Pressure on Honduras May Lead to Zelaya's Return

The reports coming out of Honduras have been confusing and conflicting. There has been little media coverage in the United States, even though the U.S. Government has injected itself head over heels into the continuing crisis, and even though what happens in Honduras may well presage what happens elsewhere. The way the situation is developing, it seems very likely that the consequences will be adverse. There may be some small glimmers of hope, but the path is still very rocky.

It was reported earlier by Hondudiario, a newspaper in Honduras, that the Department of Political Affairs of the UN issued a report concluding the the ouster of former President Zelaya was consistent with the Honduran Constitution. The U.S. Library of Congress  produced an earlier study arriving at the same conclusion. A translation of the Hondudiario article is at la Gringa's blog.

There was some question about the provenance of the Hondudiario article, and on October 14, the secretary general of the UN claimed that the report was only the view of one of many consultants from whom the UN hears frequently. It was also stated that, in the view of the UN, that the ouster of Zelaya was unlawful remains unchanged:

[T]he UN position on the legality of Mr. Zelaya’s removal was clearly articulated by General Assembly Resolution 63/301 adopted on 1 July, which "condemns the coup d’état in the Republic of Honduras that has interrupted the democratic and constitutional order and the legitimate exercise of power in Honduras.

One might wonder how much legal analysis was involved in the UN determination, made three days after the "coup." Wondering is about all there is to do, since no such analysis has been made public even yet, more than three months after the "coup."

As of October 17, the "negotiations" appeared to have little chance of success, although the parties are evidently continuing to talk. According to Zelaya, "the dialogue is in suspense ... until the other side adopts a reasonable stance."

As the negotiations recessed on October 17 several points of contention remained. President Micheletti was willing to have the question of Zelaya's reinstatement, a constitutional issue, answered by the Supreme Court, which is charged with interpretation of the Honduran Constitution. Although rejected by Zelaya as "absurd," that appears, to me at least, to be a "reasonable stance."

Zelaya insisted that the question be answered by the Congress, apparently as a political matter. Although the Congress voted for Zelaya's ouster 123 to 5, the continuing pressures on the country may cause some members of the Congress to have second thoughts. Zelaya has set several deadlines for the "negotiations" to bear fruit, the most recent deadline being Monday, October 19.

President Micheletti and his government have been negotiating under tremendous external pressure, which has hardened the position of Zelaya and his Chavista supporters. The United States and other Zelaya backers have already clamped down hard on Honduras with economic and diplomatic sanctions, and on October 17 Zelaya demanded more of the same from the OAS. He stated, "they can perfectly well establish tougher trade and economic measures, which the United States would comply with immediately."

The six ALBA nations -- Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominica, Saint Vincent, and Antigua and Barbuda --  announced plans "to apply economic and commercial sanctions against the regime that came to power as a result of a coup." They had already been applying such sanctions, and I don't know whether additional sanctions are contemplated, what they might be or whether the announcement was merely intended as a reaffirmation of solidarity with Zelaya. Honduras has already been pretty much beaten down and might even be willing to accept the conditional reinstatement of Zelaya to have the sanctions lifted. Whether Zelaya would honor whatever commitments he may make or may have made is another question. An answer is presented by la Gringa here, and it is a sad one. Quoting briefly from the article:

Zelaya's supporters continually threaten to disrupt the election campaign, not allow distribution of election materials, and block voting if their leader is not reinstated in the next few days.

Telesur reports that Zelaya has said that neither he nor the resistencia are going to recognize the November 29 elections. In the same article he states that he is a democrat and he supports elections.