Honduras Dialogue, Just Media Show?

Repression continued despite the dialogue.  Photo: Giorgio Trucchi rel-UITA
Repression continued despite the dialogue. Photo: Giorgio Trucchi rel-UITA

HAVANA TIMES, Oct 9 – A mixture of repression and conversations marked the first day of new attempt at dialogue in Honduras between representatives of deposed President Manuel Zelaya and those that carried out the military coup to remove him just over a hundred days ago.

The following is a report from the rel-UITA website with photos from Giorgio Trucchi.

To Legitimatize Elections

Tegucigalpa – “The Mountain gave birth to a mouse,” could have been the most appropriate headline for what the de facto Honduran government has dubbed the “Guaymuras Dialogue.”  Participating in these talks concerning the Honduran political crisis were representatives of the coup imposed government-which monopolized the agenda and protocol of this first session- as well as President Manuel Zelaya’s delegation and a high-level OAS commission.

Meanwhile, demonstrations across the capital were brutally repressed by the police and army, while 51 individuals accused of sedition for the taking over the National Agrarian Institute (INA) were granted bail and are now free.

What was expected to be an historic day for the Honduran people became a media show meticulously prepared by the de facto government.

Before an impressive and inexplicable deployment of police forces, the Guaymuras Dialogue began on Wednesday (October 7).  Taking the floor in this first session were de facto Foreign Minister Carlos Lopez Contrera; President Manuel Zelaya’s delegate, Victor Meza; and the secretary-general of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza. The positions expressed evidenced significant distance between the parties.

For the delegations of both the OAS and President Zelaya it is imperative to reintroduce the Arias Plan, which proposes the reinstatement of President Manuel Zelaya and suggests the holding of elections only after the restoration of constitutional order in the country.  However, the sole objective of the de facto government seemed to be the international legitimization of elections scheduled for November 29.

OAS General Secretary Jose Miguel Insulza in Honduras.  Photo: Giorgio Trucchi, rel-UITA
OAS General Secretary Jose Miguel Insulza in Honduras. Photo: Giorgio Trucchi, rel-UITA

Interim President Roberto Micheletti-who during his meeting with the OAS mission rejected the reinstatement of President Zelaya-made categorical statements outlining the possibility of his stepping down from office in exchange for the naming of a third person, though he warned that any resolution would have to be framed by the Honduran constitution and laws.

Micheletti added that as the head of government, he could not assume commitments on behalf of other powers of the state, and that “there is no way to stop the elections, unless they use force and invade us.”

OAS secretary-general Jose Miguel Insulza stressed the importance of recognizing several realities, such as how the removal of a constitutional president to normalize the situation in the country has not been an effective measure; on the contrary, after more than 100 days the situation remains untenable.

Insulza called for the recognition of the need to change the path to prevent the elections from being repudiated by the continent and the world.  He called for constitutional guarantees to be restored, the re-opening of all media that have been closed, for delegations to have the capacity to adopt binding agreements and for the setting of clear and timely milestones for reaching agreements, among other proposals.

He also asked that the dialogue be approached without hidden agendas and in good faith, leaving aside prejudice and fear.

The Resistance’s Critical Participation in the Talks

In an official statement announced after the first session of the talks, the National Front Against the Coup reaffirmed its conviction that “dialogue is the most appropriate method to solve differences and-as a gesture of our will to find a solution to the current political crisis-we have accepted sending a representative (our coordinator Juan Barahona) to the poorly named “Guaymuras Dialogue” convened by the de facto régime.

Resistance leader Juan Barahona.  Photo: Girogio Trucchi, rel-UITA
Resistance leader Juan Barahona. Photo: Girogio Trucchi, rel-UITA

“However,” the resistance statement continued, “for any dialogue to be viable, it must be sincere and include the minimal conditions for its realization.”

For the resistance, which specified that it is participating as an opposition force and not as a delegate of President Zelaya, dialogue is not possible when the repeal of the state of siege has not been published in the La Gaceta (official) newspaper.

The organization also cited the continuing murders of its members, trails for sedition, charges against dozens of people as well as the case of campesinos that peacefully took over the National Agrarian Institute (INA) for three months.  These individuals were freed Wednesday afternoon (October 7) after being granted bail while other indigenous people have requested asylum in the Guatemalan Embassy.

The National Front against the Coup insisted on the need to end the persecution of the media that does not share the ideas of the de facto government and to remove the military blockade around the Brazilian Embassy, where Zelaya and dozens of supporters are virtual prisoners, sleeping on the floor and receiving shipments of food while soldiers have it cordoned off.

“While these conditions continue, the National Front against the Coup will not be able to participate in the ill-named talks,” said Juan Barahona upon conclusion of the first session.

“At the moment, we are only in agreement as to what will be the agenda for the next few days. There are three points: Analyzing the San Jose Agreement whose basic point is the reinstatement of President Zelaya; and if there is no agreement, we would move on to studying changes to this agreement, while the last one is to create the conditions for a new political and social pact,” said Barahona

“For us,” he added, “the unconditional restitution of President Zelaya is not negotiable, nor is the demand that the coup forces be punished, or the convening of a Constituent National Assembly. Honduran society and the international community have understood the dimension of this conflict, and our struggle is to reverse this coup.”

Honduras contines in crisis.  Photo: Giorgio Trucchi, rel-UITA
Honduras contines in crisis. Photo: Giorgio Trucchi, rel-UITA

“To permit this putsch in Honduras to consolidate is to consent to the same thing occurring in other countries of the continent, because its objective is to stop the processes of change underway.

“I’m skeptical, but in the next few days we’ll see if (the delegations) want to find a true solution to the crisis or if it’s a political show aimed at strengthening the electoral farce with which they seek to legitimize the coup-backed candidates,” the coordinator of the resistance concluded.

Repression and More Repression

While the first session of the talks were being carried out in a hotel in the capital, in a crude and thoughtless way the police and army used tear gas and rubber bullets against a demonstration made up of hundreds of people who had gathered in front of the US embassy.  The protestors had wanted to march to the Guatemalan Embassy, where a request for asylum had been made by twelve members of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH).

Despite the repression, in several locations across the capital people came out into the streets spontaneously to express their opposition to the coup.

A Havana Times translation of the orginal article in Spanish.