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July 9, 2009
Impoverished Hondurans caught up in battle of political wills

Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.

Most police around the world will tell you that they’re always wary about getting into the middle of a domestic dispute. It can be a no-win situation, and everybody ends up hating the cops.

Case in point, how to deal with the Honduras crisis — so far, the United States appears to have steered clear of getting stuck. The Obama administration has been listening to both sides and endorsed the entry of a neutral non-U.S. mediator, Oscar Arias, the Costa Rican president and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Most important, the two sides in Honduras — Manuel Zelaya, the deposed president, and his old friend and former ally, Roberto Micheletti — have agreed to the mediation. This is a complicated domestic matter, seated in rivalries and seething questions about power, influence, economic interest and the long-term welfare of a desperately poor country.

Zelaya and Micheletti hold steadfastly to their positions — the deposed president said his return to office is not negotiable, and Micheletti is equally adamant against him returning to power.

But they will be talking with Arias’ help this week, instead of fighting at the borders.

Ideologues of various stripes — from The National Review to the halls of power in Venezuela, where President Hugo Chavez holds forth — are looking in from the outside and bloviating about what is best of Honduras.

Chavez’s government Web site, “Gobierno En Linea,” said that the coup plotters were attempted murders and should be dealt with accordingly:

[…] it was an attack directly against the head of state [Zelaya], by which the coup members and those responsible for the military coup should be taken to court and judged for the crime of attempted murder.

[..] atentó directamente contra la vida del Jefe de Estado, motivo por el que los golpistas y responsables del golpe militar deben ser llevados a una corte y juzgados por el delito de homicidio frustrado.

Most governments and publications in the hemisphere and beyond were saying more mildly that the coup was illegal and Zelaya had to be returned to power. However, the National Review, the voice of conservatives in the United States, defended the coup on grounds that Zelaya would have turned Honduras into “a satellite” of Chavez’s Venezuelan revolution:

It was an affirmation of democracy and the rule of law, both of which the president had flouted. If anything, it was a counter-coup, the real coup having been attempted by Zelaya.

The resolution has to lie somewhere in between the extremes, and here’s hoping that one group — the millions of desperately poor people in Honduras — will somehow benefit in the end.

Those were the sentiments of Arias as he went into the round of mediation:

Those of us who seek to protect democracies in this hemisphere have no time to waste. I urge all leaders in the Americas to see the Honduran crisis for what it is: an urgent call for the profound social and institutional changes our region has delayed for far too long.

– Peter Eisner

Photo courtesy of Flickr user living water international under a Creative Commons license.

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Shirley, no matter what the situation may be, it does not justify Zelaya completely thumbing his nose at all other democratic institutions, flouting the law, and attempting to re-write the Constitution. The supreme court rightly had to remove him to protect the Constitution; they wrongly threw him out of the country, a decision that appears to have been made by the military alone. And, this article points out that the ultimate cause is unrest among the people. Yes, they have been oppressed by too much power among the rich. But the answer is not a dictator and a lurch toward a softer, “nicer” version of communism. If you think Zelaya would be any better for the poor than their current situation, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. These dictators and dictator wannabes just *use* the poor to get in power. Look at history. Messianic leaders never solve things. The real answer is that the institutions in Honduras better wake up and get their act together, eliminate corruption, and make a better nation for everyone, because if they don’t they will get these radical movements and leaders which will make EVERYONE worse off.


The overthrow of the democratcally elected president was done by the wealthy, those who own such a majority of the the wealth that raising the hourly wage by 60% to help the impoverished was not on their agenda. In Venezuela they overthrew Chavez, too, but fortunately the people rose up and put him back in office. Its the old story: the haves against the have-nots.

Peter Eisner is an editorial consultant with Worldfocus and a 30-year veteran of international news. He has been an editor and foreign correspondent at The Washington Post, Newsday and The Associated Press. He co-authored “The Italian Letter,” which details fraudulent intelligence leading up to the Iraq War. He was founder and president of Newscom, an international online news service, and speaks Spanish and Portuguese.

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