Only a week ago, there was widespread praise for the “breakthrough” agreement to “end the political crisis” in Honduras. Witness the Washington Post’s editorial on 30 October, headlined “A Win in Honduras:”
“The stakes in Honduras’s political crisis have always been bigger than the country’s tiny size would suggest — and so it follows that the breakthrough engineered this week by the Obama administration is more than a minor diplomatic triumph.”
Some analysts also posted articles online discussing the “winners” and ‘”losers” of the crisis in Honduras, now that it was almost over.
But as Yogi Berra would say, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”
President Hugo Chavez, Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro and the other Bolivarian bozos who are trying at all costs to destabilize Honduras have realized belatedly that constitutionally/legally ousted President Manuel “Mel” Zelaya made a bad deal last week.
Kudos to Thomas Shannon, the US assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs who brokered the agreement by which the Congress of Honduras will decide, after consulting with the Supreme Court and Attorney General of Honduras, whether or not to reinstate Zelaya to the presidency until new elections are held on 29 November 2009 and a new president assumes power.
Initially, Zelaya crowed victory and said he expected to return to the presidency “immediately.” But a week later, Zelaya is still stewing inside Brazil’s embassy in Tegucigalpa.
Even worse for Mel and his paymaster Chavez, Shannon clarified in an interview this week with CNN en Espanol that the US administration of President Barack Obama did not, at any moment in the negotiations, guarantee to Zelaya that he would be reinstated as president of Honduras.
“That’s not our decision. We cannot impose a solution. No country from outside can impose a solution. The only solution can come from Honduras,” Shannon told his interviewer.
The US official also explained the priority steps in the process of ending the political crisis.
“The formation of a National Unity Government is separate from reinstatement; that is, first comes the creation of a Verification Committee (which includes US Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, and two members of the dominant political parties in Honduras)… after that, comes the creation of the National Unity Government, and after that would come the issue of reinstatement. It is the Congress (of Honduras) which has to determine when this will occur and it is different and separate from the National Unity Government,” said Shannon.
Why should the Congress of Honduras decide Zelaya’s fate? What if the 29 November elections pass and Zelaya hasn’t been reinstated to power?
Every question CNN asked received the same answer from Shannon:
“It’s up to the Congress of Honduras to decide…the US has voiced its support for reinstatement, but at the end of the day the solution to this problem has to reside within Honduras, it has to be a decision that will survive in time and resolve the political problem in a peaceful way and that is why we decided to center the decision on (Zelaya’s) reinstatement in a Honduran democratic institution to ensure it is the Hondurans who at the end of the day will make the decisions, meaning it is not imposed from outside…The future of Honduran democracy is already in the hands of the Hondurans.”
And, tellingly, in response to a CNN question on why the US had not stepped in sooner to force a solution, Shannon said:
“Look, in diplomacy as in comedy timing is everything, meaning one has to know exactly when to push, and after four months the Honduran people were tired of this crisis…we also had to have the opportunity to work within the international community…with a multilateral focus to ensure that when we arrived it wasn’t only as the United States. But also as a representative working together with the OAS which brought behind us all the support of the imternational community.”
Zelaya apparently did not read the fine print of the agreement, or else his designated negotiators embraced an agreement which left Zelaya twisting in the wind; dumb and dumber.
Now Zelaya is whining that he was sandbagged. On 4 November he sent US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a letter requesting that she clarify the Obama administration’s position.
Zelaya also is warning that if he isn’t reinstated immediately as president, he won’t participate in the National Unity Government. On 5 November, Foreign Minister Maduro warned that if Zelaya isn’t reinstated the ALBA countries – Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador – won’t recognize the democratic legitimacy of the new president.
First, it’s fairly obvious that Zelaya would never play fair if he is reinstated as president. Chavez bought and paid for him a year ago, or else Zelaya’s Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas would not have obtained the means to buy over $40 million worth of Honduran property in recent months. With Chavez’s certain support, Zelaya likely would seek ways to derail the election, and probably would use his lame duck interregnum from the elections in November until the transfer of power at the end of January 2010 to undermine its democratic institutions.
Second, given that the likely winner at this point is opposition leader Porfirio Lobo of the conservative National Party, it’s very improbable that Chavez and his regional thug associates would recognize and/or cooperate with the new Honduras government. Instead, it’s more likely that Chavez will unleash a sustained clandestine offensive to destabilize Honduras.
Chavez always telegraphs his punches. At the recent ALBA summit in Bolivia, Chavez warned darkly of an “insurrection” in Honduras if zelaya was not returned promptly to power. Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega, another bought-and-paid-for thug of the Boliavrian revolution, also warned of an insurrection growing in the rural Honduras.
The violence is already starting. In the past month a bomb exploded in a shopping center (a second device was defused), the nephew of interim President Roberto Micheletti was abducted and later found dead, hands bound behind his back and shot in the head up close, execution-style. The father of a Honduran senior national security official also was abducted. And this week a hand grenade was hurled at a leading radio station identified by Zelaya’s people as a “coup supporter.”
The Chavez regime and its stalwart Cuban “advisers” are determined to destabilize Latin Americas, all the way from the Rio Bravo to Tierra del Fuego. The Bolivarian revolution has grown deep roots in Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. Chavez has paid billions more for the strategic “friendships” of the Kirchners in Argentina. He is cozier than flies on garbage with the Castro regime. The Caricom countries enlisted in the Petrocaribe initiative always back Chavez at the OAS.
And the countries not yet aligned with Chavez – Colombia, Peru, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Mexico – are in his gunsights.
The Chavez regime is actively working with the FARC to destabilize Colombian democracy. Senior nominally “democratic” Colombian figures like Senator Piedad Cordoba and former President Ernesto Samper are cooperating with Chavez too. The Chavez regime’s political/logistical support for the FARC is so notorious that the US Treasury’s OFAC in September 2008 designated three of his closest and most trusted security czars – Ramon Rodriguez Chacin, Hugo Carvaval and Henry Rangel Silva – as Tier II kingpins for materially collaborating with the FARC.
Chavez’s clandestine Bolivarian agents materially/tactically supported the extended street violence in Bolivia for several years before Evo Morales was finally elected president. The Chavez regime also intervened in Ecuador (before Rafael Correra was elected), and more recently in Peru (the indigenous protests in which numerous captive police officers had their throats cut by indigenous radicals), and in Honduras.
The cash to fund instability regionally is transported from Caracas in diplomatic pouches to Bolivarian embassies which then dispense the cash. The operation is very liquid, without receipts of any kind, and thus is impossible to track.
Of course, the absence of any accounting controls means that a large percentage gets skimmed by the Venezuelan actors who make the payments, and the actors who receive the money. Ask Patricia.
Honduras is ripe for more instability. The majority of the Honduran people are very poor. The country is a major gateway for international drug traffickers transporting cocaine and heroin from Colombia/Andean region to Mexico and the US.
Honduras, like all Central American democracies, also has dangerous internal security problems due to the unchecked predations of the “Maras.” The porous Honduran borders with Nicaragua and El Salvador allows drug traffickers and “Maras” to operate with great impunity.
Add to this mix the probable presence in Honduras of FARC operatives working alongside Bolivarian/Cuban intelligence agents, and it’s obvious that the next democratically elected president of Honduras will confront immense security challenges.
Will the Obama administration support the new democratic government of Honduras when it is challenged by the Chavez regime in 2010? How about the OAS?
Lots of people in Washington, DC have been taking political potshots at US Assistant Secretary Shannon in recent months.
For example, Republican Senator Jim Demint has placed holds on Shannon’s appointment as US Ambassador to Brazil, and also on Arturo Valenzuela’s appointment as Assistant Secretary of State. These holds have made it more difficult to manage problems in the region like Honduras and Chavez. The latest edition of the Menges Report also hammered Shannon – unfairly, in this blogger’s view.
Shannon reportedly also has faced internal problems arising from differences of ideological perspective/interpretation and/or inexperience between officials in the Obama administration charged with handling relations with Latin America.
But the agreement that Shannon brokered very deftly put the onus for solving the political crisis in Honduras where it always belonged in the first place: in its Congress, in consultation with the Supreme Court and Attorney General of Honduras.
However, it still ain’t over ‘til it’s over. And it ain’t over yet.