|Honduras One Year Later|
|Written by Belén Fernández|
|Sunday, 27 June 2010 16:27|
According to a recent article in the Honduran daily El Heraldo, Honduran President Porfirio Lobo will attend the summit of the Central American Integration System (SICA in its Spanish acronym) in Panama starting June 29, the day after the one-year anniversary of the coup d'état that ousted President Manuel Zelaya. As the article notes, the potential reversal of Honduras’ suspension from SICA—enacted following the coup—would be a stepping stone in its bid for reintegration into the Organization of American States (OAS), from which it was also suspended.
Honduras is incidentally still listed as a member country on the SICA website, as well as part of a SICA-affiliated delegation sent this month to a course in Haifa, Israel, on Latin American female empowerment through rural tourism micro-business—an admitted improvement on past, less formal Israeli courses on the empowerment of Latin American paramilitaries. The El Heraldo article on the SICA summit notes that Panama, in its role as acting SICA president, is actively encouraging Honduras’ reincorporation into regional organizations and that Nicaragua is the only Central American state that has refused to recognize the Lobo government. It seems as though the consolidation of democracy, which is listed as one of SICA’s goals, might have been more plausibly pursued via consistent support for an elected Honduran leader’s efforts to reform the constitution in accordance with the desires of the majority of the population.
Although U.S. President Barack Obama warned in the immediate aftermath of the Honduran coup that its success would set a “terrible precedent” in the region, the U.S. in fact proved instrumental in legitimizing said precedent via a post-coup policy of noncommittal condemnation and sanctioning. Obama’s initial characterization of the coup as illegal quickly gave way to State Department dithering over whether the military removal of a president was really military in nature; former Clinton White House counsel Lanny Davis meanwhile joined the ranks of lobbyists enlisted by the Honduran regime and business elite to whitewash the coup on Capitol Hill. The very same regime and business elite nonetheless continued to resort to hysterics when it came to funds Zelaya had used to promote his proposed nonbinding public opinion survey on the issue of constitutional reform, materials for which were presumably less costly than Washington lobbying fees as they included cardboard ballot boxes and sheets of paper bearing the words YES and NO.
As for the transfer of other sorts of funds, the effectiveness of piecemeal suspension and cutting off of U.S. aid to Honduras was called into question by U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens’ admission at an August meeting in Tegucigalpa that it was not even feasible to freeze a substantial portion of the aid in question due to the fact that it was already “in the pipeline.” Other examples of the U.S. tendency to exaggerate the severity of its punitive measures against the coup regime meanwhile include Llorens’ allegation at the same meeting that the joint US-Honduran military base at Soto Cano had been shut down—a claim he was promptly forced to amend to reflect the base’s continued functioning, although he maintained that U.S. troops stationed at Soto Cano were abstaining from interaction with their Honduran counterparts.
The fact that, following the coup, Honduran officers were permitted to continue their studies at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation—the revamped title for the infamous School of the Americas (SOA), alma mater of Latin American dictators and torture specialists—additionally renders recent announcements regarding the restoration of U.S. military aid to Honduras slightly anti-climactic.
The coup regime of Roberto Micheletti endeavored to cast itself as the protagonist of a David-and-Goliath battle in which the U.S. was punishing Honduras for its legitimate “presidential succession” via such atrocities as the revocation of U.S. tourist visas from a minimal number of coup perpetrators. It is clearly difficult to reconcile the David-and-Goliath depiction with U.S. attempts to disappear the coup from relevant history—efforts which underline the historical utility of forced disappearances in the evasion of justice in Latin America.
Where Are They Now?
Following is a brief update as to the current whereabouts and activities of some key characters involved in and affected by the Honduran coup: