Thursday, October 01, 2009

Honduras's Business Elites Propose New Solution to Presidential Crisis

Well, this is interesting:

Stung by the loss of their American visas and concerned about Honduras’s increasing international isolation, the country’s leading businessmen have put forward their own plan to resolve the political crisis here.

In the plan, which was made public earlier this week, supporters of the coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya three months ago have for the first time suggested his return as president. But at the same time the plan calls for him to face trial on charges that he stole money while in office.

In my first reaction, I can't say I'm terribly sympathetic to their concerns. "What? You overthrew a democratically-elected leader who had annoyed you, but who technically hadn't done anything illegal? And then, when you supported his overthrow and the world condemned it, you lost your business and travel privileges? Oh, that's so sad!"

If anything, I think this response is the first time the U.S. (and much of the rest of the world) has gotten things right when it comes to political turmoil in Latin America. For too many years, decades, generations, business leaders have supported the overthrow of democratically-elected governments, be it Guatemala in 1954, Brazil in 1964, Chile in 1973, Argentina in 1976, or any other number of Latin American dictators. While military governments committed human rights abuses and genocide, the countries' respective business elites got richer, often times even while the income gap between rich and poor grew (as in the case of Brazil, certainly, and elsewhere). For the first time, the U.S. has not condoned such actions; if business leaders want to help undermine democratic processes in their own countries, they will feel the effects of their actions in the way that hurts them the most - by hitting their pocketbooks and their privileges. In some ways, it's almost like the international-economic equivalent of Sherman's march through Georgia - "you want to go ahead and do this? Fine. But we're going to make you feel the effects of what you've done. You aren't exempt from the consequences of your actions any longer."

In terms of the actual plan for a restoration of Zelaya's presidency, I don't think it will actually work. Zelaya's lawyer may be blustering, but he's probably part-right that the presumption of guilt will already be there in any trial against Zelaya. At the same time, it's become increasingly clear that A) Micheletti is in no way going to try to resolve this thing, and B) his continued presidency is a disgrace for civil and human rights in Honduras. Micheletti has certainly eclipsed any "crimes" Zelaya may have committed. So in some ways, a "third path" that involves real change (beyond Micheletti stalling and Zelaya calling for negotiations without any real political platform from which to work) is at least an encouraging sign that somebody will find a solution that both Micheletti and Zelaya can agree to.

And if you want any more evidence that Micheletti's a power-hungry degenerate of the first order, you really don't have to look much further than this:
Mr. Facussé said that Mr. Micheletti agreed to consider his plan after he suggested that Mr. Micheletti step down as leader of the de facto government and be named congressman for life.
Ah, yes - the "congressman/senator-for-life" position, held by such dignitaries as Augusto Pinochet himself. Yet, if Facussé's account is correct, then a lifelong position of power is enough to convince Micheletti to give up the presidency? It's really not too hard to see what's going on here.

Finally, for those who read Portuguese, a Brazilian journalist in the embassy in Tegucigalpa has put up a few blog posts about his experiences from inside the embassy. And even if you can't read Portuguese, the first image he took says plenty about what's going on in Honduras.