by Galen Cohee Baynes, Nicaragua International Team
Last Friday Manuel Zelaya declared from his refuge in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa that the U.S.-brokered deal signed on October 30th was dead. This declaration was prompted by Roberto Micheletti’s appointment of a “unity and reconciliation government” that does not include a single Zelaya-appointed representative, just as the Thursday evening deadline approached.
It is certainly an embarrassment to the U.S. that the deal it pushed through has fallen apart. But what should be more embarrassing, and is certainly not lost on the population of Honduras, is that Assistant Secretary of State Tom Shannon set the stage for the deal’s collapse. Though it was assumed that the deal would restore Honduras’ constitutional president to power, Mr. Shannon announced just days later that the U.S. would recognize the November 29 elections whether or not Zelaya was reinstated. The coup regime has quite obviously taken this as a pledge of support from the United States government, and in this context the return of President Zelaya seems far from likely.
The great embarrassment and tragedy here is the blatant disregard for democratic processes and constitutional order in Honduras on the part of the U.S., whose goal of legitimizing the November elections at any cost is now all too apparent. Meanwhile, the U.S. has remained inexplicably mum on the burgeoning number of human rights violations perpetuated by the coup regime: 21 murders, over 800 beatings and physical attacks, over 50 acts of media repression, and over 3,000 arbitrary arrests (see the full human rights report here).
Honduran social movements have said “enough is enough.” In a communiqué released this morning the National Resistance Front announced it would not recognize of the November 29 electoral process. With only twenty days remaining before the elections they do not believe that fair and transparent elections can be held, even if Zelaya is reinstated during that time. Carlos H. Reyes, an independent presidential candidate, also announced his withdrawal from the race so as not to legitimize the process.
U.S. citizens must now ratchet up the pressure on the Obama administration urging them not to recognize the November 29 elections. Our officials must understand that elections held by a coup regime do not signify the end of a coup. They signify its victory.