November 29, 2009

Election day - Honduras

Lined up to vote
Photos: El Heraldo

After three days of darkness and rain, the sky is blue and the sun is shining brightly through the scattered clouds.

Television coverage showed dozens of people lined up outside various polling places at 6 a.m.! (the polls opened at 7 a.m.)

La Tribuna reported that resistance members were blocking access to one polling place − more illegality from the resistance who will later claim that the elections weren't valid because people were prevented from voting. Hopefully, the police or military will dislodge them quickly.

Reported in all of the Honduran newspapers is that US Ambassador Hugo Llorens stated in an interview yesterday (one day before the election) that the elections have much legitimacy because the candidates were selected last year, the process started months ago, the Tribunal Supremo Electoral is autonomous, blah, blah, but we are going to wait see what happens. He also said that people who don't want to vote should be respected − but did not suggest that those who want to vote should not be threateed and intimidated by the resistance. The articles received a lot of "Hypocrite!" comments from readers. He will not be forgiven.

Israel joined the list of countries who will recognize the Honduran elections. Japan announced that it will donate US $2 million to help with the election costs, since the usual sources did not. The costs will cost approximately US $24 million this year, partly due to innovations as well as extra security measures needed because of zelayistas and problems with the consulates in the US.

Mel Zelaya has emphatically denied that he plans to ask for asylum. Rumors had it that he was going to ask for asylum in Brazil, and then Nicaragua. Either of those countries deserve him, especially Brazil. I doubted those rumors because I know how Mel thinks. He's still waiting for a catastrophe to befall his beloved country today to save him.

More later....

Viva Honduras! Viva Democracy!

Hondurans: Will they vote or stay at home?

I found the following voter abstention statistics at the Directorio Legislativo site:

% Abstentionism
Elected President
Elecciones% de AbstencionismoPresidente Constitucional Electo
198121.46%Roberto Suazo Córdova
198515.95%José Simón Azcona Hoyo
198924.02%Rafael Leonardo Callejas R.
199335.19%Carlos Roberto Reina Idiáquez
199728.00%Carlos Roberto Flores Facussé
200133.73%Ricardo Maduro Joest
200544.62%Manuel Zelaya Rosales

Los departamentos con más alto porcentaje de (Cortés, Yoro, Atlántida, Colón e Islas de la Bahía) están ubicados en la Costa Atlántica del país.

The states with the highest percentage of abstention (Cortés, Yoro, Atlántida, Colón, and Bay Islands) are located on the Atlantic coast of the country.

In a CNN interview, former president Manuel Zelaya predicted grave abstentionism, which he defined as 50%. "This will disqualify the elections, make them fraudulent and will cause the US to rectify their position." − ironic coming from the president with the highest abstention rate in the history of Honduras.

Based on the trend shown in the chart above, the expected absentee rate would be around 52%, but I think it will be much less than that.

Zelaya would have everyone believe that those who don't vote are protesting for him. That is true for some, but others will stay home from fear of the resistance, who have promised violence and have spread rumors of a huge massacre on election day. Additionally, the resistance have threatened to take photos of voters, implying there would be some sort of retaliation later.

Zelaya is trying to use his own and his followers intimidating and undemocratic actions to try to disqualify a democratic election. Will it work? Will Hondurans be afraid to vote? I don't think so. I've talked to people who will vote for the first time in this election because they realize the importance.

I'm also willing to bet that many of the resistance are the same ones who habitually do not vote, so their vote will not be missed. The resistance publicly declared their own curfew including all day Sunday, which, if followed through on, could actually put some voters at ease. Another rumor was floating that Zelaya would leave the embassy on election day, causing an insurrection, which he hoped would cause the elections to be disrupted enough that the 'international community' would be forced to disavow the elections.


The weather could be another factor. Here in La Ceiba (and probably most of the north coast) we've had heavy rainstorms since Thursday, more than 11 inches and enough to cause flooding. It stopped on Saturday afternoon and hopefully we won't have more today. A better than usual turnout on the north coast could make a difference. Additionally, there has been very little violence in the north coast, as compared to the capital, Tegucigalpa, so voters have fewer worries.


Reports from around the country in the days before the election were that everything was amazingly calm, despite the few isolated cases of violence designed to intimidate voters. Most people want the crisis OVER and see the elections as doing that, regardless of who wins.


A couple of last minute statements by the two leading presidential candidates could have an effect on the results. Elvin Santos of the Liberal Party declared that if he wins he will withdraw from Chávez's ALBA, a popular move. Pepe Lobo of the Nacionalista Party declared that he would invite Zelaya to participate in the national dialogue and that when Zelaya leaves the Brazilian Embassy, he will not be arrested. Since it is not a prerogative of a president, much less a president-elect, to decide whether or not someone gets arrested, and since many want to see Zelaya tried for his crimes, this may not be a popular statement among voters.

Online Honduras election coverage

No hat is going to take away my right to vote!
Hat: Boycott elections

Lots of ways are available to keep up with the Honduran election coverage no matter where you are.

Honduran newspapers:

El Heraldo (Twitter, Facebook)
La Prensa (Twitter, Facebook)
Proceso Digital
La Tribuna (Twitter, Facebook)
El Tiempo

I've listed these in the order of the speed that I've generally seen them updated. El Heraldo and La Tribuna have Twitter-like updates in the sidebars in the 'Minuto a Minuto' columns. If you can't access these sites, please don't assume government interference! Try again a little later. Their sites often get overloaded during hurricane threats and other emergencies, as do the Honduran phone lines.

Polling places:

The Election Tribunal has a webpage with cameras in various locations where you can watch the action − or hopefully lack thereof. Reporters are also all over the polling places. CNN is probably out buying used tires, if you get my drift.

Online television

Here are some online sites where you can access Honduran television. Channels 5 (Televicentro), 6, 10, 11, and 12 will probably be the best bets for national election coverage. During the primaries, channel 10 (Abriendo Brecha) had the most election coverage.

TeleCatracha this one may be the best bet for a variety of stations.

LyngSat − this one also has a variety of stations

Justin TV

Channel 10 Abriendo Brecha news, generally has lots of election coverage

Televicentro (Channel 5)

Radio Globo for an opposition viewpoint

Still off the air as of Sunday morning is:

Cholusat Sur (Channel 36)

Sorry but I won't be able to help with questions. I suggest that you try them out earlier in the day to see what works best for you. I don't know how they work or what will be available today. If you have a good experience or any tips, feel free to leave a comment for other readers.

Coverage has already started! The polls close at 4 p.m.

Viva Honduras! Viva Democracia!

November 28, 2009

Where does the news come from?

Reader Roy, who I believe is from Venezuela, left this very interesting comment documenting media manipulation and the 'Chávez Media Machine'. It is a perfect example of how you need to you know who wrote your news and where it came from.

Comment from Roy

Here is another example of media manipulation...

From Yahoo: "CDA to U.S. Policymakers: Don't Ratify Honduras Elections as 'Free and Fair'"

You can find it in this link (currently second from the top) on the Yahoo News search for "Elections Honduras":

Yahoo news search

This article is not "news" in the sense that it is reporting what is happening or has happened in Honduras. What it is reporting is an OPINION issued by an organization called the Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA). Yahoo got this piece from PR Newswire. If you go to this organization's website at

PR Newswire

You will see that their business is not reporting news, but in collecting "news" from other organizations and selling the "feed" to other media sources. Following is a quote from their web page: "Leverage our experienced, Washington, D.C.-based Public Interest editorial team that specializes in handling news copy from nonprofit, government, association, advocacy and other Public Interest newsmakers worldwide."

Now, let us look at the original source of the article from the CDA. Go to:

Democracy in Americas

When you look at and read their website, it is an extremely biased mouthpiece for ALBA, Chavez, and his regional political agenda. Note the following quote: "The Center for Democracy in the Americas has country programs for Cuba, Venezuela, and Chile. But its work embraces issues facing U.S. policy toward the region more broadly.

THIS is the original source of what appears to be a legitimate news article published by Yahoo. This is the power of the Chavez Media Machine. It can utilize the mechanisms of the media business to create such an avalanche of "news" and opinion favorable to his agenda that people read it and simply assume that since "everyone" thinks that way, they should as well. This is a highly advanced version of Goebbels "Big Lie" propaganda tool.


I know that some may think that we are conspiracy theorists and that the news that they read is 'pure' and that CNN is (as they tell us) the most unbiased place to get your news. I think that most who have been in Honduras or have contacts here on the ground have had their beliefs about the media rocked to core. We've not only seen the bias or spin in major media sources but we've seen outright false information reported as fact.

Part of the misinformation may be laziness and the fact that initially and through much of the past 5 months, most news sources did not have anyone on the ground here in Honduras. CNN (Español) cannot claim that excuse as they did have someone on the ground − interestingly a reporter with Sandista and Daniel Ortega ties. Most of the other Honduran coverage came from Telesur, a Venezuelan television station completely controlled by Hugo Chávez. Telesur was caught staging a video of "military repression". CNN did their share of staging and misrepresenting protests, including not covering the much larger pro-government protests.

People need to know where their news is coming from to understand what is going on. I've looked up some of the AP and Reuters "journalists" and in some cases found that they have written other strongly pro-Chavez articles. I've written articles dissecting Ginger Thompson's NY Times articles and the some of the information that she has written was just false, even if you disregard her personal spin. Let me add that I had nothing against the author or the NY Times. It is just one example of many. It is scary and those who believe that we are conspiracy theorists are naive.

November 27, 2009

On his knees and other candidate news

Adán Fúnez, Mayor of Tocoa, Colon

On his knees (literally!), the mayor of Tocoa and candidate for reelection, Adán Fúnez, renounced the resistance and asked forgiveness of the Liberals who he offended. He pledged his support of Liberal party candidate Elvin Santos and urged everyone to vote on Sunday.

UD and zelayista presidential candidate César Ham decided not to withdraw from the elections last week and is no longer promoting boycott of the elections. His platform includes a constitutional assembly. This was a serious blow to Zelaya who hoped to be able to point to the withdrawal of both opposition candidates as "proof" that the elections were not fair. Ham's action may be the most patriotic of all of the candidates as it will show that the opposition/resistance/zelayistas do have a choice in the elections and will prove once and for all whether or not they represent a majority of the population.

Approximately 40 Zelaya-supporting candidates officially withdrew from the elections, representing around 1% of the total candidates. Most were immediately replaced with other candidates by their political parties, as is allowed under Honduran election law.

This and that, November 27, 2009

Fausta of Fausta's Blog did a podcast (click above) about the Miami El Herald article, CARLOS ALBERTO MONTANER: Por qué Estados Unidos le quitó su apoyo a Zelaya (Why the US withdrew support for Zelaya). The El Herald article is in Spanish, but Fausta explains the article in English.

One of the reasons is a two-page US intelligence report describing Zelaya's complicity in corruption and narcotrafficking. A US State department rep told my source that this report was "frightening". When asked for a copy, the answer from the rep could be compared to "When pigs fly". Why is the US covering up for Zelaya?


Several ex-presidents and other important functionaries arrived yesterday in preparation for election observation. Ex-President of El Salvador Armando Calderon Sol had some very forceful words about Honduras' elections: "Other countries SHOULD respect Hondurans' right to vote. The OAS SHOULD recognize the elections."

The tally so far is that the US, Canada, Panama, Peru and Costa Rica will recognize the elections. Colombia will possibly do so as well. Funny story from my source: Zelaya was down in the dumps about the US's change in position. A top supporter tried to boost his spirits with, "But you have all those other countries." Zelaya whined, "Yeah, but the US is worth more than all those pendejos put together."

His loss of favor is apparently not only with the US. He remarked, "Por culpa de esa pendeja de Patty no quede bien ni con mi mama". Paraphrased, "Thanks to that pendeja Patty [Rodas], I don't sit well not even with my mama."


The TSE virtual election observer cameras will be turned on Saturday. You can be a virtual election observer here. Voters are also being encouraged to hang around the poll for an hour after they vote to observe. Voters are asked to report anything unusual to the officials or the security officers.

If you are a Honduran voter in Honduras, you can check your voting location by entering your ID card number here. You can only vote at the location for which you are registered.


We've been getting some serious rain storms here in La Ceiba. I hope the weather clears up by Sunday!


Serious problems on the La Gringa front: Several keys on my laptop keyboard quit working, including one that I need for my password to turn the computer on. I might be able to access my drafts from El Jefe's computer through the network but I can't even get Windows started up without the password. I can use his laptop when he takes pity on me, but I don't have my drafts, my files, my photos, my bookmarks, Firefox is set up differently, even the keys are in different places, I'm totally discombobulated here. Whaaaaaaaaaaaa!

If anyone wants to email me some articles or news bites, I'll post them when I have access to J's computer.

November 25, 2009

Tab dump, November 25, 2009

I saw the expression "tab dump" used on another blog and liked it. I generally have 20-30 tabs open, often more, so thought I would pass along some interesting articles I've been reading. I usually post articles on Facebook and Twitter but can't seem to find time to do it in more places than that.

Honduras This Week Online (HTWO): Mel's letter to Obama
By Marco Cáceres
"When you write a letter to someone, the assumption is that you intend for that person to read your letter. If Manuel Zelaya is expecting President Obama to read his recent rambling, grammatically-imperfect, five-page letter written in Spanish, I'm afraid he is in for a disappointment."

HTWO: The Uncharted Waters of Honduras
By Alexandra Dieckmann

"I have not found any other similar examples of countries reacting to prevent the threat to their freedom and their democracy. Not even Germany was able to do that when its people saw their elected president change the Constitution and become one of the most infamous dictators and tyrants the world has known."

My Roatan: Honduran Elections and President Micheletti
By Dr. Álvaro Felipe Albornoz P.

"But the truth is that in Honduras they met a wall of steel full of dignity and courage, they met the greatest, most beautiful, most decent and most democratic people in the world. The Hondurans are not just any people, there is no question about that. They are the most extraordinary gladiators of freedom, and when people are aware of the meaning of the word "freedom" no weapon, no country and no man can against prevail against them."

Bloggings by Boz: Zelaya's eight errors
This blogger has been an "anti-coup" from the beginning, but I agree with this article except for the first and last paragraphs. (Heheheh, you'll understand when you read it.) Boz doesn't seem to understand that these errors are not the exception, but the rule with Zelaya. The failures that Boz lists are only the tip of the iceberg. Zelaya's entire term was marked with these kinds of failures in judgment.

Pensieve: The Strange Resignation Letter
by Aaron Ortíz
"I suppose it was in the works a week or so before Zelaya “rescued” the ballots amigo Hugo flew to him. The media talk those days was that Zelaya was becoming mentally incompetent to govern, and that Congress was considering asking him to resign on those grounds. The letter above focuses on his creating national conflict and his eroding of his political base before mentioning his health."

WSJ: The End of Bolivian Democracy
Elections scheduled for December 6 will mark the official end of the Bolivian democracy.
by Mary Anastasia O'Grady

O'Grady describes what Hondurans feared would happen to Honduras.

ADN Kronos: Honduras: Minister defends 'ban' on broadcaster
"If we look at respect for freedom of speech anywhere in the world, and you actually hear what the channel is saying daily, you would see that in any country in the world, with or without elections, this channel would have been suspended," he said.

HTWO: Steps for Hondurans voting abroad
By Stanley Marrder
Step by step procedures for voting

Canal 36 is off the air again

"Chanel 36 signal jammed
to prevent broadcasting/information

Despite the fact that the above screen would have you believe that the Honduran government has interfered with the broadcasting of Canal 36, last night I saw Esdras López and his sidekick state that they were taking themselves off the air "in a protest" just before this screen appeared. That was right after they passed on more hideous lies saying Roberto Micheletti was planning the murder of three people.

They indicated that they didn't know when they would return. My first thought was that they merely wanted to go home early and would be back today. My second thought was that it was a ploy to get the human rights groups to complain.

Last week, their story was that someone, probably the government they said, was broadcasting a parallel signal with old westerns and porn, preventing their broadcast. Somehow, I think that the government has better things to do. I thought their claim was ridiculous but it was dutifully reported by several news organizations, including Reuters. I just think that any sensible person would have a hard time believing anything this group says − maybe these news organizations have never listened to Canal 36.

I've often suspected that they would stop broadcasting intermittently and blame it on the government. Sure, it sounds crazy, but as far as I can tell from many tortuous hours of watching it, the station has absolutely no advertising. No reputable company would want to be associated with them, which makes a sensible person wonder just where their money has been coming from for the past 5 months. Many believe it is Venezuela. I had visions of them shutting down the station and going to lunch while they laughed at their viewers for believing them.

Good riddance. These people have no ethics or journalistic professionalism whatsoever. They make a mockery of freedom of the press and their viewers must be the most gullible people in the world if they actually believe their crazy stories, many of which have been proven false, yet viewers are ever-ready to believe the next story.

Those who support their being on the air should try listening for a long while first and think about whether this sort of thing would be allowed or even legal in their own country. They invent stories to manipulate their uneducated viewers.

Canal 36 is the true toxic gas in the airwaves of Honduras.

Follow up: Sure enough, the OAS dutifully reported and condemned this new "violation" of freedom of the press. The world is ruled by idiots.

November 24, 2009

Who are the Resistencia?

José Falck ZepedaJosé Falck Zepeda,
not Resistencia

I'd like to direct you to Honduran José Falck Zepeda's blog, Honduras: Libre Democratica y Independente, to read Who are the members the Resistencia? What do they want? This is a topic that I've wanted to cover, but José has done a better job than I could have. Please take a look. The answer is not as simple as you might think.

José has a really excellent blog and writes in both English and Spanish. Not all of the articles are in English, but that one is. Google translator performs reasonably well if you want to check out any of his Spanish articles.

Another recent article is With whom Zelaya wanted us to associate [in Spanish] [google translation].

If you are interested in more opinions from a Honduran, check out the list of his other articles in the Blog Archive section of his sidebar. And for a little bit about José's philosophies, here is his introduction, written 2 1/2 years ago:

A bit about myself
by José Falck Zepeda

Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am a romantic/realist. I believe that things can be fixed in my country (my romantic side) but realize that are many limitations to what can be done (my realist side).

I believe that the problems we face are our own creation. I don't believe that anybody else is responsible of the mess we have created in our beloved Honduras. No more whining nor blaming the "gringos of this world" for our lack of growth, development or the severe poverty problems we have. I gravitate to the crowd that thinks we should take advantage of the "gringos of this world" and use as much possible, the good things they have created or have. I certainly do not agree with the crowd that thinks the reason we are not the country we should be is because the "gringos" have exploited us.

Well, the later does not mean that countries have not used force (military or economic) to control the destinies of other countries. From colonialism to post-modern imperialism, countries have tried, and in most case miserably failed to create nations, mostly due to their own dreams of central planning, ignorance about the conquered countries and sheer incompetence. What I meant in my previous paragraph is that we have allowed others to steal our national soul − probably not even started to define one − and plundered our sense of nation. We have allowed others to dictate us what we should do, rather than us creating our own destiny.

I believe that there are no silver bullets nor magical elixirs to the troubles Honduras has right now. I have grown increasingly skeptical of many of the complex plans and (unrealistic) schemes cooked up by international aid organizations and other think tanks, including my own. I do believe in hard work, accountability, transparency, excellence, and developing our own way to move forward.


I really like the way José thinks.

November 23, 2009

Smart chick

Baby chick, rescued from the jaws of drool drowning (Chloe)

Let me count the ways

Mel Zelaya − not gonna do it!

Let me count the ways that the Guaymuras-Tegucigalpa-San José Accord has already been violated.

1. In the first paragraph of the preamble, the Accord states that "We are convinced of the necessity to .... assure a climate of peace and tranquility for our country." Zelaya and his followers have promoted hate, division, and violence before, during, and especially after the Accord, showing no respect for the spirit of the agreement.

2. The second paragraph speaks of restoring civic harmony. There can be no civic harmony when the zelayistas can only speak in terms of hate and division of the rich and the poor, the "golpistas" and the "resistencia", or when anyone who expresses a different opinion is condemned as being a golpista.

3. Item 1 of the Accord defines the National Reconciliation and Unity government which was to be established by November 5. Zelaya refused to provide any nominations for the Ministerial Cabinet, insisting that he had to be restored to office first.

4. The second paragraph of Item 1 states, "In light of the fact that before the 28th of June, the Executive Power had not submitted a General Budget .... in conformity with that established in article 205, number 32 of the Constitution...." that this government will respect and function "on the basis of the general budget recently approved by the National Congress for fiscal year 2009." In Zelaya's upside-down logic, he has used his own violation of the constitution (in not providing a budget) to declare that the current government is illegally spending government funds because he himself has not approved the 2009 budget. Follow that?

5. Item 2 agrees to renounce the convocation of a constitutional assembly in any direct or indirect way. Most of Zelaya's followers, especially Patty Rodas, have not even given lip service to this clause, calling for a constitutional assembly in virtually every speech.

6. Item 3 calls for the Honduran people to peacefully participate in the elections and to avoid all kinds of acts which would produce violence or transgressions of the law. Zelaya, of course, along with his followers continually promote boycotting of the elections as well as trying to intimidate and instill fear in the people in the hopes of sabotaging them. Andrés Pavón and Patricia Rodas have even gone so far as to claim that the military have planned a massacre of Democratic Civic Union members which they will blame on the resistance. Zelaya has officially denounced the elections saying that if they occur, they will have to be repeated under his regime.

7. The third paragraph of Item 3 urges the Electoral Tribunal (TSE) to authorize international missions of election observers with the goal of demonstrating transparency and legitimacy of the electoral process. Zelaya and his followers have traveled to and communicated with many countries and organizations such as the OAS and UN to insist that they NOT send election observers.

8. In accordance with Honduras' constitution, Item 4 requires the transfer of control of the military to the TSE one month before elections. The government of Micheletti did so, on schedule, with much fanfare on October 29. Zelaya has since used the military involvement with election logistics and security (as is done every election year including the year in which Zelaya was elected) as "evidence" that the country is under a military dictatorship.

9. Item 5 required the Congress to decide whether or not to restore Zelaya to the presidency. Congress was chosen over the Supreme Court at Zelaya's insistence. We can only guess that at the time, for whatever reason, he thought he had the support of the majority of the congressmen. He has now declared the entire Accord dead because the Congress did not decide prior to November 5, even though this paragraph obviously gives no deadline to the Congress.

10. Item 6 refers to the Verification Commission. I would argue that by selecting the representative that he did, Jorge Arturo Reina, he selected someone who he knew would not have any interest in peace, tranquility, reconciliation, democracy, or unity, thus dooming the commission from the beginning. From what I have read, and seen for myself in press interviews, Reina is a belligerent man who preaches hate and division. He reportedly has a decades-long history of communist leanings and in fact had his visa revoked by the US several years ago.

11. Item 7 refers to the normalization of international relations. Based on promises/threats from the US and OAS, Micheletti's negotiators signed the agreement. OAS Secretary-General José Insulza personally promised that the OAS would recognize elections. Last week, Insulza, based on Zelaya and Chávez's insistence and despite all of the above, indicated that because of the Micheletti government's failure to comply with the accord, he did not see any way the OAS could send observers or recognize the elections. The OAS was meeting in secret today and I have not read any announcement of results yet.

12. Item 8, states that any differences in interpretation or application of the Accord should be submitted to the Verification Commission. Zelaya has unilaterally interpreted the agreement to mean something other than it says. He will not agree to a review of these differences by the Verification Commission because he has unilaterally declared the Accord dead. Notably absent from publicly defending Zelaya's personal interpretation of the Accord are his three negotiators.

13. Item 8 also asks that the international community respect the sovereignty of the Republic of Honduras and not interfere in internal matters. The US has violated this request by insisting on the "vacation" for Micheletti. The OAS, ALBA, Mercosur and other individual countries continue to demand full and immediate restoration of Zelaya even though the Accord does not require that. Brazil continues to violate international law by allowing their Embassy to be used as a command center for destabilizing Honduras.

14. Item 9 is the calendar of events which Zelaya violated by not submitting nominations by November 5.

15. Item 10 refers to the agreement being completed in good faith "in the name of reconciliation and patriotic spirit". Given the long list above, nothing more needs to be said about this.

When I began this article, I had no idea it would be so long. It wasn't until I read through the Accord again that I realized that Zelaya has violated both the spirit and the letter of just about every paragraph of the Accord! He is now saying that the Tegucigalpa Accord is "absurd" and that he wants to go back to the original San José Accord.

Many people ask him in interviews, "Why did you sign the Accord?" to which, while he talks and talks and talks, he does not give an answer. Those of us who are familiar with Zelaya's administration for the past 3 1/2 years know that this type of backtracking has been common. There are countless failed, unconstitutional and/or half-thought-out projects in which you can only wonder whether he had bad advisors, whether he just does not listen to his advisors, or whether he just changes his mind on a whim. Hopefully, the international community and particularly the US will hold him accountable to his agreement this time.

Meanwhile, at least publicly, the US continues to issue statements that "both sides" must continue to work through and implement the Accord, yet when Micheletti tried and failed to get nominations from Zelaya, he was condemned as unilaterally trying to form a unity government. The US ignores the fact that Zelaya officially rejected the Accord in a letter to US President Obama.

I would really like to know specifically just how the US envisions that the Honduran government can move ahead with the Accord because I don't see how they can force Zelaya to cooperate. I think it is time that the US clearly state that Manuel Zelaya is following neither the spirit or the letter of the agreement.

Related articles:

The incredible Zelaya wastes no time (10/31/09)
Thomas Shannon, the US State Department "Cleaner" (11/1/09)
Good faith ... or not? (11/2/09)
Honduran dialogues were a fraud (11/3/09)

November 22, 2009

Voting locations

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Only seven days left!

The following is a list of the official Honduran voting locations in the USA. Please note that the Honduran Consulate offices are NOT involved in the elections. All polling places are being run by the Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE) in coordination with representatives of the five political parties.

I'd also like to point out that the TSE has implemented new procedures in this election to provide the greatest transparency and accuracy. I have read that any voters will be allowed to view the counting and tallying of the ballots. I would encourage any of you who have the time to stick around to witness the counting. This could be important if others later try to say that the counts were inaccurate or misreported to the Tegucigalpa.

Though the US is a big place and some of you may live far away from the voting locations, if it is at all possible to travel, please exercise your right to vote. It has probably never been so important for Honduras' future. And just in case that doesn't put enough pressure on you, someone wrote me who is traveling from Japan to Honduras to vote! If they can do it, you can, too. ;-)

Houston: Hotel La Quinta, 1625 West Loop South, Houston, Texas, 77027

Los Angeles: Evans Community Adult School, 717 norte de la calle Figueroa, en el centro de la ciudad, 6:00 a.m. a 4:00 p.m.

Miami: 1250 NW 22 Avenida, Miami, Florida, 33125.

New Orleáns: Grace Episcopal Church, 3700 Canal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70119.

New York: Auditorio Iglesia Guadalupe, 328 West 14 Street, entre 8 y 9 Avenida, Manhattan.

Washington, DC: 3224 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20010.

Direct contact numbers for voting information in the US

This is a list of the National Party Coordinators in the US. Contact them for more information. I will be happy to add a list of the Liberal or any other party coordinators if someone can help me to find them.

CALIFORNIA: Xiomara Ayes-Fields (818) 903-6202

DALLAS: Marianela Pinel-Caballero (214) 500-9712

HOUSTON: Fernando Morales (713) 894-5820

MIAMI: Neybi Rojas (786) 366-7390

NEW YORK: Myrna Guerra (917) 532-6619

NEW YORK: Ruben Pacheco (201) 467-7979

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Carmen Pleitez (703) 474-7154

NEW ORLEANS: Oscar Avila Bodden (504) 512-2930

NEW ORLEANS: Scarlett Alaniz Hedman-Diaz (504) 667-1899

Voting Locations in Honduras

Other information is available at the TSE website. If you will be voting in Honduras, you can enter your ID card number here to find out the location where you are supposed to vote.

Election and Candidate information

El Heraldo Especial Elecciones

La Tribuna Elecciones

La Prensa Especial Voto 2009

Proceso Digital Especial

Questions about the Honduran elections?
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November 21, 2009

Should Micheletti step aside during elections?

Do you believe it is correct for Roberto Micheletti
to temporarily retire from the presidency of the Republic?

Yes: 15%
No: 85%

Should Micheletti step aside during elections?
A lot of people think not.

I've been watching a lot of interviews, including on CNN (Español) who did several man-on-the-street interviews, and a televised discussion last night with a couple of political analysts. One of the analysts confirmed that this proposal by Micheletti was a result of pressure by the US.

US Ambassador Hugo Llorens said on a radio interview that his government viewed it as a positive thing − no doubt they did, since it was their idea. The US has been so misguided in all of this.

But let's go back exactly two months. Do you remember that Hillary Clinton, along with Oscar Arias, also viewed Zelaya's surreptitious arrival in Tegucigalpa as a positive thing also and a first step to implementing the San José Accord? Well, we saw how that worked out, didn't we? Violent riots, homes and stores looted, vehicles vandalized and burned. Then remember how pleased Hillary was when the Accord was signed? We are no closer to implementing an Accord than we were on September 21 or October 30.

Let me tell you that I'm hearing a lot of resentment about this. One of the analysts from the show last night clarified that Micheletti said he would consult with sectors of society about the recess, and this analyst did not believe that Honduran society would agree with it.

Tonight Micheletti announced that the people he met with did support the decision − but what was the choice? Honduras desperately needs the US to recognize elections, so if the US says 'jump', what are they going to do? The OAS has already backed out of Insulza's promise which was made to coerce Honduras into signing the agreement in the first place!

The other analyst said that the US does not need to worry about what to do with Micheletti, that what the US needs to worry about is what are they going to do about Zelaya sitting in the Brazilian Embassy. He said they also should be worried about what they are going to do about their US Ambassador who has done so much damage to Honduras.

The analyst asked, "What are benefits to Honduras of Micheletti leaving?" to which he answered, "none". He then asked, "What are the risks to Honduras of Micheletti leaving?" to which he answered, "many".

The host asked, "How is it possible that a small, poor country like Honduras could cause such a division in the US?" The analyst flatly stated, "Because the US State Department was misinformed".

"What would you ask the US?", the host asked. "I would ask them not to sacrifice Honduras because of differences between political parties in the US, and to retire the US Ambassador from Honduras", was the answer.

The US is pleased about Roberto Micheletti's absence during the election period but the truth is that they seem to be the only ones. Zelaya went ballistic calling it a fraud, a fake, and every other insult he could think of. His followers are complaining worse than ever. To counteract any possible positive effect, several zelayista candidates resigned today. The protesters are continuing to protest. I doubt that his absence will do anything to reassure the countries who do not want to recognize elections or the OAS. His statement actually caused concern and even some fear among Honduran citizens. So what does this move really accomplish except to "please" the US? Nothing that I can see.

One thing that must be mentioned is that Roberto Micheletti has not ever, not once, since June 28 promoted a particular candidate or denigrated any candidate. His message has simply been that everyone should vote and should vote for the person who they think will be the best president.

On the other hand, Mel Zelaya has not only promoted the two pro-constitutional assembly candidates (one of whom has since retired from the race), but he has denigrated the other candidates, accusing them of being golpistas, criminals, etc. His followers have spread vicious lies about candidates and done everything they can to ruin their reputations. I have no doubt this was instigated by Zelaya. Everyone has heard or read about Zelaya's and his followers' constant calls for boycotting the election, calling elections a fraud and telling people that that they are fools if they vote.

So, you tell me, which president should retire during the election period?

November 20, 2009

Honduras elections: Security

Soldiers in La Ceiba
Z-day, June 28, 2009

The military and police have been in strategy sessions in preparation for election security. Approximately 5,000 reservists have been called in to help as well. The reservists are primarily retired military and these old folks are showing great patriotism and enthusiasm for the task. "We won't have communism in this country!"

In an announcement last night, a military spokesman gave a long list of events that they are completely prepared for, up to and including extraterrestrial landings, he joked. Hahaha.

This is a case where readers from other countries need to adjust your thinking to understand the customs and the culture of Honduras. It is NORMAL to have soldiers assisting the election process and maintaining security at the polling places. Control of the military was passed to the independent Election Tribunal (TSE) on October 29 and will remain with the TSE until the election results are announced, expected to be November 30. This is NORMAL and required by the constitution.

Many voices, loudest of all Zelaya's, are trying to claim that the military presence will intimidate people. Not so, and nobody knows that better than Zelaya, who won the last presidential election while polls were guarded by the military. While it might give you pause in the US to have armed soldiers outside your polling place, this is not the US. This is Honduras, and the vast majority of the population will be reassured to see them. Those who hope to cause trouble, however, will be crying "Oppression!"

Another thing to keep in mind is that Hondurans are used to seeing armed guards everywhere. While it is often surprising to new visitors, it is common in Central America where crime is so high. The military are often used to provide security and to work on special anti-crime projects. Zelaya himself enlisted the military earlier this year in a crime task force. Former President Ricardo Maduro used the military to combat gangs. Right now in El Salvador, the Salvadoran military are being used in a project to support the police.

Honduras has a well respected military. Just the other day, I read that they are considered the best and most professional in Central America. Unlike the police, the military is also admired and well respected by the vast majority of the population. I remember reading a poll a year or so ago in which people were asked to rate various sectors of society as to their respectability and honor. Religious leaders were at the top of the list, followed closely by the military. Police, and politicians of course, were at the bottom.

Channel 10 had a poll which completed yesterday. It asked if viewers felt that the military would keep the elections secure. 94% voted yes.

Related articles:

Honduran elections: The candidates

Honduran elections: The TSE

November 19, 2009

Zelaya's response to Micheletti's announcement

As soon as I heard Micheletti's speech, I switched the volume on Radio Globo knowing Mel Zelaya would be on to "program" his followers' reaction. Yup. Within about 15 minutes (he probably had to call Chávez first), there he was.

I took notes, but try as I might, turning the notes into coherent sentences was just impossible. I think the following will give you the flavor of Zelaya's rage.

Asked for his reaction to Micheletti offering to step aside temporarily:

It's a mockery of the entire Honduran pueblo, a slap in the face to the international community and all the Honduran people. It's a false retirement, a crude maneuver. He's trying to varnish this stain on democracy. He is trying to deceive everyone ... crude trick that offends Honduran democracy ... false maneuver to deceive fools ... stupid ... false ... failure ... false attitude ... hiding the truth ... regime of repression ... military dictatorship ... deceit ... largest crisis ever ... fake ... fraud! Correcto!

Asked for his reaction about the elections:

This is an illegal process, an electoral farce. These are false elections, fraudulent elections. It's grotesque. The elections will have to be repeated under a legitimate government. It's an electoral farce. The US ambiguous position is lamentable. I seriously question the government of President Obama.

Only the candidates who have resigned are the kind we want for the next 10 years. Correcto! This is an electoral farce. Fraud ... slap in the face for the Honduran people ... false ... stupidity ... illegal ... electoral farce ... etc. The OAS, the UN, everyone recognizes me as the legitimate president. They won't recognize the elections.

The crisis is not personal of Mel Zelaya. Electoral farce. If they can do this to me, the legitimate president imprisoned in the Embassy, imagine what they can do to you, to the poor people! No one has any rights. Dirty politics ... stain on democracy ... repression ... military oppression! We have no security. No one is going to vote. Oppression ... fraudulent elections. If there is a massacre, it will be their fault ... oppression ... dictatorship ... electoral farce!

We must maintain resistance against this persecution for your children. This is not democracy!


Well, sorry. That's the best I could do. ;-D

I guarantee you that "electoral farce" and "stain on democracy" will be the phrases of the day tomorrow on Radio Globo and CholusatSur. All of the callers will parrot back those phrases as if they thought of them themselves. Actually, if I check now, callers are probably already saying, "I won't vote because this is an electoral farce and a stain on democracy."

Will they feel the same way on Sunday morning? If so, will they be missed, or are they the same people which resulted in 45% absenteeism in the last election?

Micheletti will temporarily step aside

President Roberto Micheletti
Photo: El Tiempo, Honduras

In a national television and radio broadcast tonight, Honduran President Roberto Micheletti encouraged all Hondurans, without exception, to vote on November 29. He said that the elections signify "peace and our future." He again promised that citizens will be safe and secure.

In a surprise move, Micheletti offered to absent himself from power temporarily from Wednesday, November 25 until December 2 to guaranty tranquility for the elections and assure that the focus is on the elections instead of the political crisis. He promised that during his absence, the government will operate completely normally with his council of ministers (cabinet) in charge.

He asked that this not be falsely and intentionally misinterpreted by those who, with their erratic conduct and their intent to provoke discord, take this as a sign of weakness in Honduras. To the contrary, he affirmed that he had absolute faith in institutions of government and the military to provide election security.

"If, lamentably, a general disruption to the order and security should occur that affects the peace of the nation and the tranquility of the Honduran people , don't have any doubt that I will immediately re-assume my functions," Micheletti reassured.

Micheletti also called upon "citizen Zelaya" to put peace for the country above his personal desires.

Earlier today, Micheletti asked Zelaya to avoid the "spilling of a drop of blood" during the elections and reiterated his offer to resign immediately if Zelaya would renounce his attempt to return to power.

I hope that some day, Roberto Micheletti is known as the great leader he has been for Honduras. I'm not sure that anyone else could have been as brave, strong, and sure.

Coming up, Zelaya's reaction!

Craig Kelly speaks volumes to Honduras

Craig Kelly, center, with Roberto Micheletti
and Hugo Llorens (everyone is smiling)
Photos: La Tribuna, Honduras

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Craig Kelly gave a brief press conference in Honduras yesterday. Between birds squawking outside my window, the roosters crowing, and dogs barking, I did not hear everything at the beginning, but what I heard sounded good.

He covered three main points for "both parties":

1. Each side must follow the Accord point by point.

2. Elections must be respected − no one can take away the Honduran people's right to vote and elect their own leaders.

3. Stop the calls for violence − to this he added "from everyone".

He made special mention that he had noted great enthusiasm among Hondurans for voting. (!) He also asked everyone to respect human rights and confirmed that the Accord does not provide for any deadline for the Congressional vote on Zelaya's restitution. I hope that the the only brief mention of human rights signifies that the US is aware that most of the reports are greatly exaggerated or even invented.

With this, Kelly said, "Thank you," and walked away, taking no questions from reporters.

Here is my take on the above points:

1. Though there has been lots of bad press saying the opposite, the Micheletti government has been following the Accord "letter by letter, point by point", albeit by Honduran-slow-as-molasses-time. You won't find any New York minutes in Honduras, but I don't think that is much different from most of Latin America. We expatriates have a joke that if you think that mañana means tomorrow, you haven't been here very long.

I take this message from Kelly as directed at Zelaya who has been trying to renege on the Accord since the day after he signed it. Micheletti provided nominations for the Unity Government, after consulting with others; Zelaya did not. Zelaya has not shown even the tiniest speck of desire to work toward unity and reconciliation. His focus has been purely his own self interest, a point which has not been lost on the "international community" (IC), many of whom have been breaking ranks with the previous IC party line. While the ALBA countries and Chávez's other lapdogs, like Argentinan President Cristina Kirchner, have been yap-yap-yapping away, many other countries are taking a much more pragmatic approach.

2. Pffft! Since his very first speech, President Roberto Micheletti has promised that the election process and schedule will be carried out as original planned (last year!). One of his first acts was to provide the Election Tribunal (TSE) with operating funds that Zelaya had illegally withheld. Micheletti has reassured the population a thousand times that elections will be held, will be safe, and that he will turn over the reins on January 27, 2010, as required by the constitution (or sooner if need be). Since the presidential candidates trust him, why shouldn't we?

On the other hand, Zelaya....need I say more? He has done everything humanly possible to prevent or to sabotage elections. He has also made it clear that his work is not done yet. Today he issued a statement saying he will officially impugnará the elections. [google translation] (impugnará = contest, challenge, refute, disprove)

3. This one is a no-brainer, too. The only ones calling for violence are Zelaya and his followers. Just Sunday night, I heard with my own ears Zelaya say that "We must carry on to the ultimate consequences". Though Zelaya slyly worded this so that he can say that this means something else, I believe that the message to his followers was clear. Kelly's message is clearly to the zelayistas regarding the "bombs", the murders, the damage to electrical towers, and the threats which have increased in the past couple of weeks.

Though Craig Kelly was a little more clear than some of the US statements in the past, I still think that it dilutes the power of the message to always be referring to "both parties". As long as the message is directed to both sides, Zelaya and his followers will use it for propaganda against the current government.

Zelaya has been doing a lot of complaining since. In his letter, he had asked for a response from President Obama. Not only did he not get a response from Obama, or Secretary of State Clinton, or even Thomas Shannon, but instead he got a visit from a lower level State Department official. In the world of diplomacy, that speaks volumes.

Apparently, based on what Zelaya has said in various interviews, Kelly's original goal was to get both Micheletti and Zelaya to step aside in favor of a third party. In one interview, if I understood it correctly, a proposal was made that Zelaya himself would be appointed to the unity government as the Minister of Government and would serve as President when Micheletti resigned. That sounds convoluted, and not at all something provided for in the constitution or the Tegucigalpa Accord. Maybe I misunderstood, but it doesn't matter anyway as Zelaya declared that to be another trick or trap or fraud that he wasn't falling for. It was said that both Zelaya and Micheletti rejected the idea.

But overall, whether Kelly's statement a) is a change of the US position, b) they have come out of the closet with the "master plan" that so many expected, or c) the US has finally realized that they aren't going to beat down Honduras and are trying to make the best of it, I'm feeling much better about the US today.

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