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Argenpress, Argentina

Coup in Honduras:
the Eternal Model

By Juan Francisco Coloane

Translated By Holly Fernandez

1 July 2009

Edited by Robin Silberman

Argentina - Argenpress - Original Article (Spanish)

While Barack Obama’s words suggesting that Chile is the model to follow were still jingling, the military coup overthrowing President Manuel Zelaya was emerging in Honduras.

In politics, words eventually come to have a double meaning. Never before was a democratic rupture more inopportune than this one in Honduras. At the same time Obama’s speech at the last Summit of the Americas called for a new climate of relations in the region, beginning with democracy in the countries, Honduras and its elite were considering another model.

The political sight of the world is fixed on this Central American nation that hardly has the strategic and nuclear weight of Iran; it's like sticking a finger in a wound to exhibit where the real power is.

This puts more pressure on the new international policy that the United States intends to implement. Although condemning the coup, the Obama administration has more critically emphasized the human rights violations in Iran than the democratic rupture in Honduras.

As is habit, the point is trivialized in the media by the ever changing President Chavez and his influence in Central America. The Venezuelan president has transformed himself into a kind of “Ahmadinejad of the region” for certain press, with his own “Hamas” and “Hezbollah,” causing him to lose sight of the intrinsic concerns in Honduras.

The New York Times commented with its classic article: “Honduran army overthrows an ally of Chavez.” The press operates with the prospect of the Transatlantic Alliance, which Chavez and his influence just seems to complicate. The coup has been received with approval and reading between the lines is not necessary.

It suffices to see the slant in Spain’s El Pais, Britain’s The Guardian, and the media of the region. They are drowned in profitability and lobbyist commitments with the transatlantic powers, insisting on the alliance between Chavez and Zelaya. That he might have begun to make some social reforms is secondary.

The knocked down President Zelaya, a rightist at the core, like the majority of the elite Honduran power, had conceived a way to break up concentration of the economic and political power in Honduras. He had transformed himself into an unexpected leftist. A truly accidental, yet fortunate discovery, until the opposition began to declare war on him.

He had made advances towards something that is generally an impossibility: to generate social reforms that benefit the most vulnerable, without bringing about violence and class revenge. The situation was very well described and analyzed by the journalist Nibaldo Mosciatti in his Sunday report on Bío Bío La Radio.

In purest style of the ’60s and ’70s, it was a classic coup. The traditional conflict of power merged with, in this case, the absence of the traditional Honduran oligarchy’s contention. But the powerful are incapable of accepting the insertion of the poor into their space of absolute power.

Zelaya had lost support of judicial power and the congress by organizing a vote that would permit him to prolong his term, replicating the examples of president Correa, Morales, and Chavez in complete “American banana republic” style, saying this with all respect to the bananas and the countries.

The process was halted by violence against Zelaya, as well as some of his cabinet members: his Chancellor, and members of his family. According to Honduran sources, the violent military entrance to the places where the deposed authorities were found was unusual: they were threatened with death if they were to resist.

The coup has revealed a mechanism not so new, but discontinued. Powers of the state are being used - both judicial and congressional - to dismiss a president with operative support of the armed forces of Honduras. Zelaya requested the resignation of the general in chief of the armed forces last week, anticipating that a coup was brewing.

Honduran officials that were interviewed did not imagine what was developing, and the news of an almost perfect operation wasn’t even leaked to make it appear constitutional.

In a press conference, Robert Gibbs, press secretary for the White House, was cornered with a question: “To what point did the administration know ahead of time about the coup d’état?” Gibbs did not acknowledge having the information in advance. A Honduran official was unwilling to believe this version.

This will cost the United States the casting off of its old halos. Here [in Latin America] there is a shared responsibility in the region and in the debates that take place in many international forums regarding sustained advancement and sometimes praise for being exceptional among the democracies in Latin America, but this is not so.

The existing institutional framework in Latin America opens the floodgate for a state of emergency, a situation that comes from the excess power of the elite, which in Honduras appears to be an unalienable right.

The complacency of the citizenry easily accepts the disclosure of a democracy reduced to vote and debate by the elites in the media. Meanwhile, the development of the population’s vigorous analytical capacity is made increasingly more limited. The people want to eat and pay debts. They don’t want to debate; voting is like an automatic act of a consumption-production system.

While Obama praises the model of Chile, the military and the oligarchy in Honduras respond with concrete persuasion from their own model.



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