Monday, September 28, 2009

Honduras Spiraling Downward

As Trend has been reporting, the situation in Honduras gets worse with each passing day. Roberto Micheletti and the coup leaders have surpassed even my expectations for vileness. Thumbing your nose at the world after you commit a coup is one thing. Not caring when the world shuts off foreign aid is hardly surprising for a group of rich white men who never concerned themselves with the nation's poor. But threatening to cut off diplomatic relations with clearly radical left-wing nations like Spain and Mexico (Mexico!!!!) is totally insane. Going into full military repression shocks the world. Blaming it on Brazil, as Trend pointed out, is laughable, but then the coup leaders are simply creating narratives that work for them, as they know the world opposed them. All of this, including shutting down news agencies that air Manuel Zelaya's statements reeks of Cold War-era repression.

But then again, isn't that what large segments of the Latin American right want? Clearly, the rich white Bolivians who hate Evo Morales wish the U.S. would come in and eliminate him. So do Chavez's opposition in Venezuela, though to be fair Chavez at least acts like a left-wing Cold War leader. Honduras has simply taken matters into their own hands; if the U.S. isn't going to support their actions, they'll do it themselves.

I had hoped that the crisis would dissipate after November elections, but that seems increasingly unlikely. Suppressing anti-coup media outlets sets the table for fraud in the coming election, meaning that the international community isn't going to recognize it. What happens in November is an open question.

This then leads us to the question of what to do. And this is a situation where I think the current international relations paradigm fails us. U.S. invasion is off the table, as it should be. No one else is going to intervene with their military either, though one would have to wonder at Brazil's response should the Honduran military invade their embassy. Sanctions don't work. The Honduran poor suffer every day from poverty. The world has cut off aid, but as we saw under Hussein's Iraq and many other examples, sanctions don't put pressure on leaders and only hurt the poor. If the Honduran elites simply do not care about the international community and they don't care about the poor of their own country, where does that lead us?

Finally, I want to reiterate a point I made in my coverage in Honduras during the coup--Zelaya is really a pain in the ass. He came back to Honduras without a clear plan and his statements to the media outlets willing to spread them have been inconsistent, seemingly depending on his mood. His progressive credentials have been way overhyped by many left-leaning outlets during this crisis, as the pro-Latin American left in the United States reads romanticized views of revolution into any new movement.

However, give Zelaya credit for one thing--he finally forced the issue. The U.S. has criticized Zelaya for reentering Honduras without a peace agreement. But Zelaya also knows that agreement is never going to come. He knows that Micheletti has a just say no strategy and that they would never let him come home. After all, what strategy does the U.S. have here? None except to hope it all goes away. He relied on the international community to make a difference and they didn't, so he did what he could to go home.