A lot of noise had been made about
the so-called “reinstatement of Zelaya”, but is that what is really
happening? So far a lot of wheeling and dealing has taken place, but no
concrete steps to put Zelaya back as the legitimate president. We will
see in the coming days how real this agreement is.
On Monday October 26, the negotiations between representatives of
the legitimate president of Honduras, Mel Zelaya, and the regime of
Micheletti, installed by the coup which removed Zelaya on June 28, had
broken down. There was agreement on most of the points Zelaya’s
delegates had raised earlier, bar one, that of Zelaya’s reinstatement
as President. Coup-installed “president” Micheletti boasted that he
would only resign if Zelaya agreed not to take over.
arrival of a high level delegation from the United States, headed by US
Assistant Secretary of State Tom Shannon changed all that. Micheletti,
who had already received a phone call from Hillary Clinton, was told in
no uncertain terms that the US would not recognise the November 29
elections called by the coup-regime unless a deal based on the San José
Accords was reached, including the reinstatement of Zelaya.
As a matter of fact, as we have explained before,
the terms of the San José Accord were already extremely favourable for
the coup plotters: a national unity government, general amnesty for the
coup plotters, Zelaya giving up on his idea of convening of a
Constituent Assembly and the reinstatement of Zelaya only for a couple
of months until the January 28 hand over to a new government elected in
a poll conducted by the same institutions which had carried out the
coup against Zelaya.
Why did Micheletti resist signing such terms for such a long time?
He rightly feared that bringing Zelaya back to power, even if gagged
and bound hand and foot, would be seen as a victory for the resistance
movement which the people had organised for four months. This was
extremely dangerous, as it could even lead to a victory for a
resistance-backed candidate in the elections. If elections were free
and fair and the resistance stood united behind trade union leader
Carlos H Reyes, they could win the presidency. Opinion polls also
indicate strong support for the candidate of the leftist Democratic
Unification party for the mayor of the capital Tegucigalpa.
However, the oligarchy was clearly divided. While one side saw
negotiations as a delaying tactic which in the end would force the
“international community” to recognise the result of their November 29
elections, another side feared that a massive boycott of those
elections on the part of the people would make them illegitimate.
Washington threatened to increase the pressure on the oligarchy
(including their US bank accounts).
It seems that in the end a secret deal was reached between Shannon and National Party candidate Pepe
Lobo, although they strenuously deny they had even met. The deal was to
refer Zelaya’s reinstatement back to Congress, where the votes of
Zelaya’s supporters in the Liberal Party (now split between Zelayistas
and supporters of the coup) added to those of Lobo’s National Party
congress members would have a majority. In exchange Zelaya and the
“international community” would recognise the November 29 elections,
which Lobo hopes to win (if necessary by resorting to fraud).
Zelaya, who had been holed up in the Brazilian embassy for 5 weeks
since he was smuggled back into the country on September 21, welcomed
the signing of the agreement as a victory. “It is a triumph for
Honduran democracy”, he said, “it signifies my return to power in the
coming days, and peace for Honduras”.
communiqué by the National Front of Resistance Against the Coup also
hailed the agreement as a victory for the people. Undoubtedly, had it
not been for the heroic resistance of the workers, peasants and youth
of Honduras for more than 4 months, the coup would have been
consolidated and sooner or later recognised as legitimate by the
international community. But we have to ask ourselves, what are the
terms of the agreement, and, are these terms even going to be put into
The “Tegucigalpa/San José Accord”, as it is now known, contemplates
the creation of a government of “unity and national reconciliation”. In
practice this means power sharing between the coup plotters and Zelaya
supporters, a recipe for paralysis. Furthermore, the budget that this
government will operate on will be one voted by Congress after the coup.
The second point of the agreement rules out any “direct or indirect”
appeals for the convening of a Constituent Assembly, and any attempt to
“promote or support any popular consultation with the aim of reforming
the constitution”. The immediate reason for the oligarchy to organise
the coup was to prevent a popular consultation on the need to convene a
Constituent Assembly. With this point inserted into the agreement, the
reasons for the coup are vindicated.
Point three deals with the recognition of the elections called by
the coup-regime on November 29, and appeals to the people to
participate in the elections.
Point four states that the police and the army will be under the
control of the Supreme Electoral Court for the purpose of organising
and overseeing the elections for a period of one month before Election
Day. Since elections are to be held on November 29, this means that the
Armed Forces and the police will be outside of the control of the
Point five deals with the question of the reinstatement of the
president. What it actually says is that the negotiating commission,
“respectfully” asks National Congress, “after consulting with the
Supreme Court of Justice and other instances it considers appropriate”,
to bring the Executive Power to the situation before June 28, until the
end of its term of office on January 27. Therefore, the decision of
restoring Zelaya to power is left in the hands of the same Congress
which removed him, after consulting the Supreme Court which provided
“legitimacy” for his removal.
What we have here is a situation where Zelaya makes all sorts of
concessions, while his actual reinstatement is not even clearly stated!
The agreement has a number of other points (particularly an appeal for
the international community to recognise the elections and lift any
sanctions) and ends with a point of thanks, stressing the role played
by the Organisation of American States and US president Obama and US
Secretary of State Clinton.
this agreement, as bad as it is, is not even the end of the saga.
Congress is in fact suspended until after the elections, so it would
have to call an emergency meeting in order to vote on reinstating
Zelaya, who is still holed up in the Brazilian embassy. Meeting on
Tuesday, November 3, Congress leaders voted to … pass the parcel. They
have asked for an opinion from the Supreme Court, the Attorney General
and various other bodies on the question of Zelaya’s reinstatement
before they take a decision. In the meantime Micheletti has interpreted
the formation of a national unity government by November 5, in his own
particular way. In a letter he has sent to Zelaya he has asked him to
provide 10 names, from which members of the new government would be
chosen, implying that he will be doing the choosing. Tom Shannon has
declared that the decision of Congress must be respected, regardless of
what this is, that is, even if it decides not to reinstate Zelaya. He
added that the US will recognise the November 29 elections even if Congress does not vote the reinstatement of Zelaya.
So, from the point of view of Zelaya and the Resistance not much has
changed. The legitimate president is still in precarious refuge at the
Brazilian embassy, surrounded by riot police and the army. Police and
the army continue to beat up peaceful resistance protestors. The coup
plotters are still in power.
Meanwhile, Washington is spinning the agreement as a victory for its
diplomatic strategy, the oligarchy has come closer to getting
international recognition for its elections on November 29, and
Micheletti, the coup plotter, is still president.
It is difficult to predict what will happen in the next few days and
hours. Additional pressure from Washington might finally force the
reinstatement of Zelaya (gagged, bound hand and foot and only for a
couple of months). There could be more trickery on the part of the
oligarchy to further delay his reinstatement.
The only real way to break this deadlock would be for the masses to
irrupt on the scene again and take the situation into their own hands.
They can only trust in their own forces, no one else.
(This article was first posted on the www.marxist.com site on Wed 4th November 2009)