October 8, 2009

Honduran dialogue, morning Day 2

Three Zelaya representatives at left; three government reps at right
Photo: El Heraldo

The OAS gave a brief press conference about 11 a.m., apparently prompted by the media who have complained about the lack of concrete information about their position, the agenda, and lack of interviews with them. The press conference was supposed to be held earlier this morning.

The announcement was described as 'vacio' (lacking information). Though there were some 14 people at the table, Bruno Stagno of Costa Rica was the only one to speak and he merely repeated the 5 points given by Insulza of the OAS yesterday: Restitution of Zelaya, government of unity (I still haven't figured out exactly what that is), guarantees that Zelaya will not continue with the constitutional assembly, amnesty for political crimes, and the mechanisms for international supervision of the agreements.

The announcement at 11 a.m. did not discuss their meetings with Roberto Micheletti and Mel Zelaya last night. The media is now waiting for a 4 p.m. press conference in which they hope to receive more concrete information. The OAS team left Honduras. Did they really think that they were going to resolve something in a day and a half?

Zelayistas have communicated that the restitution of Zelaya is not negotiable and have given a deadline of October 15. Conversely, Micheletti has said that any agreements must be within the framework of the laws and constitution of Honduras and that the restitution of Zelaya is not possible. Micheletti also offered again yesterday, to the OAS committee, that he would resign if Zelaya would do the same.

An important point that I left out of my article yesterday is that Micheletti criticized the mission members in trying to impose the San José Accord, in spite of the fact that: "When I talked with you (Insulza), we agreed that a Honduran solution would be respected, but now the discourse of all of you is different." He also urged them to "reflect on the damage you are doing to a country that has done nothing to you." (Miami Herald article).

Reuters describes Micheletti's tone yesterday as 'scolding' and quotes OAS official Victor Rico as saying, "We were left a little surprised," referring to Micheletti's tone. AP said he was 'bristling with rage', which, having watched the entire meeting twice, I would describe as a gross exaggeration. I think this 'surprise' is just one more indication of how out-of-touch the OAS is with the general sentiment against Zelaya in Honduras. Not surprisingly, the scolding, insulting, and bristling with rage comments of Insulta over the months have not been similarly characterized.

Zelaya was also critical of the OAS mission. [Google translation] He says he has no confidence in the dialogue, despite his support from Insulza and the OAS delegation. Zelaya has proclaimed that he is not the problem, but the solution. [Google translation] He apparently had a conversation with Insulza yesterday and came out of his private quarters to proclaim in front of reporters, "This is a total farce!" [Google translation, article: Sour the atmosphere at the embassy]

Previously, Zelaya issued a demand that he be returned to office by October 15 or he would not recognize elections.[Google translation] Many Hondurans, including presidential candidates Porfirio (Pepe) Lobo and Elvin Santos, believe that Zelaya's primary goal is to prevent elections from occurring.

In Honduras, the constitution grants all responsibility for elections to an independent organization called the Tribunal Supremo Electoral. The president has
no responsibilities or duties regarding elections, except to transfer operating funds to the TSE, which Zelaya's government refused to do prior to June 28, thus hampering them from proceeding with the normal election schedule. Funds have since been transferred to TSE by Micheletti's government.

Yesterday, the six Honduran delegates (three representing Zelaya and three representing Micheletti) met for five hours finishing at 7 p.m. La Prensa reported that the dialogue did not advance because discussion of the agenda and their respective positions consumed the afternoon.

They began again at 8 a.m. this morning.
During a noon break, the media were able to interview some of the six representatives. Basically nothing new was given.

You can read the OAS press release issued yesterday here:

Insulza in Honduras: "We need dialogue so that Hondurans don't have to keep paying the consequences of what happened"

Today's OAS press release will probably be posted at the OAS website later. I will post again after the 4 p.m. (Honduran time) press conference, which judging by the previous schedules, will occur around 6 p.m., if at all.

P.S. I have been in Honduran meetings which had only one primary focus. After a year of meetings with nothing accomplished, I was still being told to have patience. ;-) However, I have been in another meeting in which − Bam! − people worked together and the goal was accomplished in two days. Unfortunately, I don't expect that these dialogues will fall into the latter category.
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