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Laura Carlsen

Laura Carlsen

Posted: June 28, 2009 03:09 PM

Live Blog: OAS Session on Honduran Coup


This morning the president of Honduras was surrounded by military units and forcibly deposed. He is now in Costa Rica. The people are in the streets and the government has been taken over.

Quotes are paraphrased and translated.

At an emergency session of the OAS taking place at this moment, the Honduran representative Carlos Sosa compared the coup to Chile in 1973, noted that Zelaya has not requested asylum in Costa Rica as reported by some press, and called for immediate condemnation of the coup. He invoked Art. 20 and 21 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, noting, 'We can no longer continue to use the diplomatic language we used last Friday. Honduras requests to solidarity of all of you in an emphatic condemnation of this coup d'etat.' He noted that the government has received statements of solidarity from all the countries and in contrast with the past no government has participated in the coup.

The Gorillas Have Escaped from their Cage

The Venezuela representative stated, 'I wonder if we wasted time last Friday, debating if this were a coup or a problem of separation of powers... I think we failed, we did not issue a strong enough condemnation, we did not include the name of President Zelaya although we had reason to do so. Why didn't we pronounce as energetically as we will now do today?'

'Today, someone opened the gorilla's cage and slapped the OAS in the face, with its moderate pronouncement, terribly moderate. We said it was a coup then... I hope we issue a strong condemnation and a pronouncement in favor of the consultation. This has implications for the entire continent.' He mentioned that the organization has remained on the sidelines in other cases--Guatemala, Chile-- and cannot do so now, that history is being repeated.

He went on to accuse former Bush Under-Secretary of State Otto Reich of complicity in the coup: 'We have information that worries us. These is a person who has been important in the diplomacy of the U.S. who has reconnected with old colleagues and encouraged the coup: Otto Reich, ex sub-Secretary of State under Bush. We know him as an interventionist person... In 2002 he tried to deny the constitutional position of Pres. Hugo Chavez in this body. (reference to 2002 Venezuela coup attempt). Mentioning episodes of the dark history of Reich in the heisphere, he concludes, 'We suffered the First Reich, the Second Reich, and now we are suffering the Third Reich.' He said Reich is operating under an NGO.

Nicaragua: 'We recognize the legitimate government of Manuel Zelaya... We are witnessing an international crime in Honduras. We energetically condemn these acts of barbarity. The OAS is obliged to energetically condemn these acts immediately. It should demand the immediate reinstatement of President Zelaya... demand the resestablishment of democracy for the people that are only asking to exercise... their sovereign rights.'

There are reports that the ambassadors of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua and the Foreign Minister of Honduras, Patricia Rodas, who just weeks ago presided over one of the finest moments of the OAS when Cuba was re-admittted, are held captive. What a difference those weeks have made. This talented diplomat, who could not control her joy at the consensus achieved in the previous session, is now in the hands of military thugs.

Insulza is offering new information: The Honduras Supreme Court notes that this happened in the context of the national survey on the fourth urn. The court seems to be saying that survey was calling for the Constitutional Assembly and not for a vote in November on calling for the assembly. Insulza says even if this were so it does not justify the coup. Tomorrow Insulza will travel to Honduras. He requested information on the ambassadors reportedly kidnapped and the person from the court says that he did not have this information or any information that anyone had been mistreated but would check into it.

Mexico: 'Important to respect human rights. Democracy and respect for the rule of law are values of the nations in this organization. Events in Honduras are an anachronism, part of a past we had thought we had overcome. We condemn the rupture in the constitutional order. In Honduras all measures should be adopted to re-establish the constitutional order... and re-establish the legitimate government of Honduras. Asks the OAS to promote normalization and rejects violence." NOTE: The Mexican delegate has omitted explicit support for the elected president Manuel Zelaya.

Guatemala: We will not recognize any other government in Honduras that has not been duly elected... We hope that the Honduran citizenry will face this risk that has come true... Central America has paid a high cost in blood and pain to build a democratic life. As Central Americans, we must learn to live under the law...with respect for institutions and the institutions must be the first to recognize this.'

United States: 'The concerns we raised on Friday over the political situation and the most recent events that have put in jeopardy the rule of law are worrisome. (Reads Obama statement-below).

President Obama:
"I am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Honduras regarding the detention and expulsion of President Mel Zelaya. As the Organization of American States did on Friday, I call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and
the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Any existing tensions and disputes must be resolved peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference."

Sec. of State Clinton:
The action taken against Honduran President Mel Zelaya violates the precepts of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and thus should be condemned by all. We call on all parties in Honduras to respect the constitutional order and the rule of law, to reaffirm their democratic vocation, and to commit themselves to resolve political disputes peacefully and through dialogue. Honduras must embrace the very principles of democracy we reaffirmed at the OAS meeting it hosted less than one month ago. NOTE: It is very important that this statement makes specific reference to President Zelaya.

Important Updates:

* Roberto Micheletti has been sworn into office as president by the military coup.
* OAS countries refuse to recognize him or to negotiate in any form with coup leaders.
* OAS countries issue calls for the immediate return and reinstatement of President Manuel Zelaya in his legitimate functions.

Secretary General Insulza reports that Cuban, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan ambassadors attempted to accompany Honduran Foreign Minister when she was forcibly abducted by military coup leaders, but were violently pushed away from the vehicle. They are not being held captive. As others discuss diplomatic actions--clearly needed and appropriate--these ambassadors provided a lesson in real solidarity, by putting their own lives on the line.

More from the OAS session:(translated and paraphrased on the spot to the best of my abilities)

'This is a blow not to Honduras but to democracy in all of Latin American and a blow the the Inter-American Charter. This is a reality-- a reality that this body should condemn as unacceptable. This is an emergency, so we appreciate that the Sec. General (SG) is traveling tomorrow to Honduras. We call for the immediate return to democratic institutions, to convoke an extraordinary session of the General Assembly (GA), to defend institutions in Honduras. This is an act of brute force that disrupts democracy in a neighboring country. The Inter-American Charter (does not include force) but it gives us an arsenal of moral arms sufficient to restore democracy in Honduras."

Antigua and Barbuda: 'We are a family, the attack on the rule of law in Honduras is antithetical to the OAS... We call for the immediate restitution to power of the legitimate leader of our sister state.'

Jamaica: 'I am pleased to see that within 12 hours of announcement of the coup we have been able to gather here to address this attack on the very principles that brought us together. We call for... the repudiation of the coup, restitution of President Manuel Zelaya, and third, (reading from Argentine statement) armed forces must abandon the coup and the military must return to its barracks and allow civil rule to be reestablished. There is a difference among members special security session, foreign ministers meeting or General Assembly. The SG will determine if all or one of the three is accepted. We must issue a resolution that includes respect for the diplomatic agreements that Honduras is party to, (the charters, etc.) and includes condemnation of any violations of human rights to its own citizens or diplomatic persons in Honduras. The OAS must unanimously support the Sec. General and note that he is empowered to act in his best interest. Agreed he should go to Honduras, but he must assess the security situation to ensure his safety so we don't add another problem.

Peru: Reports that Costa Rica has said President Zelaya is safe and that his presence is temporary. He has met with President Arias who has condemned the coup and called for a return to the rule of law.

Haiti: (not a language i can blog)

Bolivia: Energetically condemns the military coup. We support the legitimate government of Honduras led by Manuel Zelaya and urge all diplomatic measures for his reinstatement.

Belize: Ready to work with the OAS to undertake any actions necessary including a meeting of foreign ministers to restore President Zelaya to office.

Barbados: Calls for reinstatement of the democratically elected government of President Jose Manuel Zelaya. Will work with all other members of the OAS to right this abhorrent wrong.

Brazil: (Reads proclamation of Brazilian government): Condemns the coup against Pres. Zelaya. Military acts of this type erode democracy and cannot be accepted. Calls for a return to democratic institutionality. We stand with the Honduran people. Pres. Lula will contact other heads of state and Minister Amorim will contact foreign ministers. Asks OAS to remain vigilant and active until Pres. Zelaya has returned to office.

Venezuela: Regarding Argentina and issuing an ultimatum: We must say we do not negotiate with coup leaders. The only legitimate leader is President Zelaya so we must be careful... The best response is to stand with Pres. Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales-with his full name-- not the Honduran government, or any other less specific term. Declare ourselves in permanent session until Zelaya is restored to power in Honduran territory.

Nicaragua: Seconds proposal to declare the OAS in permanent session and not authorize talks of any type with coup leaders or supporters. We must take into account where Pres. Zelaya is to discuss with him wherever he is. Nicaragua issues a call to the Honduran Armed Forces: there is a small group that is behind the coup but there are also sectors that remain loyal to the constitution and the president. We call on these sectors to uphold the constitution and the public order, and the right of the Honduran people to express itself freely and participate in the consult.

Spain:(observer) Energetically condemns the coup and informs that Spain and 27 countries of European Union in Corfu where they are meeting, in the words of the presiding Minister of the Czech Republic the coup is an unacceptable violation of the rule of law in Honduras.

Honduras: The mayor of San Pedro Sula has also been kidnapped by masked delinquents. The wife (of the president?) is in her native city in Honduras and is worried about her children. We thank you for your solidarity. We cannot fall in the trap of negotiation with persons who are not valid interlocutors due to their actions.

The coup leaders plan to conspire with Roberto Michelletti so I think we must call for 1) immediate restoration of President Zelaya in Honduras as an ultimatum as the Argentine representative said. It must have sanctions, not just words. 2) After restoration, ask for the restoration of water and electricity which have been suspended by the coup leaders, restoration of international communications due to the takeover of Hondutel by the coup. This is censorship or self-censorship--for example, I cannot speak over the major channels--I don't know if it is a decision of the media owners or the coup pressures but probably both. 3) Then, withdrawal of the army to its barracks. It is now in the streets, supposedly to keep order. But in Honduras there is no order to keep except the "order" imposed by the coup... The people are demonstrating peacefully and the police can maintain that order. The army has no business being in the streets.

When the above conditions are met, call on sectors of society to dialogue but not to discuss replacing the president because there is no justification for that. Then and only then the commission we named on Friday can begin work. These prerequisites will be a catalyst for all the factions to converse. The victim of an attack--against all order and ethics--is the executive.

SG Insulza: The situation is changing. I have talked to Pres. Funes of El Salvador but there is no communication with the country (Honduras)... Air space is closed, it is impossible to travel. Micheletti was sworn in as president, or an oath was taken in some way. The best we can do is issue the condemnation and endorse Pres. Zelaya and say we will not recognize any other presdient. Condemn the kidnapping members of the cabinet, the mayor of San Pedro Sula.

We will call for a session of General Assembly for Thursday, for example.

Consensus on pronouncement and actions, and session is suspended for committee meeting.

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