UPDATE AGAIN, 10:15PM: The talks are done for today with no agreement. Zelaya's delegation confirmed they are accepting considering the proposal set out by Oscar Arias (see below), beginning with President Zelaya's return to power by July 24th (by continuing to push back the date, the coup regime consolidates and represses the people even more). The coup regime led by Roberto Micheletti has stated it will "study" the proposal overnight, though it has already had 15 hours to do so today, without arriving at a final decision. Several of the spokespeople for the coup regime have said they will not agree to President Zelaya's return to power, which makes things difficult because that is the principle issue at stake here. The talks will be resumed tomorrow morning at 11am, Costa Rica time. See below for my analysis...
UPDATE: President Zelaya has accepted Arias' offer - with all its massive, dangerous flaws - but, so far, it will not proceed because the coup dictator, Roberto Micheletti, has refused the terms set forth today in the negotiation meeting in Costa Rica. The coup regime stands firm on its refusal to allow President Zelaya to return to power. Supporters of Zelaya and popular resistance forces are still in the streets in Honduras. Zelaya says his return to Honduras - by any means and way - is imminent.
The "dialogue" meetings on the Honduras crisis are taking place today in Costa Rica, mediated by the president of that nation, Oscar Arias, who was designed by the Department of State to assume this role. Arias has presented a "document" to both parties, which include representatives from the coup regime and the constitutional government that was ousted in the coup 21 days ago on June 28th. The document, is calling on all parties to accept the following seven terms in order to resolve the political crisis:
1. Allow President Manuel Zelaya to return to his post as president until the end of his term on January 29, 2010.
2. Conform a new government (with Zelaya as president) based on "unity" and "reconciliation", composed on representatives from all political parties in the country to govern through the end of Zelaya's term.
3. Declare a general amnesty to those actors involved in the coup d'etat.
4. President Zelaya will have to renounce any effort to convene a referendum or consultation with the people of Honduras regarding future constitutional reform.
5. Hold early elections during the last weekend of October instead of November 29th, 2009.
6. The military will be commanded by the Supreme Court of Honduras as of September 2009 in order to "ensure" a smooth electoral process.
7. Creation of a truth commission composed of renowned Hondurans and members from the international community, particularly the Organization of American States (OEA) to supervise the correct return of constitutional order and the implementation of the above terms.
President Zelaya has apparently accepted these terms, despite the fact that he would be completely castrated politically, and would be allowing for the same criminals that executed the coup against him to remain in power and in fact, have even more power since they would be part of a "government of unity and reconciliation". If this is true, Zelaya will be strongly disappointing a large majority of those Honduran people who have resisted and struggled against the coup government now for over 21 days. Also, many of us in the international community will also be severely bothered by Zelaya's giving in to such absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable terms!!
Personally, I believe the only issue to be considered is the first one, and it should involve the unconditional, immediate return of President Zelaya to power - that is the only matter at hand here. Also, the OAS resolution on the Honduran coup specifically called for the immediate, UNCONDITIONAL, restitution of President Zelaya to power. What Arias (via Washington) is proposing involves a series of conditions that would render Zelaya absolutely powerless.
Obviously, this is what many of us have been expected from Arias (via Washington) since he assumed this role as "mediator". This is precisely the outcome the Obama administration has been pushing for since day one of the coup. And it is absolutely unacceptable!
First of all, the issue of a government of "unity" and "reconciliation" is ridiculous. That means Zelaya does not name his cabinet members, and all those who previously held positions in his government would be forced to step down. This measure ties Zelaya's hands completely and is just outrageous.
The renouncing of considering a possible future constitutional reform is also unacceptable, since that is not an issue to be decided by a small elite in Honduras, but rather the people of Honduras.
And then the amnesty for the coup leaders sets a dangerous precedent for other actors seeking to overthrow their governments via illegal means, because they will see that it can be done, and you get off the hook for all the crimes and human rights violations committed!!
This is all just really awful. The worst part will be if Zelaya actually does accept this proposal as is being reported right now.
I believe the only viable solution is for the people of Honduras to immediately convene a constitutional assembly and to not only rewrite their constitution as they see fit, but also to depose the congress, supreme court and high military command, since they have all been principal participants in a violent, criminal coup d'etat. Once the new constitution is ratified, elections will be held to fill all offices as specified by law. The power resides in the sovereign people to determine the type and model of government they wish to have. If Honduras allows this coup to be legitimated by Arias' (via Washington's) proposal, it will be a dark day for the peoples of Latin America.