The siege of Honduras

by Carlos M. Anez
The Costa Rican President Oscar Arias representing, at least, the US, European and Latin American governments, has been trying to depict himself as “the mediator” in the Honduras crisis with the support mainly from the US but also from the rest of the countries. However, he has been acting more like a head negotiator on behalf of Manuel Zelaya, the Honduran president ousted by a coup in late June. Today,[1] in a surprising and internationally unprecedented manner, in a press conference in San Jose, he threw away his mask as mediator and announced that he will call the presidential candidates of the upcoming election including the candidate of Zelaya’s party, to let them know that “the whole world” will not recognize any Honduran president that would eventually be elected in the long scheduled election in late November 2009, unless the election is held under a government headed again by Zelaya.
Amazingly, he seems to feel fully authorized by “the whole world” to intervene in Honduras’ political process with total disregard of the long standing bulwark of world order, the concept of sovereignty and with full contempt of the “principle of non intervention” and of the intimately linked “right of self determination”. News agencies also reported today that Argentina, Brazil and Mexico “refused to accept the participation of the Honduran ambassador at a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva because he is not from Zelaya's government”. It seems thus that Honduras will be ostracized by the western international community further than any other country guilty of forcefully changing government has ever been.
The growing pressure upon Honduras and the unanimity among the intervenors could be construed as a sort of universal abandonment of the sacredness of state sovereignty as a core concept of international law. However, a quick revision of recent international interaction reveals that any of the claimant countries would zealously defend their own sovereignty against the slightest of dents. Consequently, it seems logical to assume that the violation of the Honduran sovereignty is happening because the violators are many and because Honduras is a weak country. It is a sort of political lynching.
In a TV interview two weeks ago, Oscar Arias said that President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and himself were trying to “revert a coup for the first time” in order to avoid the “domino effect” that could “encourage the military in other countries” to imitate their Honduran counterparts. Arias must be very well backed by the Obama administration to dare such astounding utterance. Such a policy is indeed naïve and on the other hand, politically risky. Should the Hondurans endure the siege, pressures and calamities brought upon them because of their coup and succeed in the long term to have its new government recognized by at least part of the UN member countries, Obama, Clinton and Arias will lose a lot of face in the international milieu. Not to mention the various risks of creating a cumbersome impasse in the UN regarding who will represent Honduras after all, of revealing the political impotence of the OAS and of discrediting the democratic stance of the Administration by not accepting the result of clean elections which, by the way, was what they were arguing in favor of Zelaya in the first place.
Hondurans need help to find a way out of the historical mess its military got them in. However, it has to be a genuinely negotiated and realistic solution. Imposing moralistic, normative and high handed proposals like those that Arias is trying to shove into their throats in the name of the dominant countries will not solve the crisis and the risk of creating dangerous situations will grow.
Caracas, 15 September 2009