knowledgeable commentators will suggest that the Honduran military
coup against democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya probably
should have lasted less than 48 hours; that is, had the US government
made it perfectly clear that the coup was unacceptable.
the response to the coup by the Obama administration was at first
glance admirable, i.e., a condemnation of the coup and a failure
to recognize the usurpers, there remain some very strange aspects
to the events. First, the US government knew that the coup was being
plotted. Various sources report that the US did not support the
coup and would not give their blessing. So far so good, but the
obvious question is this: then why did the Obama administration
not notify Zelaya’s forces so that they could arrest the coup people
on grounds of treason?
the coup was carried out. The US condemned the coup and stated that
they would not recognize anyone other than Zelaya. Ok, sounds good.
But the devil lies in the detail. Although it sounded as if a “coup”
was being condemned, there were some technicalities that I cannot
even get my arms around such that the US was NOT quite calling it
a coup. Had they ACTUALLY called it a coup, the US would have been
obligated to cut all military aid.
President Zelaya had inordinate difficulty meeting with any ranking
member of the Obama administration until quite recently when he
met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It would seem that
an ousted democratically elected leader should have no trouble meeting
with the Administration, particularly an Administration which claims
to defend the rule of law.
there is the undercurrent. Evidenced in various mainstream media
editorials, there has been a campaign of sugar-coated character
assassination against President Zelaya. He is accused of planning
a referendum to extend his term (false!). He is maligned as pro-authoritarian.
In fact, the editorials in response to the coup sounded a lot like
the editorials in 2002 following the unsuccessful coup against Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez, specifically, that the coups were unfortunate
but that the victims of the coups were the REAL anti-democratic
to all of this is that most indications remain that Honduras is
in serious turmoil with regular demonstrations and strikes. Yet,
the mainstream media pays little attention to this, instead focusing
on the negotiations that are being conducted between the coup people
and President Zelaya, mediated by Costa Rican President Arias.
are we to make of this? Within the Obama administration there is
more than likely a struggle underway. It relates to something that
I have raised in earlier commentaries. Specifically, is the Obama
administration simply trying to change the appearance of the USA
internationally or are they attempting to shift US policy. The response
to the Honduran coup seems to indicate the former. They do not want
the appearance of the demonic Bush administration, but they are
not prepared to support a Honduran administration which is allied
with the likes of Venezuelan President Chavez and Bolivian President
Evo Morales. Instead this starts to appear to be a Clintonian solution,
i.e., a repetition of President Bill Clinton’s approach to the coup
people in Haiti in 1994. He—Clinton—was prepared to restore democratically
elected President Jean Bertrand Aristide, however he would do so
only under certain conditions (one being giving up on his populist
economic program and the second being that he was only to serve
out the remainder of his term despite the fact that years had been
robbed from him). In the Honduran case, a “compromise” might be
offered that simply restores President Zelaya but essentially neuters
much for Honduran sovereignty; so much for a different US approach
to foreign affairs??? Only if we remain silent.
Executive Editor, Bill Fletcher, Jr., is a Senior Scholar with the
Institute for Policy Studies,
the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum and co-author of, Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path
toward Social Justice (University
of California Press), which examines the crisis of organized labor
in the USA. Click here
to contact Mr. Fletcher.