If things keep going the way they are going, Honduras will not have an illegitimate fourth ballot box in the upcoming November general elections, Manuel Zelaya won’t be our president next year, a new president will take over in January, there won’t be a constituent assembly (for now), and our current Constitution will remain unscathed. The effects of these outcomes will set up a “domino effect” over Latin America. Many currently Chávez-influenced nations will revolt against their leftist governments; whether they’re successful or not depends on the way they organize themselves and plan their “attacks”. Latin American nations on their way to a leftist revolution (e.g., El Salvador) will take a halt and possibly rework their future by seeking a more moderate political stance. As I see it, we are the turning point for the rest of Latin American nations. Yes, it all depends on how the Honduran political crisis turns out. I foresee a strong slap on the extreme left’s face.
Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, however, still has 5 months to buy the votes of two thirds of Congress. From today until the end of November, when the official general elections take place, Zelaya will be promoting his constituent assembly, trying to convince Congress representatives (who already have and will continue receiving cash offers) of the need for a more fair Constitution that makes Honduras a just society – whatever that means. Zelaya will take advantage of the votes and the requests of Honduran citizens who support his plans for a new Constitution that will extend his presidential term and power – just like Chávez, 10 years ago. After June 28, 2009, thousands and hundreds of thousands of Honduras will have “voted” to support Zelaya’s anti-democratic ideas. Of course, we all know the “survey” of that day has already been declared null and illegal by the judiciary. Even if this wasn’t the case, we all know the “survey” is illegitimate and will be rigged, making Zelaya have the number of subjects he needs to stay in power. Nonetheless, Zelaya believes he’s a messenger from God, who, in turn, wants “the people” (el pueblo) to express their opinion regarding a new Constitution for Honduras. It’s “the people” who will back Zelaya and his ideals – and so he thinks.
President Zelaya also needs to get the Armed Forces on his side, as well as the Attorney General and the judiciary branch. Five-star General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been very clear in his support for the current Constitution, reminding President Zelaya that he will not obey any of his orders if they’re unconstitutional, neither will the Armed Forces. However, Vásquez Velásquez might sway to Zelaya’s side if he is offered a good chunk of the goodies of what the president and his cronies are getting from Chávez. Yes, I’m saying Vásquez Velásquez can fall into corruption’s trap. Let’s not forget that he has supported Zelaya since the beginning of his term and has allowed Zelaya and his satraps (especially Arístides Mejía) commit several crimes; in those cases, Vásquez Velásquez has benefitted from the booty, which is why his wealth has grown exponentially in the past 3 years. This support for Zelaya allowed Vásquez Velásquez to be confirmed in his position –the highest military position in the nation, after the President– last year. I’m not saying the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will fall in Zelaya’s hands, but he could – he is the weakest link right now.
The other two links, like I’ve already said, are the Attorney General and the judiciary branch. These two are quite firm and adamant in their legal (and political, of course – former President Carlos Flores Facussé is behind them) position against Zelaya’s imbecilities. For now, it is not necessary for me to expound on them and the implications of their roles.
Another unofficial mega-institution that has a lot of power in Honduras, but has yet to grow in full strength and organization, is the so-called civil society. Five or ten years ago, this term was very rare and few people used it or understood it. After over a decade of having NGOs, non-profits and other civil associations register and work (most of them ineffectively, though) to benefit the neediest in Honduras, a new version of these civil associations has emerged: the intellectual organizations. The members of these organizations do not get dirty or get face-to-face with the poor, but their intellectual and consulting work has done a lot to help our country grow and develop. Many of these intellectual organizations receive foreign-government funds which aid in advising the Honduran government in subjects such as education, healthcare, political organizing, foreign debt, fiscal responsibility, free-enterprise promotion, land management, and the like. So, this mega-institution called civil society has multiple and huge tentacles that can influence Zelaya’s plans. Thus far, the vast majority of civil-society organizations oppose Zelaya’s plans to draft a new Constitution, but let’s keep our eyes peeled and not let them fall in his trap – like some have.
Other unusually powerful interest groups in Honduras are government-employed elementary-, middle- and high-school teachers, and transportation companies for lower-middle and lower class (especially taxi cooperatives and businesses, believe it or not). Teachers have received direct orders from the Secretary of Education to support Zelaya’s ambitions. The latter have received gas subsidies and other bonuses to keep them happy, making them love Zelaya. In Tegucigalpa, taxi drivers virtually unanimously support Zelaya. Outside of the capital, however, transportation businesses are split on their political positions. These two important interest groups can play a key role in defining what will happen in Honduras in the next five months.
Finally, we also have the power of the diplomatic representatives of foreign nations in Honduras. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. Embassy plays the strongest role in trying to convince the Honduran authorities of their need to maintain peace and democracy. Zelaya, however, believes that U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens and the diplomatic community in Honduras are on his side. He forgets they’re diplomats and their goal is not to get in a fight with their host nation, but to seek the best interest of their sending nation, which rarely translates into supporting a coup d’état – as much as it is needed. In the next five months, the diplomatic community will be trying to find a common point between Zelaya and the rest of nation’s leaders. It will try to reconcile the extreme left with the rest, but alone won’t be too successful.
To recap, let’s not lose sight of the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (be it Vásquez Velásquez or whomever) and let’s not forget about the importance of the civil society in supporting democracy and peace. Public-school teachers and transportation companies will also wield some power over Zelaya and his despicable plans – let’s try to win them over to our side! The diplomatic community is a complement to our battle against the extreme left; it needs the other sectors’ help to change the course of Honduras. These will be the decisive actors of the Zelaya vs. Honduras battle of the next couple of months. Other actors will remain in their current positions and will be responsible for completely winning the decisive actors to their side.
At the end, after a hard-fought battle, much sweat and many tears, I foresee we will be facing a Zelaya-free Honduras, replete with renewed and genuine zeal for democracy and freedom (after all, we will be very close to losing them). We will learn the lessons and benefits of active political participation to prevent “satans” to enter the political arena. The rest of Latin American nations will see Hondurans’ will power to trump leftist propaganda and doom, making them follow our lead. The next five months will be the most nerve-wrecking and tiring times of our lives. It’s going to be very difficult, but ultimately rewarding – rest assured. Lest we lose track of our goal, unite against Manuel Zelaya, his demons and their demonic plans!
8:17 am: I was so positive... I expected so much from Mel and his power.
Thank God this came earlier!!