NY Times Honduras Editorial - So Many Myths
NY Times Editorial
Mr. Micheletti’s Dangerous Game, August 14, 2009
Honduras’s de facto government appears to be running out the clock. It seems to believe that it can slow-pedal negotiations to reinstate President Manuel Zelaya, who was summarily ousted by the armed forces in June, and hang tight until voters elect a new president in November.
So far so good. It has been about 52 days, with about 102 days left until the November election. This is the obvious product of "negotiations" with a criminal regime who has vowed not to budge an inch.
It must be disabused of this notion. Honduras has been deeply divided by the coup and passions could easily spin out of control. Even if the de facto government manages to pull off new elections, the results would be viewed as illegitimate by much of the Honduran population. That could mean years, not months, of crisis.
The Organization of American States, Washington and the Latin American governments that are trying to broker a solution must press this point with Roberto Micheletti, the de facto president, and his advisers.
Now might be the time to note that the South American countries (through a UNASUR declaration) have made this point clear by the best way possible. To say that they will not recognize ANY election held by the coup regime. The US has indicated it does not agree with this regional approach.
Mr. Zelaya, a self-styled populist and favorite of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, is no fan of the United States. But, as Mr. Obama rightly pointed out, Mr. Zelaya was democratically elected.
Self-styled populist eh? Anyone know what that is supposed to mean, except to say... (wait for it) a disciple of Hugo Chavez and anti-(north)American. Nevermind that Zelaya is a free-market liberal, a believer in CAFTA, a self-described "friend" of the US and supporter of Obama. His only criticisms of the US are on drug and immigration policy? Does anyone disagree?
Washington condemned the coup and suspended about $18 million in mostly military and development aid to the de facto government. But it carefully modulated its rhetoric to keep the focus where it belonged — on Mr. Micheletti and the illegal coup. And it held off on imposing more drastic penalties, like withdrawing Washington’s ambassador to Tegucigalpa or freezing the bank accounts of people associated with the coup, as some Democrats in Congress have urged.
The US "modulated" its rhetoric all right, to the point where it has still refused to officially call a coup a coup. It managed to piss off everyone in the region, who have demanded the US use some of its immense influence. The military and development aid, in fact, continues.
This has given the United States room to encourage negotiations led by President Óscar Arias of Costa Rica, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The administration has rightly held to that course even after some Congressional Republicans — whose support for democracy is apparently selective — criticized this approach.
How exactly has doing little to nothing encouraged negotiations?? Even worse, the Obama Administration telegraphed - in a letter to Senator Lugar - that it is not considering ANY additional major sanctions. Negotiations 101 says you have to have a stick - or at least act like you have one. Many Republicans don't even believe a coup took place, of course they oppose any action.
The administration may not be able to hew to this fine line for much longer. Mr. Arias has proposed that President Zelaya be returned to office immediately and that Honduras move up its presidential elections by a month to October. Mr. Zelaya has also agreed not to try to change the constitution so he can run for re-election — the issue that prompted the coup. But Mr. Micheletti has dug in his heels, refusing to accept the deal.
Still, 53 days in, we have the top news media in America repeating a couple golpista lies as if they were truth. Zelaya did not try to "change the Constitution so he could run for re-election." This idea is based on absolutely no facts and would have been a a complete impossibility (the elections were in November and the Constitution could never have been changed by then).
Foreign ministers from several Latin American countries plan to visit Honduras next week to press Mr. Micheletti and his backers to change their minds. The de facto government has already forced a postponement of the visit once. If it continues to reject the deal, the United States must be prepared to exert more pressure.
It would have been nice for the Times to say this 53 days ago. And not to continue to misrepresent the facts.