Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Dissenting Opinion by Readership, Regarding COHA's Piece, "Clarification of COHA’s Position on President Zelaya and What Went on in Honduras"

Monday, July 6, 2009

I am worried that the international community does not really know what is going on; and what is worse, they are victimizing Mr. Zelaya. Furthermore, I cannot believe the international community wants Zelaya back in power, when he clearly has been hanging out with crazed Chavez. Which leads you to think, don`t they wonder if Zelaya is trying to lead us to the same place as Chavez led Venezuela??

In summary what has happened:
Since the beginning of his term, democratically elected ex president Zelaya started bonding with Chavez (Venezuela) and Ortega (Nicaragua), using slogans like “power to the people”, increasing minimum wage in Dic. 08 by 300% regardless if a company, small or big, could pay this salary, especially in these financial times (Note: To date, more than 200,000 people have become unemployed as a result of this increase in minimum wage), all to win the poor people over. He has bought people (literally everyone knows this in Honduras) by paying them to participate in public demonstrations against other branches of power, or to show support for the signing of the ALBA (By the way, this money spent is taxpayers money).

Among Zelaya`s breaches of law, he has neglected in almost a year (to date) to send the annual budget to Congress, therefore controlling the money that comes in and out of government, as well as spending the money without regulation (for instance, making government purchases without limitations).

Downturns of his government include, rise in criminality (kidnappings, murders, etc.) and drug trafficking rates never seen before, decrease in medical attention and medicines in major public hospitals as well as Social Security, total lack of attention and abandon of agriculture sector, and most recently lack of attention to disasters provoked by recent earthquake in our north coast.
What happened this weekend was the last drop. Ex President Zelaya was trying to do a “survey” as he called it, that was supposedly nonbinding, asking people if they wanted a Constituent Assembly to reform the Constitution (and in other words, to create a One Branch/Power Government, and prolong his term as president). This kind of surveys, called referendums by law, can only be done by Congress, who is the legislative power (1 of the 3 branches of power) according to our Constitution. However, the Ex President disobeyed this order and continued spending millions of taxpayers’ money in propaganda, as well as paying off individuals to support him, and coercing government officials to sign a paper that said they would vote “yes” on the survey or they would be fired. This survey, unlike other surveys, would require citizens to present their ID at the voting center, to confirm among other things, that officials had gone to vote.

Then, this last Thursday, Zelaya issued a notice in a local journal (El Heraldo, June 25th, 2009) where he states that this “survey” would be binding. By then, the Supreme Court had issued Zelaya’s actions illegal, since he had been continuously breaking the law. On top of this, the Chief of Armed Forces, General Vasquez (Note: the Armed Forces, by law, oversees all voting processes to ensure transparency) said to Zelaya that the army could not participate in this survey since the Supreme Court had issued it to be illegal. President Zelaya, instead of advocating to the Supreme Court, fired the Chief. Zelaya then busted his way into an Armed Forces building to capture the ballots, apparently in realization that he was running out of time before elections are held this coming 29th of November, especially without the Armed Forces support.

The point Congress and the Supreme Court are making is that Zelaya was stepping out of boundaries of the Constitutional Law. General Vasquez was later reinstated by Congress and the Supreme Court.

To be honest, I did not expect the military to grab the president the way they did, however, if they wouldn`t have taken action (following Congress and Supreme Courts orders) Honduras would be headed to a Chavez`s Venezuela, Fidel`s Cuba…or Corea`s Ecuador. For this, I believe our Congress, Supreme Court, and Armed Forces have acted honorably and courageously, in defending our Constitution and the freedom it guarantees its people. Unlike Venezuela, our Armed Forces are Neutral and follow the Law. The Lesson Honduras have learned, is that no one is or should be above the law.

Honduras`s Constitution does not include an Impeachment Trial for Presidents, as the U.S. Constitution does; therefore the military, which is controlled by the Law, and follows the Constitution…followed the road they had to take…Perhaps we must perfect our Constitution, but it has to be made through legal means… through the means enabled by our Constitution.
In supporting Zelaya, the international community is completely ignoring the Honduran Constitution. This was not a coup...but rather could be considered an ousting. This is our Constitution…and nobody except Mr. Zelaya has broken the law.

I recommend you read a Manual issued by the Organization of American States (OAS or OEA in Spanish) which was made after dictator Allende turned Chile to the Left during the 70s. The manual, describes exactly how to turn a country into a Lenin-Marxist state, and the steps Allende followed. This is exactly what Zelaya was doing; this is exactly what Chavez did in Venezuela.

This is a sad time for my country and I hope we overcome it. I hope the international community can see the truth…

--Andrea Facusse

Friday, July 3, 2009

I am an USA citizen in Honduras. Having lived here for several years and having strong ties to Honduras and having made over 110 trips to Honduras since 1991, I must say that today’s retraction of Brian Thompson’s article is a shame. He was right on!

I have watched Mel Zelaya trounce many laws in Honduras over the last several years.

I was afraid I would have to return to the USA soon due to the anti-American hate constantly exuding from the mouth of Zelaya and his friend Chavez and now I can stay here in peace.
How dare you, who do not know Honduras, make judgments against people fighting for democracy and against Chavez and his cohorts?

And FYI, CNN’s “advisors” for the woman who is covering the story in Honduras are Mel Zelaya’s former Public Relations man and one of the people from Channel 8 which was socialist.

--Teresa Searcy

Thursday, July 2, 20o9

Mr. Birns:

Thanks for your email yesterday restating COHA's position on the situation in Honduras. I worked in Honduras in the late 1980s (actually as a brief colleague of Joe Eldridge while he was at the Christian Commission for Development) and returned there for my doctoral dissertation work on shrimp farming. I now am at California State University-Fullerton.

I had contacted Adam after meeting other COHA staff at a June 2 Woodrow Wilson Center event commemorating Margaret Crahan (my former teacher). I asked several more economic questions to help Adam restate the situation, but oh well, the situation changed very quickly between then and June 29! I'm including that message below for your information.

I wanted to say that I do think your newer analysis is more balanced, yet as you and other members of the Washington community continue to analyze this crisis (and possibly others in the region), I hope that you can make a call for better on-ground-reporting. One of my biggest concerns about this whole situation is the polarization within Honduras, but I'm wondering how skewed it is. Before Zelaya tried to hold the election there were some press reports that "only 30% of the population said they approve of Zelaya"; then after the coup Michelleti said "80-90% of the Honduran population supports the coup". I have not seen the first pre-June 29 survey document, but as a person who works extensively with statistics, I would be cautious. I'm most concerned if any surveys done in Central America are not drawn from a representative sample and if they do not include rural areas in the sampling. In mid-June I received emails from listservs (mainly of peasant organizations) supporting the IV Urna and Zelaya. And I think Honduras is divided geographically also, but international reporters are only in Tegucigalpa.

A second concern centers around US aid and if it is to be reduced next week. I would pay particular concern to the Millenium Challenge Corporation funds, which are directly linked to democracy and institution-building in each of the countries signing the compact. As a person who has followed Honduran issues over 2 decades (as well as the burning of the U.S. Embassy after the Juan Ramon Matta "kidnapping") I can imagine the U.S. State Department is in a very difficult position and probably does not want to withdraw aid immediately. But targeted approaches could be more effective.

Again, thanks for rewriting the COHA statement, and I look forward to remaining in touch with your office as events develop.

--Denise Stanley, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Economics
California State University-Fullerton

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mr. Birns:

Your analysis of the situation in Honduras is, for the most part, fairly balanced. And, for the most part, fairly accurate. I won't go into the inaccuracies, because the important issue is that we, in Honduras, are standing firm in our refusal to recognize Manuel Zelaya as the constitutional president. The new constitutional president is Roberto Micheletti, not a favorite with many of us, but nevertheless, the person that lawfully should succeed the deposed president under these circumstances. He has pledged that elections will be held in November, which is something Zelaya planned to cancel alledging that the 'people' wanted him to continue in power. The removal of Zelaya, a president who thought he was above the law and was intent on violating the Constitution of this country, was done as lawfully as is possible in a country like ours which has laws but not detailed procedures on how to carry them out. However, under the circumstances, many of us would never call the events of this weekend a coup d'etat. For one, the military did their task under orders from the Supreme Court and Congress. Secondly, our Constitutional rights have not, at any time, been cancelled. In most of the country, people are carrying on business as usual, even on Sunday while the transfer of power was being effected. And finally, Micheletti is not a puppet of the Armed Forces by any stretch of the imagination, as only we Hondurans would know and he's surrounded by men and women who will surely keep him honest (for 5 months at least!)

There have been no deaths so far. But, should the OAS persist in bringing Zelaya back into this country, confrontations will most certainly escalate. The OAS would be acting very irresponsibly if they did this because they would be directly responsible for any deaths that could result. I'm a Honduran and I live in Honduras. The relief over having gotten rid of Zelaya by far outweighs any concern over whether it is viewed as lawful or not, by people outside this country. There is overwhelming support for this new government and, even those of us who have been completely non-partisan and non-political, have felt obligated to stand up in defense of our country's ultimate well being. Zelaya's outrageous conduct, his very obvious utilization of government resources of all kinds to further his own interests, his suspected ties with drug traffic, and his 3 and a half years of a government characterized by improvisation, guaranteed that we never want to see him return as Constitutional president. We only ask that COHA and other influential think tanks remain open minded and try to be objective with regards to the events in our country.

--Marta Collart

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dear Larry,

I have now read your article. I am glad you support the return of Zelaya as president.

I do not agree that Mr Zelaya's assessment of the situation as an elite ousting him in order to protect their privileges as being wrong or a way to win international support.

The news media that is owned by some 3-4 families in Honduras with TV-stations and newspapers have for several months played a crucial role by waging a ruthless propaganda war against Zelaya's government.

This crucial role of the median owners is exposed in an editorial today in El Tiempo in the article "Y luego que?": http://www.tiempo.hn/index.php/editoriales
The media wars that created a climate of intolerance were government outlets responded with a similar propaganda refusing their enemies to have a say.

El Tiempo consistently let all sides have a say and has for many years been the only paper in the country that does it. La Prensa and El Heraldo never let indigenous people or organizations of the poor have a say, but El Tiempo has done it for years. Some years ago its chief director got sacked for allowing the journalists criticize the elite too openly but they have continued using as little self censorship as possible.

The coupsters have closed down channel 36 a private TV channel that was not critical enough toward Zelaya, they have closed radio stations, the private TV stations have been showing only cartoons etc in the days after the coop. Look at Venezuela in 2002 and compare.
Zelaya suggested to re-found the country and wanted a participative democracy. He ensured that he was NOT going to run for reelection. But the wealthy elite and its followers among the upper class and upper middle class feared that they were going to be swept away from power by a popular movement not specifically by Zelaya.

Why do you thing they shot at the home of PUD presidential candidate Cesar Ham who may be dead or maybe is hiding (sources give different versions)?

The elite was afraid and reacted in panic. That is my interpretation of this coup.

--Bjorn Blomberg

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