Honduras Coup Leaders Mock Dialogue

HAVANA TIMES, Oct. 13 – The de facto government in Honduras is imposing its own agenda, ratcheting up repression and seeking to delay any resolution of the crisis.  The rel-UITA website brings us the following report on Monday with photos by Giorgio Trucchi.

Tegucigalpa, Honduras – Despite national and international reports of satisfactory progress in talks between the delegations of Roberto Micheletti and President Manuel Zelaya, it is perceived by many in the resistance movement that the de facto government has no intention of searching for a resolution to the over three-month Honduran stalemate.

At this time it is difficult to understand the game that the de facto government is playing.  On one hand they could be using the talks merely to stage a grand media extravaganza to legitimize the upcoming November 29 elections-again risking confrontation with the international community, but which now seems divided.

On the other hand these may be a way to find the excuse needed for Roberto Micheletti to remain in power longer, putting President Manuel Zelaya in a corner and bogging down the resistance through pressure and repression, which has increased considerably over these last few days and has made a mockery of the recent OAS recommendations.

According to the OAS secretary-general’s Honduras adviser, John Biehl, “Any elections taking place without President Manuel Zelaya would probably have to be highly militarized, with a high degree of violence, which would mean that the subsequent government would be ignored by the great majority of countries and the isolation of Honduras would continue.”

Nevertheless, over the 106 days since the coup d’état, there have not been serious and effective measures taken by the international community to reverse this attack on democracy in that country and across the Latin America.

Instead, the de facto government has succeeded in becoming recognized as a force to be dealt with; it has monopolized the dialogue agenda by requiring all types of conditions; and it has succeeded in turning the participation of the OAS into a simple parade of foreign ministers without any type coercive capacity.

In the final document presented by the OAS delegation, it was established that to truly advance dialogue required “the reestablishment and permanency of all constitutional guarantees, the restitution of all media whose operations was interrupted, and the resolution of the situation in the Brazilian embassy, where President Zelaya’s living and working conditions must be guaranteed in accordance with his high position.”

The National Front Against the Coup d’état seconded these demands and conditioned the advance of dialogue on the cessation of any type of repression.

Nonetheless, what has occurred over the last 72 hours has been just the opposite.

Reprehensible Intimidation

There has been no repeal of the de facto government’s Executive Order-which was never made official by its being appropriately published-and therefore civil liberties remain suspended.  That measure has allowed new and constant threats and repression against the resistance, considerably weakening its capacity for mobilization.

On October 9 the police brutally repressed a demonstration organized by the National Front Against the Coup by using tear gas and high-pressure water hoses mixed with strong chemical irritants.  The crowd was assailed for more than one hour but finally dispersed, despite their firm will and capacity to regroup every time they were stormed.

A day later the police threatened to break up a peaceful cultural activity in the Hato de En medio community of Tegucigalpa by forcing people to remain on the sidewalk.

The de facto government formally published a new ordinance in the Gaceta Oficial on October 10, which granted legal authority to the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) “to revoke or to cancel permits or licenses of operators of the press, radio or television that broadcast messages that encourage national hatred, affect protected legal rights or inspire a situation of social anarchy against the democratic State or operate against social peace and human rights.”

That measure signified the definitive closing of Radio Globo and Channel 36, and also created the legal instrument to close all local and independent media sympathetic to the resistance.

During the nights of October 9, 10 and 11, the Brazilian embassy was the object of a strategy of true psychological attrition.  De facto president Micheletti rejected the appeals of the OAS and the resistance to demilitarize the area and provide better treatment to the people locked inside.

Instead, military presence has increased along the surrounding streets, and heavy contingents have been stationed only a few yards from the embassy’s main gate.  Likewise, restrictions have increased on the admission of food, clothing and personal care products into the embassy, which is now continually lit with two enormous floodlights.

A crane with a platform has been positioned, on which are posted heavily armed military personnel who can observe the goings-on within the embassy and a stairway partially behind it. In addition, trucks loaded with debris and soil have been seen from an adjacent building, which could mean the beginning of the excavation of a tunnel.

It is difficult-if not impossible-to nurture dialogue under these conditions.  It is indispensable that the international community immediately intervenes and not legitimize something with each passing day resembles more of a sneer at the entire world and a dangerous example for Latin American democracies.

The Resistance’s October 15 Deadline

Both the resistance and Zelaya himself have set October 15 as the “fecha fatal”(deadline) for him to be reinstated as president.  So far progress has been negligible, since the side points of San Jose Agreement on which there is consensus (the creation of a national reconciliation government, no amnesty for political crimes, a stepping up of the elections and the role of the armed forces during the electoral process) do not make sense without fundamental agreement on the reinstatement of Zelaya and the forming of a constituent assembly.

In this sense, the National Front Against the Coup d’état has already made it clear that it will sign the accords referring to each specific point only when a proviso is added that states that these will be valid when a comprehensive agreement is reached that includes the two previously mentioned basic points.

Under these conditions, the failure of this pantomime is quite probable, just as the worsening of the national crisis and continued repression are foreseeable.