As the OAS deadline looms for Honduras it might be time to establish a first provisional score card of winners, losers and in between. Provisional being the key word here, and understanding that this blogger cherishes the opportunity to write about something else than Venezuela even if the heavy hand of Chavez is everywhere to be seen.
Micheletti. Yes, you may think this strange since he has managed to become the lightning road of the whole world, established democracies such as Zimbabwe and Belarus presumably included. But Micheletti has already accomplished one thing: by acknowledging that he will not be the long term winner he manages to deflect some of the criticism and create quite a riddle and a problem for those lovers of black and white solutions. Not only the man is a civilian, the elected chairman of Honduras Congress and thus the legitimate head of a democratic power of state, but even though he has been helped along by the military he has announced that he will not seek further office; and, hold tight, he has offered to bring earlier the November elections, speeding thus his departure for office. I mean, what kind of coupster is Micheletti? He might be a liar through and through, but boy, does he send a few balls back, appropriate in this Wimbledon week! (1)
Democracy in the Americas. How can a coup where it seems that the coupsters may get away with it be a bonus for democracy in this continent? Very simple: for the first time perhaps in our troubled history, South of the Rio Grande there is grudging acknowledgment that there are three powers of state which in theory are equal. If anything the Honduras coup would have been worth because it touched to our sacrosanct presidential superiority, a danger that even the US must on occasion be reminded of. The only major country to escape this recurring conflict of powers is, well, you might have guessed it, Parliamentarian Canada, my current fav!
I do not know if Insulza is realizing that, but today he met with the Honduras Supreme Court and left without a declaration, presumably having been told that the High Court has AS MUCH legitimacy as the executive branch. I am not saying with this that the Supreme Court actions are/were legitimate, but that the meeting was a first of its kind, doubling as a failure of Insulza in trying to isolate Micheletti as a classical LAtAm gorilla coupster.
Provisional in between
The Carter Center. I know, I know, some of you are going to wonder how do I dare to put them in this picture but I have to recognize one thing: for once they did something right. I was watching tonight on CNN an interview of Jennifer McCoy and she was impeccable. She was able to express clearly that the ways things happened in Honduras were not kosher at all but yet was also able to convey the case that this has stopped being a black and white issue, implying that putting back Zelaya in office had stopped being the simple solution many would like to see. Compared to the previous dispatch to CNN with Marcelo Varela Erasheva, she was all class, demonstrating that although you may not agree with her calls, she knows Latin America much better than most. She is the boss there now and there is a reason; thus this "credit where credit is due" moment.
The US of A. That it has not supported the removal of Zelaya is clear. That it will help erase some of the bad memories associated with the US intervention habits of the past is not as clear (and Chavez is certainly not going to be impressed). That it knows how to solve the current Honduras mess is even less clear. Me thinks that the behind the scenes work is really run by Brazil and Dominican Republic of all people. But what do I know...
Insulza. The pathetic OAS secretary was in Honduras making things worse, screaming deadline and not even meeting with Micheletti to tell him to his face that he meant business. I mean, what kind of negotiator comes to a country not to negotiate but to threaten you? If he cannot come as a negotiator he should have had the decency to send someone else. At this point he simply appears to be the Chavez errand boy, acknowledging that retaining his job depends on the votes that Chavez might be able to get from the CARICOM and Central America bananaland. Insulza should realize that escaping bananaland are already Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Santo Domingo, and Costa Rica, at the very least. And I would not take for granted Guatemala, Haiti and even San Salvador and Grenada at the next OAS election.
Chavez and his ALBA. I think that Chavez overplayed his hand, and as some wizened commentators said in Venezuela, he revealed too much of what the ALBA is really about. The ALBA in theory was supposed to be some form of union between "progressive" Latin American countries, promoting economical and political integration. We all suspected that it was instead a form of Chavez/Cuba client state organization. Now, after the Managua summit earlier this week, we know that it is nothing more than the vehicle for a oil based Chavez empire. All acted as on cue, according to whatever Raul Castro and Chavez said. The biggest surprise came perhaps from Ecuador's Correa willing to go himself with Zelaya to Tegucigalpa. As yet another errand boy for Chavez. A big disappointment as we expected Correa to be more of his own man.
But that is the fact: the ALBA is a political system where a "mass movement" rallies behind a single leader for as long as it takes to boot out of South America any US influence. Democracy being optional. Ironically Venezuela exports still go 55% to the US. All these dollars to finance the ALBA coming from the US of A!
Chavez and his rhetorical style. Early in the Honduran crisis Chavez thinking of himself as the funny guy called the sworn in president/usurper gafetti. It was a very bad pun, made on the Venezuelan expression gafo (dumb ass) and Micheletti (2). Besides being vulgar for a president it also was a mistake because what would happen if eventually Micheletti wins the hand? I suppose that it does not worry Chavez in the end, after all he has had to swallow much bigger errors with, say, Colombia's Uribe. At the end of the day the gafo might not be the one Chavez intended, though many gafos are currently being revealed.
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1) the constitution of Honduras does not allow for the modification of the presidential term which starts late January. But that needs not be changed, Micheletti can remain in office until the date. However the scheduled November elections for which the candidates are already running could be advanced to, say, October as a gesture of good will. Bring in lots of foreign observers and voilà. Maybe.
2) according to the DRAE, for Spanish speaking non Venezuelan readers, gafo: 4. adj. coloq. Ven. Dicho de una persona: De poca inteligencia o que hace o dice torpezas.