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domingo, noviembre 29, 2009

Honduras: Same As It Ever Was

Today there are presidential elections in Honduras. The US says that it doesn't matter that the golpista government of Roberto Micheletti is still in control despite international condemnation, that Manual Zelaya, the democratically elected president, is still stuck in asylum in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, and that Brazil and Venezuela have announced that they will not recognize today's election results. Nor does it matter that the US originally denounced the coup, cut off non-military aid, and demanded the immediate reinstatement of Zelaya. All of that, amigos, is stuff you're supposed to forget about. Just forget it. Yeah, after today, democracy will be magically restored in Honduras via an election. And we're back to the same old same old. The power of El Norte continues, the maquiladoras make Fruit of the Loom for export, the bananas are back on the shelves, and the military puts its boot on the throat of anyone in Honduras who complains about the lack of democracy. It's 1910 all over again.

The AP reports:

A new Honduran president chosen Sunday faces the challenge of defending his legitimacy to the world and to his own people, who are bitterly divided by Central America's first coup in more than 20 years.

Porfirio Lobo and Elvin Santos, two prosperous businessmen from the political old guard [both of whom support the golpistas], are the front-runners. But their campaigns have been overshadowed by the debate over whether Hondurans should cast ballots at all in a vote largely shunned by international monitors.

Manuel Zelaya, the left-leaning president ousted in a June 28 coup, is urging a boycott, hoping overwhelming abstention will discredit the election. As polls opened Sunday, he vowed the United States would regret its decision to support the vote.

"Abstention will defeat the dictatorship," Zelaya told Radio Globo from the Brazilian Embassy, where he took refuge after sneaking back into the country from his forced exile Sept. 21. "The elections will be a failure. the United States will have to rectify its ambiguous position about the coup."

The US's "ambiguous position about the coup" isn't all that ambiguous. Especially in historical context. The US has said explicitly it will support the government elected in this election. Period. It just doesn't matter to the US government that is imposing democracy in Iraq, Afghanistan, and who knows where else, that there be actual democracy in its own hemisphere. That would require the restoration of Manual Zelaya and an election supervised internationally. Instead, we have an election supervised by the golpistas and their military. One can only wonder why US warships have not arrived off shore to preserve order and democracy.

The word from the streets isn't ambiguous at all:

"The best thing for this country is not to vote, to show the world, the United States, which stabbed us in the back and betrayed us," said Edwin Espinal, whose 24-year-old wife, Wendy, died of from asthma complications a day after soldiers hurled tear gas to disperse protesters demanding Zelaya's return.

There is, of course, the expected golpistas' repression. Narconews reports:

The free speech necessary to guarantee free elections is not the message being transmitted to the resistance front. Intimidation, torture, illegal detentions and in extreme cases assassinations are being carried out to prevent mass mobilizations on Election Day. The National Front Against the Coup D’état has encouraged all week a ‘popular curfew’ on Election Day to prevent clashes with the opposition. The Center for the Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights in Honduras (CIPRODEH), has documented aggression directly from the police and the military towards nearly all human rights groups working in Honduras.

And now, hypnotically, the promise that the US under Obama would have a new relationship with Latin America, one in which democracy would be fostered and coups would be discouraged, one in which the oligarchies would not be permitted to exploit and repress poor people, one in which popular leaders could be elected even if they disagreed with El Norte and not be the immediate objects of golpes de estado, those promises will be forgotten. They will be erased from your memories. And life as we knew it in 1910 will resume.

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