio Globo, Zelaya was confident that he will be reinstated, though he declined to give details. He announced that the dialogue was concluded, not suspended. He confirmed that the world will not recognize elections and that Honduras is without an ambassador or consul in the world. [google translation]

I'll be waiting for an announcement from the US State Department or OAS tomorrow. It's not looking good.
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