Monday, August 10, 2009

Coup in Honduras: what you can do

Dear friends,

We've been covering the coup in Honduras since before it happened—some 40 days ago now. That's the standard quarantine period, a biblical reference traditionally observed after childbirth here in Mexico. In the 40 days since the coup, diplomatic efforts to quarantine anti-democracy maneuvers by isolating the Honduran coup have not worked. That's a serious blow to the international community and has increased fears of contagion in the region. The OAS is traveling to Honduras early this week to try to retake initiative based on its resolution condemning the coup and calling for the immediate return of President Zelaya.

The message is simple: We cannot allow a return to military coups and death squads in Central America—or anywhere. Honduras today is not the time or place to play geopolitics. Diplomatic games and delay tactics only prolong the illegality that exists, entrench the coup leadership, and deepen the polarization and violence in the nation. A coup is a coup. All peaceful measures must be applied to prevent further violence and restore democracy.

There have been some lively debates on the postings here and at my blog on Huffington Post.

What's remarkable about them is the persistence of myths—particularly that the non-binding referendum proposed included an indefinite term for President Zelaya—and the idea among so many people that it's okay for the military to oust an elected president if they have a difference of opinion. We would have hoped that after the Organization of American States and the United Nations resolved to condemn the coup, and after Central American countries fought so hard to rebuild democracy, at least the terms of debate would be clear.

You can find a list of the 31 articles and blogs on Honduras below the Updater. They chronicle and analyze the development of the political crisis and include exclusive interviews and dispatches from people on-the-ground in Honduras like farm movement leader Rafael Alegria and union leader Juan Barahona (both leaders now of the National front Against the Coup), and journalist Dick Emanuelsson. They also include perspectives from former ambassador to El Salvador Robert White, president of the Center for International Policy, and Costa Rican political analyst Carlos Aguilar, as well as what I've written.

In a phone conversation this morning that was mysteriously cut off several times, Wendy Cruz of the CLOC-Central America Via Campesina described the current situation: thousands of Hondurans are marching since Aug. 5 to converge on Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula tomorrow in a nationwide protest against the coup. She noted that they are waiting to see what happens with a group of foreign ministers scheduled to arrive since the coup leaders have vacillated as to whether they will receive them or not. The coup recently said that the OAS delegation will only be admitted as tourists—a further insult to international diplomacy and law.

Cruz called on the international community to "ask the United States to take a much firmer position … and to stop sending aid to the Honduran Army. Because we know that they have only stopped a small part of the aid." Indeed, the suspension of $16.5 million is a fraction of U.S. aid to Honduras in the pipeline. Tomorrow is the International Day of Action for Honduras as the marches arrive there.

This is the time to act. The State Department sent a letter to the Senate softening its stance and has said it is not currently considering further sanctions. President Obama will be discussing the Honduran coup with North American leaders today at the Summit. Below is a partial list of U.S. links of support for democracy in Honduras compiled by one of our readers to write letters to the editor and to Congress:

Laura Carlsen

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