América Held Hostage: Day Two of the Coup in Honduras

By Al Giordano

During the 2002 coup in Venezuela by an alliance of military generals, corporate media, that country's disgraced political class and the Bush administration in Washington, our colleague (and victorious codefendant) Mario Menéndez Rodríguez spoke some words to me that I've never forgotten:

"You will know the true character of a person by his actions during an hour of moral crisis."

As the coup-plotters in Honduras (similarly of a military-media-political class alliance, but this time without the support of Washington) enter their second day of temporary power with the rejection of the entire hemisphere and planet upon them, and the inconformity of the Honduran people (who defied martial law last night to erect barricades in the streets and otherwise resist the coup), we can observe "the true character" of various media and political voices across the political spectrum.

Let's start with the "newspaper of record," the New York Times, which in 2002 at first editorialized in praise of the Venezuelan coup, only to be forced to publish an unprecedented correction and apology (in large part urged by an email campaign sparked by readers of Narco News) for its initial anti-democratic position.

This time, the Timesmen are more circumspect, acknowledging that there was indeed a coup d'etat in Honduras, but they're having a very hard time wrapping their Columbia School of Journalism-addled brains around the reality that Washington is on the same page as Caracas and the rest of the hemisphere's democracies in opposing the coup. In what is billed as a "news analysis," titled "Rare Hemisphere Unity in Assailing Honduran Coup," Simon Romero, who holds the Gray Lady's Juan Forero seat in defense of oligarchies, Romero tries to come to grips with the new geopolitical realities of our América. He almost pulls it off, but then the fangs come out:

And while governments in the region may reject military ousters much more easily than, say, the civilian demonstrations that forced democratically elected leaders to resign earlier this decade in Argentina and Bolivia, the Obama administration has also shifted the way in which Washington reacts to such events.

In other words, Romero equates mostly peaceful acts of civil resistance by societies with those of violent military coups d'etat if social movements cause the resignation of a president. The means mean nothing, to Romero, compared to the ends. (There were, in the United States in 1974, a certain similar group of crazies that thought President Nixon's resignation was akin to a coup, too.) In those words is Romero's "tell," in poker terms, of how exasperating he finds this situation. It's unfamiliar to him, and to so many, that Washington would, for the first time, side against an oligarchic coup in Latin America. The only handle of hope Romero can grasp onto now is to try and lump nonviolent civil resistance (what the US Constitution calls "redress of grievances") of the kind that has changed our América for the better in recent years in with the violent actions of military gorillas at the bidding of the upper classes.

That the New York Times struggles bombastically to adjust to new realities shouldn't surprise anyone. Big, lumbering and bureaucratic institutions, including those in the corporate media, don't adapt well to change and consider it instinctually as threatening.

But there has also been a very similar dynamic in response to the new reality from some corners of the left (this is very similar to - in some cases overlapping with - responses we recently covered to the crisis in Iran, too).

Over just 24 hours, we have seen certain colleagues first claim that if there is a coup in Latin America, Washington must be behind it. Then when Washington - in contrast to the Bush administration's cheerleading reaction to the 2002 coup in Venezuela - rejected the coup plotters' scam that the removed president had "resigned," that line of critique began moving the goal posts. Okay, some said, Washington says it opposes the coup but it hasn't denounced it strongly enough!

They sound like John McCain scolding the Obama administration for not denouncing the regime in Iran with sufficient testosterone.

My point is this: Look at Simon Romero's spin in the NY Times, and deduce where it is coming from: He is fundamentally uncomfortable with a situation in which an overreaching oligarchy in Latin America can't count on Washington for support of its violent coup against a left-leaning government. And in some corners of the left, there are counterparts to Romero that have the exact same unease, only from an equal and opposite direction.

For years we (this newspaper included) have justifiably denounced it when US foreign policy got out ahead of the democratic aspirations of Latin Americans and began dictating what other countries should do through tough talk and open blackmail. Such "cowboy diplomacy" was inherently anti-democratic and imperialistic.

Today, when Washington has taken the opposite stance, there are some misguided voices that express upset with that, too. First, because they are deprived of the same easy-to-navigate script that has allowed them to drive on automatic pilot for so many years. It's confusing to some to have to navigate new terrain, even if it is improved terrain. Second, without the bogeyman of Washington to blame as the root of all evil in the hemisphere, they are at an exasperated loss for an enemy to demonize. (One would think that the Honduran oligarchy, or the capitalist system, alone would be a sufficiently bad actor to cast in the role of devil - indeed, they are the source of this coup d'etat - but for some it appears to involve too much heavy lifting to educate and inform the public of that reality.) They seem surprisingly nostalgic for the old Uncle Sam as the villain in every movie.

I should add that Washington's clear opposition to the coup plotters in Honduras - and its unambiguous stance that it will not recognize any president other than the elected one, Manuel Zelaya - is immensely demoralizing to the Honduran oligarchy and its own cast of upper class esqualidos, or "squalid ones."

Since demoralizing the enemy is one of the first rules of battle, one would think that all intelligent opponents of the coup would find this development - Washington's clear rejection of the coup - very satisfying, for it will speed the collapse of the coup. Reading the "oh noes" Twitter comments from coup defenders, their heads exploding over Obama's opposition to their coup, should be gratifying enough. But some are so addicted to the comfort of the past roadmap that they fail to think strategically about how this coup will be dismantled most quickly and bloodlessly.

Complaints that Washington hasn't acted fast enough to denounce the Honduran coup are silly and ignorant on the face of them. The Obama administration has already acted faster - in a single day - than the Organization of American states acted when it denounced the 2002 coup in Venezuela. In fact, Washington was very much involved in yesterday's OAS statement, which it endorsed.

One can in fact read in the transcript of yesterday's conference call with "two senior administration officials" (since I wasn't party to the call I've made no agreement not to note that they sound a lot like Thomas Shannon and Dan Restrepo, the latter of whom did most of the talking) that the US was out in front of the OAS as an organization, and participated positively in steering it toward its unanimous statement.

These are exact quotes from those senior officials. And while no reporter should ever take the words of any official as gospel, these refer to a collective process with other OAS governments that, had they been untrue, would have already been denied by the other governments, including Venezuela, that also worked together on the OAS statement rejecting the coup. Therefore, astute observers can be certain that they offer an accurate recount of events of the past 24 hours:

"...we’ve been working in the OAS Permanent Council towards a consensus resolution that will condemn the effort to depose President Zelaya of Honduras, calling for his return to Honduras and for full restoration of democratic order. Although that resolution is not done yet, but I think it shows how quickly the OAS under the leadership of a variety of key countries, the United States included, has responded to this event and how relevant the OAS, and in particular the Inter-American Charter, has been in determining how the OAS and the regional countries respond to this kind of event..."

In other words, rather than come out blasting with "cowboy diplomacy," Bush-style, Washington sought and found consensus with the other nations of the hemisphere. This is unprecedented, and is to be cheered. It is also a more effective path to more quickly dismantle the coup. When the US and Venezuela, among other nations, can come to agreement on a unified strategy via the OAS, that strategy is going to be more effective than merely having a US president shoot from the hip, given the long bad history of US meddling in Latin America's sovereign affairs.

The senior US officials also said:

"It’s profoundly regrettable that that was not the case and that this morning the military moved against President Zelaya, detaining him, and then expelling him from the country to Costa Rica. As noted, we’ve condemned this action. We view President Zelaya as the constitutional president of Honduras, and we’ve called for a full restoration of democratic order in Honduras. And we will continue to work with our partners in the OAS and elsewhere to ensure that that happens...

"...our ambassador in a public press conference called for the release of all officials who have been detained, demanding that Honduran authorities release them immediately...

"We have been attempting to communicate with especially members of congress and others who have been driving this process, and insisting that they need to step down and restore full democratic and constitutional order....

"We recognize Mel Zelaya as the democratically elected and constitutional president of Honduras. We see no other...

"I believe the word 'coup' will be used in the OAS resolution. And I would certainly characterize a situation where a president is forcibly detained by the armed forces and expelled from a country an attempt at a coup. We – I mean, we still see him as the constitutional president of Honduras. So it was an attempt at a coup. We don’t think it was successful...

"...once the forces that have conducted this act in Honduras recognize and understand how isolated they are and how committed the region is to restoring democratic order, that they’ll see they have no choice but to do so...

" was the armed forces that detained the president today and expelled him from the country. But as we’re seeing now with the naming of an interim president by the congress, this was an effort that has included other political institutions..."

Some who complain that somehow those words aren't strong enough, or tough enough, or macho enough, are - really, they should look in the mirror and admit it - full of a kind of perverted and twisted line of thought that wishes the US would return to its bullying role in the hemisphere. (Again: Whether it's because they really don't understand that such unilateral meddling by Washington in Latin American affairs is what we're against, or because they don't know how to formulate a narrative without casting the US as the "chico malo" of the movie, it reveals their own vast shortcomings and weaknesses as strategists and tacticians more than it says anything about the current situation.)

Of course, what some will claim - again errantly - is that I'm merely being some kind of apologist for the Obama administration here. But no apology is needed nor given. I'll simply remind that when Obama policy toward Latin America is wrongheaded, as with its support for Plan Mexico and its Calderon regime - no news source has been more frequently critical of those Obama policies than Narco News. One need only browse the 436 instances in which we have criticized that harmful US policy regarding Mexico, to see that when Washington is wrong or harmful, we spare no punches and take a back seat to none of its critics. Not one of the poor souls that has made that claim, by the way, has done any heavy lifting at all in opposition to Plan Mexico; they're all talk, no action.

No, what I'm saying is that if we are to effectively dismantle the Honduras coup, we need to use an accurate road map of how that coup came to be and who is really behind it, just as we did when participating in the undoing of the 2002 Venezuela coup.

Inventing convenient untruths while doing that only muddies the waters. It also loses the credibility any publication or writer needs to have any impact at all. The public is not stupid. Most can see when one is trying to "fool the crowd" in a moment of crisis. It bears repeating the words of our colleague Mario, quoted atop these words: "You will know the true character of a person by his actions during an hour of moral crisis."

In this hour, those that adhere strictly to the documented facts are those that are showing character worth trusting, today and into the future. Others are squandering that credibility just as badly as NY Timesman Simon Romero fritters away his own. We leave it to the public to sort out the conflicting claims, and to the authentic coup opponents to draw the accurate roadmap that successfully defeats this anti-democratic and violent coup d'etat.





It seems so odd to me

Help me understand why it is the coup plotters didn't know in advance that Obama wasn't going to express support of their efforts.  Were they so busy organizing all the details that they forgot to pay attention to the new tune being sung by Washington?

Fidel's reflection on the Honduran coup

Thanks for your reporting and analysis. Very helpful reports and observations. Here are Fidel's observations, which dovetail yours:

Best wishes,


Walter Lippmann

You're getting soft in your old age, Al. The New York Times deserved a much more severe beating than you administered.

To quote what I blogged, "Here’s a line from their article by Elizabeth Malkin: The last coup in the region occurred in Guatemala in 1983, when the military overthrew the government headed by Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt. They should get someone who knows a little bit about the region. Not only was Rios Montt the guy who did the overthrowing, the last Central American coup was in Panama, led by the US against Manuel Noriega. Not to mention that if you let your eyes stray a few hundred miles toward the Caribbean, there’s Haiti, another US coup target. " 


Simon Romero isn't as factually careless, but for him to call the reported kidnapping of ambassadors an "affront" or to say the CIA was "aware" of the coup plot against Chavez ahead of time, to take two examples, is well into the realm of official propaganda.


But thanks for delivering a few strokes of the cane to the tender parts of a newspaper which competes mightily with the Washington Post for the worst Latin American coverage in the hemisphere.


(To preserve the integrity of the Narcosphere, Charles is the pen name under which I write about politics and have done ever since 9/11).

Is it a Coup?

There is no mechanism in the Honduran Constitution to remove an executive from power. At the same time, the Honduran Constitution is very clear that the actions of the President were unconstitutional. So, what do you do with a President who issues orders against the Constitution?

Either The President was going to get away with ignoring the constition or the Congress and Supreme Court are going to get away with removing the President.

The proper course of action would have been to arrest the President and let it play out in the courts. 

Both parties are wrong. but in this case, 2 against one, and the military decided to listen to the Congress and Judicial branches over the Executive branch. In that sense, calling this a coup is a minomer and inflammatory.

@ Bloodstar - It Is a Coup

Bloodstar - You claim:

"There is no mechanism in the Honduran Constitution to remove an executive from power."

That's false: There is indeed an impeachment process set forth by the Honduran constitution. But the political class - the congress, the court and the army, acting together - violently kidnapped the president before it initiated any such proceeding.

Furthermore, the Congress broke the law when it installed a new president instead of having the vice president rise in his place. That certainly is the marking of a coup.

You claim:

"the Honduran Constitution is very clear that the actions of the President were unconstitutional."

That's false: President Zelaya obeyed the Supreme Court order against a binding referendum, and changed it to a non-binding one, which was not expressly prohibited by any court.

Now that both your key claims have been demonstrated as the falsehood, you need to be honest and call it what it is, a coup d'etat, illegal and violent, and acknowledge that the Constitution requires that Zelaya return to his elected post.

Obama's Strategic Thinking

Al --

Could you spread any light on what's going on with those actions of the Administration that are hard to understand? Why do you suppose Obama took the wrong side in Mexico? Why does he seem to be on the side of state secrecy, more and more, whereas he campaigned against it? And what's going on in the Middle East? Obama stands up to Netanyahu and the Israeli fanatical right. Then Bibi appears to thumb his nose at us, almost challenging Obama to a showdown. And then, just a week or so later, it seems Israel is backing off, at least in part. What's going on? What leverage does Obama hold and how is he deploying it?

Thanks, in advance, for any insight you have regarding these questions.

Obviously Honduras

I sincerely appreciate the independent reporting Mr. Giardano, and it's certainly refreshing to have someone attempt to dispell the potential misconptions that I, myself, hold. Perhaps I am hopelessly trapped in Dirty War era thinking, but it is hard for me to shake off the notion that these events at least enjoyed some tacit acceptance by the U.S. My observations are admittedly superficial; this is why I am phrasing this as an inquiry into why I am wrong rather than attempting to assert anything. While I certainly agree that the Obama administration's public statements regarding this coup has been markedly different than the Bush administrations glee over Venezuela in 2002, it is hard to ignore that the current U.S. regime has an entirely different different approach to public and international relations than the previous one. Constantly running for re-election, one can hardly except Obama not to issue "lukewarm" condemnations and demonstrate a dedictation to multi-lateral policy. The conference call you cited seems to be riddled with overt pronunciation of these measures, as the Senior officials verbally pat themselves on their backs for behaving in such a congenial fashion. Moreover, from my rudimentary understanding of the military circumstances in Honduras, the standing U.S. military forces there work directly with the military of Honduras. The head of the Honduran military was trained at the School of the Americas, which has pretty prolific reputation for establishing long lasting contact with high level military officials. These would appear to signal to me that the U.S. was at least aware of the coming coup attempt and did little to prevent it. Most fundementally, however, despite what procedural differences the Obama administration and the one preceeding it have, they are both reliant on funding from multi-national corporations. The econmic advantage to be derived for some of these corporations from a sucessful Honduran coup which increases the level of exploitation is substantial. There still exists a convergence of economic interest between the Honduran oligarchy and the American political class. To an untrained observer such as myself, the combination of the aforementioned factors make it seem like the U.S. is trying to maintain a facade of the good neighbor policy while silently appreciating the benefits to be reaped from this recent development. I hope your response will provide me with further clarity to override these assumptions. 

@ Jim

Jim - I think this is another case of "hearing a car backfire and thinking it's a gunshot."

Let's watch it play out over the coming hours and days. If the coup stands and multinational corporations start having a field day under the new regime, then I'll revisit your hypothesis.

However, if - as I observe - this coup's days are numbered, in large part because the US is united with the rest of the hemisphere opposing it, then I think Washington will share in the credit for overturning the coup and restoring Zelaya. If that happens - and, again, I believe that is what is happening - it's going to be time to reassess previous presumptions.

We've reported, for years, the role of the School of the Americas and I do think you misunderstand one thing: SOA trains military officials from Latin America. But once they've graduated, while the US government may collaborate with them via other agencies, SOA has no hands-on role with them. It may have trained them in terrible and brutal tactics, but it doesn't then administrate them later on. That would require active involvement from the current administration, of which there is no evidence, and plenty of evidence to the contrary.

Reuters reports the non-binding nature of the vote

Reuters managed to correctly identify the vote as non-binding (even as their story's headline tried to imply that only lefties are in the OAS, as well as implying that their opinions don't count):

 The coup followed a week of tension when Zelaya, a Chavez ally who took office in 2006, angered the Honduran Congress, Supreme Courtand army by pushing for a public vote to gauge support for changing the constitution to let presidents seek re-election beyond a single four-year term.

In previous English-language accounts, the public vote -- which Zelaya said all along was a non-binding vote -- was depicted as an actual vote or referendum to change the Constitution.

If Zelaya's so horribly unpopular, as the US news accounts imply, then why did his political foes need to launch their coup to thwart the holding of a non-binding vote?  Why not let the vote happen and show the world that everyone hates Zelaya's guts? 

Answer:  Because, of course, it's simply not true that everyone in Honduras hates Zelaya's guts.  If they did, there would be big parades and the coup plotters would be broadcasting pics of smiling happy Hondurans to the world.  Instead, they're going Full Metal Khameinei and shutting down not just the phone lines, but even the electrictity, so that it's difficult for Hondurans to tell the outside world what's happening -- and the few pictures that are getting through are not showing smiling and happy Hondurans.

Jim:   Because of their



Because of their Cold War-era training at the School of the Americas, it's highly probable that the plotters could not imagine a day when the United States would NOT support a coup against a leftist government and simply acted on their own, expecting to be congratulated on their fait accompli. What a pleasant surprise our government's denunciation has been, and this is coming from someone who has no particularly soft feelings for Obama.

Military to military ties continue after SoA

Al: But once they've graduated, while the US government may collaborate with them via other agencies...

Military-to-military ties are maintained through joint training exercises, among other things.  Honduras being one of the many countries where there is a sizable permanent U.S. military base (600 troops), there are even more frequent opportunities for mil-to-mil relationship-building.  If they've participated in one of our "coalition of the willing" imperial adventures, more opportunities. Etc.

Or not.

To me, the part where Gen. Vasquez and friends just stopped taking our calls is the least plausible passage of the "senior administration officials" briefing.  But if a government has let the ties atrophy, it can happen. 


New Entry from Bricker on the Narcopshere

Honduras' First Full Day Under Coup Rule

Foreign TV Channels Blocked, Violence Outside Presidential Palace

If find it hard to believe that elements of the US state apparat

us were not involved. That's not, however, the same thing as Obama being on board before the fact. God only knows what goes on in that embassy and the military base. And the people in charge of them, BTW, are holdovers from Bush or before...probably in a lot better touch with the local oligarchs and reactionary Miami exiles than anyone in this White House.

I hope you're correct

Al, thank you for taking the time to respond so promptly. I definitely hope you're right about the coming events in Honduras. It would be a powerful indicator of the ability of generalized public opinion to impact geopolitical events. The multilateral nature of the Obama administration's public approach already signals that they are keenly aware of their need to pander to progressives and the world. Although its still hard to take anything said by the current administration at face value, some concrete developments in the direction that you suggest would certainly mean that there is some substance behind all that lip service. The wait and see method does seem to be a more reasonable way to analyze these events.

The only confounding factor I can perceive for your proposal is that in 2002 the Venezuelan coup failed despite U.S. acceptance, due in large part to popular support for Chavez. Do you think that similar movements in Honduras are inconsequential enough that we can viably attribute whatever developments to the expression of U.S. interests? The Kristen Bricker report, at least my reading of it, makes the popular unrest seem comparable to Venezuela.


On a less relevant note, I think my misunderstanding about the School of the Americas is more connected to my inability to express myself accurately. My understanding of the SOA is that they lay the ground work for other organizations to utilize their former students, not that the school directly influences their behavior post-training. Perhaps even this is a gross misunderstanding of the mattter, but would you agree that there is a likely link between Vasquez, Suazo and the American command that they engage with to perform joint "humanitarian" operations. I feel such a link would make at least awareness by the U.S. miltary concerning the actions planned by their Honduran counter-parts more probable.  

Reports of Two Battallions Turning Against Coup Gov't

Al Giordano now translates incoming reports that two of Honduras’ military battalions have turned against the coup regime over at the Narcosphere:

Thank you, Al...

Putting a few more ducats in the cup for your outstanding reporting and insight, Al...

We long-time Fieldhands know that as knowledgeable as you are about U.S. national politics and social organizing history, you are even more so about the "other" Americas...

We have GOT to get you on radio/TV and NarcoNews stand head and shoulders above everyone else will we know any more than sound bites about issues of such importance to our hemisphere?

I hope you know how much you are appreciated...


waterprise2 AKA Pam

Liberal with a Capital L!


This article is wrong.

I don't agree with your arguments at all about the US not being behind the coup. First off just because Obama condemns the actions does not bring Zelaya back to power. Secondly he never says he supports bringing Zelaya back to power only lower level officials have said as much and while earlier I had read reports that said that Clinton had stated such a thing, the recent NY Times article says she came close but didn't say that Zelaya should be reinstated.

It has been reported in the NY Times that Washington knew about the coup ahead of time and attempted to pursuade them against doing it but failed. Does that sound like a real possibility? The US has total control over the Honduras economy and especially the military. The general in charge had been trained at the school of the Americas. If the US was saying don't go through with it we won't support you and they did it anyway then all the coup leaders are suicidal.

What is more likely the situation is the US told them we will condemn the act itself, because we have to act like we are different now, but we won't punish you and if you quickly restore order and come up with an excuse then we will eventually accept your new leadership and will not bring any economic sanctions against you in the meantime. According to the article above you would consider me an old school idiot for feeling this way but there isn't a single good reason why the US would change its actions in Latin America other than trying to give a face lift to it.

Honduras is critical to the US. It was there bannanna republic, secure and a base for operations and control in the region. It is also the home of the future dry canal, a strategic interest that will be incredibly valuable in the future. They had to stop the slippery slope of elections and new constitutions before Honduras became formally a progressive leftist country.

An argument could be made that the old oligarchy and elite of the country acted on their own but in whose interests did they act? First and formost the interests of the US, which is where many of the rich and powerful truly feel they belong. In my travels in Latin America I have noticed that the rich of those countries hate their country and adore the US in near totality. Perhaps it is just the US brand acting without order from its parent company.

I doubt that is the case, there is too much need by the US to maintain control in Honduras. The US definately approved the coup and more than likely planned the entire thing. To consider history, for the US not to be involved would be atypical.

The thing is the US might find itself doubly rewarded for its mild mannered talk and fake acts of concern. They stopped the vote on the referendum from going forward and it is highly unlikely it will happen now. If Zelaya gets reinstated to power he becomes a lame duck or else gets immediately removed again. All in all it would seem that the coup will turn out successful and I'm certain no one will find significant punishment, whether they actually win or not.

We should all stand in solidarity with Zelaya and the people and especially for the vote for a new constitution. The plans of Zelaya don't mean unlimited power for the president but it certainly may mean a new path for the poor and unempowered. We should also take the opportunity to condemn the US for their weak action and non-action with outrage. If our government passively allows coups it is just as bad as if it actively encourages them. In fact it might be worse because it may mean that the corporations and oligarchy feel strong enough to defiantly act on their own without using the government to do their evil deeds for them. That can only mean bad news for the rest of us.

@ Bruce

Bruce - And if the efforts underway succeed in restoring Zelaya to power in the coming weeks or even days, will you then reassess your presumptions? I'll bet you fifty bucks that Micheletti doesn't last two weeks!


Al, you must've had a chuckle or two at media accounts of Secretary Clinton's "surprising" State Department press conference today. They all seemed to stress the fact that she "went further" than the US previously had...and they're still gob-smacked by the "plain-spoken" and "un-diplomatic" nature of her statements on key issues like Iran, Honduras, Palestine etc..

How long till they see the pattern, eh?

Why, the WSJ was shocked - shocked! - that "Clinton is on the same page as Venezuela’s leftist president, Hugo Chavez, a frequent antagonist of the U.S." Heh-heh.

can the US foreclose radicalized options?

First- congrats to Al and the Narcosphere team for their excellent job. This blog seems to be the only source which is keeping a watching brief on the coup and the post coup situation.

The more I reflect on the situation the more convinced I am that the consequences of the golpe are not what the golpistas imagined.  There is a possibility that the coup will radicalize positions within Nicaragua and seriously undermine the empire in the Americas. The news of posible splits within the armed forces must be particularly worrying, and the vulnerability of large sections of Honduran manufacturing to trade boycotts and interruptions would be another nightmare.

I would imagine that Obama et al must be trying very hard to find ways of intervening to foreclose the outcomes of radicalization. Whether the US has the capacity (much diminished these last few years0  to do this nowadays is another matter.

Opposing the coup has given Obama more capacity

In contrast to Barry Carr, I think that the Obama administration's prompt unity with other governments of the region in opposing the coup will give them some additional goodwill and leverage in efforts to damp down polarization.  I don't have anywhere near enough of a grasp on the situation inside Honduras to assess how likely they'd be to succeed in that (a coup is a pretty polarizing event, after all). 

But the new president in El Salvador is very Obama-like.  And I can't think that this week will have hurt the relationship between the Obama administration and Chavez.

Administration Stance wise, but can't forget Zelaya's power grab

Great article I read a lot of blogs and a lot of comments and it is refreshing to see someone lay out actual analysis. Informed opinions are hard to come by. I am happy that the administration is moving away from the "big stick" foreign policy of the Bush years. I think President Obama's stance is the right choice given our rich tradition of destabilizing Latin American countries for our own gain. However, we can't ignore the reason for the coup, Zelaya was attempting to alter the constitution to extend his term. Here is more a really informative story about it:

@ Rosa

Rosa - What you call a "power grab" is not as you portray it. I have just finished correcting a similar misstatement, via Andrew Sullivan's blog at The Atlantic, which I'll repeat here and should make you better informed so as not to keep repeating a basic falsehood:


President Zelaya did not "go forward with his plans nonetheless." He respected the Supreme Court ruling against a *binding* referendum, and then changed it to a *nonbinding* referendum, on which the courts never made any ruling at all.

It was that *nonbinding* referendum that the coup plotters sought to preempt, timing the coup on the day of the election. The entire text of that nonbinding question was:

"Do you think that the November 2009 general elections should include a fourth ballot box in order to make a decision about the creation of a National Constitutional Assembly that would approve a new Constitution?"

And if they're so convinced that the Honduran people don't support the idea of reforming the constitution - as all true democracies allow - why then did they choose election day for the coup?

To suggest that a people democratically choosing to reform their country's constitution is somehow undemocratic (or a "power grab," as you term it) is absurd. That fails every reasonable test of what is democracy and what is not.


What's the Book

Does anyone have any idea what book Micheletti is swearing on in the picture above? Just curious.

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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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