The Honduran Coup and the two faces of the US Administration

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The Honduran armed forces staged a military coup on 28th of June, 2009 and an army regiment picked up the ousted president Manuel Zelaya and exiled him into Costa Rica. The president of the parliament Roberto Micheletti has been appointed as transitional head of the country.

Then on the 5th of July, the Organisation of American States which has 34 member countries met in Washington and decided to suspend Honduras’s membership of the OAS. Honduras has become the second country after Cuba to have been suspended from OAS’s membership. Cuba was suspended in 1962 after the Castro-led revolution of 1959. The suspension of membership makes it difficult for the country to avail loans from the American Development Bank, and the bank president has clarified that he will suspend loans beacuse of the coup.

Veneuela, Brazail and other countries at the OAS summit have demanded severing of bilateral relations with Honduras, however the US and those who toe its line like Mexico, Colombia and Canada have rejected such a demand. This demonstrates the tentative and undecided nature of the US stance towards the coup as well as that the US does not stand fully behind the ousted president. This was clearly evident from the statements of US Secreatry of State Hillary Clinton when she said: “the [US] administration has been holding off on formaaly branding it as coup because such a declaration would trigger a cutoff of millions of dollars in aid to the impoverished Central American country.” [Reuters: 30.06.09]. When she was asked whether the US was now considering cutting off aid to Honduras, she shook her head to indicate a “no”. Earlier she had said: “The United States is currently evaluating the situation in Honduras and the possible final results before determining the next steps.” [Reuters: 30.06.09]. These statements indicate that the US is not necessarily opposed to the coup. However the coup has US foot-prints, since the CNN on 30th June, 2009 reported allegations by the coup regime’s minister for external affairs Enrique Ortiz that the ousted president Zelaya allowed tons of Cocaine to be shipped to the other Central American countries. This is apart from the fact that the ousted president violated the constitution by seeking a referendum on amending the constitution to allow himself to run for a second term in office. The CNN reported these allegations and especially the drug trafficking and clearly broadcast that: “Every night Honduras witnessed two or three aircrafts from Venezuela carrying cash from the drug sales.”

What suggests the involvement of the US is the statement by the White House spokesman Robert Gibbs who said: “The [US] administration worked in the last few days to try nad prevent the coup from taking place. And now our aim is to restore the democratic system in Honduras.” [Reuters: 30.06.09]. Thus the White house spokesman has acknowledged that a few days before the coup took place, the administration already knew that a coup was in the offing, so it worked but did not prevent the coup from taking place, and this points to its consent or even involvement. If the US administration knew beforehand that a coup was about to take place, it is inconceivable that it could have taken place without the US consent. Honduras is after all a small country which is not in a position to withstand threats of sanctions and pressure if they are imposed, with out the internal and external support and consent, and this indicates that the the coup leaders took prior permission from the US. Hillary Clinton’s statesments corroborate this, and because the US has not punished Honduras by cutting off aid even though the American Development Bank did try to suspend aid but that was to please public opinion which was against the coup. Moreover Hillary Clinton mentioned the pint that “It evolved into a coup” [same source], which points to US involvement in the coup, because this statement suggests that negotialtions took place between the coup leaders and ousted president Zelaya under US auspices and when the ousted president insisted in his resolve to hold referendum to amend the constitution, the situation developed into a coup, which in other words means that the US gave green light for the coup.

As for the statements of US Administration President Obama after his meeting with the Colombian president at the White House, he said: “The coup is illegitimate and will lead to chaos if President Zelaya is restored in office.” [Al-Jazeera:30.06.09]. this is merely a cover up of facts and a ‘show‘ of a new American face to demonstrate that it is human that does not support violence and intimidation such coups and interventions as it did in the past. This is also designed to mask America’s real and ugly face in the Latin America and especially in the Central America as well as to demostrate that it no longer supports coups. The US wants to win-over the leaders nad people of these nations to its side and this was clearly evident when heads of some of these countries expressed their satisfaction over the statement and even praise for Obama’s stance. However this did not influence Chavez when on Venezuelan television on 29th June, 2009 he accused the United States that it was behind the coup and warned Honduras with military retaliation if its ambassador there was attacked or kidnapped. But nevertheless, the Venezuelan ambassador was kidnapped along with Cuban envoy, but was later dropped at the road-side after he was beaten up and the Cuban ambassador continues to be held captive with them.

Obama’s statements reflect his tentative and undecided position and he is in fact lying, especially since he called on the parties in Honduras to settle the matter peacefully and in accordance with the law. [Radio Sawa US: 29.06.2009]. Thus he referred to the cup leaders as one party and the ousted president as the other and demanded that they solve the problem amicably and peacefully, which in effect implies that the ousted president does not take recoure to resisting the coup leaders for their illegeal act. Hillary Clinton also echoed the same message when she called on all parties in this country [Honduras] to take recourse to dialogue. She also said: “All parties ahve the responsibility to to settle the problems leading to yesterday’s event.” [ibid]. Thus she has placed both the parties on the same footing and puts the onus and responsibility upon all including the ousted president. This indicates America’s dirty involvement in the coup which ousted the president.

Spain, which has deep cultural relations with Honduras and shares the same language, has condemned the coup and so has the European Union which also decried the coup and censured its leaders intensely as well as announced its support to the ousted president Zelaya. Spain recalled its ambassador from Honduras andurged the European countries also to withdraw their ambassadors from there. It may be mentioned that Europe it self does not have much influence there except some public opinion or some limited Spanish influence due to its cultural tand historic ties from the colonial era.

Therefore the United States of today under president Obama has two different faces; on one hand it works to beautify its image for the world where it is seen as soiled. Then on the other hand the US is working to conceal its real and ugly face that is mercilessin dealing with those who are hostile to its policies or threaten its interests or do not serve the US as it wants them to, like the countries of South and Central America who have borne the brunt of colonisation. It is for these reasons that the US is now trying to use its mask of benevolence to open up to people and is feigning a smile attempting show respect for them and their rights as well as rule of law and international legitimacy which is anyway directed by it as it wishes through the UN and the UN Security Council. So it made quite a show of its opposition to the coup and declared that it supported the legally elected president and also participated in the OAS conference of which it is a member. The OAS members are against this coup, so the US stood along their side simply to mask the reality to earn the goodwill of these countries where mostly America is not seen in good light and lacks goodwill. At the same time, it continued to support the coup leaders from any boycott or sanctions and insists that it does neither support cutting off relations with Honduras nor terms the event as a military coup. It has also not supported imposing of sanctions or putting pressure.

The ousted president tried to return to his country on Thursday 2nd July, 2009 along with the Argentinian and Ecuador presidents aw well as the president of the UN General Assembly and the Secretary General of the OAS, however Canada discouraged them and alerted them to the consequence of it. The coup leaders also threatened him with arrest and prosecution. The Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Honduras, Oscar Rodriguez asked ousted president Zelaya not to hasten his return in order to prevent blood spilling. [BBC 05.07.2009]. The president of the OAS Jose Miguel Insulza paid a short visit to Honduras and said on his return: “The authorities in charge of affairs in Hinduras do not intend to allow Zelaya’s return.” [ibid]. So Zelaya’s return was postponed to Sunday 5th July, 2009 and only the president of the UN General Assembly accompanied him in the aircraft. The plane remined air-borne over his country today but was not allowed to land so it returned back.

Thus the armed forces of Honduras, the presidency of the parliament and the Supreme Court which decreed the ousting of president Zelaya and his exile outside the country are all opposed to his return, and have promised to prosecute him with for constitutional violation and charge him with drug trafficking. This is a serious charge for which he could be imprisoned with hope of release ever just as the Panamanian president General Manuel Noriega is still lodged in prison cell in the United States after he was ousted by America in 1990 and charged with drug dealing and smuggling. Even the Church is opposed to his return on the ground that it would endanger peace and result in blood-shed. If only it had demanded his return and being acknowledged as the rightfully elected president of the country.

The United States is not free from blame for its role in the military coup as the facts indicate, and therefore, Zelaya return is not foreseeable especially since his term is anyway about to end in early 2010. He has therefore decalred abandoning his plan to hold referendum to amend the constitution in return for his resuming office for the remaining months of his tenure. This reflects his lost hopes for return as well as his lack of sufficient support for it. Though Zelaya is wealthy like any one in authority in the country or in state administration, but his close links with what is known as the leftist countries who are engaged in freeing themselves from the US grip has angered the United States and its agents who hold the reins of power in the country. The US was clearly snubbed when Zelaya paid a visit to Cuba in 2007 which was the first visit for Honduran president to Cuba in the last fifty years. This broke the shackles of US boycott of Cuba, and Zelaya began to get closer to Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. Then he joined the alternate Bolivar Union lead by Chavez who has angered the United States because of his independent tendencies free from US influence.

The recent Honduran coup represents the return of the United States to pursue the coup method, and its statements which advocate a return of legitimate rule, will continue to be misleading until the next elections which may perhaps be advanced as the interim president has stated, in order to legitimise the government. This coup also serves to warn those who may be entertaining the idea of rebeling against or be hostile to the US in the Latin and Central Americas which were paid lesser attention during the last Bush administration which focussed on the Islamic world and fought Muslims under the guise of the infamous ‘War On Terror‘.

13th Rajab, 1430 A.H
6th July, 2009 C.E