Big Gun: US Labor Secretary Hilda Solis Heads to Honduras Tuesday

Al Giordano

With the agreed-upon November 5 deadline for restitution of Honduras President Manuel Zelaya approaching, the White House has just sent in a big gun. US Labor Secretary Hilda Solis - arguably the most progressive member of the Obama cabinet - was appointed today to be one of four members of the "Verification Commission" that is charged with making sure all sides comply with last Friday's agreement signed in Tegucigalpa to end the coup d'etat.

The agreement's timeline is clear as day:

October 30, 2009

1. Signing and entrance of the Accord into effect.

2. Formal delivery of the Accord to Congress for the effects of Point 5, “Regarding the Executive Power.”

November 2, 2009

1. Formation of the Verification Commission.

After the signing of this Accord and no later than November 5

1. Formation and installation of the National Unity and Reconciliation Government.

Other members of the verification committee are former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, President Zelaya's UN Ambassador Jorge Eduardo Reina Idiaquez and coup regime lackey Arturo Corrales Alvarez, who will no doubt be outnumbered by the other three if he tries to join the anti-democracy extremists of the coup regime in stalling implementation of the agreement.

Lagos is a particularly interesting addition to the Verification Commission. In 1972, Chilean President Salvador Allende nominated him as ambassador to the Soviet Union and Congress refused to vote on his nomination. After the 1973 coup d'etat in Chile he was forced into exile to Argentina and then the United States. He returned to Chile to lead the resistance against the coup regime of General Augusto Pinochet, including the successful "vote no" referendum of 1988 that brought down the then fifteen-year-old coup regime.

That the White House chose Secretary Solis - obviously not from the State Department, but a cabinet member on equal footing with Secretary Hillary Clinton - sends a clear message that it means business (and perhaps that the hemming and hawing that characterized State's mixed-message behavior toward the Honduras crisis all summer long has come to its overdue conclusion). Solis is strongly allied with labor union organizations in the US, which have their own alliances with many of the unions that make the backbone of the Honduran Civil Resistance.

In addition to speaking Spanish, both Solis and Lagos know plenty about how civil resistance works and how to combat the stalling tactics of those in power. Solis already bested the stalling tactics of Republicans in the US Congress earlier this year that attempted to block her nomination. Lagos has already dismantled one coup regime. He now gets the chance to dismantle another.

Comments

Nice

This appears to be very good news. Couldn't help but notice Clinton walking back her position on settlements to something more closely approximating Obama's stated position. Now she's manuevered out of the way on Honduras. Wonder how much longer she'll remain at State. And where does she go from here?

Now if Obama can push Lieberman out of the way, maybe we'll get the meaningful health care reform that Clinton couldn't manage.

from the Brazilian Embassy in Honduras

There is great rejoicing in the selection of Hilda Solis and as part of the Verification Commission of the Accord. Both she and Lagos bring strong commitments to authentic democracy. Their skills will very much be needed to confront the ongoing stalling and deceptive tactics of the coup regime in Honduras. This is a step forward for President Obama to earn something already granted: the Nobel Peace Prize. Now if we would stop letting the military-industrial complex keep fueling the wars in Afghanistan/Pakistan and Iraq, then he will get definitely deserve it.

VERY interesting

I agree with your analysis, Al. Solis not State. I don't envy Obama his job; but this is brilliant, putting her in there. Good delegation and correction of the sloppy corporate Clinton mess.

For those who might not know

Andres Tomas Conteris - who posted that comment above - has been inside the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa night and day since September 21.

(That's longer than Noah was in the ark!)

Could This Just Be The US Making Itself Look Good?

Let's be frank, Zelaya will be reinstated but without any real power, and another puppet will be installed November 29. It will be good to see Micheletti leave with his barbaric attitudes, but it still looks like the Empire was too much for rebels and they need to praise this deal to save some face.

I think Roy is exhibiting too much wishful thinking over Clinton. Her stances ARE the Obama administration's policies. She didn't really backtrack to anything on Israeli settlements, the US has dropped demanding a full freeze, she made a few, more centrist comments because the Arab world ignited in rage over Sunday's more honest backing of Israeli policies. As for "meaningful healthcare reform," it will only cover 2% of the population, here's the link for the doubters: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33564275/ns/politics-health_care_reform/

@ Alci

Alci - I have long rejected the tendency that everything that happens in the world is "about the US." That's what we call gazing above, when we consider our job to look below and report back what we see and hear.

You just read a comment by someone inside the Brazilian Embassy (with President Zelaya). That comment was far more interesting to me than whatever these turns of events mean about whether the US "looks good" or not.

There are those who view everything through a US-centric lens. On one side, their only concern is that the US "looks good." On another side, their only concern is that the US "looks bad." Both - to me - are equally imperialist, because they take a situation that affects the daily lives, in this case, of 7.5 million Hondurans and make it a soccer ball to be kicked between those two US-centric world views. Although one is pro and another is con, they're still playing the same old game, and by the same old rules. And I frankly feel that an authentic anti-imperialist analysis has to reject both.

what will happen to the coup plotters?

Will they ever end up in jail, or exile?

@ Alci as well

That post was like a parody, or a template, of silent concen trolling.

Lets be frank - toss aside all possible positive motivation about anything - Alci says. We don't need hope... Al is totally right about the All About US thing. And then there's a spate of US bad, Clinton teh evil, empire empire devoid of any real analysis, and then - SLAM THE OBAMA HEALTHCARE!

It's like you can check off the counter-prop checklist.

Encourage cynicism, check!

Promote simplistic dualist world view, check!

Somehow manage a slam at Obama Healthcare, with link of the day - CHECK!

 

Hopeful

I hope that Hilda Solis is more progressive than Barack Obama. Labor unions? The people need to get the corporations and special interests out of politics... and their unions.

The fight for Honduras continues. Had Zelaya been disappeared the way Jean-Bertrand Aristide was disappeared, the fight would be over and lost by the good guys, namely the people. The fight isn't over. It just continues and I truly hope that the 'good and decent' people of Honduras find the strength to finish and win it. There are certainly good indications in that regard. I wish more of 'the people' in America and Canada had the gumption that 'the people' in Latin America so often show when faced with bloody corporatocracy shenanigans.

Al And John

I respect your views and you've made some valid points. I just tend to try to stick to a phrase Noam Chomsky uses, "pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will." I am just vouching for staying down to Earth here, not painting the US as simply "evil" or Clinton as such either, but sticking to the reality of geopolitics and history. I know Al has had disagreements with Eva Golinger over certain analysis of the coup, but I think her latest piece is an accurate take on what is happening here, the US is exercising "soft power," here's a link to the piece, I don't want to annoy anyone, but I just feel safe backing my statements with facts or analysis by someone with better credentials than myself: http://www.chavezcode.com/2009/11/honduras-victory-for-smart-power.html

Latin America is going through an important process of political shifts and change, Venezuela is a major target as was Cuba in the 1960s and so one cannot dismiss the implications of US involvement in what is happening in Honduras. Although every single little problem can't be blamed on the US, and slamming people like Clinton as "evil" would be a childish simplification, the US is still most powerful state in the world and like other powerful states like Russia and China, it is deeply involved in its neighborhood as shown in a great, recent NarcoNews piece on declassified documents dealing with Oaxaca. These people are politicians, the Pentagon is a major force as well, I doubt these people wake up in the morning thinking "gee, I should help the Honduran people because they are suffering." I also don't see much "hope" in Obama's deal with Colombia for seven military installations.

 

Thank you Al & John

I've been coming to the Field long enough that I am getting better at not allowing myself to spin into downers when I read something discouraging.  Still it was nice that the two of you righted the ship so quickly.

Nancy

 

@ arby

You are not by any chance another incarnation of alci? You sure sound alike. Get the corporations out of politics? How? As long as corporations exist, they will be political players, that should be obvious. And 'special interests' is a propaganda term of the right to denounce normal people. So why are you using it, together with otherwise very 'revolutionary' vocabulary? Also, do you really think that Hilda Solis will follow her own policy, contrary to Obama? And why would the fight for the people have been over with Zelaya disappearing?

The shakiness of your assumptions is matched by the absolute certainty of your proclamations. No insights possible this way.

Wait and see

Uh, traditionally, the US deciding to send the Secretary of Labor overseas on a diplomatic posting would not be considered 'sending in the big gun.'  Instead, it could be taken as a sign of just how little the US supports this agreement.  We'll have to wait and see whether she a) truly acts like a progressive in this post (always a good question to ask of Obama and the Democrats), and b) how much support the Obama administration really gives her.

This could easily be the US setting up this process to fail, and doing so in a way that keeps its foreign policy names and faces out of the way.  We'll just have to wait and see.

And .... considering that the US is suffering from the worst unemployment rates since the Great Depression, doesn't the Secretary of Labor have some other things that she aught to be doing these days?

 

 

@John and Al

The comment in question sounds like it came from a hardcore single-payer advocate.  Many of the hardcore single-payer folk have been trying to undermine the public option efforts from the beginning, as they either want SP or nothing.

When they're asked "well okay, so how do we get SP through Congress -- especially when the Congresscritters claiming to back SP start backing away from it once a bill actually comes up for a vote?", they have no answer other than to keep bashing the PO.  Ironically enough, a lot of these people are Hillary fans who bash folks like Jane Hamsher for being mean to Hillary; they keep insisting, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, that we'd have SP now if only she were in the White House!

Another irony: One argument the SPers have used is that the PO won't hurt the insurance companies (and with the mandate is in fact a big giveaway to them).  Of course, if that were the case, the companies wouldn't be fighting the PO tooth and nail; there is also evidence to show that, thanks to the large role played by the intangible asset "goodwill" on so many insurance companies' balance sheets, their financial position may not be as strong as believed, so the public option may well indeed hurt the insurance companies big-time.

All about U.S.

I agree totally on the ugly all-about-U.S. attitude everywhere where I am, in the U.S., but I sigh and think, it's deeper.  There's also the hidden racism inside the country, and beyond or beside that, madness of all the various ways of wanting to deny aid of any kind to people who are unlucky.

I think it's an attitude of, "I've got mine, and I must keep it away safe from everybody- because they're all trying to take it away from me!"

@ Alci

Alci - While I suppose it is an improvement that Golinger is writing about Honduras rather than, say, picking a fight with a comedian (Michael Moore), having read her latest communiqué I view it as a rewrite of half a dozen other stories she penned in July. The analysis can be summed up as "the Obama administration knew about the coup in advance therefore it was behind the coup."

Truth is, everybody knew about the coup in advance (Narco News published Kristin Bricker's story, "Coup Fears in Honduras," three days before the coup happened!)

It should also be noted that Golinger was on such an obsessive one-track mission last summer to try to prove that Honduras 2009 = Venezuela 2002 (in the latter the US truly was the architect) that she didn't lift her pen once all summer and fall long to report or aid the resistance movement in Honduras. Meanwhile, we published more than 100 hard news stories documenting and giving voice to that resistance.

By fixating so much on the game up above, she became irrelevant to the real struggle going on down below. And there is not a single new "fact" (not even a "factoid"!) in her latest essay that she hasn't published already. It's refried beans.

I'd also say that just as you waded into the health care debate at the end of your first comment, you waded into the US use of Colombian military bases at the end of your second comment. That kind of argument is what I call "the golf ball under the rug." One can stomp on the golf ball but it just pops up somewhere else. The real case you seem to be making is "Obama administration = evil" without any regard whatsoever to what the Honduran people think or feel or the very real consequences for them had there been no agreement signed at all.

Just as the far right has used the Hondurans all summer long as a prop in a geopolitical game laden with Cold War nostalgia, some on the left have done the same. Both have abandoned the Honduran people. Something that can't be said about this newspaper and its journalists, thankfully, as many Hondurans will attest.

@Al

I fully agree that NarcoNews has done an excellent job in covering the resistance, it has done a great service and that is why I am a daily reader. I'm just raising my arm about certain questions about this deal in Honduras. Golinger makes a good point about Lagos, for example, and his membership in a major right-wing think tank. As Tariq Ali documents in his book "Pirates Of The Caribbean," many of the former freedom fighters of Lagos' generation went totally neoliberal after the fall of the Wall in '89. I'm sure the Honduran people are happy some sort of resolution is now apparent, the average citizen I imagine, is happy with just knowing he/she won't have to sleep in fear of fascist shock troops in the streets, which is more than understandable. All I am saying is that let's not romanticize Obama's role here too much, the US, like any other state, has key geopolitical interests that come first. This isn't about calling someone "evil," but about political reality.

unions

@Arby:

If you think labor unions need to get out of politics, you are certainly not a progressive yourself.  You sound more like a libertarian.

@ Alci

Alci - Fact is, nobody is "pure" enough for some people and when writers start playing games of guilt by association (i.e. Lagos is affiliated with such and such think tank and therefore he can't possibly be against the Honduras coup) you're the same to me as the red-baiting McCarthyists on the right.

The game of conspiracy-theory-connect-the-dots - especially in this era where there are less than six degrees of separation between everyone - is infantile and provides a fantasy view that is very very far from the "reality" you say you're invoking.

Of course, not even Michael Moore would be acceptable to some purity trolls if he had been named to the verification commission!

My story above offered no "romantic notions" or even mentioned President Obama as an individual, other than refer to his administration and White House and the factually true decision to send Solis to Honduras. You don't get to retroactively claim that you were only responding to something that wasn't there in the first place.

Yes, we get it: To some people it is far more important to grind axes than help the Honduran civil resistance, who are apparently seen as only pieces on a chess board to some on the right and the left alike. Oh, if they only would learn some chess strategy to go with such imperial thinking!

Alci

Alci. Yes, it is true, the good people of Honduras are no longer afraid of the possibility of facing ¨fascist shock troops in the streets¨. For the last 128 days they have had to face an even more frightening reality…their very own military and police forces terrorizing them in their own country. Let me ask you this one very simple question, how is one better then the other? Can you answer that? Or will you post another link to a web site filled with PhotoShopped images of ¨ peaceful arrests¨. It seems to me that it is in fact you that has been spewing romantic notions. Put down the post war romance novels & propaganda filled newspapers and wake up!

Worries vs. Evidence

While there are indeed occasions on which I worry that the U.S. aims to pursue a grand strategy of rolling back liberal-left governments throughout the hemisphere, partly based on the grossest and dangerous use of the Colombian state-linked narco-paramilitaries and their contacts in groups in many other nations leading separatist and pro-golpist movements (i.e., the Paraguayan one against which the Presidency is rallying supporters to pre-emptively protest), it's harder to come by evidence of certain strategies, so while it may very well be true that there's more to the story than the U.S. siding with the Colombian pro-narco-military side to the exclusion of common sense or ending the civil war, I've little more evidence than that.

These are the kinds of subjects on which it's a good idea to have your antennae out and ready to detect certain types of predictable U.S. and other ideologically oriented, anti-leftist states' involvement, but it's not good to presume or assume before evidence leads you with regard to a specific location and policy.

That said, there are a lot of pro-golpist right wing and oligarchic forces throughout the continent who would be even more active had the U.S. not chosen to oppose the Honduran coup, however tepidly it did so.

Praxis, not philosophy

Personally, I think that the comments about "what this means" have veered away from what's really relevant in an urgent situation like this ... which is praxical analysis about what NarcoNews readers can be doing right now. Whether or not this is a PR move by the United States seems secondary to the most important thing right now: what are the practical needs of the Honduran resistance, how can internationals provide support to the resistance, what pressure needs to be applied and where?

In cases like this, it is too easy for political actors to assume that the issue isn't important to people and it is too easy for journalists or commentators to think that people don't know what is going on and will accept anything they put out.

So, I think that the resistance movement needs to know that internationals haven't forgotten about them, that they and their struggle for constitutional changes hasn't gone away just because the media is focused on convincing everyone that the crisis is over, people who can financially support the Front should do so (BALASC at balasc.org can help route that money, if people don't know how to do it) and politicans and journalists should get constant reminders that we're out here, we care about what happens next and we're watching them to make sure justice is done here.

The US politicians who have gone out of their way to support the coup regime should feel like there are consequences in this day & age for supporting repressive, illegitimate regimes in Latin America. That's easy enough to convey to them through phone calls and e-mails to them, asking them how they can publicly position themselves along side torturers like Billy Joya or how they can stand with a coup that has been accused of using gang rape as a torture technique, via the testimony of 19 women in a human rights report. Damn it, Jim DeMint's name should be synonymous with death squads and gang rape!

One annoying battle in the information war is on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal. "Mary Anastasia O'Grady" has declared victory for the coup regime and has come out with a couple editorial pieces on Honduras in the last few days that will make your stomach churn. She is completely care-free when it comes to facts, refers to Hugo Chavez as the "Venezuelan dictator," etc.

I've said lately that I think that the greatest gift that the coup regime has given to the region is focusing international attention on the social movements in Honduras, especially given the history of Honduras as the kind of place where people don't expect a strong social movement with a specific goal. The coup has had the effect of bringing international focus on communities and political/social organizations that previously didn't have that attention.

In San Francisco, for example, the formation of a Latin American solidarity organization received a new sense of urgency because of the coup in Honduras and we used that energy to accelerate the process and make Honduras our first focus as a coalition. We've held a number of fundraisers, protests and gotten media coverage to focus on the Honduran resistance.

Recently, we brought Dr Luther Castillo here, who had spent 4 years building the first hospital in the Garifuna region of Honduras only to have it all be destroyed by the coup regime, who raided the facility and cut off all government funding for it. These specific victims of the coup don't always get a lot of attention but these are the individual stories that form the overall tragedy of Zelaya's ouster. Dr Castillo was able to make a number of media appearances, he visited with sympathetic politicians and once other groups in other areas found out he was coming, they offered to fly him and host him in New York and Los Angeles. He was also able to do fund-raising for his hospital.

The groups that are in the coalition have other offices in other parts of the country -- Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Houston, etc -- and forming a regional solidarity coalition is something that can happen in a lot of places in the US.

As we head into a period of elections in Latin America that will last through 2011 and have a significant impact on the region, mobilizing resources in the US/Europe on behalf of our allies in Latin America is extremely important right now. Right now, everyone recognizes the "21st-century socialist movement" and success of the Foro de São Paulo organizations but a lot of that is up for grabs during the next few years. It'd be very easy to wake up sometime next year and realize that Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Central America, etc have all taken a turn towards the right. I can already feel the ruling elite's spin of a "popular right-wing electoral revolution" in Latin America creeping up my spine.

Unfortunately, the practical reality is that the large protests and organizing that happened against the IMF/WB/US empire's wars were largely financed and supported by anti-Bush forces who have backed off because a Democrat is in office.

I realize this isn't news and that movement has been mostly dead in the water for several years now ... but I do find that this shift is exemplified by Charles Gibson's recent comment on why Cindy Sheehan's anti-war protests weren't receiving as much media coverage now that Obama is in office: "Enough already" was the extent of his analysis.

My point is: if we want to salvage the grass-roots gains of those years, I think one of the best ways to do that is to make sure the social movements in Latin America aren't stifled by upcoming electoral challenges, not to mention brute force attacks like the Honduran coup.

The most useful thing we can take out of quality reporting like we find here at NarcoNews is intel that can inform our own actions to make a difference in the real-world.

Ok, end of rant.

In a related matter, the Latin American right-wing is mobilizing around a recent decision by the Nicaraguan Supreme Court which loosens term limits. Already, the right-wing is comparing the move to the "Venezuelan dictator" and "Zelaya" and we should be on alert to see what they plan to do there. The conservative minority of the Supreme Court has released a statement accusing the Sandinista majority of an "illegal conspiracy" to circumvent the Nicaraguan Constitution. Of course, the situation in Nicaragua is much different and the Sandinistas won't be so easily unseated. A serious protest was held at the US Embassy and the US Ambassador was protested at an event and had to be whisked away to safety, surrounded by guys in full body armor.

Huh?!

To the strange people who don't know me but are snipping at me: I'm who I claim to be. Arby is not my real name. But if you clicked on my link, instead of firing off easy accusations, you'd know I'm not Alci. And you'd learn my real name. I have no real problem with using it, but I also like to exercise a minimum, not a maximum, of caution when online, just to keep yahoo trouble makers away. I know I can't stop serious, tech savvy, trouble makers from causing me trouble.

One tiny post and some people not only know what I'm all about, but they get it completely wrong. 'If' I was rightwing - which you cannot logically derive from my posts - then you'd be right to suppose that my reference to 'special interests' had a rightwing meaning. Did it ever occur to you that just because the Right screws up language, that doesn't mean that it isn't still useful and that it can't be used as it should be? Sheesh! How about the lobbiests for insurance industries and medical companies right now making health care reform that would actually benefit (all of) the American people? If I called them special interests would you snippers interpret that as indicating that I'm rightwing?

There's not much online that I can point to that will persuade people about my non rightwing credentials, other than my blog and posts (using a shark avatar) you'll find on a half dozen websites (Toronto Star, Globe And Mail, CBC, In These Times, Canadian Dimension Magazine, Briarpatch Magazine, Rabble.ca, TVO's The Agenda), but I'll toss this out as well, since it's rather meaty: Dominico Pacittii, an Italian linguist and activist, like Chomsky, has interviewed Chomsky a number of times. After reading one such interview, I sent Dominico an email that he quite liked. He invited me to allow him to publish it to his website, which I didn't know about. Here's the link to my letter on Just Response: http://bit.ly/xQNd

You know, I didn't come here for this. I care about what's happening in Honduras.

@Al And Friggo.

"you're the same to me as the red-baiting McCarthyists on the right." I am simply voicing an opinion or point of view, I have not resorted to labeling anyone here with such radical titles, including yourself whom I have much respect for. The next few days will show if my worries were well founded or groundless.

Friggo, I have no idea what you're talking about. I equate the term "fascist shock troops" with the security forces Micheletti unleashed on the population. I have not linked anyone to sites celebraitng "peaceful arrests" in Honduras.

 

Solis - big or small, and Chomsky and beyond

@ Sampson

Good point! Of course, the last time we've had a labor secretary who was there to help labor instead of hurt it, the secretary in question ended up writing a book called 'Trapped in the Cabinet' or somesuch... (grin) But yeah, Labor Secretarty isn't GENERALLY a biggie.

But in this case, since 1) Honduras is in the US's extended sweatshop zone (how much of the coup was because Zelaya increased the minimum wage?) 2) Solis is Hispanic 3) Labor's still holding on to Obama hoping that they'll get theirs after healthcare, and 4) It's not Clinton's State Department,  I do think it's a positive step.

@alci and arby

Chomsky's analysis of how things are wrong is great. I've done mucho media work and trainings on corporate media filters, etc. But where he falls down is 'how do we get out of here.' Mr. Giordono, our host, is a flawed vessel like all of us, but his essential point that I've taken to heart again and again is that you can sit and bitch or you can pitch in and try to do something. And his other point - bottom up organizing is the place to start. I enjoy a good bitching; it's fun, we can revel in how much things suck, etc. But to stick there ain't gonna do it.

I've also come to believe that most worrying about ideological purity is counter-productive. Not to say that you should blind your analysis; Obama's stance on Wall Street as typified by his advisors is far too hands-off, and his stance on Afghanistan seems to be far too Pentagon-driven. But saying he's a corporate tool or an apologist for empire, while they have a kernel of truth, obscures the fact that he really seems to be aiming for a managed capitalist rather than a free-trade-fundamentalist economy. And a multilateral Western hegemony rather than a US military unilateralism.

Clear As Day?

The timeline seems clear, but I am not sure it really is. The National Unity Government is to be formed by 5 November but in a Presidential regime the selection the President is quite important. And the agreement does no specify who will be President on 5 November or even whether someone other than Micheletti will be President before whoever is elected on 29 November assumes office. The Verification Committee may be able to oblige the Honduran Congress to make a decision on whether or not to reverse the 28 June Coup but it does not seem they have the authority to compel them to make the decision before a given date or to come to a decision that will be acceptable to anyone else.

The determination and effectiveness of the Resistance Movement remains the only factors that may guarantee a democratic outcome.

Al, BTW, What's your take on the Colombian basis ratified by

Obama? I know you've been a big supporter of Obama, going to great lengths to give him the benefit of the doubt. Please dont take this as an attack or anything.  I truly respect your opinion and seriously would like to know your take on the Colombian bases, as well as the escalation of war in Afghanistan.  No much hope there either.

Paz.

@ Anthony

Anthony - Since its first day of publication, more than nine years ago, this newspaper's editorial position has been to end the US-imposed prohibition of drugs. That is obviously not (yet) the policy of Washington. The main pretext for US use of Colombian bases is that drug war. Of course I oppose that. This newspaper reported very closely over these years the successful efforts by the people of neighboring Ecuador to get rid of the US airbase at Manta.

I do find it tiresome that if I write about matters in Honduras, and express that Washington did something good (in this case appointing Solis to the commission), even in the context of all the times over the past five months I've slammed the State Department's wishy washy behavior toward the Honduras coup, there are some of a certain tendency who have apparent axes to grind and want to talk about anything but the situation in Honduras; whether that be Israel policies, health care or bases in Colombia.

What that suggests to me is that some only care about Honduras as a political football to play out their opinions about Obama. Whether that comes from the right or the left, whether it is pro or con, it basically says to the Honduran people "you don't matter to us except as a prop in a different agenda." And that is one of the main underpinnings of imperialism. Yes, even among the loudest "anti imperialists" there are imperialist assumptions and prejudices. And for the past five months, Honduras has been like a big Rorschach ink blot on which to impose their agendas. Some of the loudest anti-imperialists seem, to me, to be just as much imperialist as those on the right that admit it.

Timeline far from clear

Roger M. makes an excellent point above.  Nor does the timeline specify when the Congress needs to vote -- and the coup supporters in Congress are doing everything they can to delay.

Behind the scenes I hope the message is being clearly conveyed to Micheletti and more particularly to the military and the money men behind the coup that Zelaya must be restored to office before there an be any reversal of the big sanctions -- rejoining the OAS, restoring US military funding and cooperation (to the extent that it stopped), restoring IADB and CAIB loans, etc.

It's also high time for the military to withdraw from the street around the Brazilian embassy and to normalize comings and goings there.  As late as the weekend it was my understanding the nighttime floodlights continued. On Tuesday, Radio Globo reported that the military prevented Jorge Reina, Zelaya's appointee to the verification team, from entering the embassy.

The members of the verification commission are in an excellent position to demand normalization as they are among those needing to meet frequently with Zelaya and his team in the embassy.

Solis and Lagos must bear down and State must back them

More on the weaknesses of the agreement, which can only be corrected by very serious urgency on the part of the verification team.  The coup-makers have demonstrated their commitment to stalling all summer long, and the passivity of the U.S. government has been the chief factor in allowing that to happen.

I was very cheered by the administration's appointment of Solis to the verification commission, and I certainly hope that she and Lagos are not going to let the golpistas jerk the international community around. So far, it's hard to be encouraged.  Sure, it's only been a day or two, but there are only a few days to work with on this: the government of national unity is supposed to be announced today, and the OAS vote is scheduled for the 16th...

OAS vote

Nell - I see zero chance that the OAS will vote to admit Honduras if Zelaya is not restored first. True, it does remain to be seen if Washington walks its talk, but I don't think the larger OAS is about to play along with stalling tactics by the regime.

@ John Slade

John Slade - "1) Honduras is in the US's extended sweatshop zone (how much of the coup was because Zelaya increased the minimum wage?) "

 

John, the free zone maquilas and textile mills were exempt from Zelaya's wage increase supposedly to keep them from running to cheaper labor elsewhere and losing thousands of jobs.

Agreement fails?

The BBC is saying that the talks have failed, attributed to a spokesperson to Zelaya. Aparently his comments came after interim leader Roberto Micheletti said he was forming a "unity government" without Mr Zelaya's representatives. Some unity! But to be expected from that mob.

Does any one here have any more news?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8345899.stm

 

http://therealnews.com/t2/ind

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&I...

Samson above is right, setting the situation to fail. I suggest people read the first 4 issues of Narco News, th is just the same ole story, keep the drugs flowing to finance our large murder machine.

What is DeMint's angle?

@ Al or anybody else who has been following events in Honduras closely

I'm trying to figure out what to make of Jim DeMint releasing holds on two Obama administration nominees. TPM reports that he is releasing the holds after the Obama administration assured him that it would respect the results of the upcoming election. What has me suspicious is DeMint's statement:

"Thanks to the Obama administration's welcome reversal, the new government sworn into office next January can expect the full support of the United States and I hope the entire international community."

Reversal on what? With regard to upcoming elections, I wasn't aware that the Obama administration had any position to reverse. Normally I wouldn't give this a second thought, but when DeMint announces support for a policy, I immediately get suspicious. Does anybody know what his deal is?

@ Ernest

Ernest - I think DeMint needs a graceful way out of the "hold" he put on the nominees and is simply blowing smoke so as not to appear that he backed down.

Alternatively, if he's correct and the administration ends up recognizing November 29 elections in Honduras even without Zelaya's restitution and approval, expect all kinds of hell to break loose in US relations throughout the hemisphere, including with important allies like Brazil. Although there were some unfortunate words spoken the other day by undersecretary Shannon to that end, I don't see that as something that Washington can sustainably do, given the consequences for a great many relationships throughout these continents.

Zelaya's statement: agreement is dead

The U.S. government blew off a big chance to clarify its position after Shannon's remarks and DeMint's celebration of them.  Zelaya wrote to Sec. Clinton on Nov. 3, received no reply, and as of today considers the agreement dead.  That last link is the source of the BBC story mentioned in an earlier comment.

After a while, you just have to take them at their words

When Lew Amselem made his appalling remarks at the OAS meeting on September 28, no one at a higher level in the U.S. government took him to task.  In fact, P.J. Crowley at State said Amselem's statements, which included active opposition to an OAS resolution  of non-recognition for the elections without restitution of Zelaya, were consistent with U.S. policy.  In light of subsequent events, it appears that was entirely true.

Before Shannon was dispatched to Tegucigalpa, there were several reports that he was negotiating directly with Sen. Jim DeMint in an effort to get the holds released.  Shannon was the one who negotiated the deal in Honduras. No one at any level disowned his remarks to CNN Espanol.  Zelaya's letter to Clinton asking for clarification was met with silence, and DeMint released the holds.

In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that blessing the elections with or without Zelaya (hoping to be able to wash their hands of the situation) is the bottom-line U.S. policy.  Of course they preferred to have a figleaf restoration, and I have every confidence Solis actually believed that was what the Verification Commission was there to oversee.  But the bottom line is that the U.S. government was at no point willing to do what it would take to get the golpistas to back down.

If I were in a senior position in the Obama administration I'd sure as hell want to avoid looking as if a hard right minority (possibly backed by the national security apparatus) had the ability to bend the U.S. government's stated policy to its own.  That doesn't appear to concern Obama, Axelrod, Emanuel, or Clinton.

@ Nell

Nell - You might be right. You might also be wrong. It's a matter of interpretation.

It did come up: When State Department spokesman Ian Kelly was asked to clarify Shannon's remarks, this was the exchange:

QUESTION: It appears as though, as long as the congress agrees on something, you’re willing to accept it even it falls short of Zelaya being restored before the election.

MR. KELLY: I think what we’re saying is that we want the two parties to agree.

That can be read, just as much as your interpretation, as "if the two parties don't agree we won't recognize the elections." You don't know that it's not, just like I don't know that it is.

What I do know is that Washington's biggest concern is to end up on the winning side. To the extent we who are anti-coup talk like losers (i.e. "it's over, it was never going to happen, oh noes, we're doomed," with the accompanying activist left mantra of "we're always doomed") victory slips even farther away. Tactically it doesn't work to be a sad sack.

I think the wheel is still in spin. We'll see. Once it all goes down - and we'll know after November 29, if not before - we can make more informed interpretations as to what people really meant at this time.

 

Pessimism of the intellect...

Tactically it doesn't work to be a sad sack.

You're completely right there, and your optimism/triumphalism is indispensible for the struggle.

So I'm taking my cue from the resistance and Zelaya, who are both definitively rejecting the elections and looking beyond them to the longer struggle for a constituent assembly.

I'm also thinking about what it will take to loosen the grip of the "national security" apparatus on our government and on the population.

 

@ Harry re: maquila zones

Thanks for the info - I wasn't following Mel's progress much before the coup. Raising the minimum wage everywhere except those factories will have some spillover effect (why work for cheaper in the free trade zone when you can make more elsewhere) but if they were exempted that's too bad.

The intransigence of the golpistas is unfortunate.

What's been happening in the streets, I wonder? Have popular organizations continued to press? Have the thuggish behaviors of the coup leaders and the military calmed down?

More on "sad sacks"

Individual and group "self talk" is extremely powerful.  I think the most damaging thing the Right managed to inflict on the global left was the Reagan/Thatcher lie of TINA (There Is No Alternative).

This covered a variety of sub lies inflicted on the world over the last 30 years:

(1)  Globalization - no national brakes on transnational corporations.

(2)  Trickle down - Redistribution of taxes and income to rich states and individuals).

(3)  The War on Drugs VUCSA 1969 - Sweeping the economically disadvantaged into prisons as jobs go overseas.  This has the added advantage of removing poor people from the franchise.

(4)  Privatization - Corporate take over and looting of state assets, the "commons".  Corporate socialism.

One of the reasons the left often seems to be so envious of the right wing is their seemingly bottomless capacity for denial, dishonesty & hypocrisy exhibited in right wing "self talk" & behavior.  Just reading their comments on this week's election is typical.  Instead of interpreting the GOP wins in the New Jersey & Virginia governorships and simultaneous congressional loss of New York 21 to mean that only moderate Republicans can win, they seem to be continuing their Stalinist purge.

Resistance news

John Slade: What's been happening in the streets, I wonder? Have popular organizations continued to press? Have the thuggish behaviors of the coup leaders and the military calmed down?

A good English-language source on resistance activities are the dispatches of Oscar Estrada, a Honduran filmmaker and journalist, translated and posted by Adrienne Pine at quotha.net.  From his report of November 2, before the agreement collapsed:

:: After the departure of the U.S. delegation the troops have once again surrounded the diplomatic headquarters, once again carrying out psychological against the deposed leader. The army has not yet militarized schools and police are closely watching the resistance, and meanwhile last weekend 32 violent deaths and eleven kidnappings were reported, all products of organized crime.

The Resistance has called for an indefinite vigil outside the legislative palace with the aim of pressuring Congress, and as it delays and draws an ever-clearer picture of the mockery that the powerful are making of the people, the fear of increased repression grows. "If they attack us," a woman told me in the morning, "they will be sending a clear message that they don't plan to reinstate Mel." There have not been actions on the part of the police since last Thursday, but as the tension grows, it is feared that new human rights violations will occur. ::

Since then, after it became clear that the U.S. government is prepared to recognize the elections with or without Zelaya reinstated (Al might disagree, but no one in Honduras seems to believe otherwise), Zelaya and the resistance have explicitly rejected the elections.   Carlos Reyes has officially withdrawn his candidacy for president.

Activities have continued around the country outside Tegucigalpa, in accord with the decision at the national resistance conference in early September to develop local organization.  That will probably intensify now that the focus will be on boycotting and de-legitimizing the elections.  There's very little English-language reporting on resistance actions outside the capital.  You can get some idea of what's happening from posts on honduraslaboral.org (like this from Choloma recently) and voselsoberano.com, and occasionally from scouring Tiempo's coverage, but the best source is Radio Globo.   If any RG listeners see this: I'm sure reports on resistance activities would be welcomed by readers here.

Street demos in Tegucigalpa this week will be very tense.

Speaking of which, there's a demo tomorrow (Tuesday 11/10) in DC, in front of the State Department at 12:15pm to object to U.S. support for the elections without Zelaya as president.

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About Al Giordano

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Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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