The meetings held yesterday in Nicaragua by Latin American and Caribbean nations concluded late in the evening. The ALBA nations, Rio Group, Central American nations and CARICOM (Caribbean nations) unanimously condemned the coup against President Zelaya in Honduras, called for his immediate and unconditional reinstatement to the presidency and for an investigation to be conducted into human rights violations that have been committed by the coup forces in place since Sunday.
The Central American nations and ALBA nations also recalled their ambassadors from Honduras and cut all diplomatic ties until President Zelaya is restored to power. The countries bordering Honduras, which are Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador, suspended all commercial activity and border traffic for 48 hours. Brasil also recalled its ambassador from Honduras and cut relations, as did Peru, which by the way is governed by right-winger Alan Garcia.
At the conclusion of last night's meetings in Managua, President Zelaya announced he will return on Thursday to Honduras, accompanied by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza, and a delegation of regional heads of state. This morning, President Cristina Fernandez of Argentina announced she will be a part of that delegation on Thursday.
Zelaya is expected to speak today before the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City. The UN has already issued a unanimous declaration condemning the coup and calling for Zelaya's immediate and unconditional reinstatement to the presidency. Zelaya will also be present at the special meeting convened today in Washington by the Organization of American States (OAS). It is expected that at this meeting, the OAS will suspend Honduras' membership from the regional body, a move set to severely isolate the coup government and encourage it (if not force it) to step down and allow for democracy to be restored.
There is still a curfew and media blackout imposed in Honduras. Yesterday's protests left several dead and hundreds wounded and detained by military forces.
The coup government, led by dictator Roberto Micheletti, still refuses to acknowledge its actions as illegal and in clear violation of Honduran and international law. They have stated that they are trying to communicate with the OAS and UN to "explain" the "truth" about what has happened in the country, still standing by their initial position regarding the events that have taken place since Sunday. The coup government continues to insist a "coup d'etat" has not occurred and that their violent and illegal actions have been in the "name of democracy".
Major international media are still reporting the reason behind Sunday's coup as an alleged "reelection" attempt by President Zelaya. But in reality, Sunday's scheduled opinion poll was not a reelection bid by Zelaya, it was a non-binding consultation with the people of Honduras, backed by more than 800,000 signatures from Honduran citizens that would merely consider the possibility of adding a 4th issue to the election ballot this coming November, when presidential elections are to be held. The question posed for Sunday's poll was:
"Do you agree that, during the general elections of November 2009 there should be a fourth ballot to decide whether to hold a Constitutional Assembly that will approve a new political constitution?"
As you can see, this makes no mention whatsoever of reelection efforts nor does it even confirm that an actual constitutional assembly would be held. It merely poses the question to the people to determine whether a majority of Hondurans want to allow the possibility of constitutional review and reform next year. In any case, the poll would have been non-binding.
A very important fact here is that President Zelaya's term runs out at the end of this year and he is not allowed to run for reelection under the current constitution. If the fourth ballot were included in the November elections and a constitutional assembly was convened, it wouldn't be until 2010. President Zelaya would no longer be president of Honduras and so therefore, his "reelection" would be impossible.
It's amazing how dramatically the media have distorted this issue.
The main reason the elite powers in Honduras didn't want Sunday's poll to take place was because they don't want the people's voice to be heard. The current constitution of 1982 in Honduras doesn't even recognize women's or indigenous people's rights. Imagine, if the people spoke, real change could happen, change that could alter the balance of power. Those in power, unwilling to share it, will do anything to crush initiatives for change.
The Obama Administration is still refusing to demand President Zelaya's immediate and unconditional reinstatement to the presidency and still is not considering suspending aid to Honduras until the coup government steps down. This is an unacceptable response to a clear violation of democracy and human rights. Even the Washington Post today is reporting on the US Government's role in the coup and its ambiguous position regarding the resolution to this crisis.
"Asked whether it was a U.S. priority to see Zelaya reinstalled, Clinton said: "We haven't laid out any demands that we're insisting on, because we're working with others on behalf of our ultimate objectives."
John D. Negroponte, a former senior State Department official and ambassador to Honduras, said Clinton's remarks appeared to reflect U.S. reluctance to see Zelaya returned unconditionally to power.
"I think she wants to preserve some leverage to try and get Zelaya to back down from his insistence on a referendum," he said.
Clinton told reporters that the situation in Honduras had "evolved into a coup" but that the United States was "withholding any formal legal determination" characterizing it that way....
The Obama administration has pledged to work more closely with Latin America and not dictate policy in its traditional back yard. But the United States has several points of leverage: It is Honduras's biggest trading partner, and President Obama has requested $68 million in development and military aid for 2010. Portions of that aid, which are provided directly to the government, would be cut off in the event of a coup. Congressional officials said last night they were not sure exactly how much that amounted to. Honduras also is a recipient of a five-year, $215 million Millennium Challenge grant that is conditioned on the country remaining a democracy.
The United States also has a close military relationship with Honduras. Hundreds of Honduran officers participate in U.S. military training programs each year, more than most other Western Hemisphere countries."