Washington on Honduras: The Tight Rope Walker

Almost immediately after the coup d’etat on June 28, the major media could not help but notice a problem facing Washington. On June 30, USA Today headlined: “Obama’s day: The presidential tight rope.” It went on to write: “Good morning from The Oval [White House]. On this day in 1859, a French acrobat named Charles Blondin walked above the rushing waters of Niagara Falls on a tightrope — exactly 150 years later, President Barack Obama probably knows the feeling….[On] Latin America, Obama tries to deal with the military coup in Honduras against a Latin legacy of distrust toward the United States.”

hirope

On the same day, the Washington Post introduced their article with the banner: “On Foreign Policy, Obama Treads Carefully”. It continued: “President Obama came to office promising bold change on a variety of fronts, but he has often conducted his foreign policy in shades of gray. Whether in Iran or China or North Korea, when is the Obama administration not ‘moving cautiously’ or ‘treading carefully’ abroad? The latest example is Honduras, where the White House yesterday criticized the coup that toppled Manuel Zelaya yet didn’t signal complete disapproval. ‘But while condemning the overthrow, U.S. officials did not demand the reinstatement of Zelaya,’ the Los Angeles Times writes.”

Real or apparent differences between President Obama and the State Department headed by Hillary Clinton will be dealt with below. For the moment let us continue with the initial theme. The Associated Press story reproduced in many major US and international media on July 6 carried the following title written by their correspondent Nestor Ikeda: “Obama is playing the role of a tight rope walker in the Honduran Drama”. Mr Ikeda hit the nail on the head as he writes: “Seeing as that Obama had promised the South American governments that we will follow an orientation of dialogue in conditions of diplomatic solutions, it seems that he is demonstrating a new role for the first time in the face of the military coup in Honduras: a high-wire artist.”

“Clinton’s high-wire act on Honduras” was the banner of the July 7 issue of the Christian Science Monitor for the article highlighting that “the Obama administration waded deeper into the political crisis in Honduras Tuesday, anxious to see the hemisphere’s latest conflict resolved – but wary of appearing like the hegemonic power of old that imposed its will on smaller neighbours.”

In the same direction, Time magazine wrote on July 8 that “Since the coup, the White House has had to walk a fine line between cultivating a new, less interventionist image for the U.S. — which has too often aided military coups in Latin America – and ‘responding to the hemisphere’s desire that it take a strong lead in defending democratic norms,’ says Vicki Gass, senior associate for rights and development at the independent Washington Office on Latin America.”

Washington’s dilemma was foreseen by one of the most hardened media supporters of the current coup d’etat regime when the El Heraldo of Honduras noted on January 19 right after Obama’s inauguration that “he knows that he has no right to disappoint his followers….It was reported that in his inaugural address “Obama will be as if walking on a tightrope”. (My translation from original Spanish) This was in reference mainly to the economic crisis, but it can also be applied to the international situation.

The Honduran El Heraldo newspaper knew that the Honduran oligarchy had to tilt the balance in favour of itself.

WHAT ARE THE TWO SIDES BELOW THE TIGHT ROPE?

In Hillary Clinton’s recent important July 15 address to the Council on Foreign Relations, she stated:

….The question is not whether our nation can or should lead, but how it will lead in the 21st century. Rigid ideologies and old formulas don’t apply. We need a new mindset….And to these foes and would-be foes, let me say our focus on diplomacy and development is not an alternative to our national security arsenal. Our willingness to talk is not a sign of weakness to be exploited. We will not hesitate to defend our friends, our interests, and above all, our people vigorously and when necessary with the world’s strongest military. This is not an option we seek nor is it a threat; it is a promise to all Americans….On the question of increased funding for USAID. Just as we would never deny ammunition to American troops headed into battle, we cannot send our civilian personnel into the field underequipped….Building the architecture of global cooperation requires us to devise the right policies and use the right tools. I speak often of smart power because it is so central to our thinking and our decision-making. It means the intelligent use of all means at our disposal, including our ability to convene and connect. It means our economic and military strength; our capacity for entrepreneurship and innovation; and the ability and credibility of our new President and his team. It also means the application of old-fashioned common sense in policymaking. It’s a blend of principle and pragmatism….

Let us take note of some conceptions to be taken into account for a successful tight rope walker:

1. Washington is going to lead the world, which are the same words employed by President Bush. The problem is that his foreign policy orientation proved to be a failure and thus threatened the objective of US domination and control. So how to lead without appearing that it is more of the same Bush-era politics? Thus Clinton says that there is a need for a new mindset.

2. Washington intends to use diplomacy, that is, emphasis on talks and engaging other countries in dialogue. At the same time the other side of the tight rope into which Washington has to avoid falling also includes the use of force and the military. But how new is this mindset? She warns that their willingness to talk does not exclude action: “vigorously and when necessary [with] the world’s strongest military.” Taking into account the current situation in Honduras, what place and importance does the olive branch really hold in relationship to using the military?

3. “A blend of principle and pragmatism.” One can assume that the main principle is that the US must “continue to lead” (but successfully, that is, without inciting the worlds’ peoples and governments against the US). Pragmatism must mean the need to avoid one-sided reliance on the military to the expense of the olive branch as was characterized by the Bush and other administrations before him. This is proving to be a real challenge in the face of on the one hand the continued peaceful opposition of the Honduran people and its legitimate President Zelaya, and on the other hand the military coup perpetrators and its brutal repression backed by the US military base in Honduras. The unrelenting and courageous struggle of the people of Honduras to put an end to the coup regime can upset a balancing act performed even by the most experienced tight rope walkers to be found in Washington.

Let us examine how the State Department attempts to deal with the situation as this holds many lessons for the peoples of South America.

THE US STATE DEPARTMENT’S BALANCING ACT

On June 28, the day of the coup, Clinton stated: “The action taken against Honduran President Mel Zelaya violates the precepts of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and thus should be condemned by all. We call on all parties in Honduras to respect the constitutional order and the rule of law, to reaffirm their democratic vocation, and to commit themselves to resolve political disputes peacefully and through dialogue. Honduras must embrace the very principles of democracy we reaffirmed at the OAS meeting it hosted less than one month ago.”

The State Department refused to call it a coup and makes no reference to the manner in which President Zelaya was violently kidnapped and forcefully sent out of the country, reducing this to the term “action.” The delicate balancing act goes further by placing the putschists and the constitutionally elected Zelaya government on the same footing: “All parties in Honduras… should resolve political disputes peacefully and through dialogue.” When the US was aware, before the actual coup on June 28, that something was to take place, whatever happened to the peace and love pragmatism of Clinton? Or was the US actually involved in the coup? Clinton’s principle of using military force as indicated above in her speech to the Council on Foreign Relations might very well translate itself in the following manner: use of military to stop the ever-growing trend of governments and peoples of South America to build their own anti-neo liberal future and opposing US domination in the area.

On June 29, the next day, Clinton said: “…The United States has been working with our partners in the OAS to fashion a strong consensus condemning the detention and expulsion of President Zelaya and calling for the full restoration of democratic order in Honduras. Our immediate priority is to restore full democratic and constitutional order in that country. The United States has been working with our partners in the OAS to fashion a strong consensus condemning the detention and expulsion of President Zelaya and calling for the full restoration of democratic order in Honduras. Our immediate priority is to restore full democratic and constitutional order in that country. Now, the wisdom of our approach, I think, was evident yesterday when the OAS and the Inter-American Democratic Charter were used as a basis for our response to the coup that occurred…”

Was Clinton moving more to the side of diplomacy and distancing the State Department from the military-backed coup perpetrators? She after all mentions “condemning the detention and expulsion of President Zelaya” However, in order to be part of the OAS strong resolution against the coup and the restoration of Zelaya in his rightful position as president, the US had to make some concessions. One must take note of the fact that Clinton does not mention the return of Zelaya, but rather makes general reference to the “full restoration of democratic order in Honduras.”

And so the State Department spokesman, Ian Kelly, had to mount the tight rope. Right after the above-quoted Clinton statement, on June 29, US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly responded to reporters’ questions on Honduras during one of the regular and almost daily press briefings on any topic. It seems obvious from the excerpts of the transcript below that the US, in order to save face and combine pragmatism with principle (to use Clinton’s words), had to join with the OAS orientation. This seemed to have been done in a half-hearted manner as reflected in the responses by Kelly to be seen below (the US “signed-up” to the OAS resolution). The exchange below also exposes another theme, the first of a long series of reporters’ questions and ambiguous State Department answers, extending for a period of close to six weeks. What was at stake for six weeks? The answer is: whether the US legally classifies the coup as a military coup d’etat or not. This legal classification of the coup as a military coup d’etat would imply cutting off all military and other assistance to their allies in Honduras.

QUESTION: So Ian, I’m sorry, just to confirm – so you’re not calling it a coup, is that correct? Legally, you’re not considering it a coup?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think you all saw the OAS statement last night, which called it a coup d’etat, and you heard what the Secretary just said. Having said that, we’re also very cognizant of the particulars of U.S. law on this. So let us get back to you on the legal definition issue. I don’t want to necessarily make policy up here.

QUESTION: And can I follow up? I mean, it’s unclear what you’re really looking for, because you’re not calling for the restoration – you’re calling for the restoration that’s in the democratic order in the constitution, but you’re not calling for the President, who you say is a legitimately elected president of the country, to go back. So do you –

MR. KELLY: Yes, we are.

QUESTION: – Secretary Clinton just said – no, Secretary Clinton just said that she doesn’t know what the U.S. is calling –

MR. KELLY: We – I mean, we signed up to that very strong statement from the OAS Permanent Council that demanded that President Zelaya be reinstated as a legitimate president.

The next day, June 30, Kelly had to face reporters on the same issue as to whether or not the US has legally ruled that a military coup d’etat took place in Honduras.

QUESTION: Honduras.

MR. KELLY: Elise. Yes.

QUESTION: Can you talk about the review of U.S. aid to Honduras in the wake of the coup –President Zelaya?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. As we talked about yesterday, there is a provision in section – I think it’s 7008 of the foreign operation act that obliges us to make a legal assessment of the facts on the ground and whether or not the funds cut-off provision applies to these circumstances. And so there is this process that’s going on right now in our Office of the Legal Adviser.

QUESTION: — without being simplistic, and I understand there are legalities, but if you’ve got a president who’s been ousted, and you’ve got troops in charge, not constitutionally elected, I’m

MR. KELLY: Well, yeah.

QUESTION: — not quite sure what the complication is.

MR. KELLY: Well, okay. You heard what the Secretary said yesterday. She said that there is a coup.

QUESTION: Well –

MR. KELLY: The President said there’s a coup.

QUESTION: Right.

MR. KELLY: We do have some facts, of course, and the facts are that the constitutional order in Honduras has been overturned. But there’s also a – there’s a process that we need to follow, and that we are following now. And it’s a legal matter. And as you all know, when you – when a legal issue is involved, it’s good to consult your lawyers, so that’s what we’re doing.

MR. KELLY: Well, I think our message is going to be the same message that we’ve said publicly, that Secretary Clinton said yesterday and President Obama has said – that we think that President Zelaya is the democratically elected constitutional president of Honduras and should be allowed to serve out the rest of his term. And we’re working very closely through the mechanism of the Organization of American States, and we think that what happened in Honduras was inconsistent with the principles of the Inter-American charter, and that we need to work this multilaterally. At the same time, there are fast-moving events up at the UN, too. And so I think this is an opportunity to show our support for the presidentially – I mean, democratically elected president of Honduras, and also talk to him about how we’ve been coordinating with our allies, and part of that is in the OAS.

QUESTION: Do you think it’s a good idea for him to return on Thursday like he wants to?

MR. KELLY: I’m not going to – I’m just – I think it’s a good idea for him to be reinstated as the president of Honduras.

QUESTION: Will the U.S. be willing to provide any security for him if he returns to Honduras on Thursday?

MR. KELLY: That’s just not a question I’m prepared to answer, actually.

Yeah, Jill.

QUESTION: Yeah, Ian, just getting back – I hate to be kind of asking another legal question.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: But just – you say constitutional – you do have the facts. The constitutional order has been overturned.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: Okay. So is that the trigger? Is that enough to cut aid? Because then you said there’s a legal process to follow.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: In other words, have you defined – is that the trigger we have – you know, overthrow the constitutional order, therefore we have the right to cut the aid?

MR. KELLY: Well, we – like I say, there’s a process. We want to make sure that the newly confirmed Legal Adviser of the State Department Harold Koh and his team has a chance to make a determination on this.

QUESTION: Okay. So –

MR. KELLY: So that’s what’s happening right now.

QUESTION: Okay. So that’s not enough to stop the aid? The overturning of the constitutional order is not legally enough for you to stop that aid?

MR. KELLY: We need to have our legal experts look at the law, look at the facts on the ground, and make a determination.

QUESTION: And how long is that going to take?

MR. KELLY: Oh, it won’t take long. I can’t tell you exactly how long it’ll take, but I would expect it wouldn’t take very long.”

Once again we see above that Kelly delays any commitment on the classification of the coup from the US perspective and laws. This means more time and a daily dose of fresh oxygen for the military that was (and still is) on a daily basis repressing the growing resistance in Honduras and hindering its movements. The army and police also were, and are, attempting everything to hide and severely hinder the international and local press coverage of what is really happening in the country. Kelly also tries to divert US responsibility by quickly emphasizing the need for diplomacy and mediation by the OAS. Notice above that Kelly says that “we’ve been coordinating with our allies, and part of that is in the OAS.” This raises the question as to who are Washington’s allies? Costa Rica, Columbia, Canada? On the one hand, the US praises the OAS but at the same time reserves the right to bilaterally deal with certain governments of their own choosing. Washington needs time to organize with their allies; while simultaneously giving the green light to the putschists to do the same with the right-wing oligarchy in South America and Miami. This represents a thinly veiled attempt to divide the forces in the OAS. The just and correct OAS resolution becomes merely a cover-up for anything except the restoration of President Zelaya. Kelly also refused to answer the question as to whether or not the US would provide security to President Zelaya if he attempted to return to his country. This high-wire act is very telling; this is so because when Zelaya publicly stated that he will attempt to return on July 24 via land from the Nicaraguan border, the US as we will see below, tried to strongly persuade Zelaya to refrain from going to Honduras. This was done in such a way that any resulting incidents would be considered by the US to be the fault of Zelaya. This is the same position taken by the coup perpetrators.

At the next briefing held on July 1, Kelly, answering the same question as to when the US legal classification of the coup would be made, stated that he would disagree with any “time-related adverb.” He also said, what seems to be an excuse for further delay, that the US takes “our obligations under the law very seriously.” However, the law in the form of Resolutions adopted by the OAS and the UN does not seem to fall into the category of taking “our obligations under the law very seriously.”

QUESTION: To start with Honduras, yesterday, you told us that the Legal Adviser’s Office has begun its formal review of whether the U.S. Government regards this as a military coup.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: And therefore triggers the aid cutoff.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Is that review complete? You had also said you didn’t think it would take that long.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Is it complete, and have you made a determination?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. It’s always dangerous when you put any kind of time-related adverb on any statement. In point of fact, we have not completed our legal determination. As I said yesterday, though, our legal advisers are actively assessing the facts and the law in question, which we take very seriously. We take our obligations under that law very seriously. And of course, I’ll let you know as soon as this determination is made.

On July 2 the portion of the briefing dealing with Honduras reads as follows, in response to the same reporters’ questions:

MR. KELLY: Well, of course, our goal is the restoration of constitutional – of the constitutional order in Tegucigalpa, which means the restoration of President Zelaya. There is a process led by the OAS which is in place. We think that this process should be allowed to play out, and we would discourage any actions that would prove to be an obstacle to this process reaching its desired outcome, which, of course, is the restoration of Mel Zelaya to power.

QUESTION: So just so I’m clear, are you suggesting that possibly his return at too early a stage might be an obstacle?

MR. KELLY: It could be. I think that what everybody needs to focus on now is this OAS mission that was mandated by the OAS Special General Assembly. Of course, I can’t speak for President Zelaya, but it’s my understanding that he has delayed any plans to return.

QUESTION: Do you have any news on the review of possible aid cutoff to Honduras?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I do have an update for you on that if you’ll just hold on a second.

The legal review is ongoing. We’re trying to determine if Section 7008 of the Foreign Assistance Act must be applied. In the meantime, we’ve taken some actions to hit the pause button, let’s say, on assistance programs that we would be legally required to terminate if it is determined – if the events of June 28 are determined to have been, as defined – I’m sounding more and more like a lawyer here – as defined, under the Section 7008 of the Foreign Assistance Act, as defined as a military coup.

*****

While this is going on in Washington, the repression against the heroic resistance of the people of Honduras carries on without let-up.

A MILITARY COUP OR NOT? HAS THE STATE DEPARTMENT TAKEN A DECISION?

Not yet! On July 6, the high wire act continues:

QUESTION: Okay. And then have you guys made a decision yet on – a determination on whether a military coup has indeed transpired, and therefore whether U.S. aid would have to be cut off?

MR. KELLY: Well, as I said on Thursday, we decided that no aid that would be subject to termination under this law – that none of this kind of aid is now flowing to the de facto regime. We are still in the ongoing process of determining whether the law applies. But we’re not inclined to make a statutory decision while diplomatic initiatives are ongoing.

….

MR. KELLY: Well, just a couple of points. One is that there are – most of our activities are excluded under this particular section of the law, and that’s the humanitarian aid and aid to support democracy-building programs. What we’ve decided to not continue our funding of are those programs that could be construed as having – directly aiding the government or the – what we’re calling the de facto regime of Honduras. And it’s a complicated process, but we recognize that we may make this determination to terminate, and that’s why any programs that could be construed as aiding the government have – none of this aid is flowing through the pipeline now.

*****

One may want to notice that Kelly is concerned about any aid to the de facto regime is “construed” as aiding the government, using this term twice in the same paragraph. This makes me think back to Mrs. Clintons’ important July 15 policy statement quoted above when she referred “to the ability and credibility of our new President and his team. It also means the application of old-fashioned common sense in policymaking. It’s a blend of principle and pragmatism….” What the State Department seems to be concerned about first and foremost is rebuilding the image or credibility of the US as it tries to “lead” in a new effective manner. By providing time and aid to the de facto regime this contributes to the principle enunciated above regarding the objective: the US imperialist goal to dominate or what Washington calls “leading”. This intent is meant to blend with pragmatism: in the case of Honduras to refrain from brazenly supporting the military-backed regime as the disastrous Bush-policy would have done and which had only contributed to encourage the massive peoples’ movements in South America against US imperialism and neo-liberal politics. The rapid defeat of the US-organized coup against President Chavez is one example of the futility of this policy which Washington is now trying to avoid. This pragmatism is carried out by covering-up the real US target with notions of dialogue and diplomacy.

The scope of this article does not allow me to go into subtle legal notions and levels regarding different forms of US aid and support, such as military, economic, humanitarian and political “democracy promotion.” Instead I am now limiting myself to dealing with the current US politics of stalling on the legal classification of a military coup d’etat. What implications would a legal classification of the coup as a military coup d’etat mean for US policy on Honduras? For a full disclosure and analysis regarding different forms of US aid and support, see Eva Golinger’s two most recent articles.

In the July 7 briefing, Kelly responded to a question regarding the return of Zelaya as president:

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, I think – if you look at President Obama’s speech in Moscow today, what he said was that we saw a situation where a democratically elected president was overthrown and exiled out of the country. And we want this principle that you can’t deal with these kinds of conflicts extra-constitutionally, and that’s the principle that we want to see upheld. We want to see the – this democratic and constitutional order restored.

QUESTION: It seems that you opened the window for a different solution in probably early elections or –

MR. KELLY: Now, we’ll see. I mean, now – I mean, we’ve said all along that (a) we want these conflicts to be resolved through dialogue and (b) we saw this as a problem for the Organization of American States and for the – for this forum of this Inter-American Forum. We now have a very good process where you have the president of Costa Rica who’s agreed to be a mediator. Of course, this is the beginning of a process. And as the Secretary said, we don’t want to prejudge how the process will play out, but we now have a dialogue in place.

Mr. Kelly wants Costa Rican President Arias’ mediation and dialogue to “play out” while the struggle in Honduras continues between the regime and the resistance. It seems that the State Department is hoping and praying that the resistance of the people in Honduras will wear itself out over time. However, at the time of writing, this demoralization is not happening despite the repression and extremely difficult conditions.

On July 10 in response to questions, Assistant Secretary of the US State Department Philip J. Crowley said that the Arias “…negotiation is the best route to solve this peacefully….” Only when a reporter insisted if this means the return of Zelaya to his position, did Crowley confirm this, …in words, in any case.

IS THE ARIAS MEDIATION AN AMERICAN PROCESS?

As the answer to this question was becoming more and more under public scrutiny on July 13, Kelly was asked whether the Arias mediation is an American process or not.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, this is not an American process. It’s a process that we are putting all of – it’s a process led by Costa Rican President Arias that we are giving our full support to. And –

QUESTION: That sounds like an American process to me. (Laughter.)

MR. KELLY: We are supporting this process led by President Arias. It is not an American –

QUESTION: Whose country is in what part of the world?

MR. KELLY: It’s not a process that’s being led by the United States of America. (Laughter.) And we just have to give – we have to give time for this process to work. And I’ll just – we – we’re – as I say, we’re standing firmly behind President Arias. He said late last week that he expects to sit down again within a week with the two parties, and these would be the kinds of proposals I hope that both sides can discuss.

And on July 14:

QUESTION: President Zelaya has laid down a – what people say is an ultimatum. He says that if the talks that President Arias is mediating don’t restore him or return him to power in their next session, that they will have failed and other measures may have to – other measures will have to be taken.

MR. KELLY: Yes

QUESTION: What – is that the same as the U.S. position?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think you know what our position is – is that we think that all parties in the talks should give this process some time, don’t set any artificial deadlines, don’t make any – don’t say if X doesn’t happen by a certain time, then the talks are dead. We have to give the process a chance and support what President Arias is doing.

QUESTION: Well, will you regard them as having failed if they do not at their next session result in Zelaya returning?

MR. KELLY: Well, look, again, we don’t want to set an artificial deadline.

QUESTION: Well, that’s – are you saying the answer is no, you do not agree with Zelaya that they will have failed if they –

MR. KELLY: I think that we should give President Arias a chance….


CHANGE OF TIGHT ROPE WALKER BUT SAME SHAKY POSITION

Another State Department spokesman, Robert Woods responded to reporters on July 17 in this way:

MR WOOD. And look, the Arias peace talks haven’t been – I mean, this is recent. We need to give it some time. As I said, he’s committed to this process, we are, others in the hemisphere are. We need to allow it to work. We need to allow it to go forward. And so we’re going to continue to encourage the parties to support this process, because we think it’s the best way to get back to where we want to get to.

Warren.

QUESTION: Following on that, has the U.S. Government specifically asked or urged President Zelaya not to try to make another contested attempt to enter Honduras?

MR. WOOD: I don’t want to get into discussions we may or may not have had with President Zelaya on a host of issues. Let us just say that we don’t – as I had said earlier, we don’t want people to take steps that in any way conflict or don’t contribute positively to the Arias mediation efforts.


QUESTION
: So then would his return not contribute positively to it? Is that what you’re saying?

MR. WOOD: I don’t have anything more to add to it than I’ve given you….

WHAT DID CLINTON SAY TO MICHELETTI?

On July 20, back to Crowley:

MR. CROWLEY: And yesterday from New Delhi, the Secretary had a phone conversation with the leader of the de facto regime, Mr. Micheletti. And she laid out during that call – encouraged him to continue focus on these negotiations and also helped him understand the potential consequences of the failure to take advantage of this mediation.

QUESTION: Now, that’s the first time that she – that anyone, I think, has talked to Micheletti?

MR. CROWLEY: That’s a fair question. I don’t – we have been touch with representatives from both sides, but that clearly is her first contact with him.

QUESTION
: So not on –


QUESTION
: Do you have any readout on how firm she was in her conversation with Micheletti?

MR. CROWLEY: I think she –

….

QUESTION: — was she very clear to Mr. Micheletti that the U.S. does not recognize the de facto government, and that whatever its objections during this weekend’s talks, it needs to make preparations to step aside and let the elected president come back?

MR. CROWLEY: I think it was a very tough phone call. However, I think it was – she made clear if the de facto regime needed to be reminded that we seek a restoration of democratic and constitutional order, a peaceful resolution. We do not think that anybody should take any kind of steps that would add to the risk of violence in Honduras, and that we completely support the ongoing Arias mediation.

QUESTION: So are you cautioning Mr. Zelaya to stay in Nicaragua, or whichever country gives him shelter, for the time being if that does lead to a lessening of tension?

MR. CROWLEY: I think we’ve also made clear to President Zelaya that we think that mediation is the way to go.

QUESTION: Can you – any tougher actions, any declarations that you’re planning to do if they – the de facto regime keep doing the same –

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, we have options if not – also legal requirements if these negotiations fail.

….

QUESTION: Just to clarify that. You said that you told Zelaya that mediation is the way. But have you told him specifically, “Do not go back because it’s dangerous and it could create tension and violence”.

MR. CROWLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: Directly, you’ve said that?

MR. CROWLEY
: Yes.

QUESTION: Okay.

This Clinton-Micheletti telephone conversation has not been made public. However, I believe that Clinton did indeed make a “tough” phone call to Micheletti as her secretary spokesman indicated above. Why is this? The coup perpetrators cannot even agree to a mediation proposal which is heavily in their favor, while the resistance in the streets of Honduras continues: how does this look for the new foreign policy image that Washington would like to portray to the world? How does this appear to the US population itself who have shown that it is increasingly against confrontation politics on the international scale?

Zelaya, on the other hand, did not have the privilege of any private warnings. As indicated above by the State Department: “Do not go back because it’s dangerous and it could create tension and violence.” By publicly saying this, does it not indicate in an open manner to the putschists that Zelaya is fair game and that he will not enjoy the support of Washington? Compare this to the secret phone call to Micheletti: perhaps not as tough as the words directed toward Zelaya?

Washington’s decision on the legal classification of the coup according to US norms had not yet been decided. This eventual ruling would probably decide whether the US will or will not fully and permanently, as long as the coup plotters stay in power, cut off all military, economic and political aid as well as withdraw diplomatic recognition. The regime fully depends on US aid of all kinds for its very existence. At the time of the briefing cited above (July 20) the State Department has said that they have only hit the pause button on certain programs, that is placed them on temporarily hold. On so later on during this briefing, in response to the following question: “Have you ruled this as a coup d’etat there legally…” Mr. Crowley said: “No.”

Ambiguity within ambiguity! Does this mean that the US had finally classified that the coup is not legal, or does this mean that they have not yet ruled on the issue? This will be clarified later on over a week later, on July 29.

At the next briefing on July 21, Deputy Department spokesman Woods said in response to a question that “We’re in constant contact with a number of countries in the hemisphere regarding the situation in Honduras. And we believe that the Arias mediation is the right way to go…” In reaction to another question as to what Woods meant by “acting now,” he responded that “what I meant by acting now is we have a process that’s in place that’s being headed by President Arias.”

It seems clear that the Arias mediation goes hand in hand with providing time for the US to attempt to form alliances in South America. These alliances are directed not only against Zelaya but also in opposition to all South American governments including those in the Caribbean and Central America who persist in supporting his unconditional return as required by the OAS and UN resolutions. It must be very frustrating for the thousands of people in the streets of many cities in Honduras who are defying the US-trained and sponsored military. The people persist in putting forward their demand in the face of fierce repression; the US defines “acting now” as being applicable only against the social forces that oppose the coup plotters and not pertinent to the putschist regime On the list of US priorities, the olive branch is all the way on the bottom, after all the military components.

UNWISE, PREMATURE AND RECKLESS?

The following day, on July 23, as a reply to another question on the time frame for the Arias mediation, Assistant Secretary of State Crowly said that there should be no “timeline.” And then in a retort to another query about Zelaya’s plan to return to Honduras, he called it “unwise.”

July 24: The struggles were increasing in the streets of Honduras and in areas close along the Nicaraguan border where Zelaya was organizing his return. On that day the official State Department video could not camouflage Assistant Secretary of State Crowley’s reaction to yet another question on the same theme of the Zelaya’s return. One could easily notice the frustration on his face. Crowley seemed to sigh in exasperation. He turned up the ratchet a bit more against Zelaya and his sympathizers; now the return would be “premature.”

There may not have been a major difference between “unwise” and “premature,” however the same day, July 24, Mrs. Clinton appeared in a press remark opportunity with Iraqi Prime Minster Nour al-Maliki after their meeting at the State Department. She stated on her own, not in response to any question, that she considered the return of Zelaya to be “reckless.” This is definitely turning up the ratchet. Is this not an encouragement to Micheletti to take a hard stance against Zelaya? Her “tough phone call” to Micheletti must have been very far in the back of his mind when he heard Clinton publicly warning Zelaya.

THE CLINTON-MICHELETTI DUO

From Friday July 24 to Sunday July 26 the military tried (and to a certain extent succeeded) in repressing by brute force the very evident massive and heroic support of the Honduran people to welcome Zelaya back over the border. Despite this, Kelly confirmed on Monday July 27 that Clinton’s characterization of a Zelaya return as “quite rightly, reckless.” He also added that the State Department supported the return of Zelaya by “mutual agreement.” In response a question regarding the July 27 Zelaya demand for sanctions against the de facto regime Kelly avoided the question by saying that they “support President Arias.”

How can there be a “mutual agreement” when the putschists refuse a Zelaya return as President either through vague dubious diplomatic means (the Arias proposals) or via a peaceful return over the border? In the context of the tense situation along the Nicaraguan-Honduras border, “supporting Arias” indicates increasingly every day the following: the US-sponsored Arias plan is geared to provide the military-backed regime the necessary time to organize nationally and internationally. Micheletti develops his contacts internationally and at the same time uses brute force against the people: time plays in the favor of the status quo. The State Department, Arias and Micheletti are doing everything to demoralize and discourage the social movements in the country while striving to provoke divisions and desertions internationally.

Talking about providing time to the Micheletti regime, on July 27, the Wall Street Journal provided to Micheletti an op-ed opportunity on its editorial page. He literally praised Clinton’s characterization of the “reckless” Zelaya return as being “appropriate.” Micheletti goes on by appealing to the extreme right wing and hawkish elements in the US oligarchy: “…rather than impose sanctions, the U.S. should continue the wise policies of Mrs. Clinton. She is supporting President Arias’ efforts to mediate the issues.”

There must be a lot of pressure on the new Washington administration to maintain the pro-US military domination over Honduras irrespective of the political costs to the Obama Administration. The Wall Street Journal is indicative of this coercion.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL AND THE US RIGHT-WING

In a recent article by Venezuelan/American lawyer/author/journalist Eva Golinger published in Cubadebate, she wrote that [my translation from the original Spanish]:

The Wall Street Journal is part of the Dow Jones News Corporation news company. Its owner is the powerful multi-millionaire Rupert Murdoch, who through his monopoly media, News Corporation, controls hundreds of newspapers, magazines, television and radio at the world level. Murdoch is well known for its American Fox News Channel, which promotes the imperialist and neoconservative vision of the United States. Some of its other businesses media include National Geographic Channel, The Film Zone, all FOX channels and studios, Film Channel, MySpace (internet) Harper Collins (editorial books), New York Post (newspaper), The Sunday Times (UK), The Sun (UK), among many others.

The Wall Street Journal is a daily with a circulation of over two million copies per day on the world level and 931,000 users on the internet. The editorial of the dictator Roberto Micheletti was written and promoted by his lobby in the United States, Attorney Lanny Davis, who is a close friend and lawyer of former President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary, current Secretary of State of President Barack Obama.

The Wall Street Journal has argued in favour of the coup in Honduras since the first day, and has even published a series of articles that are trying to accuse Venezuela and President Hugo Chavez for having caused the crisis in the Central American country.

The network of connections is exposing itself, as the above information divulges. The tight rope walker is having an increasingly difficult time keeping his or her balance. The performer seems to be inevitably, and in full view of the audience, falling to the side of military might at the expense of the edge representing the Trojan horse of “dialogue and diplomacy”. It would take an acrobat to maintain the teetering position of the high-wire performer.

I’LL NEED TO GET YOU AN UPDATE ON THAT

The State Department was first asked by reporters about the standing or results of the legal classification of the coup on June 29, the day after the coup. Kelley said as I quote above: “Let us get back to you on that.” On July 28, I am purposely repeating, July 28, that is one month later:

QUESTION: And one – one other on Honduras. I’m well aware that the Legal Adviser’s Office was examining whether the events in Honduras technically met their definition of a coup and therefore would trigger the cutoff in aid that I realize you have already suspended.

MR. KELLY: Yes.

QUESTION: Have you yet reached a determination on that question?

MR. KELLY: I’ll have to get you an update on that.

QUESTION: Ian?

QUESTION: This doesn’t mean that you’ve decided or that that review is coming to an end?

MR. KELLY: I – just like I say, I just need to – I’ll need to get you an update on that.

What is even more telling than the transcripts is the body language exhibited by Kelly and so visible on the official video. Kelly’s last answer: “I – just like I say, I just need to – I’ll need to get you an update on that,” seemed to have taken an eternity for him to finally get it out of his mouth. He fidgeted to no end. There were no more questions from the reporters. No reporter mentioned that the State Department said the same thing a month ago!! If it was not for the most serious and critical situation in which the people of Honduras, and for that matter the whole of South America finds itself in the historical context of the coup, the circus in the State Department should be laughed out of town.

BUT THE SHOW GOES ON: IS IT A MILITARY COUP OR NOT?

On August 1:

QUESTION: Since you haven’t condemned that government yet, do you somewhat support it?

MR. CROWLEY: For about a month we’ve strongly condemned the action of the de facto regime and the ouster of President Zelaya.

QUESTION: Do you acknowledge that it was a coup, a military coup?

MR. CROWLEY
: Well, there are legal issues there that we have chosen not to exercise at this point. But clearly, in every way possible, we have said that what happened in Honduras is a violation of the OAS Charter, which is why we took action against Honduras. It’s a violation of the Inter-American Charter, the Inter-American Democratic Charter. And we continue to work intensively to try to resolve the situation.

On August 6, one reporter insisted on the issue of legal classification of the coup:

MR. WOOD: ….But a coup took place in the country, and –

QUESTION: Well, you haven’t officially legally declared it a coup yet.

MR. WOOD: We have called it a coup. What we have said is that we legally can’t determine it to be a military coup. That review is still ongoing.

QUESTION: Why does it take so long to review whether there’s a military coup or not?

MR. WOOD: Well, look, there are a lot of legal issues here that have to be carefully examined before we can make that determination, and it requires information being shared amongst a number of parties. We need to be able to take a look at that information and make our best legal judgment as to whether or not –

QUESTION: It seems to be taking a very long time.

MR. WOOD: Well, things take time when you’re dealing with these kinds of very sensitive legal issues. So we want to make sure that –

QUESTION: Have you made a decision on whether to impose additional sanctions on the de facto government?

MR. WOOD: No decision has been made to do anything right now, other than support the San Jose Accords and the mediation process.

QUESTION
: ….My question was whether you’ve made the decision not to impose new sanctions on Honduras?

MR. WOOD: And what I’m saying to you is that where we’re focused right now is on supporting that process and trying to get the two parties to come to some sort of a political settlement. But beyond that, I don’t have anything to add on that question.

At this point, what one does not read in the transcript but can be very vividly seen in the video is the following: Wood was visibly annoyed. He cut off the insisting reporter by pointing to another reporter. However, the people of Honduras know that it is a military coup. They are further uniting and organizing their forces in the course of stepping up their struggle against the military and police. This is being carried out despite the increased repression. This includes, so far, at least six assassinations and many hundreds of arrests and injuries.

On the same day, August 6, according to a Reuters report, the State Department went even further:

‘Our policy and strategy for engagement is not based on supporting any particular politician or individual. Rather, it is based on finding a resolution that best serves the Honduran people and their democratic aspirations,’ wrote Richard Verma, the assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs. ‘We have rejected calls for crippling economic sanctions and made clear that all states should seek to facilitate a solution without calls for violence and with respect for the principle of non-intervention,’ he said. The letter was obtained by the Reuters news service.

Two important points:

1. From the position of supposedly supporting Zelaya and opposing Micheletti, the State Department policy (as quoted above) is “not based on supporting any particular politician or individual.” The State Department is now neutral! However this shows that the fine line that the State Department was walking along was not that fine. In reality it was in the camp of the de facto regime. Maintaining the status quo means supporting Micheletti.

2. When State Department official Richard Verma indicates above that “We have rejected calls for crippling economic sanctions…,” does this inadvertently provide us with a reason why the US has not legally classified the coup as a military coup d’etat?

OBAMA: VICTIM OR ACCOMPLICE?

We have thus far dealt extensively with the State Department and Mrs. Clinton but not President Obama. This is hard to avoid seeing as that Obama has so far not placed himself in the center of this issue. Since the beginning of the crisis on June 28 and at the time of writing, President Obama and his Press Secretary have made a total of six comments:

On June 29, in a press opportunity in the White House with Columbian President Uribe, Obama declared, “We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the President of Honduras, the democratically elected President there. In that we have joined all the countries in the region, including Colombia and the Organization of American States.”

On June 29, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs performs in front of reporters:

QUESTION: …Still on the Honduras issue and trying to get a clear picture of what the U.S. is considering. Is the administration looking at withdrawing its ambassador as the leftist Latin American governments have decided to do, or even looking at a possible cutoff of aid?

MR. GIBBS: Well, again, I think some of that is in the next — in the frame of next steps in evaluating this. I just don’t want to get real specific at this point.

QUESTION
: Did the United States have any advance knowledge or word of a planned coup? Did it do anything to try to head that off? And what does the administration’s failure to have headed that off say about its credibility in Latin America?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think as I said a minute ago, the administration, our government, working with partners, were attempting to prevent the type of unrest that we’ve seen happen over the last 24 hours. They worked on that over the past several days. And we will continue to work to restore democratic order in Honduras.

QUESTION: Did the administration warn President Zelaya that this was in the making?

MR. GIBBS: That I don’t know.

Based on the above, is this any different from the State Department tight-rope walking performance?

There does not seem to be such a great difference.

On July 1, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs faces reporters:

QUESTION: But with the Pentagon suspending joint military operations, how far-reaching is that and are there next steps that are under consideration as well?

MR. GIBBS: Well, we continue to monitor the situation and will respond accordingly as events transpire. But, again, as I said, we’re watching closely what’s going on.

However, while the State Department seemed to be caught up increasingly in the “if and but” scenario regarding the return of president Zalaya, President Obama made a comment on Honduras in response to questions in Moscow during his visit there. On July 7 ABC News Senior White House Correspondent, Jack Tapper, not known as a conservative nor ABC not exactly being like right-wing Fox News, wrote from Moscow and quoted President Obama as follows: “ ‘America supports now the restoration of the democratically-elected President of Honduras, even though he has strongly opposed American policies,…’ ”

Tapper, based on his long experience in White House politics, wrote: “Facing criticism for having backed the ‘wrong’ side in the recent coup in Honduras, President Obama Tuesday [July 7] tried to explain his advocacy on behalf of ousted President Manuel Zelaya….But conservatives have criticized the president and blamed Zelaya for his current lot.” Correspondent Tapper quoted as examples of conservatives pressure, Florida right-wing anti-Venezuela, anti-Cuban activists, Republicans Congress Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Connie Mack.37

Taking the above Obama statement into account, on the surface there indeed seems to be a difference if not a conflict between on the one hand President Obama and on the other hand the State Department. The latter (as we have seen above on numerous occasions and most recently in the Wall Street Journal Micheletti piece) is more shamelessly tied to the military and the Bush era right-wing forces.

On August 7, according to Reuters, “Obama told reporters that he still supports the reinstatement of Zelaya. However, he added, ” ‘I can’t press a button and suddenly reinstate Mr. Zelaya,’ ” Obama said… “‘It is important to note the irony that the people that were complaining about the U.S. interfering in Latin America are now complaining that we are not interfering enough.’”

Here again one may get the impression that there is a significance difference between the president and the State Department. While the State Department declared on August 6, as quoted above, that its policy is “not based on supporting any particular politician or individual,” Obama declares the next day on August 7 that he “…still supports the reinstatement of Zelaya.” However, using his gift for oratory, Obama conditions this support for Zelaya by saying that he “can’t press a button” to reinstate Zelaya. Does this mean that the pressures against Obama from the right-wing US and Latin American oligarchies and even the State Department are too strong for him to make a move? Or is Obama simply using different words and images to support the State Department politics consisting of stalling for time and thus oxygenate the de facto government?

Here again one may get the impression that there is a significance difference between the president and the State Department. While the State Department declared on August 6, as quoted above, that its policy is “not based on supporting any particular politician or individual,” Obama declares the next day on August 7 that he “…still supports the reinstatement of Zelaya.” However, using his gift for oratory, Obama conditions this support for Zelaya by saying that he “can’t press a button” to reinstate Zelaya. Does this mean that the pressures against Obama from the right-wing US and Latin American oligarchies and even the State Department are too strong for him to make a move? Or is Obama simply using different words and images to support the State Department politics consisting of stalling for time and thus oxygenate the de facto government?

Regarding Obama’s remarks about the “irony” in reference to opposition versus support for US interference: Honduras has on its territory an important fully-sponsored US military base with US armed forces and equipment on its territory. A decision to completely shut down the base, immediately withdraw US troops and military equipment and fully stop the training does not consist of interfering in the internal affairs of Honduras. These bases, whether in Honduras or Columbia, are merely extensions of US military might in other countries.

Even though it is another context and with different legal and historical conditions, who would complain of foreign interference in Cuban affairs if the US would shut down Guantanamo, withdraw completely and hand over that piece of Cuban territory back to the Cuban people? Who would complain of foreign interference (aside from Micheletti) if Obama decides today as President to withdraw the US Ambassador to Honduras and cut of diplomatic relations until Zelaya is restored? These are buttons which the president can press.

On August 10 at the North American Leaders’ Summit (USA, Mexico and Canada), it was reported that Obama declared:

The same critics who say that the United States has not intervened enough in Honduras are the same people who say that we’re always intervening and the Yankees need to get out of Latin America….If these critics think that it’s appropriate for us to suddenly act in ways that in every other context they consider inappropriate, then I think what that indicates is that maybe there’s some hypocrisy involved in their — their approach to U.S.-Latin American relations…

The official Joint Statement issued by the three leaders declared on the issue of Honduras:

…We have thoroughly discussed the coup in Honduras and reaffirm our support for the San José Accord and the ongoing OAS effort to seek a peaceful resolution of the political crisis – a resolution which restores democratic governance and the rule of law and respects the rights of all Hondurans….

WHAT DOES THIS TELL US ABOUT OBAMA?

Firstly, what is the formal legal and constitutional link between the US president, the US military and the State Department? This is what the White House web site indicates:

The power of the Executive Branch is vested in the President of the United States, who also acts as head of state and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces….

The Department of State plays the lead role in developing and implementing the President’s foreign policy. Major responsibilities include United States representation abroad, foreign assistance, foreign military training programs….

And the US Constitution:

Article II. Section 2.

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States….

On June 29, 2009, political analyst Thierry Meyssan wrote under the headline (my translation from the original French) “The SOUTHCOM took power in a member-state of ALBA”:

… The small Honduran army has been entirely armed, trained and instructed by United States. It is supposed to obey their commander in chief, President and Chief of Staff. But in practice, is under the control of SOUTHCOM, from Soto Cano and Miami. Just last Thursday [June 25 2009] the Pentagon hastily installed the new commander of SOUTHCOM, General Douglas M. Fraser, to follow the coup…. The SOUTHCOM is located in Miami, but also has a station at Soto Cano [Honduras] and outposts in Comalapa (Salvador), Manta (Ecuador) and on the islands of Aruba and Curacao (Netherlands Antilles).

And so President Obama has to take his responsibilities. Is he allowing the State Department to do the dirty work for him while he remains relatively aloof in order to desperately hang on to the image of “change” for the well-being of his own Administration? The pro-military coup newspaper in Honduras, El Heraldo, as quoted above, noted way back in January 19, 2009 that the extreme right-wing in Honduras, South America and the US had to keep the pressure up: “He [Obama] knows that he has no right to disappoint his followers….” Obama seems to be caught between, on the one hand “his followers” that is the electorate and that section of the ruling circles which supported his accession to the presidency, and on the other hand his electioneering declarations on change which can be interpreted as being his good intentions. Will he join the circus high-wire act? Is he already becoming part of the show?

DOES OBAMA HAVE HIS FEET ON THE GROUND?

El Heraldo was quite right six months ago in noticing the contradictions between words and actions and how the right-wing has to manoeuvre in this situation. Polls are already showing that Obama is losing many of “his followers”.

On July 22 the AP-GfK Poll results headlined: “Great hopes for Obama fade to reality.” In the text itself: “That was fast. The hope and optimism that washed over the country in the opening months of Barack Obama’s presidency are giving way to harsh realities…; [Confidence in removal of] troops from Iraq and improved respect for the U.S. around the world, all slipping 15 points….”

An August 6 CNN poll: Only forty-one percent of Americans favor the war in Afghanistan, down 9 points since May.

CNN Caricatura

Is Obama aware of what is happening? It seems that his trips abroad to Europe, Russia, Cairo and Africa seem to have gotten to his head. On July 23 the Chicago Tribune reported on Obama’s visit to Chicago that day for two Democratic Party fund-raisers ($15,200 per person with the goal of attaining $2 million in one night.) The president responded to a reporter’s question regarding his administration’s prestige on the international scene. While the courageous people of Honduras were confronting for the fourth consecutive week (at that time) the US-backed military, Obama is quoted as saying that “Anti-Americanism is no longer fashionable.”

Anti-Americanism has never been fashionable in the upper spheres of the Democratic Party. Obama may find, or wants to believe that he has found, some allies on the world scale, but ask the people of Honduras who are bravely declaring to Obama that “we also have a dream!” Ask the peoples of South America? Ask the vast majority of governments in Latin America, Central America and the Caribbean what their opinions are of US domination, control and interference in their America?

The crisis in Honduras continues. Washington, or at least certain right-wing sections in the oligarchy, seems to be continuing the policies which foster “anti-Americanism”. For example, it was reported on August 4 by a Swedish journalist based in South America that according to Honduras human rights activists, Israeli commando forces are now further training the Honduran military and police forces in suppression.

This situation reminds us of the role played par excellence by Israel: combining on the one hand talk of peace/dialogue and the olive branch while on the other hand using the sword in the most brutal manner, committing genocide. This constitutes a warning to the governments and peoples of South America and the Caribbean about certain attempts to supposedly extend the olive branch.

On August 4, it was also reported that Washington and Columbia have come to an agreement to establish seven military bases in Columbia. This has been in the making for some time. However, take into account the military coup d’etat in Honduras and the latest Columbian decision. They constitute a new offensive against the rising prestige of Cuba, Venezuela, the other ALBA-member-states (of which Honduras under Zelaya became a member), other countries and the vast majority of governments in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The US ruling circles are trying everything to defeat the uprising in Honduras, including media terrorism. The US major media such as the CNN are in tune with the State Department in providing all the excuses for the coup either directly or indirectly. Completely avoiding a report on the resistance against the violent repression is the CNN’s contribution in attempting to demoralize the people of Honduras. CNN says in effect: let us give the Honduran people the impression that the world does not know what is happening. This will of course make it easier for the US to continue its Honduran policy or even strike harder against the people. Let us take one of many examples to illustrate the above: several cable news agencies such as AFP reported on the August 5 demonstration of more than 3000 students against the coup at the UNAH University in Tegucigalpa and its violent suppression.

However, the CNN carried nothing at all on Honduras. Its only report on South America was on the Chavez criticism of Columbia’s accusation of a supposed Chavez-FARC arms connection. The article terminated with disinformation this issue.

…On August 10, more than 10,000 supporters of the deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya repudiated the de facto government and warned that they will deepen their protests for the return of the president…. This was the largest demonstration for the return of Zelaya since July 5 near the airport of Toncontin in Tegucigalpa, where the ousted president attempted a landing with a Venezuelan airplane; however, the de facto government prevented the landing by erecting obstacles on the runway. The march was strengthened with the arrival of crowds from the eastern and northern regions of the country and an expected column from the south. Other went to San Pedro Sula….” (translated from the Spanish by the author)

THE PEOPLE OF HONDURAS ARE THE ONES WHO WILL HAVE THE LAST WORD

The peoples of the world, in my view, also have to keep the pressure up on Obama and his administration. As he looks at the polls, he must be aware: If the Honduras issue backfires on him, as is quite possible, and thus fuels “anti-Americanism,” how will his foreign policy look to the US population and even to those who pay $15,200 per plate for a fund-raiser? The latter did not invest this money in order to usher in another Bush-like era of an anti-US atmosphere spreading across the globe. Then again, Obama also has to look ahead to the next presidential elections in 2012 for which he seems to be already seeking to fill the coffers. Does he not want to have the right-wing oligarchy on his side as well in order to assure a victory in 2012?

The swirl of US politics seems to be inevitably drawing Obama into the high wire act. I hope that this is not the case. The people of Honduras as well as the peoples and most governments of South America are determined to force him to take a stand. Which actions? Here are some that Obama can take: Executing serious actions and sanctions (not showcasing the revocation of a few visas to Honduran de facto regime members) against the coup regime; and supporting in real concrete unconditional terms the return of President Zalaya to his post. Obama, as a lawyer, should also be able to deal with all bureaucracy in the US government (if that is the problem, which I doubt) which six weeks after the coup has still not decided how to legally classify the coup!

The evolution of the political situation of the new US Administration also raises some questions about the US type of democracy and elections and how they operate in the USA. That country supposedly gives (through diplomacy and by military force) lessons about democracy and elections to the peoples of the world. If this current international situation proves to represent “change” that people can NOT believe in, then some may wonder: What is the meaning of democracy and elections in the USA? (I will be dealing with this thoroughly in a future publication.) Obama should accept the notion of mutual respect between different countries and their respective political systems.

Obama and Clinton and their entire administration are being judged. “…The people of Honduras are the ones who will have the last word,” predicted Fidel Castro on July 21 in the midst of the most complicated situation facing the people: the US-backed Arias mediation combined simultaneously with police and military repression against the resistance.

As the situation evolves, Fidel Castro’s prediction (and confidence in the peoples) is proving to be right. In fact it seems to be irreversible, notwithstanding the ups and downs. One of the leaders of the resistance in Honduras, a deputy in the Honduran Congress, made a most profound comment to Prensa Latina reporter Raimundo López. The latter has been courageously and continuously reporting from the ground in military-occupied Honduras. On July 18 the Honduran activist César Lam told the reporter in an interview, “There is a pre-coup Honduras and a post-coup Honduras.”

This statement reflects the resistance movement of all the Honduran social and new political forces.

Even the most experienced tight-rope walker can be shaken to the ground by the force of the peoples’ desire for change. It would be preferable for President Obama to take a just stand.

Arnold August is a Montreal-based author/journalist/lecturer and Cuba specialist. His first book was Democracy in Cuba and the 1997-98 Elections (English, 1999). His 2013 book is Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion (English, Spanish, French). He can be reached at: arnoldaugust@hotmail.com. Read other articles by Arnold.

5 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. Josie Michel-Brüning said on August 18th, 2009 at 10:58am #

    Dear Arnold August, my eyes are burning after having read your extensive article. But I never read one so well-funded about the situation of Honduras, so far.
    Thank you very much.
    The key for any solution within the U.S.-American system does not seem to lie in the hands of President Obama, but in those of powerful lobbies in the wall street and in Miami.
    They seem to abuse Obama’s smart image of change.
    And he himself seems to fear to be dead man, if honestly opposing those powerful lobbies.
    However, to any human being honestly searching for peace on earth and democracy in its original meaning the U.S. system is unmasked.
    I personally am involved in the international campaign to free the “Cuban Five” and supporting campaigns to free Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier.
    Only few names in comparison to the many, but all of them – clearly proofed – unjustly held in U.S. prisons, all of them victims of violation of human rights, violations of U.S. law and in the case of the Cuban Five against international law, see Conclusion of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions (Human Rights Commission) May 27, 2005, http://www.freethefive.org/updates/Solidarity/SLUNJudgement_052705.htm .
    Afghanistan, Iraq, Honduras, there are so much signs, the bitter fruits of U.S. foreign policy, apart from those U.S. people themselves are forced to swallow – the loss of their sons in wars for the profit of the few and keyword: healthcare.
    How long do they want to endure all this?

  2. mary said on August 19th, 2009 at 3:14am #

    Ten of the most powerful families in Honduras financed the coup

    CARACAS, August 16.—Honduras National University researcher Leticia Salomón stated yesterday that 10 of the most powerful families in her country financed the June 28 coup against Manuel Zelaya, the legitimate and constitutional president.

    During the broadcast of his Sunday program “José Vicente Hoy,” the Venezuelan journalist José Vicente Rangel reported on Salomón’s information that the coup was planned by a business group headed by Carlos Roberto Flores Facussé, former Honduran president and owner of the La Tribuna newspaper.

    He added that the daily, together with La Prensa and El Heraldo morning papers, and Channels 2, 3, 4, 5 and 9 were the main pillars of the coup.

    “History is repeating itself: the Honduran media, like those of Venezuela in 2002 and 2003, acted as the spearhead against democracy and fundamental rights,” Rangel emphasized. (ABN)

    Translated by Granma International
    http://www.granma.cu/ingles/2009/agosto/lun17/familia-honduras.html

  3. Josie Michel-Brüning said on August 19th, 2009 at 6:16am #

    Thanks for your addition, dear Mary.

  4. mary said on August 21st, 2009 at 11:34pm #

    Over 90 Scholars and Latin America Experts Call on Human Rights Watch to Speak Out on Honduras Abuses

    Washington, D.C. – 93 scholars and Latin America experts from institutions such as Yale, Harvard, and New York University sent an open letter to Human Rights Watch today urging the organization to highlight various human rights violations in Honduras under the coup regime, and to conduct its own investigation. The signers, who include well-known experts on Latin America such as Eric Hershberg, John Womack, Jr., and Greg Grandin, Honduras experts such as Dana Frank and Adrienne Pine, and well-known authors including Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, and Naomi Klein, note that Human Rights Watch could help force the Obama administration to denounce the abuses and put greater pressure on the regime. Highlighting “politically-motivated killings, hundreds of arbitrary detentions, the violent repression of unarmed demonstrators, mass arrests of political opposition, and other violations of basic human rights,” the letter notes that Human Rights Watch has not issued a statement or release on the situation in Honduras since July 8, a little over a week following the June 28 coup d’etat.

    The signers write, “…the coup could easily be overturned, if the Obama administration sought to do so, by taking more decisive measures, such as canceling all U.S. visas and freezing U.S. bank accounts of leaders of the coup regime.”

    The letter comes just a day after Amnesty International issued a new report on the coup regime’s violations of human rights in cracking down on protests, and as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (part of the Organization of American States) wraps up a fact-finding delegation to Honduras. The author of the Amnesty International report, Esther Major, has stated
    that the report was released to call on the international community to take action to “prevent a human rights crisis occurring in Honduras.”

    The full text of the letter to Kenneth Roth, the executive director of HRW follows:

    http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/22402

  5. mary said on August 23rd, 2009 at 10:29pm #

    CANCEL THE MEETING BETWEEN THE U.S. GOVERNMENT & THE HONDURAS COUP REGIME!

    PLEASE Call the State Department (202-647-4000) on Monday August 24, 2009 …

    [Ask ten friends, or fifty or more, to also call]

    … AND SAY NO! to Hillary Clinton meeting with Honduran Coup Makers and Human Rights Violators.

    According to State Department spokesperson Ian Kelly, an official delegation of the regime installed by military coup in Honduras is invited to Washington to meet with U.S. “officials”.

    The meeting will be to work “toward restoration of democratic and constitutional power in Honduras.”

    The regime has used State repression and terror since June 28th, including the killings of at least 10 people.

    Since one day after the coup, the OAS (Organization of American States) labeled it an illegal regime and called for the “immediate and unconditional” restoration of President Zelaya and his government.

    By once again welcoming an official delegation to Washington, the U.S. government would be obstructing the restoration of the legitimate government of President Zelaya and would be ‘legitimizing’ the illegal regime.

    We ask everyone who cares about the right of the Hondurans to be free from a military-installed regime to call the State Department on Monday, at 202-647-4000, to ask for cancellation of any meeting in Washington with representatives of the illegal regime.

    From: Committee in Solidarity with the Resistance to the Coup in Honduras.

    http://www.hondurasresists.org / gro.stsisersarudnohnull@ofni / 617-610-3784

    WHAT TO DO

    TO DONATE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE FUNDS TO PRO-DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT IN HONDURAS, MAKE CHECK TO “RIGHTS ACTION” AND MAIL TO:

    UNITED STATES: Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887
    CANADA: 552-351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8
    For foundations and institutional donors, Rights Action can – upon request – provide a full proposal of which organizations and people we are channeling funds to and supporting.

    AMERICANS AND CANADIANS SHOULD CONTACT YOUR OWN MEDIA, MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, SENATORS & MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT – EVERY DAY, DAY AFTER DAY – TO DEMAND:

    An end to police, army and para-military repression and respect for safety and human rights of all Hondurans
    Unequivocal denunciation of the military coup
    No recognition of this military coup and the ‘de facto’ government of Roberto Micheletti
    No recognition of the November 2009 elections, that candidates are campaigning for, even as the country is militarized and repression is widespread
    Unconditional return of the entire constitutional government of President Zelaya
    Concrete and targeted economic, military and diplomatic sanctions against the coup plotters and perpetrators
    Application of international and national justice against the coup plotters
    Reparations for the illegal actions and rights violations committed during this illegal coup
    FOR MORE INFORMATION:

    Karen Spring (Rights Action) in Honduras: [504]9507-3835, moc.liamgnull@jk.gnirps
    Grahame Russell (Rights Action), in USA: 1-860-352-2448, gro.noitcasthgirnull@ofni