Today, I present to all readers, Pamela Fernandez, a university colleague of mine from Honduras who was nice enough to email me a incredibly well articulated analysis of the situation going on down in Honduras. The original message arrived in my mail box last night at 1:18 am, June 29, 2009 – Eastern Standard Time.
I feel the media has done a terrible job in reporting the events that took place yesterday in Honduras. A friend of a friend mainly wrote the following 8 points. I have edited them out a bit and added the translation of the constitution article. Below you’ll find my views.
1. The event this morning should be taken as an arrest against a Honduran citizen, Manuel Zelaya, who broke the constitutional Honduran law in multiple occasions over the last few days. This SHOULD NOT be taken as a Coup d’état.
TRANSLATION – Article 239.- The citizen that has been the head of the Executive Branch cannot be President or Vice-President again.
Whoever violates this law or proposes its reform, as well as those that support such violation directly or indirectly, will immediately cease in their functions and will be unable to hold any public office for a period of 10 years.
2. The vast majority of Hondurans firmly oppose Manuel Zelaya and are in favor of his arrest.
3. The current news being portrayed in international networks appear to be heavily tilted toward a contrarian view of most Hondurans.
4. The majority of Hondurans are not in favor of Manuel Zelaya and are extremely proud of our congress and military for their stance in favor of democracy and peace.
5. The events happening today were caused by an attempt by Manuel Zelaya to manipulate our country and its constitution to fulfill his ultimate goal of remaining in power indefinitely.
6. The world should be proud of Honduras as we are the first Latin-American country to stand against a tyrannical leader who has tried to topple democracy and peace in our country.
7. Declarations made by Hugo Chavez should be discredited immediately. He should, as President Obama said, allow Hondurans to solve this issue through open communication following LEGAL processes.
8. It is ONLY in the interest of Honduras and its citizens that democracy prevails.
• The economic growth the country experienced in 2006 was a result of the previous government not of Mel’s. The country is now in as much debt as it was before. After a GDP growth of 6% in the 2005, according to the World Bank it is expected to fall to about 2% in 2009.
• In December 2008, Mel decided to raise the minimum wage by 60% against the economists and private sector advice. The government itself will not be able to pay the public employees including teachers and doctors next year. It has resulted in a higher than unemployment rate and it is expected to rise even more in 2010.
• The public higher education system cannot afford to pay the university professors under the new minimum. The professors went on strike for two months and the issue still undresolved.
• After the recent earthquake Mel denied the severity of the damages in port city of Puerto Cortes and never declared a state of emergency in the country. In previous years, he had also undermined the impact of floods and hunger stricken south.
• There were no reported cases of swine flu in Honduras before the OAS summit in San Pedro Sula. Once the summit was over the cases jumped from 0 to 118 as confirmed by the BBC. But the Health Ministry says there are 1,000 cases.
• According to the Observatorio Centro Americano de la Violencia, the there are 42 homicides per 1,000 inhabitants; the international rate is 8.8. In average, there are at least 12 violent deaths per day, the highest in Central America.
• According to the 2004 World Bank report, 50% of the population lived under the poverty line and 36.2% below the extreme poverty line 36.2%. The World Food Program estimated it at 73% in 2008; currently the BBC reports a 70% in the country profile.
• The country’s budget for the 2009 fiscal year was never made, some argue there’s no money and that’s why Mel would not make it.
• No body really knows how many millions of Lempiras and possibly dollars were spent on publicity for the referendum.
• Mel was paying people to vote “Yes” in the referendum.
• Hugo Chaves, Correa, Elbo and Ortega are currently in Nicaragua holding an emergency meeting of the ALBA and Central American nations. Chavez said that he would respect Honduras’ sovereignty and would not make a military intervention.
• The referendum materials were sent from Venezuela.
• Mel would have done an “auto” Coup against the congress and the military today if the Public Ministry (not the military) had tried to stop the voting.
• Based on a reported increase flow of Nicaraguans into Honduras: hundreds of Nicaraguan soldiers crossed the border on Friday and Saturday disguised as civilians.
• Chavez is planning to do a military intervention in Honduras. Still, his discourse last night was borderline offensive.
All that said, the president of congress Roberto Micheletti was sworn as interim president promising and making it a decree to hold the general elections on November 29th as scheduled and give the power to the elected president on January 27th. The military is not in power, they just did their job and defended the constitution.
Of course, there are plenty of sketchy things in the whole process. For example, Mel’s resignation letter, which he denies writing, the fact that Micheletti was running for president but lost the primaries are just a few; and the fact that TV, radio, and internet were cut in the main cities for couple of hours during the coup. Also a fact, not every Honduran likes Micheletti but not every Honduran likes Mel. We are trying to pick the lesser of 2 evils.
I’m not against the citizens’ right to give their opinion in the referendum but the Electoral Institute was not supervising it. I, as are many Hondurans, am aware of the social injustice and the extreme poverty in my country. We feared and questioned the transparency of the process. We also believe, and know, that Mel was acting on his interest and not that of the country.
I’m not happy that we have come to this but now we can only wonder what would have happened if Mel had gone ahead with the referendum. From my point of view, the assurance of elections in November makes this a move in favor of democracy and not one against it. Sadly, the international community does not see it this way. The UN, OAS, EU and US want Mel back because he was democratically elected, Honduras doesn’t want him back because he was trying to interrupt the democratic process by staying longer as a president.
Honduras is in peace right now, nobody died, very few were hurt, after some riots by Mel’s supporters yesterday there’s no civil unrest. The curfew is not against civil liberties it is meant to prevent riots and such from happening. In case that rumors are true and Hugo Chavez tries to use military force in Honduras, we hope and pray… I hope he doesn’t and hope we can get back solving the real problems of the country.
The good thing in all of this? I want to believe that Hondurans will wake up and take a more active role in politics. That hopefully the corrupt politicians will take a hint and realize that the “people” as Mel said can stand up against them when need it.
If you read this much, THANK YOU very much,
Pamela Fernandez is graduate of American University who specializes in visual media and film studies. You can learn more about Pamela and see some of her work at her personal site — http://www.pamelafer.com/