By Ramon H. Potosme*
HAVANA TIMES, July 7 — The military coup that overthrew Honduran President Manuel Manuel Zelaya nine days ago erased Michael Jackson’s surprising death from the news across almost the entire continent. Now Zelaya is seeking to return and retake power.
Maria Lopez Vigil, editor of the magazine Envío, published in Nicaragua, analyzes the situation, alerting of the very few prospects for reversing the coup and pointing out the weaknesses of the presidents of El Salvador and Guatemala.
Lopez Vigil reveals information about the background of the coup d’état carried out against Zelaya and discloses little-commented-upon facts, such as the differences between two figures within the Honduran oligarchy: Roberto Micheletti, the de facto president in Honduras; and deposed President Manuel Zelaya, a cattleman and farmer from Olancho.
She also speaks of deposed Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas, a Zelaya confidant who Lopez Vigil says taught him the initial and amicable kindnesses of the left, from which emerged a liberal-populist blend applauded by President Hugo Chavez.
Do you believe that the coup d’état in Honduras is reversible?
MARIA LOPEZ VIGIL: The reasons for which this has occurred are so deep and historic that it’s hard to imagine it being reversed in the short term. The domestic political culture of the country is one of embedded bipartisanship, of a political tradition of solving matters by negotiations between the two parties.
Are the differences between Micheletti and Zelaya evident?
MLV: Roberto Micheletti believes Zelaya “betrayed” him, because he didn’t support him so that he could win the presidency in November. Now at least Micheletti has the pleasure of being president for a while. These political leaders are a little like foxes from the same den.
Does Zelaya have a difficult road ahead even with his international support?
MLV: It won’t be easy for Zelaya to regain control or for Micheletti to give it up; this will only be reversed though the highest-level political negotiations.
How does this affect Central America?
MLV: In El Salvador there is reflection over the inconveniences of Zelaya’s approach, and there are warnings that [the new president] Mauricio Funes should not do something similar. For example, touching the Amnesty Law, put in place by former President Alfredo Cristiani and maintained by three governments. That law has granted total impunity with regard to real crimes against humanity. If Funes were to do the contrary, the same thing could happen to him as what is happening to Zelaya.
In Nicaragua, Ortega has the control of the institutions
MLV: Here, economic sanctions have been legitimized for political reasons, no? That’s to say, Honduras is now economically punished by the World Bank, which has cut off assistance because Honduras did not act democratically; in contrast, here [in Nicaragua] it’s been said that the economy and politics have nothing to do with each other, that there shouldn’t be politically conditioned economic sanctions.
Should [Guatemala’s] Colom be on guard?
MLV: Everyone should be on alert because the Central American democracies are still just facades; they are very fragile.
The wars in Central America concluded by attrition, not because there was national consensus or because the peace reflected a certain agreement having been reached. So everyone has to fall in line: presidents, aspirants to the presidency, military and coup leaders, and those who committed the fraud here.
There are sectors that criticize the fact that the case of Honduras was taken to the OAS, but the same wasn’t done over the alleged fraud [in the last Nicaraguan municipal elections].
MLV: I believe such criticism is inappropriate because all the systems in Latin America are presidential. In that sense, municipal elections don’t have the force — by political tradition — as the presidential elections. We’ll see if Daniel Ortega commits similar fraud in the presidential elections for his reelection; that would be a different situation.
Zelaya is not the hero of democracy that he wishes to present himself as; he’s an oligarch of the liberal party.
How do you assess the case of Patricia Rodas, the foreign minister so close to Zelaya in his government?
MLV: She is a woman of the left; she has a tradition of grassroots organization. It’s she who has filled Mel Zelaya’s head with debatable initiatives, with transformation. Nobody is analyzing with depth her role in this shift made by Zelaya, who is a man that comes from the most rancid rightwing of the Honduran oligarchy.
Patricia Rodas has assembled inside the Honduran Liberal Party a group that calls itself “The Patricios,” those who have more of a social base; they have more of a tradition of popular organization. Another thing is that they were being isolated inside the Liberal Party.
What do you think of the ALBA and Río summits?
MLV: They came out like TV stars. They ended up strengthening Zelaya and the OAS, and with very great unanimity.
Have we returned to the banana republics?
MLV: No. There has been repression and blows against the media, but in the time of the banana republics, soldiers would have strafed people in the streets and nothing would have happened.
*Havana Times translation of the segment of the Maria Lopez Vigil interview of the original article published by El Nuevo Diario newspaper of Nicaragua on July 6, 2009. http://www.elnuevodiario.com.ni/politica/51707