December 19, 2010

Guest blog: Wikileaks and the Honduran Crisis

Wikileaks and the Honduran Crisis
- by Jorge Gallardo Rius

Given that the Wikileaks disclosures have again brought to life the debate on the Honduran Crisis, I think it's important to make a new considerations on the data.

1. It should be quite clear that the Llorens and Ford documents are simply opinions. What is specially important about the Ford document is that he foretold the events that would occur more than a year later when he warned that Zelaya would be a danger to Honduran Democracy. This is how scientific theories are established: by their ability to foretell events yet unknown. This leads credence to Mr. Ford's opinion.

2. Mr. Llorens tries to make a legal case for the illegality of Zelaya's ouster. We note also that the US Library of Congress's Law Library made an equally valid case for the legality of the actions. The existence of these two opposite opinions leads us to two conclusions: First that the Honduran impeachment process is faulty and lends itself to legal and illegal interpretations simultaneously and thus, second, its like the famous question of whether you want to see the glass of water "half empty or half full".

3. The only truly valid opinion in this case, and it should be recognized as such, is that of the Honduran Supreme Court that ruled the actions illegal and consequently ordered his arrest BEFORE the events ocurred. The rest can opinionate one way or the other whether they were right or wrong as it will surely continue forever and ever, but the fact remains the the only valid, legal opinion at that point, before the events, was that of the Honduran Supreme Court that ordered his arrest.

While the question of legality or illegality is important, to the majority of Hondurans there is a more important consideration.

4. It should be quite clear to all reasonable persons that Zelaya intended to lead Honduras down the path of a 21st Century Socialism model, that he was following Hugo Chavez's script for a Constituent Assembly (as Hitler did in 1933) and that the intention was to install a Cuban/Venezuelan style regime in Honduras. These facts are evident from the support that Chavez gave to the process before and after the events of June 28th, 2009.
5. Despite all the problems and faults of our democratic system, installed and maintained by the 1982 Constitution, the vast majorities of the Honduran people do not want and oppose a Communist regime for our country. This is evident in the massive voting that took place in the November 2009 election, held according to the laws prescribed by the 1982 Constitution which establishes the Honduran Democratic System, based on the rule of law, the separation of powers, the alternation of power in the Executive branch and free elections held regularly every 4 years and in which we choose our next President, congressmen and mayors.

6. Some argue that the elections were not valid because they were not overseen by the OAS and the Carter Center, which did oversee elections known to be corrupt and said nothing. They were overseen by very important organizations, just as legal, valid and experienced. The thing is that the elections were valid to more than 2 million Hondurans and the vast majority of our population. Look at the results of elections in Haiti, overseen by the OAS and the Carter Center: Not accepted by the population.

7. Thus, between Mr. Llorens's half-empty legal interpretation of the events of June 28th and the US Library of Congress and the Honduran supreme Court's half-full legal interpretation of the same events, the majority of Hondurans support the half-full version, an opinion supported and expressed by the Honduran Congress in December, 2009.

So, what is Democracy? Isn't it, as Lincoln said "a government of the people, for the people and by the people"? It is not up to foreign powers, be they the US or Venezuela, to decide whether Honduras is a democratic country, or even for multinational organizations, such as the OAS to decide. It is we, the people of Honduras, who have the right to determine whether our country is democratic or not and the kind of democracy that we cherish. And that's what we did in the 2009 election.

There is a third consideration that should be made in the evaluation of the current Honduran situation.

1. In the United Nations listing of poor, middle income and developed nations, Honduras is listed among the middle income nations. In order to pass from a poor country to a middle income country as it did in 2007 under Zelaya's rule, one of the important indicators is that a country must present at least 3 years of continuous over-5% economic growth. This happened in the years 2004, 2005 and 2006; that is, the last 2 years of Maduro's presidency and the first year of President Zelaya's term. Then it shot downwards again.

2. Obviously, to understand this phenomenon, you must look at the actions taken during the first years of the Maduro Presidency, in which he consolidated a strong control of the macroeconomic indicators, contained government expenses, installed new measures to promote transparency and put order into the financial markets. It produced 3 years of economic growth.

3. It also achieved the pardoning of our foreign debt and the consolidation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy in which funds used to cancel foreign debt could now be used for Poverty Reduction Programs, which for transparency's sake would be overseen by the nations who were condoning our foreign debt, but guided by the "dialogue tables" that had been carried out at the start of the Maduro Presidency.

4. This should explain why the common expression, very popular in the media when Zelaya was elected, was that "The table is set". Zelaya's government entering in January 2006 had all the tools to carry out a progressive reform and mark a substantial decrease in the real poverty levels of Honduras.

5. But Zelaya's new government put an end to poverty reduction programs, to the efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and all efforts to end endemic poverty, and began a conscience-buying, political hand-out structure to benefit his close friends and family (As Mr. Ford pointed out). 18 months after Zelaya took power, Sweden, one of the participating governments in the Poverty Reduction Strategy, pulled out.

6. In his 3 ½ years, Zelaya returned us to a bankrupt nation, with reduced growth indicators, an education system in shambles, drove the Workers' Bank and the Teachers' Pension Fund into bankruptcy, and left is even without a national budget.

Zelaya's incompetence in the economic issues has left the majority of Hondurans asking: where did all the funds for poverty reduction and the economic stability go? Truly, a President can't be removed for being incompetent as Zelaya proved to be, but for the attempted destruction of the democratic system, yet one must ask where do the foreigners think that Zelaya's "popularity" rests?

While pundits can argue forever whether it was a coup or not, the majority of Hondurans view the overall questions: First, the "coup or not" saved the country from a communist regime. Second, it convinced us all that the crisis was due to the abuses of the political classes and that we must remain always vigilant. And thirdly, we are convinced that the only way to end the abuse of the political class, whichever party they belong to or social system they promote, is to require transparency and the rule of law. These conclusions are supported by the recent Latin American Barometer poll in Honduras.

It is on this point, the solution to the crisis, that the foreign governments have been sadly amiss with their insistence on returning Zelaya without facing trials to Honduras. We have no doubt that Zelaya was corrupt and we believe that Zelaya must come and face the justice system, whereas currently to lay to rest the "coup" theories of the South American Autocracies there is a new attempt to whitewash Zelaya's corruption and abuse of power. The majority of Honduran people simply want Zelaya to become the first victim of legality, transparency, honesty and decency, and thus set an example that will serve present and future generations of what happens when the polititians abuse the power given to them by the people.

Sadly, the current US administration and our European friends have left us without the support we need to defend decency in our country.


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
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