Debunking the golpista lies

Here's something I wrote several days ago trying to get out in a slightly different form in the press. The real original was much longer, and the publishable version is much shorter.

On June 28th, the entire hemisphere suffered a blow to democracy with the military ouster of the constitutional president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya. Since then, business groups behind the coup have waged an all-out PR war in Washington, in an attempt—to quote the U.S.president—to "put lipstick on a pig." For the stability of the entire region, we must examine the lies being advanced to justify not just a coup d’etat, but well-documented systematic violations of human rights, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement by the de facto Honduran regime.

Lie #1: Zelaya was removed for orchestrating a power grab
Zelaya never expressed an intent to remain in power, and not a single action he had taken could have led to that outcome. The basis for this claim was a poll he had proposed, akin to a Gallup poll; this poll would have served as a non-binding recommendation to the National Congress, which would then have decided if it should allow Hondurans to vote in the general November election on the issue of whether a citizen assembly should be convened to examine the constitution, after Zelaya’s term as president had finished.

Lie #2: Zelaya’s removal and the institution of the de facto government were constitutional
Nowhere in the Honduran constitution does it say that a president may be removed. The constitution specifically states that no Honduran citizen (let alone a president) can be expelled from national territory. Arrest warrants are only legally permitted to be carried out by the civilian police, not the military. 25 legislators who opposed Zelaya’s ouster were not invited to the special Sunday session of Congress on June 28th in which the “interim president” was “unanimously” voted in. If the legal case against Zelaya was so strong, why was he denied due process?

Lie #3: Zelaya is a Chavez puppet
Zelaya is aligned with the majority of Latin America in seeking to support a model of development that develops resources for the majority poor—not just for multinational corporations. In joining ALBA, an economic and political agreement with most other Latin American countries that emphasizes bringing people out of poverty, Zelaya showed his solidarity with the people of Honduras, who widely supported both this move and his agreement with Petrocaribe to supply much-needed low-cost fuel, an initiative that had been seriously considered by former presidents with far less friendly relations with Chavez. Zelaya’s positions, especially in the past year, have responded not to foreign interests, but to the desperate needs of the majority of Honduran people.

Lie #4: This is a struggle between Communism and Democracy
At no point did Zelaya propose anything resembling a communist political or economic system in Honduras, although he has expressed an affinity for democratic ideals enjoying the support of the vast majority of Hondurans. These include accessible education, healthcare, access to land and decent housing, and other measures that could be called socialist in the same way that U.S. fire and police departments can be called socialist. He recently raised the minimum wage, provoking the ire of the Honduran elite who have spent millions of dollars financing the coup and subsequent lobbying efforts to defend it. On the other hand, the coup government, which was born from a violent breach of the constitution, has remained in power through military force, targeted assassinations and disappearances overseen by 1980s death squad leaders, the violent suppression of all media not supporting the coup, the imposition of curfews and the terrorizing of the overwhelming majority of the population that opposes it. If anything, in terms of political systems, the current situation is a battle between a weak but improving electoral democracy and fascism.

Lie #5: Zelaya instituted “mob rule”
A profoundly classist argument, this refers to support Zelaya has received from the poor majority, whose strength lies in their numbers rather than military force or control of ideological institutions (e.g., media and established religion), which are entirely controlled by the coup government. This “ruling mob” is merely the public that the Honduran elite has despised for so long.

Lie #6: This is a battle between Zelaya and “interim president” Micheletti
For many of the hundreds of thousands of Hondurans who have risked their lives in recent weeks to fight for democracy and human rights, Zelaya is beside the point. Many of them are not even Zelaya supporters. They are protesting the takeover and militarization of their country by a small group of wealthy elites, bent on preventing them from participating in a geniune democratic process. The situation in Honduras today is not a power struggle between two Honduran strongmen; it is a class war declared on the poor by the wealthy. The latter owns all the media, all the weapons, and all the institutions of government, including the public funds being depleted to fund the violent suppression of the people.

Lie #7: By threatening to return to Honduras, Zelaya is inviting a bloodbath
Zelaya was unconstitutionally removed from his post and his country. He has a legal and ethical right to return. If the threatened bloodbath were to occur, that blood would be on the hands of those who control all the guns, all the death squads, and all the institutions of violence: the coup government, and the coup government alone. The vast majority of the Honduran population is unarmed, fears the military with its history of violent repression, and dreads civil war. Blaming Zelaya for a future bloodbath for trying to restore democracy is an absurd case of blaming the victim for the brutal plans of the current regime.

Lie #8: Nothing’s going on here
The de facto regime repeatedly insists that everything is normal, democracy is healthy, and human rights are not being violated. To the contrary, independent human rights reports and citizen journalists have provided abundant proof that since the coup, numerous targeted assassinations of coup opponents and journalists have been carried out, as have dozens of instances of torture, military break-ins of private homes, and forced disappearances.

It is time for President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to take a firm stance against the violence being carried out in Honduras by individuals and institutions trained by the U.S. military both in Honduras and at the School of the Americas, by taking concrete measures required by U.S. law in the case of a coup: removing their ambassador, ending all military alliances, and cutting off trade. It is time that we, as Americans, demand they do so. If we accept the lies supporting the violent attack on Honduran democracy, we only weaken our own.


Allow me to expand Lie #1

There is not a single recorded statement, written or video, with Zelaya expressing an intend to run for a reelection. This has always been the unproven supposition of Zelaya´s opposition. The question of the poll was aim to know if people was interested in being asked on November 29th about the call for a Constitutional Assembly to write a NEW constitution.

Also, he express the day before the coupe, in a national broadcast, that the poll results (encuesta) would be attached to the executive's petition to the congress to place the forth ballot. In the end, it would had been congress' call to place it or not.

My understanding is that Congress would had have serious trouble denying the placement of the ballot, given the chance the "YES" won. So I suppose they thought that by removing him before the poll took place no harm would be done.

Check out the poll.

It reads, "Do you agree that in 2009 general elections a fourth ballot be installed in which the people decide the convocation of a National Constitutional Assembly?... Yes....No".

A question, Adrienne

Do you have a good source for the statement that the poll would have referred its recommendation to the National Congress for action? Out of this entire mess, the one thing that troubled me was the apparent lack of definition of process for translating the poll into substantive action, which seemed to me to allow an opening for the Assembly to be turned into something deleterious. But my perception of a lack of definition may well have simply been that was difficult to find information about the poll that might have clarified the issue.

--Charles of MercuryRising


I conducted an hour and a half long as-yet-untranscribed interview with a group of six or seven diputados, yesterday, in which they lay out very clearly that it would have had to have been approved by the Congress in order to be voted on. I haven't sought out other written documentation, but I doubt you could get anyone who really knows the process, including golpistas, to deny this. The possibility of the current Senate having approved the assembly vote, as you can see, was nil, and it's unlikely that they would have gone through with any version of it, however altered, if it looked like it started with Zelaya. That said, many (perhaps a majority) of the current Senate, including Micheletti, have previously been involved in attempts (successful and not) to change the Constitution's artículos petrios--the very same thing they claim is justification for his removal.

Thanks, Adrienne

Thanks... I'll look eagerly for the transcription. There's no doubt in my mind that the poll was purely a pretext and that the coup was planned long ago. That leaves the question of why expel Zelaya when his time in office was so short and the chances of a successor being able to advance his work was so slim.

Hillary's behavior is also difficult to understand. Honduras is very slim pickings, hardly worth risking the credibility of the Administration over. If they go ahead with the coup, the world will conclude, rightly or wrongly, that Obama is no different than Bush. The window for diplomatic initiatives will close. That would be very damaging for his chances at re-election.

--Charles of MercuryRising

Your wrong Adrienne

As an outsider with real estate interests in Honduras it has been obvious over the last year that Zelaya's has been moving more and more to the left. Honduras entrance into ALBA was at the sole discretion of Zelaya. Everyone that I talked to in Honduras were flatly against this, and it appeared that a lot of Chavez's money went into bribing the local officials and even the poor people to come out and support this. Zelaya is dangerous and needed to be removed before causing more problems.

Were you drugged when talking to people?

Listen to yourself, pal: 'As an outsider with real estate interests in Honduras blah-blah-blah'

How in the world does an outsider think that he is even theoretically ready to express such a categorical opinion that he starts it saying IT HAS BEEN OBVIOUS THAT...

Listen, pony boy, moving to the left is the cliché preferred by rich bastards when they contemplate a President trying to do something for the very poor people who compose 80% of the nation. Giving them better opportunities, feeding them, educating them.

You are obviously one of those rich bastards, even if you don't have any money at all, because you think like them.

Zelaya is no more dangerous than the fat bastards who have become millionaires by exploiting the poor people of Honduras during 500 years.

There are ways, legal ways to remove a President.

Obama is also dangerous to some people who hate him, but you don't see the U.S. marines waking him with bullets and flying him to Costa Rica at 5am.

You would do the world a great deal by shutting up your clam and going get drunk at some dirty beach, boy.

No, you're wrong

Apart from the fact that this poor anonymous fool whose only credential to speak for the people of Honduras is that he's taking their land [I'm assuming it's a he, apologies if I'm wrong], I have done extensive interviews with members of the Honduran Congress who opposed Zelaya in many instances and who detest Chavez's style of rule, detailing the lengths they went to to ensure that this economic arrangement would not lead them to a Chavez-like regime, including consulting with a recent now-coup-supporting ex-president. And Micheletti himself approved Honduras' entry into ALBA. So unfortunately, what we have here is more baseless golpista propaganda.