Sunday, November 29, 2009

Honduran Revolution Pie

It's election day and I'm watching Melitina Castellanos Suazo cast the official first vote in the Honduran elections (she voted for Pepe Lobo). The atmosphere in the country is one of muted optimism; a kind of happy holding of the the collective breath. Questions linger in the mind of every Honduran: Will Manuel Zelaya pull yet another card from his sleeve? Will the communists and criminals successfully disrupt the electoral process? Will there be random violent attacks and protests forcing the populace to stay in their homes rather than perform their civic duty? Having come this far you would think that the Honduran people would have more confidence in themselves, and I believe they do. Unfortunately the medias relentless quest for the next sensational story forces them to turn every hiccup into a heart attack.

Into this mêlée I leap to confidently assert that the Honduras elections will be a total success. How can I qualify the elections as a complete success, you might ask, if the OAS will not recognize the validity of the elections? Easy. Elections are the collective voice of a sovereign nation determining the future of its people. Given that this is an internal matter, no one here gives a rip what the OAS's (or anyone else for that matter) opinion is on the subject of Honduran self determination.

The success of the elections today will be the semifinal victory (the finals being the inauguration of the new democratically elected president on January 27th) of an country that faced the entire western hemisphere as its opponent, and won. My confidence in the elections successful execution comes from watching Honduras play a hard fought game without ever once fumbling the ball. Hence, I don't see them throwing away a game that is essentially won, in the last quarter of regulation play.

Our arrival at this historic juncture arouses a desire to review how this crisis of rebellion was precipitated, as well as the reasons for its failure. For Jose Manuel Zelaya was only one component in a recipe that, in the end, lacked the ingredients necessary to create the perfect Revolution Pie.

For those of you inexperienced in the political culinary arts, Revolution Pie is what every self respecting Marxist attempts to bake in the oven of non-vigilant democracies. The recipe for Honduras is as follows:

Honduran Revolution Pie
1. One Enormous Ego (Zelaya)
2. One zealous True Believer (Patricia Rodas)
3. Two weak, corrupted and diluted houses (Congress and Supreme court)
4. Multiple cups of Poor and Huddled Masses
5. A sprinkle of Criminal Opportunist
6. Generous amounts of International Community support
7. Whip vigorously

As in all recipes, in order to achieve the desired results you must have all of the ingredients present, and have them in sufficient quantities. I think we all are in agreement that Patricia Rodas, the True Believing queen behind the throne, was certainly was hitting on all cylinders. She knew just how to manipulate Zelaya's ego to get him to ride point on this endeavor and also possessed a vast pool of communistic connections. We will never know just how much Zelaya knew (or cared) that he was being used, for Rodas' insatiable lust for power was only rivaled by his own.

The True Believer, combined with The Ego, would have been able to successfully exert their will over the masses if there would have been support of the Congress and Supreme Court. These two governing bodies had to give their tacit approval, either due to lack of courage, or because they were in on the game. What the dynamic duo grossly underestimated was the backbone of these two branches of government. When it came time to cook, ingredient #3 was no where to be found.

Hence the weakness of the recipe and why democratic people with a little courage can stop the preparation of Revolution Pie wherever it may be found: No one ingredient can make a pie. The Ego needs a philosophy that rationalizes his egregious destruction of the very system that he uses to obtain power. The True Believer needs a front man, a charismatic figure masquerading as a champion of the poor and disenfranchised. The masses need a catalyst, a cause vivid enough to inspire and maintain resolve over the stretch of time necessary to achieve the desired end; even if that cause is based on lies (Robin Hood to the rescue). And even if all of those ingredients are mixed together it will not make the pie if there is a strong division of powers combined with a military that will adhere to the constitution and rule of law: exactly what was found in Honduras.

Thus the attempt by Zelaya, Rodas, the Marxists and anarchists (under the approving gaze of the International Community) to bake Honduran Revolution Pie has temporarily failed. They gave it their very best shot and there is simply no more ammunition left to disrupt the elections. If the highly motivated True Believers could not create the needed ground swell with a flood of cash ($4 million flooding into the currency black market on a good week), and the organizational infrastructure provided by a totally supportive executive branch. If they were unable to stir the masses and bully the division of powers into accepting their demands when they were at their virulent best, then it will be impossible for them to stop or discredit the elections.

Which is exactly why The United States decided to hedge its bet with this electoral recognition maneuver. Obama is just as much a left wing radical as Patricia Rodas (the fact that he pushed this reinstatement farce as far as he did, in the face of all reason and moral logic, showed his true colors), but even he knows how to pick his battles. The U.S. State Department will now pull back, regroup and surreptitiously support the left throughout Central America, albeit from a greater strategic altitude. Don't think for a moment that because the U.S. is recognizing the elections that they are now friends with Honduras. Hillary, if I were you I would watch your back. Now that Patricia Rodas is out of a job Obama is probably toying with the idea of making her Secretary of State.

As for Jose Manuel Zelaya, he will eventually have to leave the country. No doubt his first stop will be Brazil. The involvement of their embassy in this affair will require a necessary dance of diplomatic protocol between the two countries. As for his final destination, my money is on the guilt ridden mother country willing to offer asylum to all of her prodigal step children: Spain.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What Happens in Vegas Stays in Honduras

Welcome my friends to poker night in Tegucigalpa where the game is Guaymuras Hold'em and the casino of choice is the Brazilian Embassy. This is a closed game, invitation only, with the exception of one party crasher. The A-list of political power brokers have flown in on their private jets, and everyone is seated around the table kicking back shots of dialogue and negotiation while sizing up the competition. This is one game I wish had stayed in Costa Rica.

Ever since Jose Manuel Zelaya was unceremoniously removed from Honduras, the country has been under unrelenting pressure from all fronts to restore him as president. Why should he be restored? Well, they think he ought to be restored because it was wrong to remove him. Says who? The all knowing, all deciding, all controlling United States of International Community, that’s who. The USIC has decided that individual countries are not capable of governing themselves even (or especially) when they are operating under a pesky document called the constitution and have an active congress and judiciary. The fact that what Honduras did was legally defendable under the laws of this country and that the United States Congressional Research Service stated that “The Supreme Court of Honduras has constitutional and statutory authority to hear cases against the President of the Republic and many other high officers of the State, to adjudicate and enforce judgments, and to request the assistance of the public forces to enforce its rulings.” is of no importance. In fact, Honduras apparently is the only country that has been blessed with a U.S. Ambassador with the legal acuity to grasp the intricate and complicated legal rational as to why the ouster of Zelaya was illegal. Maybe we should have nominated Hugo Lorens to the Supreme Court instead of Sotomayor. It's a shame to permit legal brilliance of this magnitude to vegetate in the obscurity of a small Central American outpost.

But I digress and we need to return to the poker game.

Ever since this match began both Honduras and Zelaya have pursued very distinct playing styles. Honduras' strategy has been: hold your hand close to your chest, check and call. Zelaya, meanwhile, has implemented the more aggressive strategy of bluff and raise; an interesting choice considering that it was his over-the-top behavior that got the ex-prez ejected from the original poker game. It seems that bluffing and raising while keeping cards up your sleeve did not go over well with the Honduran Congress, Supreme Court, and Military, all distinguished players seated at the table.

Since the unfortunate and forceful ejection of the offending individual, Honduras has held the home court advantage. Checking and Calling has forced their opponent to jockey for position and raise the stakes in an attempt to draw attention to himself and maintain support internally and internationally.

To date, Honduras has successfully rebuffed three noteworthy maneuvers by Zelaya orchestrated to maximize media coverage, reaction by pro-Zelaya forces, and sympathy by the USIC: The “Toncontin Air Attack”, the “Nica Border Camp Out”, and the “Brazilian Affair”. Honduras´ response to each of these gambits has been to ride through the initial turmoil and contain the shockwave that each was designed to produce. In poker terms, Honduras has checked.

My assertion from the beginning was that the San Jose Accord negotiations were a charade simply because neither side was interested in negotiating. The same is true for the much fawned over Guaymuras Accord. The interim Honduran government is, with admirable focus, pursuing a singular goal in this poker game: Get to the elections and get this mess passed to the next legitimately elected president without reinstating Zelaya. Every day that passes the country edges ever closer to that realizing that goal. That's why Micheletti & Co. were so willing to burn jet fuel to play poker in San Jose. Talking takes time. Talking gets you closer to Election Day. Zelaya’s surreptitious entrance into Honduras forced all parties to pencil in a new line on the original road map to harmony, but on the bright side, everyone could save those frequent flyer miles and Arias could go back to running Costa Rica instead of auditioning for the Noble Peace Prize.

Zelaya also has only one goal: get reinstated and remain in office indefinitely. However, each check and call of the Honduran government has forced Mel to up the ante with ever more spectacular and risky plays. And the failure of each ploy has required him to double down in subsequent gambits in the form of personal physical exposure. And who can blame him. It was unreasonable to expect indefinite pro-Zelaya support within the country while he continued to prance around the international stage. It was time for Mel to go all-in.

While the Brazilian Showdown might provide the high drama that the media loves to feed on, nothing has changed from a strategic standpoint. Hold'em is Hold’em whether it’s San Jose or Guaymuras. There are no substantive negotiations taking place, at least not the type that the USIC are deluding themselves will evolve, for the simple reason that Honduras is willing to agree to almost anything accept reinstating Zelaya and Zelaya is willing to agree to almost anything as long as he is reinstated. Honduras calls, Zelaya raises.

But Mel is running out of chips. While Zelaya remained outside the borders of Honduras, he could feint and jab, keeping his opponents endeavoring to anticipate his next move. Now that he has confined himself to an identifiable geographic point, and Honduras has successfully contained him, there is nothing more to bet with. The next spectacular, attention-grabbing event will have to come from someone other than Zelaya himself.

And so it goes every day. Virulent blow-the-system-up crowds come to press the issue with the police. Raise the bet. Police run them off with tear gas. Call. Zelaya screams, Hugo winks, and Lorens tries to slide cards under the table. Honduras calls. Insulza runs a bluff, huff huff, you better you better fold. Honduras checks. Surround, contain, but don't force it even when the temptation to relegate this guy to bumper sticker status is, at times I´m sure, overwhelming. No elevation to the martyrdom idol position of Che Guevara, my friends. Just check, check, call.

Keep hanging on to that winning hand, Honduras. Election Day is on the way.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

International Football....Honduras is the ball.

There is tension in the air in Tegucigalpa as it forced holidays in the form of a twenty-four hour national curfew. And to what do we owe the curfew, the tear gas and the near panic conditions? Nothing less than the return of the Messiah. No, I'm not referring to Obama. Honduras has its own messiah: Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales.

The rumors began yesterday around noon. Zelaya was in the United Nations building. Thousands were pouring into the streets. Caravans of supporters were coming from all over the country to show support. The rumors increased exponentially as each minute passed. Zelaya is in Nicaragua in his hotel suite. Zelaya is on his way to Washington. The United Nations finally confirmed that Zelaya was not there but that he had made contact to inform them that he was coming to Honduras. Finally Manuel's wife told a news agency that her husband was in the Brazilian embassy.

By 1:00 PM the supermarkets were filling with people buying whatever they buy when they have lost their minds, the gasoline stations full of cars, and parents pulling their children out of schools. At 3:30 PM President Micheletti informed the country that a nationwide curfew would be imposed starting at 4:00 PM. Given the fact that the government had strictly enforced previous curfews, detaining lawbreakers and confiscating vehicles, it would have been better to have given the people more time. Imagine roughly 750,000 people simultaneously clearing their desks, grabbing their car keys or climbing onto buses or taxis in the narrow inadequate streets of a major city. Total chaos. Throughout the night hundreds of “demonstrators” battled police, throwing rocks and vandalizing homes adjacent to the Brazilian embassy. Finally, at 4:30 AM the police removed them and the streets became deserted.

So how did we get here, who are the players, and what does Manuel Zelaya hope to gain? When the principle participants are lying, the media is chasing rabbit trails, and multiple agendas are being pursued, getting your mind around the true story, much less presenting it, can be a daunting task indeed.

Let's start with Zelaya. Mel is stating that he returned to Honduras by road; a fifteen hour trip that involved many risks. That's his story and he is sticking to it. Now that he is safely in the Brazilian embassy, he is declaring that his intent is to draw all of the principle parties of Honduras together in order to negotiate a harmonious democratic future for all Hondurans. If you believe that, I have some beach front property I would like to sell you in Olancho. It is impossible for Mel to negotiate this democratic future and, at the same time, uphold the constitution that he swears that he has no intention of changing. He simply has no time under the rules currently being played by. The Honduran Presidential Elections are less than 8 weeks from now. Zelaya says that no elections should be honored unless he is re-instated as president, and the constitution states that Zelaya cannot be re-elected and thus cannot be a candidate. Are we to believe that Jose Manuel Zelaya returned to Honduras, at great risk to himself, in order to be re-instated as president only to turn power over to the newly elected president less than eight weeks later? I've still got that beach front property available. Any takers?

No my friends. Mr. Zelaya has returned for one reason and one reason only: to attempt to regain the presidency and stay there until he is good and ready to leave. Given the record of the friends he has chosen to hang out with, that would be until he dies or is again forcefully removed.

The Honduran governments response to Zelaya's call for national reconciliation under his benevolent leadership, has been to petition the Brazilian embassy to turn over Mr. Zelaya to the proper Honduran authorities. There are multiple charges, some political but most criminal, that Mr. Zelaya is facing. That means that the Brazilian Embassy is harboring a Honduran fugitive from justice.

So how did Mr. Zelaya get back into Honduras anyway? And what do the Brazilians have to do with this? Everyone in the international community is acting so happily surprised at this whole affair and treating it as a wonderful opportunity for “reconciliation” and a “return to democratic rule”, as if Honduras was not under democratic rule (I feel like Winston in George Orwell's “1984”, battered under the onslaught of Newspeak: War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength). Argentine President Kirchner, Insulza of the OAS, the E.U. and Hillary Clinton all expressed “surprise” at the “sudden developments” in Honduras while at the same time declaring that this was yet another opportunity for dialogue and conflict resolution.

And what would that resolution be, pray tell. The San Jose Accords? Zelaya is never going to go for that for the reason previously stated. It allows him to be in office for a whole two months. Wow. I came back to Honduras for two months in office and then I go to jail for 30 years. No Cuarta Urna. No Constituyente. Just two months to play President. Does anyone in their right mind believe that Zelaya came back for that? That means that the “dialogue” and “conflict resolution” that everyone in the international community is calling for and hoping for is just one thing: return Jose Manuel Zelaya to power. Period.

So how did Manuel Zelaya return to Honduras and who paved the way? I predicted about a month ago that the U.S. would lose interest in Zelaya and this whole nasty ordeal would blow over. I believed that economic and political relationships would slowly, but surely, be restored after the elections, and Honduras would begin to move forward. In fact, there was a time when Zelaya had truly lost momentum. Even Chavez expressed doubts as to Mel's ability to return to power. But, to my surprise, Zelaya continued to be received at the U.S. State Department, and have meetings with high level officials. He remained irritatingly successful at holding the attention of Hillary and company. This was warning sign number one. Warning sign number two was when the U.S. cut even more aid to Honduras.

Warning sign number three was about a week ago when the El Salvador Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hugo Martinez, spoke with U.S. Undersecretary of Political Affairs for the Western Hemisphere Bisa Williams about the need to adopt “specific measures in the diplomatic realm to cause the Honduran Government to accept the San Jose Accord.” These measures were to be “surgical” and not effect the Honduran people. It is also worthy to note that Bisa Williams is the head of the U.S. office of Cuban Affairs. Last time I checked, Cuba is not anywhere near El Salvador or Honduras.

Then, on Sunday night, September 20th at ten o'clock, a Venezuelan jet coming from Nicaragua made an unauthorized landing at the international airport in San Salvador. On that aircraft was Jose Manuel Zelaya. There, he held a meeting with Sigfrido Reyes, the head of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). The FMLN is a Salvadorean Socialist political party similar to the Sandinista Party of Nicaragua, headed by now Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega (both were communist guerrilla organizations that later morphed into political parties). After the meeting Zelaya boarded the jet and left El Salvador. Six hours later he appears in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

So, how did Zelaya get to the Brazilian Embassy? In addition to the obvious risks, the time-line simply doesn't work out for him to have traveled by car. The only way Mel could have entered Honduras was by airplane and there are only four (five if you count Roatan) airstrips in the country that the Venezuelan jet could land on: LaCeiba, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and Palmerola Air force Base in Comayagua. Although not outside the realm of possibility, it is highly unlikely that the plane landed at any of the International Airports. The only strip in the country that could handle that plane, is close to Tegucigalpa (1 hour driving time), AND provide the secrecy needed to make this late night insertion, is Palmerola. And guess who would have had to have knowledge of, and give permission, for that airplane to land? Well that would the people that both run and control the base of course: The United States of America.

I cant prove Zelaya landed at Palmarola but we do know he was in San Salvador at 10:00 PM and we do know he left in a Venezuelan jet. He landed somewhere and that somewhere was in Honduras. He simply couldn't get to Tegucigalpa any other way and have the time-line work out.
So we have Manuel Zelaya coming from Nicaragua, on a Venezuelan jet, for a late night visit to El Salvador (whose Foreign Affairs Minister is coordinating with a U.S. Undersecretary in charge of Cuban affairs), maybe landing at a U.S. Air force base in Honduras, and staying in a Brazilian Embassy to the amazement and delight of the entire international community. Who needs fiction when real life is this crazy.

I must admit, I underestimated the importance that the U.S., ALBA, the OAS, and others placed on the events that took place in this tiny country. We really ticked off a lot of people when we had the audacity to correctly use the balance of powers in order to maintain a stable democracy and independent rule. I saw the clues but I didn't place them in proper context because I didn't appreciate the resolve and coordination of the international community in supporting socialism and destroying sovereignty and independent determination of individual nations. I knew that the agenda was part of a larger global attack on sovereignty but I thought we had won this round. I was wrong.

No matter how this turns out for Honduras, the will and coordination of the international community in this affair (with the U.S. as the principle coordinator) is beyond what I imagined. Chavez is being used as a powerful pawn in a high level game. In many respects Chavez is like an unruly older boy whose rich daddy has bought him a lot of cool toys. You hate the way he acts but you put up with him so that you can play with the toys. His agenda, to a certain extent, meshes with the plans of the international community but, unlike the other players, he wants to be the biggest leader in the sandbox, crudely wielding oil and rhetoric to achieve regional influence.

This is not where Obama and company are going. They desire a sandbox where all of the players are equal, there is no sovereignty, no self determination of country, and all beholden to the collective opinions and desires of the others. The unpardonable sin of Honduras was not the removal of Zelaya from office in his pajamas. The sin was respecting and enforcing the constitution of their country. The sin was placing the constitution and the sovereignty built thereon above the collective opinion and desires of the international community.

Obama, Hillary, Insulza, Chavez, and the rest of the OAS thought that Honduras would fold to threats of expulsion from this mini United Nations. They were wrong. They thought economic sanctions would work. They were wrong. They thought they would negotiate Zelaya back in. They were wrong. Now, with 8 weeks until the elections, they have surgically implanted their puppet into the country to force the issue before it is too late.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Holding The Winning Hand

My last update left Manuel Zelaya camped out at the Honduran-Nicaraguan border in El Paraiso awaiting the tens of thousands of loyal Hondurans that would accompany him in his triumphant Messianic return to power. Come across the border alone he could not. He had to have a welcoming hoard that would offer him protection. Unfortunately for Zelaya the only hoard that showed up were the ever present journalists curious to see this side show and hoping for a confrontation. They would offer no protection, of that we can be sure. When it became apparent that the crowds expected were not going to make it to the border, and that sitting in a tent on Nicaraguan soil was making him look foolish, Zelaya decided it was time for a new play.

So last week Mel abandoned the tent strategy and jetted off to visit the only un-visited country left on the isthmus, and thus yet to grow weary of his presence: Mexico. There he received more red carpet treatment and grand assurances that he, Zelaya, is indeed the legitimate president of Honduras, while at the same time offering zero commitment to assisting him in his bid to regain the presidency. And why should they? The Mexicans could care less who is running Honduras and if their Big Brother to the north is beginning to pull back from this whole stinking affair then why should they stick their necks out for a guy who is fast becoming yesterdays news.

And the U.S. did exactly what I told you they were going to do in the last update: They began quietly changing tone and position concerning the country of Honduras. And that meeting the State Department was supposed to have with Zelaya last Tuesday? Never happened.

An OAS delegation is currently in Honduras and has been graciously received by the interim government. Initially Honduras was going to refuse the group because OAS General Secretary Jose Miguel Insulza was going to be a part of said delegation. Interim president Micheleti stated that if Insulza came then the whole thing was off. Insulza is nothing but a lap dog for the ALBA whose only simplistic one liner statement (repeated ad nauseam) concerning the not so simplistic developments in Honduras has been, "I don't think its written in the Honduran constitution that you take the president out of the country in his pajamas". Well now, isn’t that quick. What Mr. Insulza doesn't seem to understand is that countries should not be concerned about what IS NOT written in their constitutions but what but IS written. What is clearly and simply stated in the Honduras constitution is that the president cannot attempt to change the constitution in order to alter the term limits clause and the judicial branch ruled that Zelaya's proposed referendum was both illegally being carried out and was for that exact stated purpose. The constitution also states that if the executive branch attempts such a change that the president will be stripped of power and is no longer considered president. So I guess the guy that was taken from his home and unceremoniously dumped in Costa Rica was not the president after all: with, or without pajamas. Honduras will receive the OAS delegation and has even decided to allow Insulza to attend, albeit only as an observer.

This is all just show anyway. I've already said that there would be no meaningful negotiations and I stand by that. What’s happening here is a series of meetings where by Honduras and the OAS will quietly come to an agreement that will allow the OAS to come away from this whole affair without looking too weak. They were stood down by one small country that believed in freedom and were willing to stand up for their constitution. The OAS goal now is, like the US, to get themselves out of this mess while retaining some dignity. Make no mistake; Honduras is holding the winning hand. Honduras knows it, Obama and Hillary know it, and the OAS knows it.

The one real danger in this entire affair has, in my opinion been avoided. There was a point in this drama where some of us believed that pro Chavez forces, working with Nicaraguan operatives, would successfully fan the flames of Honduran unrest to the point where Venezuela could justify an invasion using Nicaragua as a launching pad. This was a real possibility and I believe that the prayers of thousands of people were instrumental in quelling this threat. The Nicaraguan people never had any desire to engage in violent activity against their Honduran brothers but the Machiavellian plans of Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega could not be discounted. The desire was there but Zelaya was never able to build up the head of steam necessary for them to take the risk. Now, especially with Columbia and Venezuela at each others throats concerning drugs, FARC and the leasing of Columbia military bases to the US, Chavez has his hands too full to attempt to come into Honduras and forcefully reinstate his guy Zelaya.

What this means is that, although Honduras continues to suffer unrest in multiple areas of the country, the struggle is decidedly internal.

Instability is still a daily reality for the major urban centers of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. Downtown's are routinely shut down by demonstrators on both sides of the conflict and the unions continue to strike, disrupting the flow of goods and services throughout the country. The teachers unions have been particularly disruptive, holding the education system hostage by refusing to teach classes and using the universities as meeting centers for planning leftist, pro-Zelaya demonstrations. The Marxists (dormant but not dead) viewed this constitutional crisis as an opportunity to rise to dominance and are reticent to allow the fervor and fire of their beloved revolution to be doused. So we have marches (not that big and not too violent) vandalism, a lot of graffiti (I should start importing spray paint), and down right thievery.

The Honduran government is currently in the uncomfortable position of having to show unreasonable restraint in the face of unreasonable and blatant civil disobedience. They have been hesitant to crack heads because they don't want give any more ammunition (no pun intended) to the international press that has thus far enjoyed painting the interim government as violent coup thugs that are ruling the country at the point of a gun. This depiction is not true, and believed less every day, but it still remains a point that must be taken into account by the Honduran government at this point in the game.

Hardened criminals, petty thieves, and gangs have been quick to seize on this interlude of reduced security enforcement to infiltrate crowds and introduce a decidedly violent element to the demonstrations. One of the more creative twists on this strategy has been to "demonstrate" in a mall where then they steal clothes from the stores. Its interesting how those demonstrations always wound up in United Color Of Benetton.

I figure that that government is going to give this whole charade another two to three weeks. Most of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula is anxiously awaiting for order to be restored. And where is Zelaya? No doubt looking for another country to visit.

Monday, July 27, 2009

No Negotiation

Everyone hearing anything about the Costa Rican negotiations, whether it be Round One or the newly proposed Round Two, should know this:

There will be no negotiations. This is all just words — from Zelaya, Costa Rica, Honduras, the OAS and the U.S. Anything you hear in the press about the negotiations, whether it be that Honduras is interested, or the US calling for more talks, or the OAS saying that all parties must negotiate, or everyones praising the heroic efforts of Costan Rican president Arias to bring peace to the region, or Arias own words that he will go the extra mile to bring a peaceful resolution to the conflict and that all parties should return to the table — this is all just total worthless talk.

There will be no negotiations, and everyone knows it!

The reason is that Honduras has no intention of ever ever ever (did I say 'ever'?) allowing Zelaya to be reinstated as president of Honduras. Ever. And since this is Point One of the Seven-Point Plan (and the only desire of the international community), there is no hope that there will ever be a resolution.

There is no Seven-Point Plan — there is only a One-Point Plan, and both parties (Honduras and Zelaya) are on opposite sides of that point.

Zelaya knows that negotiation will not get him what he wants, because he knows that the Honduran government's position is firm and the people of Honduras are resolute in their desire for the country's constitution to remain intact. I think that the U.S. and everyone else knows this too. They played their high-pressure, high-rhetoric game and lost! Honduras stands firm.

Zelaya also knows this: Everyone is getting tired of him. Ever since his failed attempt to enter the country by plane on July 5th, Zelaya's value as the left-wing Cinderella hero of the International Community has been fading. Every day he spends bouncing around different countries like some kind of Central American Michael Jackson decreases his momentum and increasingly makes him a embarrassment to the very people that desired his success.

Hence, the ongoing drama that is currently unfolding on the Nicaraguan – Honduran border. In classic Zelaya style, he began to inform the world of his imminent return to Honduras by land. First, he was going to come last week. Then it was going to be last weekend. I'm on my way! Maybe. Then the calls to the labor unions and other pro-Zelaya groups to strike and otherwise disrupt the flow of goods and services that travel via the national highway system. Then on Thursday he was coming for sure. The call went out to the faithful to come and meet him at the border.

So once again, for a brief period of 48 hours, Zelaya obtained that which desires more than food: Cameras rolling and the international press surrounding him to faithfully chronicle his triumphant return to Honduran soil. What the press doesn't tell anyone is that although Zelaya did theoretically step foot into Honduras, the Honduran government had given orders to the military to pullback 25 meters and Zelaya was informed that if he advanced pass that point that he would be arrested with or without people around him.

At the end of the day, Zelaya got what he wanted, his 15 minutes of fame and Honduras got what it wanted: Zelaya's hasty retreat back into Nicaragua.

Is the situation tense? Yes. Those that live on the border where this circus is unfolding are under a strict 24-hour curfew and Zelaya has vowed to set up camp on the Nicaraguan side of the border and continue to call for insurrection. Also, there are groups of people who are attempting to go to the border and be with Zelaya and usher him into Honduras permanently. Also there are strikes and general disruptions throughout the country (especially in the capital Tegucigalpa) as pro-Zelaya groups cause trouble. But time is not on his side.

While all of this was unfolding that there were two marches — one in Tegucigalpa and one in San Pedro Sula — where hundreds of thousands (the largest Honduras has ever seen) of Hondurans demonstrated their support for the constitution, democracy, and peace. These two were the biggest, but there have been many other demonstrations over the last month as well. In contrast, the demonstrations for Zelaya can be counted in the hundreds and are more angry and violent. These are the pictures the press loves to take and try to make it look like all of Honduras is revolting and in favor of Zelaya's return while at the same time ignoring the hundreds of thousands marching against his reinstatement.

So where is this going? The cracks are already appearing in the dam. Zelaya made a mistake pushing this border crossing. He has now given the US some much desired wiggle room in what has become an increasingly uncomfortable, incorrect and unpopular position regarding Honduras. Clinton has said that the attempt to come across the border was imprudent and that Zelaya needed to give the negotiations a chance, but both Clinton and Zelaya know that that's just talk.

He was doomed if he didn't and doomed if he did so his view must have been; why not try.

So what's going to happen next? That's what everyone wants to know. Pull out the crystal ball!.

What I think is going to happen is that our Mr. Zelaya is going find himself distanced more from the U.S. government. Obama & Co. know that they are on the wrong side of this and, I think, are looking for a graceful, face-saving, way out.

It was reported that Zelaya was traveling to the US for a meeting with the State Department at the beginning of this week. If that meeting gets canceled or postponed (and the State Department is waffling), the handwriting is on the wall. You can expect the OAS to keep talking tough due to the heavy influence of the ALBA countries and for Arias to keep calling for negotiations. You can also expect Zelaya, if he stays true to form, to become increasingly strident in his call for help both from within Honduras and from the International Community. In fact, I think the only reason he has not tried to overtly force a violent confrontation is that he knows this would alienate him from the international community that has thus far supported him. But if he perceives that he is losing that support, he will feel that he has nothing to lose and could attempt something more radical. Who knows? The crystal ball only goes so far.