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lunes, septiembre 28, 2009

Honduras In State Of Siege While US Blathers That Zelaya's "Foolish"

Lest anyone think that the US had suddenly reversed centuries of supporting and/or creating rightwing, military coups all across Latin America and was going to stand firm in support of restoring democracy in Honduras, today the US sent unmistakable signs that it wasn't changing anything. It was sticking with historical tradition. The US today lashed out at Manual Zelaya for returning to the country of which he is the legitimate president.

Join me in Tegucigalpa.

Reuters reports:

The United States blasted ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya for his "irresponsible and foolish" return from exile before a settlement was reached in the Central American country's political crisis.

At an emergency meeting of the Organization of American States to discuss the Honduran face-off, Lewis Anselem, the U.S. ambassador to the OAS, also criticized Honduras' de facto government for its "deplorable" action in barring entry of an OAS mission and declaring a state of siege on Sunday.

Anselem also criticized Zelaya for fueling violence by slipping back into Honduras last week and holing up in the Brazilian Embassy, from where he has called on his supporters to take to the streets.

"The return of Zelaya absent an agreement is irresponsible and foolish ... He should cease and desist from making wild allegations and from acting as though he were starring in an old movie," Anselm said.

What a joke. Oscar Arrias has been trying unsuccessfully to negotiate Zelaya's return to the country of which he is the legitimate president for months. Those attempts to talk have met only with golpista resistance, running out the clock, posturing, and intense repression against those who support democracy in Honduras. There is no "settlement," and there is none in sight. And waiting until there is a settlement might mean waiting forever.

In an effort to appear evenhanded Washington's mouthpiece at the OAS, of course, denounced the golpista's refusal to let an OAS mission enter the country and the golpistas' harassment of the Brazilian embassy, where President Zelaya has found refuge, and the golpistas' declaration of a state of siege.

What? A state of siege? Did you miss that in your local newspaper? Oh yes, a state of siege. The BBC reports:

Two Honduran media organisations that have been critical of the country's interim government have been closed.

Troops raided Radio Globo and Cholusat Sur TV hours after authorities issued a state of emergency suspending key civil liberties for 45 days. ...snip

The raid on Radio Globo early on Monday was the second on the station since Mr Zelaya was ousted in June.

The interim government's decree - broadcast on national television - allows unauthorised public meetings to be banned and news media to be temporarily closed down.

"Troops assaulted the radio (station)... and took it off the air," said Radio Globo director David Romero.

A Radio Globo journalist, Carlos Lopez, said soldiers had "confiscated everything", including cameras and the keys to vehicles.

Al Giordano has the decree declaring the state of siege. It's brief, and it should be printed here in full:


Article 1. For a period of 45 days beginning with this decree’s publication, the Constitutional rights of Articles 69, 72, 81 and 84, are suspended.

Article 2. The Armed Forces will support, together or separately with the National Police, when the situation requires, to execute the necessary plans to maintain the order and security of the Republic.

Article 3. The following is prohibited:

First: Freedom of transit, which will be restricted according to the parameters established by press releases broadcast on all radio and TV stations by the President of the Republic, which will be in effect in all national territory and during curfews, with the exception of cargo transport, ambulances, and urban traffic in the cities excluded in said communiqués, and medical personell and nurses that in those cities work during curfew hours.

Second: All public meetings not authorized by police or military authorities.

Third: Publication in any media, spoken, written or televised, of information that offends human dignity, public officials, or criticizes the law and the government resolutions, or any style of attack against the public order and peace. CONATEL (the Honduran communications commission), through the National Police and the Armed Forces, is authorized to suspend any radio station, television channel or cable system that does not adjust its programming to the present decree.

Article 4. It is ordered:

First: Detain all persons who are found outside of the established orders of circulation, or that in any manner are suspected by police and military authorities of damaging people or property, those that associate with the goal of committing criminal acts or that place their own lives in danger. All detainees will be read their rights, and at the same time must be brought to be booked in a police station of the country, identifying all persons detained, their motives, the hour of arrest and release from the police station, recording the physical condition of the detainee, to avoid future accusations of supposed crimes of torture.

Second: All persons detained must remain confined in the legally established detention centers.

Third: All public offices, national, state and municipal, that have been occupied by demonstrators or have persons inside of them engaging in illegal activities will be cleared.

Fourth: All Secretaries of State, decentralized institutions, municipalities and other state organisms must place themselves at the orders of the National Police and Armed Forces without any equivocation, along with all means at their disposal, for the development of these operations.

Article 5. The present Decree becomes law immediately, being duly published in the Official Daily “La Gaceta” and will be sent to the National Congress to be made law.

Ordered from the Presidential Palace in the City of Tegucigalpa, municipality of the Central District, on the 22nd of September of 2009.



Four articles of the Hondruan Constitution, those providing the most basic liberties, have been suspended by the Order. Al Giordano quotes them.

And so the other foot has now dropped in Honduras. The golpistas have declared a second, more forceful coup, one that suspends democracy for 45 days. And what's the magic of 45 days? Well, the election in November is in 45 days. And the golpistas evidently are going to argue that Honduras can have a "fair" election while there's a state of siege in effect, or that no election can be held because of civil unrest.

This makes the situation in Honduras all the more dangerous and unstable. And it makes the US's criticism of Zelaya all the more disgraceful. There is no earthly reason why Zelaya should help the coup run out the clock on his presidency. And there is no reason why he and Hondurans and Latin Americans in general should be satisfied with the half-hearted diplomatic process that was Zelaya's only alternative to returning and confronting the golpistas.

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