Monday, August 3, 2009

Continued Media Misinformation on Honduras

A July 30th article in The New York Times by Ginger Thompson entitled "De Facto Leader is Said to Back Deal in Honduras" claimed that de facto president Roberto Micheletti is reaching out to Costa Rican president Oscar Arias in an attempt to bring an end to the month old crisis in Honduras. The New York Times reports that Micheletti has expressed support for the 12 point "San Jose Accord" outlined by Arias, which would allow President Zelaya to return to his country with limited powers.

According to the article, "The officials said Mr. Micheletti warned President Arias that he had not been able to persuade other parts of the Honduran government, or the leaders of the Honduran business community, to go along with the proposal. So he asked Mr. Arias to consider sending a prominent international political figure to help him stem the fierce opposition." This means simply that the dynamic of the situation between the military government and the international community will remain unchanged, only the tone of the crisis is being adjusted, and the media interpretation and presentation of information regarding the conflict is being altered; the media story is being remodelled or rearranged.

In other words, the coup government continues to receive only a mild slap on the wrist, and the situation remains the same, as the near legitimacy of the military coup government endures with the inaction and neutrality of the international community. What is meant by neutrality is that most influential countries have condemned the coup in rhetoric only, and have done nothing to actually pressure or dislodge the illegal coup government. The U.S. for example has "condemned" the coup and acknowledged that Manuel Zelaya is the democratically elected President of Honduras, yet at the same time have said that the coup was not legal, but that it also wasn't illegal. This means the U.S. State Department has refused to officially label the incident as a 'coup d'etat', which would by law force the U.S. to suspend all financial support to the country, be it military or economic "aid". The U.S. has cut $ 16.5 million in military funding, but continues to flow $ 180 million of economic "aid". Experts have argued that cutting economic aid would hurt the population of Honduras directly, which is not entirely true. The complete suspension of economic support to the country could hurt a certain number of Hondurans, but only in the
long-term, and under the current far-right illegal government, the people of Honduras would never benefit from that money anyway. U.S. economic "aid" doesn't help in pulling ordinary citizens out of poverty, it serves only to assist private interests and foreign investment.

To further that point, it is noteworthy that the article also twice mentions business in the same breadth as political figures; "the Honduran business community" and the powerful "business leaders in Honduras". To be sure the military coup plotters have no interests other than the interests of the Honduran elites and of multinational corporations, and will attempt, as U.S. and international economic "aid" would have it, to re-establish and maintain an acceptable economic order. In fact the article goes on to mention that "one of those whom officials mentioned as a possibility" for a prominent international political figure to help solve the stalemate inside Honduras, "was Enrique V. Iglesias, a former president of the Inter-American Development Bank." The Inter-American Development Bank is the Latin American equivalent of the IMF or the World Bank, a facilitator of foreign interests, and is widely reported to have played a prominent role in the overthrow of democratically elected President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide in a 2004 coup d'etat in Haiti.

The article also mentions the legal position taken by the military government; "Honduran lawmakers and the supreme court have said that it was a mistake for the military to have forced Mr. Zelaya into exile, but that the accusations against him are valid. And they argue that the only way he should be allowed back is to face trial." This is a very weak, unimaginative attempt to try and paint a convincing legal argument against Zelaya's return. Lets take a closer look at the realities of the situation vs. the media distortions being presented daily, and the flawed legal logic of the coup government. The following are extracts from an article on the NACLA website (, written on Monday August 3rd by Michael Fox entitled 'Honduras and Washington: A Few Contradictions':

"Along with many U.S. papers, the Post (The Washington Post) has painted Zelaya as a Hugo Chávez-backed caudillo, attempting to overtake the powers of the Honduran government. The Post quickly echoed the talking points of the coup plotters that Zelaya was ripped from office because he was attempting an unconstitutional referendum to extend his term in office. In fact, the Honduran President was actually planning a non-binding referendum that according to the Spanish news agency, EFE , asked the Honduran people if 'during the general elections of November 2009 there should be a fourth ballot to decide whether to hold a Constituent National Assembly that will approve a new political constitution?'"

Now the legal side.

"According to a legal memorandum prepared by Micheletti supporters on June 29 and available on the website of the conservative Virginia-based think tank, Americans for Limited Government, the Honduran Supreme Court had found the referendum 'illegal', because the Honduran Constitution explicitly states that certain Constitutional articles cannot be reformed; such as those that 'refer to the type of government, the national territory, the presidential term and the prohibition of serving again as President of the Republic.' The Supreme Court thus inferred that since a Constituent Assembly may have attempted to reform these articles, it was unconstitutional. Therefore, they said, a referendum on the possibility of holding a Constituent Assembly was also unconstitutional."

The coup plotters in this declaration are explicitly saying that they assumed Mr. Zelaya may have attempted changes to the type of government, and to presidential term limits, and therefore they were justified in staging a military coup. This sounds eerily similar to the aggressive preemptive logic of the United-States.

The position of the Honduran coup government, and the media statements mentioned above, thus far have all been based on lies, false accusations, and assumptions. Since Zelaya's ouster over a month ago, the mainstream media namely The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Spain's El Pais have all juggled their lies and misinformation. Zelaya has been kicked out of Honduras either because of his close ties with Hugo Chavez, because he was operating with recklessness in planning an "unconstitutional" referendum for a constituent assembly which he had not yet carried out, and/or because he was planning to try and pass a constitutional amendment to extend his term in office. Now in early August, the military government in a public address has made allegations that Guerrillas are being trained in Nicaraguan encampments, with the support of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Hugo Chavez, and the FARC(Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.) It is amazing, ridiculous, almost amusing how the elites and the media have decided to just throw in the FARC, almost as an added bonus; why not include them as well? The web they are trying to spin is to link all the forces opposed to neo-liberalism in Latin America, as a sort of big, incredible, socialist alliance of guerrilla subversion. In the past week alone, the media has reported that Colombia has found arms that belonged to the FARC, arms that had undoubtedly been provided to them by Venezuela. They have resurfaced a story which made headlines in March of 2008 when Colombia had bombed a FARC camp inside Ecuador and allegedly retrieved laptops containing information that provided absolute proof that Venezuela had been providing funds and facilitating arms deals for the FARC. And now, they claim that Guerrillas are training inside Nicaragua with the support of President Daniel Ortega, of course Hugo Chavez, and the FARC. They see opportunities to link different stories together, and to inculpate several groups simultaneously through various networks of misinformation. This latest attack on Honduras is not just an attack against Honduras, it is an attack on a continental social movement that is growing, an attack on the will of Latin Americans everywhere.

The Times article goes on to quote an unnamed official; "'Today is an important day,' said one of the officials who spoke about Mr. Micheletti's call to Mr. Arias. 'President Arias essentially has Mr. Micheletti calling to say he thinks the San Jose Accord is a good framework." So all of a sudden Mr. Micheletti, the leading representative of the de facto, illegal, military coup government is a goodwill ambassador, a brilliant messiah with a solution to a nasty, unworkable conflict. The media is trying to twist the story and to portray Micheletti almost as a unifying figure, or at least as a promising, moderate element of the coup leadership. The situation is almost comparable to that of Israel and Palestine; allow the aggressors to commit the injustices, and then glorify them for making insignificant, arrogant, hypocritical concessions.