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Army overthrows Honduras president
June 28, 2009 2:16 PM   Subscribe

Army overthrows Honduras president in what some fear may be Obama's First Coup d'Etat. A troublesome circumstance: Key leaders of Honduras military coup trained in U.S. But condemning the coup with many others, Hillary Clinton says, "The action taken against Honduran President Manuel Zelaya violates the precepts of the Inter-American Democratic Charter and thus should be condemned by all."

Earlier on metafilter: A School for Torture and Is the CIA tampering with Venezuelan elections?
posted by shetterly (141 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
The first and last time the Charter was invoked was during Chavez's brief expulsion in 2002.
posted by now i'm piste at 2:24 PM on June 28, 2009


Honduras had a government?
posted by clockzero at 2:32 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good grief. I read the post and thought Obama was being accused of engineering the coup. I don't think any of the articles support that, thank goodness.
posted by hippybear at 2:32 PM on June 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


Are those two articles really insinuating that the U.S. is somehow behind a coup? In Honduras. First you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the coffee and bananas.
posted by stavrogin at 2:34 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know it seems silly to think of President Obama salivating at the prospect of overthrowing a democratically-elected Latin American government while rubbing his hands together and making sinister "MUHAHAHAHAA" noises, but you also have to remember that the US government (of any political party) has had this nasty reputation of doing just that all over Latin and South America for about, oh, 100 years now.

I mean, we've used the entire Southwestern Hemisphere as our personal coffee farm, cheap labor pool and weapons testing ground for a long, long time. Don't you all think people from those regions have a little reason to see our (ever-present, looming) shadow behind these coups?
posted by Avenger at 2:43 PM on June 28, 2009 [17 favorites]


There a live blog at Huffington Post.
posted by shetterly at 2:47 PM on June 28, 2009


Zelaya was trying to extend the term limits defined by their constitution in order to remain in power, I think their supreme court and military were both against this. The people I know in Honduras are happy about the coup, although I don't know how representative they are of the country as a whole.
posted by snofoam at 2:51 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's being compared to the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt and the coup in Chile in 1973.
posted by shetterly at 2:54 PM on June 28, 2009


Following up on Avenger's point, I think that anytime a coup happens in Latin America, we are obligated by the historical record to at least have to pause and consider how that coup might serve US interests.

That being said, it seems like Obama's got so much on his plate that I can't imagine him being actively involved in this (that is, of course, assuming that the US had some involvement). Most of these coups are done through the CIA, right? Like, they use dummy corporations to hire independent contractors (former spooks or special forces guys) who then initiate this stuff; how far up the chain of command in the US government do you think they have to go to get clearance to move on an operation like this? (again, stress on the similative, not denotative, use of "like" here).
posted by Lee Marvin at 3:00 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sure looks like the Army was trying to prevent another "Presidente for life", bankrolled by Chavez. I'm not sure that you need to reach to the US for this; the Honduran army has staged several coups over the years, and may be acting in the nation's best interests- at least for now. It's usually much harder to get the army out of power once they are provoked to acquire it.

The run-up to the election (where the Honduran president was going ahead with a referendum on eliminating his term limits despite the country's supreme court ruling it illegal, and the legislature passing a law against it) certainly suggests that he deliberately provoked this power struggle. It looks like Chavez is now making noises about military retaliation, suggesting that he may be considering an invasion- or just flapping his gums, it's hard to tell. It was interesting that among the army's first actions after taking control was ejecting the Venezuelan and Cuban ambassadors and their staff.
posted by jenkinsEar at 3:05 PM on June 28, 2009


As with most matters relating to Central and South America, I'll take my cues from Al Giordano. Interestingly, Al had been talking about the coming coup for a few days.

To Avenger's point about the US being behind so many coups in this hemisphere - our history can be used as evidence to support both sides. That is, either 1) surely this is the work of the CIA, they've done it so many times before or 2) surely this couldn't be the work of the CIA, they've done this sort of thing too many times before.

The fact that this action was telegraphed days if not weeks in advance leads me to believe that the cunning spooks at the CIA were not involved and, if they were, that they should all be fired for incompetence. Worst. Coup. Ever. Dude'll be reinstated in a couple of days.
posted by billysumday at 3:08 PM on June 28, 2009


well.. then how would a coup in Honduras at this time serve US interests? If I'm not mistaken, a lot of the C. America nastiness the the US was involved in (at least most recently) was an extension of the Cold War.
posted by edgeways at 3:08 PM on June 28, 2009


Al puts it better than I ever could:

Memo to Eva Golinger from Al Giordano: You're not helping your credibility with screeching claims that events in Honduras constitute "Obama's first coup." If you can't see the difference between those of the Bush administration (which cheered the 2002 coup in Venezuela, and forwarded the lie that its president had "resigned") and the immediate response from the Obama administration (first, Obama recognized and gave backing to the facts of what he called the "the detention and expulsion of President Mel Zelaya," a very helpful statement to frame the narrative, and, now, Secretary Clinton has said it "should be condemned"), that only reflects a shortcoming in research and logic by those making such crazy statements.

Very, very few close observers - including many of us that strongly back and defend the Bolivarian movement of Venezuela - are going to take anybody seriously when they make such off-the-wall pronunciations. It suggests you are not operating with a full deck of facts, or, worse, seek to "fool the crowd" during a moment of crisis. That's not leadership. Nor does it offer an accurate map of events on the ground.

Not every sound of an automobile backfiring is an indication of gunfire. Come back down to earth, comrade. Crying "wolf" never got any cause anywhere, and there is a real battle to be fought to restore the democratically-elected president of Honduras without axe-grinding fictions coming from those associated with our side of that barricade.

posted by billysumday at 3:10 PM on June 28, 2009 [11 favorites]


"U.S. says Zelaya is the only president of Honduras."
posted by Kirklander at 3:13 PM on June 28, 2009


The fact that this action was telegraphed days if not weeks in advance leads me to believe that the cunning spooks at the CIA were not involved and, if they were, that they should all be fired for incompetence.

Actually, gross incompetence is usually a hallmark of CIA operations. Almost a calling-card, if you will.
posted by Avenger at 3:14 PM on June 28, 2009 [10 favorites]


Actually, gross incompetence is usually a hallmark of CIA operations. Almost a calling-card, if you will.

LOLCIA.
posted by billysumday at 3:18 PM on June 28, 2009


some fear may be Obama's First Coup d'Etat.

Some people think that "some people" is a weasel word indicative of a crap opinion. Oh, wait. I think that.
posted by The Michael The at 3:21 PM on June 28, 2009 [46 favorites]


Why is the US condemning the coup, but not condemning the president's illegal attempt to seize power that precipitated it? He tried to seize the ballot boxes with a mob!
posted by Spacelegoman at 3:22 PM on June 28, 2009


Avenger's right -- we have an enormously long and storied history in the area. The CIA has been running actual WARS on our behalf for decades.

Possibly the most easily readable book I know on the subject is Confessions of an Economic Hitman. I just had a long argument with a denier on another board, and actually went and looked up some of the things the denier criticized as being impossible, and in each case, the easily-available evidence backed John Perkins.

Perkins claims he was hired by the NSA long ago (in the 1960s? I don't remember for sure, it's been a long time since I read the book) to become an 'economic analyst', primarily for countries in Latin America. His job was to convince foreign governments in resource-rich countries to take on more debt than they could actually service, by giving them overly-rosy economic projections. They'd do this by describing the many benefits that would come from having basic infrastructure built. If the country bit, money was transferred from big banks in New York to Halliburton or other big players, who then built the infrastructure precisely as described. They did fine work, as far as I know. But it would never pay for itself -- as pretty and well-done as the power and sewage plants and connecting roads were, the economy simply couldn't support the debt, by design.

The idea was to set it up so that a few elites in the country got impossibly wealthy from the local resources, while the regular citizens were plunged into permanent poverty, unable to muster the ability to fight back. This allowed American corporations to extract the resources of the country at bargain-basement rates. The crushing debt was a permanent lever on the country, where we could use offered debt relief in exchange for things we wanted, like U.N. votes or even better sweetheart deals on new resources. In essence, through the simplest of all possible economics, we "invaded" and took over these countries, turning them into client states of the American Empire, without ever firing a shot.

The way Perkins put it, first the economic hitmen tried to fool countries into becoming clients, but if they were smart enough to figure out the trap, then the jackals went in. That's what you actually hear about in the histories of our many interventions in the area. Coups, assassinations, whole proxy wars. This was the CIA's bailiwick. If the jackals failed, as they occasionally did, and a leftist leader actually took power, then we stepped up to the Army.

And in looking at the actual history of the region, this model fits extremely well with the observed facts on the ground. You see, over and over again, resource-rich countries with a wealthy elite, American corporations extracting huge profits from the area, and a massive number of extraordinarily poor people. Any time the locals started to actually succeed in trying to fight off the encroaching corporations, the assassinations started. If the people succeeded and took power, particularly if they nationalized their resources, we invaded on some pretext or another. And we'd do the same thing if leaders we installed started to disagree with how we wanted things run. If they stopped playing ball, suddenly they were demonized and hunted down. See: Noriega and Saddam.

The only thing Perkins really adds to what we already knew that is that this was a deliberate U.S. government policy, as opposed to just being random chance. And it explains, better, the many CIA operations, and the occasional invasion in the region. By just adding a couple of puzzle pieces, a whole bunch of stuff that looked random suddenly clicks into place as part of a bigger picture. Many things in the world are explained this way.

tl;dr version: This would be far from the first time we've overthrown a government we don't like. I don't yet know the details or history of this particular instance, as I haven't been paying attention to Honduras at all, but this sort of thing is very much what we do. Blaming CIA by default is not a foolish position. It may be wrong, but it's not foolish.
posted by Malor at 3:24 PM on June 28, 2009 [35 favorites]


O-Blame-a.
posted by Artw at 3:27 PM on June 28, 2009


Blaming CIA by default is not a foolish position. It may be wrong, but it's not foolish.

I still don't think it helps to draw conjecture at this point, especially seeing how the State Dept. has condemned the coup.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:27 PM on June 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I heard Obama is a secret Muslim too.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:27 PM on June 28, 2009


A thought that comes to mind that if it really wasn't us, it might be China. They want resources very badly, and they sure seem to be spreading a lot of money around these days. They could be learning from us.
posted by Malor at 3:30 PM on June 28, 2009


It's not a secret anymore. He came out and admitted that soon after being elected.
posted by gman at 3:30 PM on June 28, 2009


I don't yet know the details or history of this particular instance

uh, okay, well, basically, the President issued a referendum after the Congress and the Supreme Court told him he wasn't allowed, legally, to do so. Then he ordered the head of the military to help him run the referendum. The head of the military refused, so the President fired him. The Supreme Court and the Congress continued issuing statements that the referendum was illegal and the President was in the wrong. Then today the military kidnaps the President, kicks him out, and puts the head of Congress in charge.

Very far from just a random military coup d'etat, especially considering the military immediately appointed the appropriate civilian successor to the President to head the government.

If anything, this shows that the lasting effect of the CIA's numerous coups in Central and South America is that these countries are so familiar with it they don't necessarily see it as that shocking or dramatic of an event. What will probably happen is the President will come back to the country and then the Congress will impeach him legally and kick him out.
posted by billysumday at 3:31 PM on June 28, 2009 [12 favorites]


A thought that comes to mind that if it really wasn't us, it might be China. They want resources very badly, and they sure seem to be spreading a lot of money around these days. They could be learning from us.

Malor: do you think it could also be the doing of the Hondurans themselves, or does it necessarily have to be a shadowy superpower pulling the strings?
posted by billysumday at 3:33 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


It seems a little hasty to condemn the military action when, on all accounts, the president was trying to illegally hold onto power. Is this a coup or a counter-coup? At least, we all ought to wait until we see what the military does -- whether they hand over power to a new president selected by some combination of the legislature and/or the courts or hold onto it themselves. (Warning: self-link follows: my early thoughts on this.)
posted by paultopia at 3:33 PM on June 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd just like to point out for the record that NBC Nightly News' lead story this evening is Michael goddamn Jackson.
posted by middleclasstool at 3:35 PM on June 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'd just like to point out for the record that NBC Nightly News' lead story this evening is Michael goddamn Jackson.

Nevar forget.
posted by billysumday at 3:35 PM on June 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Here's the nacla article.
posted by aniola at 3:46 PM on June 28, 2009


My brother just got back from there three days ago, while his girlfriend stayed behind for a family reunion.

Based on communications with her, all the airports have been shutdown. Her attempts to contact the American Embassy have been unsuccessful.

Anyone have any suggestions as to what other options she may have?

Was just about to post this in AskMefi...
posted by AloneOssifer at 3:52 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Perhaps Former President Zelaya can give us just a few words on where he was when he first heard that Michael had died. Former President Zelaya, what were your feelings like, when you heard the news?"
posted by darth_tedious at 3:54 PM on June 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


Brilliant, Hillary.
posted by b1tr0t at 3:55 PM on June 28, 2009


I'd just like to point out for the record that NBC Nightly News' lead story this evening is Michael goddamn Jackson.

Well, not only that, but the 15-second mention of Honduras didn't come until 15 minutes into the 22-minute broadcast.
posted by blucevalo at 3:55 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Blaming Obama for this is a little ridiculous. This isn't like the Chavez thing where Condi rice (then NSC, by the way) was out there congratulating thew coup leader.
posted by delmoi at 4:01 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


[citation needed]
posted by fire&wings at 4:02 PM on June 28, 2009


Malor: do you think it could also be the doing of the Hondurans themselves, or does it necessarily have to be a shadowy superpower pulling the strings?

At the time I posted, I didn't know anything about the situation, so I shouldn't have put up that second muse until I'd learned more about what happened. I was assuming the shouters-of-CIA had a reason to suspect intervention other than just our past history. We've been involved there before, though not to the visible degree that we were in many countries in the area.

The short-form digest up there makes it sound pretty unlikely that this particular case is outside interference.

I probably ought to read the actual links, huh? :)
posted by Malor at 4:02 PM on June 28, 2009


Er, I mean condi was the NSA (National Security Advisor) at the time of the Chavez coup.
posted by delmoi at 4:07 PM on June 28, 2009


Some people think that "some people" is a weasel word indicative of a crap opinion. Oh, wait. I think that.

Some people think that "some people" should RTMFL*. Oh, wait. I think that.

Two of the writers I linked to suspected a US connection to a coup. If you think "some" requires three or more, here are two more, just so you can't say I don't love you: some people. (I recommend the second link, because Corrente points out some very odd things about this coup. The first doesn't add anything more than suspicion.)

I apologize for screwing up the live blog link; it's actually here.

* An acronym that I increasingly think would be useful at metafilter. It's short for "read the links."
posted by shetterly at 4:11 PM on June 28, 2009


Part of the reason people are suspicious is this smells like the National Endowment for Democracy at work. See some criticism of their past at Sourcewatch
posted by shetterly at 4:13 PM on June 28, 2009


Less overthrowing of foreign real governments, more overthrowing of domestic shadow governments, please.
posted by DU at 4:18 PM on June 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oops! Can't believe I clicked "post" instead of "link". Ah, well. What I meant to do:

Some people are suspicious because this coup smells like the National Endowment for Democracy at work. See the criticism at Sourcewatch, or for Ron Paul fans, National Endowment for Democracy: Paying to Make Enemies of America, or for fans of Howard Zinn and Gore Vidal and others, a handful of links at The INTERNATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY. Or for Wikipedia fans, Activities and allegations.

Whether the NED's involved this time, no one knows. This is Obama's chance to prove he's taking the US on a new course.
posted by shetterly at 4:22 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


MJ's death interrupted the focus on the Iranian election revolution and now Billy Mays' death. Uh oh, ;-) are celebs being offed to wag the dog?!

The Honduras coup Twitter stream in Spanish https://twitter.com/diariolaprensa. Photos of the situation, captions in Spanish. Twitter stream here in both Spanish and English.

President Manuel Zelaya kidnapped in his jammies.

An Honduran blogger: The Silent Majority of Honduras Speaks l an American blogger living in Honduras: La Gringa's Blogicito.

Information is sketchy because much of the capital city is without electricity, radio stations are off the air, all of the Honduran TV stations have been silent on the issue, showing sports, cartoons, and normal programming. The government propaganda station has been taken off the air. All of the Honduran newspaper websites are overloaded and can only be accessed sporadically.
posted by nickyskye at 4:26 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let me just say, I'm very disturbed by the pro-golpista narrative that is being stitched together here (and, obviously, in much larger parts of the world). It's one thing to say that the President, who is commander in chief of the military, wants to hold a non-binding referendum that a hostile Congress has banned; that's political brinksmanship, at most. It's quite another to support an outright military coup against an elected leader. There is no legitimacy in the golpista government even if you think that Zelaya's referendum was in fact illegal. My suspicion is that this is less about preserving the rule of law and more about creating the justification for a coup and then going ahead with it. As for US involvement - well, it looks like a duck from what we've seen so far. If it turns out to swim like a duck and quack like a duck, then it just may be a duck. But we're not far enough along to safely make a call either way.
posted by graymouser at 4:29 PM on June 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I still don't think it helps to draw conjecture at this point, especially seeing how the State Dept. has condemned the coup.

Sec. Clinton: "I'm shocked--shocked!--to find a coup d'etat going on in Honduras!"
posted by Sys Rq at 4:31 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd just like to point out for the record that NBC Nightly News' lead story this evening is Michael goddamn Jackson.

For the same reasons this topic won't have 7 posts and 1000+ comments. Having said that, Honduras is the top story on the BBC.
posted by gman at 4:37 PM on June 28, 2009


in what some fear may be Obama's First Coup d'Etat.

'Cause it's all about Obama and America.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:40 PM on June 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sounds like he got what he deserved. I think he should have been allowed to finish his term, but it seems like no one trusts him anymore.
posted by schyler523 at 4:41 PM on June 28, 2009


I'm reeeeeaaaaaally trying to wrap my head around the notion espoused by some of you that this was 1) a CIA-backed coup and 2) the US will only recognize the deposed President.

In what kind of crazy mixed up world do you immediately throw your international and diplomatic support to the guy you just kicked out in a coup? Has that ever happened?
posted by billysumday at 4:42 PM on June 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Updates from Al Giordano's post:

Update II: Add political assassination to the crimes of the coup plotters. Kristin Bricker reports that 2010 Honduras presidential candidate Cesar Ham has been murdered.

Update III: An important national organization, the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations (COPINH) has released this statement, noting that electricity has been cut in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa. Bloomberg reports that telephone service in the country has also been cut.

Update IV: The director of Globo radio in Honduras, David Romero, reports that the coup plotters have shut down the radio network (via Aporrea).

For anyone who doubts that this is a "coup" or thinks the current folks in power are somehow legal, note that they're murdering people.
posted by shetterly at 4:43 PM on June 28, 2009


From Kristin Bricker:

The lie that Zelaya is pushing for a new Constitution so that he can be re-elected has been repeated so many times that even self-proclaimed western hemisphere experts are parroting it. The third sentence in the Council on Hemispheric Affairs' (COHA) analysis entitled "Political Reform in President Zelaya's Honduras" states: "As a result of this referendum, the president hopes to eliminate the one-term limit placed on Honduran presidents." As previously stated, the ballot for tomorrow's poll only asks one question, "Do you think that the November 2009 general elections should include a fourth ballot box in order to make a decision about the creation of a National Constitutional Assembly that would approve a new Constitution?" COHA obviously never checked the actual text of the ballot, because it writes that tomorrow's voting is to re-elect Zelaya--a claim that even the conservative Honduran press hasn't been brazen enough to make. COHA writes, "Later that day [on June 25] the Supreme Electoral Tribunal declared Zelaya’s re-election null and ordered the seizure of all ballot boxes and election-related materials." What re-election, COHA?
posted by shetterly at 4:44 PM on June 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


billysumday, it's not about Honduras, but it's about something you may want to consider: Digby's Transparent Obscurity.
posted by shetterly at 4:47 PM on June 28, 2009


So Obama and Chavez are on the same side? Republican meltdown in 5... 4...
posted by PenDevil at 4:48 PM on June 28, 2009


shetterly, honestly, there are a million and two conspiracy theories that would "explain" how this fits perfectly into Obama's plan to control the world, mwahahahaha! But they still don't erase the fact that helping to depose a President and then immediately calling for that President to be reinstated would be, so far as I can tell, completely unprecedented in global affairs. But if anything suspicious comes up on my HAM radio I'll let you know.
posted by billysumday at 4:54 PM on June 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


billysumday, has anyone claimed this is the CIA/NED or any of its tools at work? I've only found people saying it has the usual earmarks. It's entirely possibly that the coup leaders fully expect the US to do what it's always done, which is to make some empty complaints and then resume normal relations. The next few days should tell the story.
posted by shetterly at 4:56 PM on June 28, 2009


"I am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Honduras regarding the detention and expulsion of President Mel Zelaya," Obama said in a written statement.

"I call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Any existing tensions and disputes must be resolved peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference," Obama said.*

posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:57 PM on June 28, 2009


When the military arrested Zelaya, they were carrying out a court order from the Supreme Court of Honduras.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:02 PM on June 28, 2009


billysumday, has anyone claimed this is the CIA/NED or any of its tools at work?

"Some people" have!

I've only found people saying it has the usual earmarks. It's entirely possibly that the coup leaders fully expect the US to do what it's always done, which is to make some empty complaints and then resume normal relations.

WHAT! Have you not read anything people have been posting? The usual "earmarks"(?) include congratulating the new leader, loudly proclaiming "good riddance" to the old guy, and peppering the airwaves with pro-Western news reports. Again, the way this has been handled is pretty much exactly the opposite of the way you would expect if you were looking for fingerprints of foreign intervention, and pretty much exactly the way you'd expect a government to act had they been caught off guard. Now, "some people" might believe that of course the CIA would choose to overthrow a foreign government by doing everything wrong, but "those people" have mental problems.
posted by billysumday at 5:03 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Re: Corrente link

Seems like noise to me. The link shows that the US knew something was up, but Corrente's hypothesizing about the from of the US involvement is nothing but speculation. The President said that he was thankful to the US for keeping a coup from happening; that's the only meaningful information here. It's conceivable that the US was deceiving him, but I've seen nothing yet to imply that this would be the case. The fact that Hillary was in town for a major international meeting a few weeks ago is likely just coincidence.

At some point, when one is in constant economic contact with a neighbor, one has the primary interest of seeing that neighbor stay in business. Once the bananas and coffee are flowing, the goal is mainly regional stability, in order to keep the bananas and coffee flowing.
posted by kaibutsu at 5:06 PM on June 28, 2009


FWIW Corrente says

I follow politics in Colombia and Argentina, but I don't have a clue about Honduras.

and

But there's also the strong possibility that the coup represents something internal and specific to Honduras, and has nothing to do with US policy at all.

I think any suggestions of CIA involvement are going to have to do more than rely on what has been said to carry any credibility.
posted by edgeways at 5:33 PM on June 28, 2009


U.S. officials said they continue to regard ousted Manuel Zelaya as the legitimate president of Honduras and are working with other countries in the region to restore him to power peacefully. *
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:36 PM on June 28, 2009


U.S. officials said they continue to regard ousted Manuel Zelaya as the legitimate president of Honduras and are working with other countries in the region to restore him to power peacefully.

Oh, so they weren't in on it this time around, but they'll be helping with the coup that uncoups this coup. Got it.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:43 PM on June 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


There are inspiring photos of people in the streets at Resistance and Repression in Honduras. My favorite might be the symbolic voting.
posted by shetterly at 5:46 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Eh, I don't know. Obama's clearly not happy about this, sure, and I know previous presidents have talked about the rule of law while orchestrating covert ops behind the scenes, but if there's a counter-coup, it seems the fair thing to do is to weigh actual evidence rather than what-ifs and "well other administrations have done it so why not this one?".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:52 PM on June 28, 2009


There's never a John Negroponte around when you need one, jesus.
posted by milarepa at 6:35 PM on June 28, 2009


An amusing dissection of the NYTimes' article about the coup: A Tiny Revolution: Smells Like Pulitzer Spirit
posted by shetterly at 6:41 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


President Obama and the US has nothing to gain by doing this. Honduras is not a foreign policy priority at the moment. And as noted repeatedly, we haven't just denied involvement, we've condemned the coup. That's not how people react to coups they helped foment and want to see happen (see Venezuala, Iran, Chile, etc.).
posted by saulgoodman at 7:36 PM on June 28, 2009


Meh. The benefit of the doubt in relation to US involvement in right wing coups in Latin America is to assume they're behind it until it's (rarely) proven otherwise.
I'm not saying Barack personally ordered Zelaya's beating, but I'm betting if you follow the dollars they originate somewhere within spitting distance from an office shaped like an oval.
posted by signal at 8:04 PM on June 28, 2009


And CNN's coverage of this made me throw up in my mouth a bit.
posted by signal at 8:14 PM on June 28, 2009


The US didn't have term limits until after FDR (who was president, lest we forget, for 13 years over four terms). What exactly about proposing a Constitutional amendment to eliminate term limits makes you deserving of being overthrown?

Also, don't fail to underestimate the relevance of the SOA in this. SOA connections go all the way up to the army commander fired by the president, believed to be orchestrating the coup. Even if this isn't a US-run coup, this is a coup facilitated by tools of the trade picked up in the middle of Georgia.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 8:20 PM on June 28, 2009


The Washington Post reports that the US had been working to stop the coup.

In an interview with Spain's El País newspaper before his ouster, Zelaya said a planned attempt to remove him from power had been blocked by the United States.

"Everything was in place for the coup, and if the U.S. Embassy had approved it, it would have happened. But they did not. I'm only still here in office thanks to the United States," he said in the interview, which was published Sunday.


The US has said that it will work to isolate the new government and use the weight of the OAS to restore Zelaya to power. Given that a significant part of the Honduran economy is based on remittances from the US, we will have significant leverage to negotiate a peaceful resolution to this situation.
posted by humanfont at 8:21 PM on June 28, 2009


NYT

By Sunday night, officials in Washington said they had spoken with Mr. Zelaya and were working for his return to power in Honduras, despite relations with Mr. Zelaya that had recently turned colder because of the inclusion of Honduras in the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, or ALBA, a leftist political alliance led by Venezuela.

The effort to engage Mr. Zelaya differed from Washington’s initial response to Venezuela’s brief coup in April 2002, when the Bush administration blamed Mr. Chávez for his own downfall and denied knowing about the planning of the coup, despite the revelation later that the Central Intelligence Agency knew developments about the plot in Caracas on the eve of its execution
.
posted by edgeways at 8:22 PM on June 28, 2009


here is an interesting bit from the blog linked above:
The national congress has just unanimously approved the destitution of Manuel Zelaya as president of Honduras. The President of the Congress, Roberto Micheletti, will assume the position of President of the Republic of Honduras.
...
La Prensa, Honduras: The Supreme Court explains in an official statement that the actions of the armed forces was legal. President Manuel Zelaya was violating a judicial order of the Supreme Court. The article has received more 500 reader comments if you would like to see a sampling of Honduran opinions on the action. (Please use a translator if you need one, I just don't have time to summarize the article!)
If that's accurate, I don't see what the big deal is. Both the national congress and the supreme court opposed him. In most countries a president can legally be removed from office by congress, but apparently that's not the case here?

Either way, I don't particularly care.
posted by delmoi at 8:23 PM on June 28, 2009


The Washington Post reports...

My inner conspiracy theorist would like to remind my outer sane person that The Washington Post, for better or worse, doesn't exactly have the cleanest of hands when it comes to coups-d'état.

"Oh shut up, inner conspiracy theorist," says outer sane person, "Watergate hardly qualifies."

And then inner dude starts googling...
The Washington Post was one of the few major U.S. papers whose initial reaction was to condemn the [2002 Venezuelan] coup outright. Though heavily critical of Chavez, the paper's April 14 editorial led with an affirmation that "any interruption of democracy in Latin America is wrong, the more so when it involves the military."

Curiously, however, the Washington Post took pains to insist that "there's been no suggestion that the United States had anything to do with this Latin American coup," even though details from Venezuela were still sketchy at that time.*
"Read between the lines, man" he says, stoned-ily. Outer dude rolls his eyes, turns off the computer, and goes to bed.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:08 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh dear, don't read John Perkins. His Amy Goodman-bait hit Confessions of an Economic Hitman is really questionable, and besides all his other books are about stuff like mystical mind teleportation.
posted by johngoren at 10:01 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't get what Obama and/or the US would have to gain by orchestrating this. And it's not like he's sitting around the house looking for something to do either.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:28 PM on June 28, 2009


iamkimiam, if the coup had been better handled, what the US would get would be a stronger rightwing ally in a continent that's going socialist. But what they would gain now that it's been so badly stage-managed, I also don't see. My tentative theory is Obama recently became the head of a gang that robbed a lot of 7-11s, so now that another 7-11 has been robbed, everyone who knows about the gang is looking hard at the new leader to see if they're up to their old tricks.

If you want to know what leftist Venezuelans think those tricks are, see National Endowment for Democracy On The Offensive in Venezuela.
posted by shetterly at 11:17 PM on June 28, 2009


iamkimiam, if the coup had been better handled, what the US would get would be a stronger rightwing ally in a continent that's going socialist.

But the White House is still saying they completely support the ousted president, and he's the only one they recognize.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:24 PM on June 28, 2009


Not that American interests have ever intervened in Honduras before. Under Zelaya the country experienced multiple changes that demonstrated a new penchant for leftist policies. Zelaya of Honduras: A misunderstood but honorable leader or an amiable varlet?
posted by adamvasco at 12:19 AM on June 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Marisa, I meant that as a big "if." While Obama has disappointed me in a lot of ways, I've never thought he was stupid, and this thing just seems awfully stupid right now. I suspect the coup leaders acted on their own, expecting the usual response from the US, and now they're wondering why it's not happening.
posted by shetterly at 12:21 AM on June 29, 2009


Or rather, I should say I hope the coup leaders acted on their own, because adamvasco's links are excellent examples of why a lot of powerful people in the US would be perfectly happy to have the coup succeed.
posted by shetterly at 12:29 AM on June 29, 2009


Marisa, I meant that as a big "if." While Obama has disappointed me in a lot of ways, I've never thought he was stupid, and this thing just seems awfully stupid right now. I suspect the coup leaders acted on their own, expecting the usual response from the US, and now they're wondering why it's not happening.

Ah, OK. Then that would be an incredibly stupid thing for them to do. I know we have an, uh, colorful history in Central America. But Obama has been pretty open to positive dialogue with leftist Latin countries (e.g., Cuba, Brazil, Venezuela). Even with Honduras' congress and supreme court having asked the president to step down, it'd be hard to see why they'd think Obama would be totally cool with a military solution. And the White House has said as much. But yeah, I can see your POV there - there's been decades of military coups against leftist leaders in Latin America that the US either actively backed or tacitly nodded towards, so maybe the coup engineers figured we're still operating under the same MO up here.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:49 AM on June 29, 2009


Is this a coup or a counter-coup?

More like a preemptive action in order to secure the fragile democracy they have in Honduras. It may have been just a litmus test, but I think anyone with basic knowledge of the president-for-life program would agree that Zelaya was heading down that road, and if there´s one thing that USA Inc. cannot stomach, it´s another Chavez.

Disclaimer: I lived in Honduras for three months last year during the riots and it was obvious that this clown Zelaya was using ´people power´to get what he wanted.

CNN and it´s affiliates are completley irrelevant.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:41 AM on June 29, 2009


More like a preemptive action in order to secure the fragile democracy they have in Honduras.

I realize that some people have been saying this...you do realize how Orwellian it is, right? You're saying that the people of Honduras need a military coup to preserve democracy against the threat of a national opinion poll for a referendum to open a constitutional assembly. You can argue that you don't like the guy, but there is nothing about preserving democracy in that. Preserving the power of a particular sector of the oligarchy, maybe; after all, this is basically being orchestrated by Zelaya's political opposition. There is no democracy being preserved in the first post-Cold War military coup in Central America.
posted by graymouser at 3:16 AM on June 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


billysumday, has anyone claimed this is the CIA/NED or any of its tools at work? I've only found people saying it has the usual earmarks.

I thought the earmarks of a CIA coup were actual marks, on people's ears, and torsos, and faces, and so forth from the bullets their bodies were riddled with?
posted by Pollomacho at 4:51 AM on June 29, 2009


there sure is a lot of uninformed speculation goin' on here!

it seems like many people here don't realize that in some cases the populace supports coups. in Turkey, the military has taken power several times to maintain a secular state. in Thailand, the monarchy and the military sometimes play a moderating role when the elected government gets out of hand.

i'm not saying that military coups are always good, just that they're not always bad. likewise, many democratically-elected (or "democratically-elected") governments are hopelessly corrupt, unjust, ruthless, etc.

and i also think there plenty of coups happen without US involvement.
posted by snofoam at 5:46 AM on June 29, 2009


snofoam:

So if the US were to have a non-binding opinion poll on whether the next Presidential election should carry a referendum on creating a constituent assembly (electing a body that will open the Constitution for revision), a military coup would be justified? Because that's what is happening in Honduras. If there were actual democratic will against Zelaya, there would be at least three steps in which people could block what he would like to do: first, they could vote "no" in the poll, forcing him to not hold the binding referendum; second, they could vote "no" in the referendum, not bringing about the constituent assembly; third, they could vote only for constituent assembly members who pledge not to increase term limits. (There may be a fourth step in which any constitution thus created/amended would need to go up for its own referendum. And, of course, if he removed term limits he'd have to, you know, run for re-election every time.) Hugo Chávez, who is painted as el badguy numero uno by the right and some on the center in the US, was enormously popularly elected three times, but his constitutional reform allowing him to run for another term was shot down. He respected the results.

The sheer arrogance of supporting a military coup instead of letting the democratic will of the Honduran people be voiced, and then claiming this is good for democracy, is stunning. Every step of what Zelaya was trying to do – regardless of your thoughts on that – would require the democratic participation of the Honduran people. Yet blocking this is good for democracy? Stunning. This is doublethink in excellent form.
posted by graymouser at 6:29 AM on June 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


graymouser: to clarify, i'm not saying the coup is a good thing, because i don't know enough about the situation. i'm not really convinced that most of the people posting here really have a good idea of what is going on.

i don't think your analogy is very good, either. a closer analogy is if Bush tried to put through a referendum on lifting term limits, but the supreme court said he couldn't. then he asks the joint chiefs of staff to have the military help him run his referendum. then, when they say no, he fires them. at this point, his next step may be to consolidate power by having his friends run the military and the courts. if you are the military, which is probably the only group that could conceivably take power, do you wait and see how things pan out? or do you act while you are still able to?

i'm not justifying it. i don't really know enough about the situation. but i do think it is more complicated than "democratic leaders are always good," "military coups are always bad" and "come on, he just wanted people to have a vote on his term limit idea." it also makes no sense to use analogies with the US, where power is much more distributed.
posted by snofoam at 7:03 AM on June 29, 2009


snofoam:

Oh, I'm sure it's more complicated. However, my point is that there is this "saving democracy" narrative being put together which smells very suspicious to me. Honduras has a constitution that comes from a period when the US was engaging in its "dirty wars" in the region, and was basically meant to knit power as closely as possible to the existing oligarchy in the country. My point is that more actual democracy would've been involved in the constitutional reform process than could possibly be involved in this coup. There are votes, which would have been internationally monitored at every point, and it could've been stopped by the people at any time. That's democracy, not the army (which has uncomfortable links to some of the really nasty shit the US has done, including School of the Americas) imposing a new President. To be clear, I'm personally reserving judgment on any foreign involvement, and I honestly have more of a problem with the pro-democracy spin on the coup than anything else going on here.
posted by graymouser at 7:21 AM on June 29, 2009


I think you may be overlooking the fact that Congress was controlled by his own party and even they declared the referrendum to be illegal and further, unanimously declared him ousted. The man's hand-picked successor (if he was to have one), who resigned as vice-president to concentrate on his campaign for President in January, declared the referrendum illegal. His hand-selected Defense Minister resigned rather than distribute the ballots along with the heads of the military. Zelaya had no friends in Honduras left, not political, not military. He was done.

The people of Honduras are speaking now. They are speaking loud and clear, by not doing anything. Ohter than the 100 or so people left in Zelaya's cult of personality, they aren't taking to the streets. They aren't marching and waving green banners in Teguce right now. They are going to work like nothing happened for the most part because nobody liked Zelaya any more. The only people calling for his return are outside Honduras.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:30 AM on June 29, 2009


Pollomacho - do you have an actual source that verifies what you're saying? I haven't seen anything either way about what is going on today.

I also find the argument that acquiescence to a coup signifies the democratic will of a people...fishy at best. But more like out and out bullshit.
posted by graymouser at 7:47 AM on June 29, 2009


If anyone is interested, here are some local news sources: La Prensa and El Heraldo.
posted by snofoam at 7:52 AM on June 29, 2009


graymouser - i just want to point out that you don't seem to have a source for anything you are saying, which seems to largely consist of what you think of as right and wrong based on only the most cursory overview of the situation. yet you see fit to call it "arrogant," "doublethink" and "bullshit" when people (who are probably more informed about the actual situation than yourself) voice anything other than your narrow opinion. i don't think it really contributes that much to the discussion. if you have some insight into what is actually going on there, by all means bring it on. if you're just going to parrot your ideology with a dose of name calling, then maybe don't.
posted by snofoam at 8:21 AM on June 29, 2009


Actually, I've been watching this develop for quite some time graymouser. In fact, before my family returned there from vacation last week I bought my brother a copy of The Open Veins of Latin America as sort of a half ironic gift.

Besides snofoam's links above, and for the (diminishing) pro-Zelaya side in Honduras try La Tribuna.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:50 AM on June 29, 2009


Reddit: I am from Honduras: It was NOT a COUP!

Even the BBC is now writing it as "coup".

What's the truth of the situation?
posted by nickyskye at 9:00 AM on June 29, 2009


snofoam:

I don't have any particularly privileged information to share, no; I've been following this on various email lists I'm on, and a lot of the information in the OP is the same thing I was seeing all afternoon yesterday.

What disturbs me is the folks who talk about a military coup essentially being about the preservation of a democratic order. I asked why this would be necessary when there are at least five steps that could be taken if the popular will was against Zelaya - the response was that quiescence to a coup is the same as mass popular affirmation. That might be true in some cases, but honestly it strikes me as undemocratically short-circuiting the process. IF 80-90% of the country was against Zelaya, as his successor has proclaimed, why was it necessary to kidnap him and prevent a nonbinding referendum? It should've been a massive failure if what has been stated by the pro-golpistas is true. Can you not see a disconnect in the statements here? If it's democracy, it should've failed on its own. Unless you have some proof that massive (and we're talking turning 80% opposition into a majority support here) electoral fraud was in the bag, the whole argument seems - to me - to be full of holes.
posted by graymouser at 9:22 AM on June 29, 2009


i think a key point that seems to be overlooked by many here is that basically the military overthrew the President of Honduras, but not the government of Honduras. the legislature and the judiciary both felt what the President was doing was illegal.

is it a coup? is it anti-democratic? is it what the Honduran people want? i'm not sure.
posted by snofoam at 9:39 AM on June 29, 2009


graymouser: if congress and the supreme court in Honduras are granted power by their constitution, how is it not "undemocratically short-circuiting the process" for the President to try to use the army to hold a referendum that was deemed illegal?
posted by snofoam at 9:43 AM on June 29, 2009


The constitution holds that the presidency is to consist of a single four-year term. In other words, the presidency is designed to be incapable of effecting change.

As has been pointed out above, the entire structure of their government is a Dirty War legacy, one meant fairly blatantly to preserve power for the powerful. Since Zelaya was put in place by a right-wing party, and he then moved sharply leftward (and since one of his closest allies was from the resident lefty party-- and was killed a couple of days ago by the military), we shouldn't be at all surprised that Zelaya's own party isn't backing him.
posted by darth_tedious at 9:51 AM on June 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


snofoam:

The law against the referendum was created basically for the purpose of stopping the whole constitutional reform process. Again, that strikes me as problematic; if there were real mass force against Zelaya at this point, wouldn't democracy do what it's supposed to and shut him down? If the people wanted a reform, and the Congress and Supreme Court moved to stop it, how is this preserving democracy? These are questions that are posed quite sharply once the military removes the elected president of a country.

darth_tedious:

Broadly I agree with what you're saying, but the reports of Ham's death seem to have been premature and unverified, and others have said he's alive.
posted by graymouser at 10:01 AM on June 29, 2009


graymouser: i never claimed that this coup was done to preserve democracy. all i said was that it is complicated and a lot of people were jumping to conclusions with very little info to go on.

also, couldn't someone just as easily argue that if Zelaya had broad popular support, why would he try to use the military to circumvent the other arms of government? surely the people would vote in a congress that was more sympathetic to their wishes.
posted by snofoam at 10:10 AM on June 29, 2009


er, branches of government, but you know what i'm sayin'.
posted by snofoam at 10:10 AM on June 29, 2009


snofoam:

I'm not arguing that Zelaya had tremendous popular support. I'm just questioning the idea that this could be seen as a defense of democracy. Honestly, it seems to me that Zelaya was outmaneuvered by the other branches of government, who then short-circuited anything like an impeachment process by simply ousting the guy. If the actual popular will was that Zelaya would be removed, actually physically removing him and instituting another guy in his stead seems, to me, to be about the worst way you could possibly go about it. If this isn't a power play, politics by other means, impeachment at least doesn't cause such large-scale international outrage. It leads me to look very cynically on the pro-democratic claims of what is going on.
posted by graymouser at 10:25 AM on June 29, 2009


sure. the most likely scenario is that it's just a bunch of assholes grabbing for power. but i don't think anyone said that this was a triumph of democracy. people said he was unpopular and that he was engaged in a power struggle with other branches of government.

it would be awesome if there were some really fair, democratic way to resolve this. perhaps a public debate after which everyone in the country voted, but I don't think that's realistic. the dude tried to use the army to get what he wanted and the army didn't go for it. it looks like this was a bad move on his part.
posted by snofoam at 10:52 AM on June 29, 2009


Pollomacho, I don't know what misfiring of the synapses resulted in "earmarks," but if you read a little about the attempted coup in Venezuela in 2002, you'll find parallels:

1. The president was kidnapped rather than legally dismissed.

2. A forged letter of resignation was submitted.

3. The people behind the coup had been funded by the USAID, which has a problematic history. (See their funding of the people who ousted Haiti's democratically elected President.)
posted by shetterly at 10:58 AM on June 29, 2009


The Congress is also democratically elected, probably even more so than the President because to have a majority of them in favor of ousting the President says a lot. Although their methods may not have been any more legal than Zelaya's, there is more to the story than much of the english press is reporting.
posted by JJ86 at 11:00 AM on June 29, 2009


snofoam, he was popular, which was the problem. If he was unpopular, they wouldn't have kidnapped him. I'm now wondering why anyone thinks the Honduran constitution has a clause saying, "When the president does something the rich don't like, dump him in another country."

If this was constitutional rather than a coup, why didn't the presidency go to the vice-president?
posted by shetterly at 11:03 AM on June 29, 2009


Clifton Ross: Coups and Constitutions
...progressive leaders enter power on a wave of popular support only to find their hands bound by constitutions written by their neoliberal predecessors of the 1990s under the tutelage of Washington. The new leaders then face the choice of playing by the very limited rules of the neoliberal constitution or writing up a new charter. Even the proposal of new rules enrages the local oligarchy which, of course, was behind the neoliberal constitution in the first place, and the opposition to constitutions aimed at democratizing power has grown with each successive process.
The whole article's very good.
posted by shetterly at 11:27 AM on June 29, 2009


if you read a little about the attempted coup in Venezuela in 2002, you'll find parallels:

It isn't just 2002 that has parallels. Latin American history has almost more tales of bloodless coups and wee moring pajama-clad kidnappings than it has stories of successful election turnovers. Heck, before the cold war a dictator would complain to the press if they were overthrown, not about the torture and bloodshed, but about how they weren't even allowed to put on their shoes before being whisked off to permanent retirement in the south of France with a suitcase of cash and their favorite mistress.

If this was constitutional rather than a coup, why didn't the presidency go to the vice-president?

Vice President resigned to run for President.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:39 AM on June 29, 2009


snofoam, he was popular, which was the problem. If he was unpopular, they wouldn't have kidnapped him.

i think you have that reversed. If he was popular then he could rally support and return if left alive. Unpopular and exiled he remains exiled.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:43 AM on June 29, 2009


Vice President resigned to run for President.

I think a quick look at the wiki thing will alert that Arístides Mejía has been the vice president since February of 2009. Unlike the US, whose legal system is apparently the basis from which a lot of the posts I´m reading are garnering their point of view, the head of Congress and next in the Presidential line of succession is Roberto Micheletti, who was sworn in.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:51 AM on June 29, 2009


Pollomacho, agreed. But I think the 2002 parallels are the strongest. The forged letter croggles me: it didn't work the first time, yet they did it again? When they were planning the coup, did they use a School of the Americas book with a 2001 copyright?

I like the link for context. And I have to like, a little bit, a man who can say, "Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States!"
posted by shetterly at 11:51 AM on June 29, 2009


Pollomacho, I meant that if Zelaya was unpopular, his referendum would fail--end of story, no need for a kidnapping.
posted by shetterly at 11:57 AM on June 29, 2009


How do we know Sanford went to Argentina, eh?
Maybe he single handedly overthrew the Honduran government and this 'affair' business is just a smokescreen. (I'm just horseshitting.)

We have gotten in their business before (operation Golden Pheasant - (fairly recent and easy to google) and Batt 316 - links to the unit bkgrnd here.) And of course the United Fruit Company.
The stuff with the UFC goes back a ways. And of course, Ol' Smed was there.
So the truth is, even were this particular business straightforward (one way or the other) it would still be complicated.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:01 PM on June 29, 2009


Best account of Zelaya's presidency that I've found so far: Nikolas Kozloff: The Coup in Honduras.
posted by shetterly at 12:06 PM on June 29, 2009


Pollomacho, I meant that if Zelaya was unpopular, his referendum would fail--end of story, no need for a kidnapping.

True, but I don't think they were expecting him to go quietly. You know the old saying "posession is 9/10 of the law?" It's a hell of a lot easier to seize control when you have control. If Zelay has the reigns and doesn't want to leave come January, despite a "no" vote he still has the reigns. If he's gone already, then it is far more difficult for him to come back and claim control. Chavez in '02 was popular enough that this method failed. The people did not accept it. Zelaya, unpopular as he is, is of little concern to the average Honduran.

But the outcome of te vote itself wasn't what the issue was anyway. It was a non-binding survey, nothing more. The point of constitutionality was the President's power to call for elections. The judiciary, congress, the military and his own cabinet ministers said he did not have that power, he disagreed and called it anyway. The military said no. Overestimating his own popularity, he called it anyway again and went and picked up the ballots as a show of who was "really in charge." The military, Congress, Judiciary, and his own cabinet in turn showed him who was really in charge and now he can enjoy doing lines ofF Venezuelan hookers in Caracas nightclubs until he keels over or until he's no longer welcome after Chavez's eventual and inevitable bloody right-wing ouster, whichever comes first.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:21 PM on June 29, 2009


> but the reports of Ham's death seem to have been premature and unverified, and others have said he's alive.

Good catch; thanks.

If Obama's team, public pronouncements notwithstanding, really is behind this, or chose to not-prevent it, it seems like an extremely clumsy move with a huge downside and minimal upside.
posted by darth_tedious at 12:26 PM on June 29, 2009


chose to not-prevent it

Without interventionism, how would the US have chosen to stop it?
posted by Pollomacho at 12:35 PM on June 29, 2009


> Without interventionism, how would the US have chosen to stop it?

Presumably, our and their military and intelligence services, irrespective of the governments involved, still maintain extensive backchannel communications-- channels through which No, or Not This Time, or Not Just Yet, could have been communicated.

As things stand, it's been claimed that the US, via governmental channels, had been warning the coup-leaders against a coup.

In fact, we don't know. And we don't know strong those warnings were, or how seriously they were taken, or how seriously the coup leaders thought those warnings (if given), were meant to be taken (cf., Glaspie, April).

Do I actually think Obama and co. engineered this, or chose to let it happen? No, just because it seems such a stupid route to take.

But do I know that they didn't, or, for that matter, that Rogue Elements were not involved? No, not at all.
posted by darth_tedious at 1:51 PM on June 29, 2009


Do we know that Zelaya wasn't the only man keeping Obama from building clandestine contaminated vaccine laboratories in Honduras? No, not at all.
posted by snofoam at 2:02 PM on June 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


For how the US might've prevented it, see RebelReports - A Few Thoughts on the Coup in Honduras. If the US had said unambiguously, "We'll ground your air force and refuse to engage in trade with you if you do this undemocratic thing," it's unlikely they would've gone ahead.

The points made there may come into play in restoring Zelaya, of course.
posted by shetterly at 2:08 PM on June 29, 2009


Reddit: I am from Honduras: It was NOT a COUP!

Like all of these things, you're getting the opinion of the rich, well connected, elites who have the internet and speak English. Same in Thailand. They are from the class of people who support the coup, so of course they are more likely to support it.
posted by delmoi at 2:16 PM on June 29, 2009


Down with the west-loving Twitterers!
posted by Artw at 2:23 PM on June 29, 2009


If the actual popular will was that Zelaya would be removed, actually physically removing him and instituting another guy in his stead seems, to me, to be about the worst way you could possibly go about it

Yeah, the military never has a hand in enforcing court decision in the U.S..
posted by nomisxid at 2:38 PM on June 29, 2009


from Honduras' First Full Day Under Coup Rule | | the narcosphere:

One of the interim government's first official acts (that is, after imposing a 9pm-6am mandatory curfew) has been to inform Honduran cable providers that they are now prohibited from transmitting international television channels in Honduras. TeleSUR reports that Honduras' National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) sent a memo to Honduran cable operators with a list of prohibited international channels. The list includes the US' CNN, Venezuela's TeleSUR, and Cubavision Internacional.

CNN, TeleSUR, and Cubavision Internacional are strange bedfellows. This marks the second time in 24 hours that Honduras' coup government has lashed out against the US and Bolivarian Aliance (ALBA) member countries at the same time.

posted by shetterly at 3:01 PM on June 29, 2009


Cesar Ham wasn't killed
(from the citizen reporting project, HablandoHonduras.com, via Twitter)
posted by liza at 3:34 PM on June 29, 2009


liza, that looks right. From Correction: Honduran Presidential Candidate Is Still Alive | | the narcosphere
Castillo also denied that Ham has been detained and said that he remains in a secure location, faced with the possibility of repression by the coup leaders.
And things are definitely changing: Reports: Two Military Battalions Turn Against Honduras Coup Regime | | the narcosphere
posted by shetterly at 4:25 PM on June 29, 2009


Right now, I'm totally loving Obama for saying this: "We don't want to go back to a dark past. The United States has not always stood as it should with some of these fledgling democracies. But over the last several years, I think both Republicans and Democrats in the United States have recognized that we always want to stand with democracy, even if the results don't always mean that the leaders of those countries are favorable toward the United States. And that is a tradition that we want to continue."
posted by shetterly at 6:03 PM on June 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


it sounds like things are pretty messed up down there.
posted by snofoam at 7:01 PM on June 29, 2009


Best attempt to convince coup-deniers that it's a coup: Honduras Coup: The obvious missing from English language coverage
posted by shetterly at 9:59 PM on June 29, 2009


The blog that I linked to above has great pictures of the protesters: http://incakolanews.blogspot.com/.

They link to the US Department of State's Background Briefing on the Situation in Honduras which makes the issue very clear:

...there’s a big distinction here because, on the one instance, we’re conducting about conducting a survey, a nonbinding survey; in the other instance, we’re talking about the forcible removal of a president from a country. So I think we can distinguish between those terms – those two in terms of what’s constitutional and what might be left to institutions.

But I think what’s important to remember about the survey is that it was just that. It wasn’t even a formal vote. It was a nonbinding survey. And the issue of whether it was legitimate or illegal did not revolve around the survey itself. It revolved around who conducted it and whether or not this could be conducted by the government and which institution in the government could conduct it, and whether or not as it’s being conducted state security forces could be used to both manage and secure the equipment that was being used for the survey and provide security. And that’s where the divide occurred within Honduras. It was about who conducted this survey, with several institutions in Honduras insisting that the Honduran Government could not conduct it, at least not in the way that President Zelaya had suggested.

And from our point of view, what was important was not inserting ourselves and trying to make a determination of what was legal or illegal, but trying to insist that the Hondurans find a way to resolve this in a way that was in accord with their constitution.

posted by shetterly at 10:20 PM on June 29, 2009


U.S. treads carefully with Honduras crisis - Los Angeles Times
...while condemning the overthrow, U.S. officials did not demand the reinstatement of Zelaya. The administration left its ambassador to Honduras in place, while several governments in the region recalled theirs.

And despite control over millions of dollars in American aid and massive U.S. economic clout, the administration did not threaten sanctions or penalties against Honduras for the formation of a new government the day after Zelaya was dragged from his bed and removed from the country Sunday.
posted by shetterly at 10:53 PM on June 29, 2009


Latin American Nations Begin Economic and Political Blockade Against Coup Government | | the narcosphere
posted by shetterly at 12:14 AM on June 30, 2009


Another hard blow for the coup: World Bank 'pauses' lending to Honduras - Zoellick | Reuters

There continue to be people suspicious of the soft approach that Obama's taking:

The Honduran coup: another US destabilization operation
Chavez has, justifiably, cast the coup as an overt threat to his regime. He has charged the US with complicity, alleging involvement by Otto Reich, a long-time anti-Castro operative and favorite of anti-Castro exiles in Miami. Reich played a key role as a Reagan administration State Department official in the Iran-Contra conspiracy, in which Reagan authorized secret funding for the anti-Sandinista Contras, in violation of the Boland amendment which had been passed by Congress banning US aid to the Contra death squads.

Reich was one of a number of Iran-Contra veterans who were appointed to government posts in the administration of George W. Bush, serving as assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs.

The US used southern Honduras as the base of operations for its proxy war in the 1980s against the left nationalist, Cuban-allied regime in neighboring Nicaragua.
Todd Gordon: Acceptable Versus Unacceptable Repression
But what did the Canadian government say following the first rumblings of a potential military coup against the moderately left wing Honduran president, Jose Manuel Zelaya, on June 25? Nothing. As of the evening of June 29, it had issued one rather tepid press release late on June 28, more than 12 hours after the coup became known outside Honduras.

And what did the Canadian government say when over 50 indigenous activists in Peru were gunned down on June 5th by military and police forces for protesting their government’s free trade policies? Nothing. The massacre of indigenous protesters in Peru, many of whose bodies were then dumped by police in a river, didn’t rate any mention at all.

So why does Iran rate a sharp rebuke, but a military coup in Honduras and brutal repression in Peru inspire cautious condemnation and silence respectively?
Is the US behind the coup? / Features / Home - Morning Star

My gut says Obama is hoping the coup will fail without the US having to put deeds behind its words.
posted by shetterly at 3:46 PM on June 30, 2009


Otto Reich's name is certainly being mentioned by the Venezuelans.
posted by adamvasco at 11:30 PM on June 30, 2009


Are there any sources other than Chavez run media and socialist websites quoting Chavez run media that Reich is involved? I'm not saying Chavez's press can't print accurate reports, I'd just like to see some confirmation from someone who doesn't have an obvious slant against the US.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:38 AM on July 1, 2009


Pollomacho - not that I have found - but here is a reason.
posted by adamvasco at 5:50 AM on July 1, 2009


Pollomacho, this is, I suspect, another issue where there are no impartial observers.

For anyone who wants to argue that it's not a coup: Alberto Vallente Thorensen: Why Zelaya's Actions Were Legal

And a few useful points from Victor Figueroa-Clark and Pablo Navarrete: Honduraas, a Coup With No Future:
Honduras is a deeply unequal country, with the richest 10% of the population taking home 43.7% of the National Income. In contrast, the poorest 30% take just 7.4%, and just under 40% of the population live in poverty (defined as earning less than double the cost of the basic food basket). Only 4.7% of Hondurans have access to the internet, which might go some way to explaining the social background of Honduran coup cheerleaders on English-language websites such as the BBC’s.
posted by shetterly at 4:20 PM on July 1, 2009


Honduras' Coup Congress Cancels Five Basic Liberties
posted by homunculus at 8:19 AM on July 2, 2009


Coup “President” Installs Nephew as “Mayor” of Honduras’ Second City
posted by shetterly at 10:12 PM on July 2, 2009


Tragedy at Toncontin: Army Shoots and Kills Protesters
posted by homunculus at 8:43 AM on July 7, 2009


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