Friends of the Honduras dictatorship


10:30 am - July 25th 2009

by Neil Robertson    


      Share on Tumblr

jim demintMeet Jim DeMint. Jim is a United States Senator from South Carolina, one of the most conservative members of Congress and a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Silly Analogies.

Worried that Barack Obama might merrily lead his country to dictatorship, DeMint has claimed the administration is eerily redolent of Orwell’s 1984; has suggested that America now resembles Germany just before WWII; and has speculated that the Hopey One may – in the words of ABBA – finally be facing his Waterloo. He’s also protested Obama’s habit of exporting his tyranny abroad, supporting “despots like Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Castro” and the ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

The removal of Zelaya from office by Honduras’ miltary (which I’ve discussed here & here ) was condemned by the Obama administration but gleefully embraced by conservatives like DeMint, who insists that the ‘transition of power’ in that tiny, impoverished country was no more of a coup than Gerald Ford’s ascension to the Presidency or Al Franken’s recent election as Senator for Minnesota.

‘Interesting’ comparisons, I guess, except that Gerald Ford lawfully assumed the Presidency after his predecessor turned out to be a crook, whilst Manuel Zelaya was bundled out of the country at gunpoint whilst dressed in his pajamas. As for Al Franken, well, he at least won a slim majority of the votes in Minnesota; the Honduran junta has yet win the votes of even its closest family members.

But whilst it’s always fun to point & laugh at preposterous little hacks, the reason I highlight DeMint’s mad ramblings is to demonstrate that despite the Obama administration taking the correct position in denouncing the coup, the country still bears some responsibility for its origins and its continued existence.

6110x

Earlier this month, supporters of ‘President’ Roberto Micheletti hired two lobbyists to massage the American political class into viewing it, perversely, as a victory for democracy. Both Lanny Davis and Bennett Ratcliffe had previously held important roles in the Clinton administration, and Davis was a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton during the Democratic Party’s Primaries. In Congress, an informal ‘coup caucus’ has emerged, with the apparent aim of unifying the message they use to sell the junta’s actions.

As others have noted , the American media’s response has also left a lot to be desired, with anti-Zelaya bias noticable in a great deal of the reporting & commentary – this editorial by the Wall St. Journal even had the temerity to call the coup ‘democratic’. The aim of this lobbying is simple; with Honduras so reliant on the international community for aid and the huge export market of the United States, America could exert real pressure on the illegal regime. As such, the best way for this motley crew to maintain power is for domestic pressure to be placed on the Obama administration in the hope of restraining it from fully exerting its own power.

Then, of course, there’s the issue of the American military/intelligence communities and their decades-old influence in the region. I think it’s generally accepted that CIA interference in Latin America is not what it was, and has reduced considerably since the days of Kissinger. However, it’s still the case that several key figures in the coup, including the leader, General Romeo Vasquez, were trained at the US-funded School of the Americas .

On top of this, the country continues to receive training & millions of dollars in military aid, ostensibly for the purpose of combating drug trafficking. So the United States may not have permitted or endorsed this coup, but it did, albeit inadvertently, fund and train those who carried it out.

For the Obama administration, Honduras represents a number ironies. On the campaign, Senator Obama promised a different approach to Latin America; one which was more collaborative than coercive and which saw the decades of overt & covert interference from successive administrations come to an end. Now as President, he can see two large obstacles towards achieving this.

First, such is the U.S.’ long history in the region, his office doesn’t actually have to do anything for the United States to be somehow implicated in events. Second, after years of wishing for the more collaborative relationship he promised, I think there’s now a trend in Latin America towards wanting to America to resume its position of regional leadership. Even the frequently combative & combustible Hugo Chavez recently sent Obama a simple, but rather surprising, message on the crisis: “do something.” For a man who has fancied himself as something of a regional powerhouse, that’s quite some deference.

With talks between Zelaya & Micheletti’s representatives still in a seemingly intractable stalemate and the deposed President once more seeking to return to his country, I doubt this conflict’s going to be over any time soon. But the events in Honduras demonstrate that presidents don’t always have the luxury of choosing their own foreign policy or even making a completely clean break from the past. Sometimes you just have to make the best of what other people have handed to you, whether that’s grouchy, paranoid Republican Senators, or small, poor & volatile South American states.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
Neil Robertson is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He was born in Barnsley in 1984, and through a mixture of good luck and circumstance he ended up passing through Cambridge, Sheffield and Coventry before finally landing in London, where he works in education. His writing often focuses on social policy or international relations, because that's what all the Cool Kids write about. He mostly blogs at: The Bleeding Heart Show.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Foreign affairs ,Realpolitik ,South America

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


Has N Klien written about this yet? Need to check her site..

This is so depressing. Shock and Awe all over again but we must fight, one must fight and how does one do this? Protest falls on deaf ears, so the only option is to gain entry into the tawdry system.

I really feel some of these republican politicians are insanely greedily evil. I rarely use that word but this obsessive tenacity to ruin other peoples lives who aren’t white, rich and american like them, is short of..dumbfounding…

Klein…

It wasn’t a coup – http://www.forbes.com/2009/07/09/zelaya-president-constitution-opinions-contributors-honduras-coup.html

I’d like to hear your response to the points raised – you conveniently ignore that Zelayi’s proposed referendum was unconstitutional, that the country’s Supreme Court ruled it as such, that Zelayi continued his preparations nonetheless, that after the army arrested him (at the behest of the Supreme Court) they did not hold on to power but promptly swore in the speaker of Congress who is of the same party as Zelayi as President. It seems less an example of a military coup and more a rare example of the army of a south american country actually upholding the constitution of the land, if you ask me.

Also, the Washington Post is right wing media…even though they may give Klein some room to talk about banning Sumners etc.

They cried like babies when Martin Friedman died…

5. AnonyMouse

I see that “libertarians” are in favour of coups! Whatever the constitutionality or otherwise of Zelaya’s proposal for a referendum to call a constituent assembly, he was still duly-elected president. To oust him by military force is the definition of a coup!

Interesting how right-wingers suddenly because a lot less keen on democracy when a left-leaning leader is overthrown by the military in co-operation with civilian right-wingers!

As Dan said. The impression I’ve been getting is that this was an entirely constitutional removal of a President who was breaking said constitution.

Very like Ford in fact, if Nixon had actually been impeached rather than resigning.

I’d love to know why I’m wrong, if I am….

Dan,

I didn’t ‘conveniently ignore’ it; it simply wasn’t relevant to the post I was writing. I’ve already pondered the rights & wrongs of this thing, and discussions about constitutionality weren’t appropriate to a piece which was talking about Honduras in the context of international relations. You will note, of course, that the vast majority of states both in the region and elsewhere have also dismissed the junta as illegitimate, so I’m not exactly firing off oddball terminology here.

Now, on to the points you & that Cato chap have made:

Personally, I think the irony of Zelaya’s arrest & exile is that it essentially proves that Honduras needed constitutional reform. The events pose several interesting questions: are term limits acceptable or are they, by nature, undemocratic? Is it really acceptable that a democratically-elected President can’t ask questions of the people, or dismiss the leaders of his own military? Should the military really have an administrative role in the country’s political life? Is there not an urgent need for a systematic (and civillian-administered) impeachment process? In which section of the constitution is exile sanctioned?

I think the whole thing was a squabble between three branches of government which should have been settled peacefully but which, as has happened far too often in Latin America, was eventually ‘solved’ by waving guns in someone’s face. Before accepting the legitimacy of whichever new regime should emerge with fresh elections, the international community – to which Honduras is heavily dependant for trade & aid – should insist that safeguards are put in place preventing it from ever happening again.

DeMint might be suggesting that it is hypocritical to simultaneously support Franken and condemn the removal of Zelaya – the Minnesota State Canvassing Board comprises the DFL Secretary of State and four judges hand-picked by said Secretary of State, so is hardly as neutral as the Honduras Supreme Court.
Reuters describes Zelaya as a timber magnate. Honduras does not have a dictatorship. I have strong doubts (to phrase it in a way that avoids the libel laws) about the legitimacy of the current government but Interim President Micheletti (who is from thje the centre-left party which is a member of Liberal International) is constrained by the constitution and does not have dictatorial powers.
FYI (i) Honduras is not in South America, it is in Central America – South America lies to the south of the isthmus
(ii) Zelaya got a minority of the votes in the 2005 presidential election and it is alleged that his popularity rating had sunk to 30% in early 2009.
(iii) You may be too young to remember the “Football War” but if you want to rabbit on about history, it would be a good idea to learn some.
Most writers on this blogsite talk sense – please do not supply ammunition to the extreme right by spouting easily disproved tosh

Nobody does ‘projection’ like Right wing Republicans. Take your own faults and prejudices and project them onto your opponents. It is straight out of the Karl Rove handbook. So John Kerry ,a war hero becomes a wimp compared to the draft dodging cowards of Bush Cheney.

So Obama becomes a socialist despite that Republicans ran up the biggest deficits in American history. Obama is exporting his totalitarian policies overseas despite the fact that Republicans have endorsed the notion of torture, and moving prisoners without trial around the world to various client states that will torture for you.

And of course the American Right has sponsored so much terrorism in South America over the last 50 years. That is why you had to laugh when Bush said he was going to take on terrorists. 2 you are either with or against us.” Well he should go down to the retirement gated villages in Florida. You will find a whole load of retired ex CIA backed right wing terrorists down there.

10. AnonyMouse

Tim, having a coup is unconstitutional. As such, it is not defending the constitution, it is tearing it up and moving to a “might-versus-right” view of politics. How do we know, for e.g., that the Michellitti government will obey the laws, constitution etc. It does not need to. It rests on force.

11. AnonyMouse

Another thing, if Zelaya really was as unpopular as his enemies claim, then they would have won the referendum on a constituent assembly. It seems they were the ones who don’t trust the people and want things done their way.

If Obama tried to get a third term by a contrived national referendum I would support a coup to protect the Constitution. I would join it if I was able, but that’s usually a job for professionals.

13. AnonyMouse

And, anon, in what way is the coup gov’t legitimate? in what way is it in keeping with the constitution or likely to obey it?

Given that even the right-wing gov’ts within the OAS have condemed this – am astounded the right-wing commentators on this blog are trying to back it and are claiming that a military coup is somehow democratic!!!

“Interesting how right-wingers suddenly because a lot less keen on democracy when a left-leaning leader is overthrown by the military in co-operation with civilian right-wingers!”

Right wingers don’t give a shit what type of govt you have just as long as you allow American/British corporations to exploit what resources you may be sitting on. And as long as you don’t allow socialist doctrine to get started. So Communist Cuba bad, Communist China good. Military dictatorship under Saddam not good. Military dictatorship in Chile good. Democracy in most western countries good, democracy where it produces govts America does not like bad. I.e. Palestine bad.

As long as you allow American corporations to ‘own’ your country, you can do what the fuck you like.

Roosevelt had four terms for crissake. Term limits are a constitutional option. You can have them, you can not have them, but you can still have a constitutional democracy.

Supporting a coup in this instance seems very odd. Zelaya was attempting something unconstitutional, however constitutions can be wrong. And Honduras’ Constitution has been found lacking on several occasions.

Just to give you a little idea as to how flexible a constitution can be. For better or worse “[t]he current Political Constitution of the Republic of Honduras was approved on January 11, 1982 and has been amended in 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. It is Honduras’ twelfth constitution since independence in 1838. Previous charters were adopted in 1839, 1848, 1865, 1873, 1880, 1894, 1906, 1924, 1936, 1957 and 1965.”

Why have Zelaya’s actions prompted a coup when the worst it appears he wishes to achieve is to extend the maximum number of term limit so that he joins democracies like, oh I dunno, the UK?

16. Passing Libertarian

“I see that “libertarians” are in favour of coups! Whatever the constitutionality or otherwise of Zelaya’s proposal for a referendum to call a constituent assembly, he was still duly-elected president. To oust him by military force is the definition of a coup!”

It is usually leftists and fake conservatives (i.e. neo-conservatives) who can’t stand coups. Historically right-wingers and realists have supported them and so have libertarians whenever coups have been necessary to check the monstrous growth in socialist government. Before the neocon hijackers came along, conservative magazines such as the National Review used to revere national heros such as Franco and Pinochet. Meanwhile it was FDR and his ally Stalin who supported the Communists. To this day, the U.S. government and establishment mouthpieces like the New York Times still herald the Lincoln Brigade of New York Communists who went to Spain to help kill priests and nuns.

These days however the American right supports war on Iraq because Saddam was a ‘fascist’, (in their minds as bad as Fransico Franco or Pinochet.) That is because the American right is led by people who are not right-wing at all, but who are state-worshipping leftist warmongers.

“national heros such as Franco and Pinochet.”

“That is because the American right is led by people who are not right-wing at all, but who are state-worshipping leftist warmongers.”

money can’t buy satire of this quality…

Damn, know my feeling were too emotional and unconstructive…

Ditto..AnonyMouse

I think the point is, if the Honduran Supreme Court approved it, it wasn’t technically a coup at all: http://tomgpalmer.com/2009/07/10/juan-carlos-hidalgo-on-the-removal-of-a-president-in-honduras/

Imagine Gordon Brown went mad and announced there would be no election next year. At some point, someone would have to go in and drag him out. But that wouldn’t be a coup as Brown isn’t the legal sovereign. Nor is a sitting president.

“Imagine Gordon Brown went mad and announced there would be no election next year.”

But that’s not what happened. That’s not even a close analogy… That’s a straw man. Try again.

The constitution was rubbish, it banned anyone from altering it and it hasn’t done anything to alter the power balance in Honduras away from a small wealthy minority and towards the common people.

Why do you consider a constitution which was adopted originally in 1982 and changed numerous times already to be above reproach?

“The constitution was rubbish”

So you say, as a matter of opinion.

But it was the Constitution, yes? You admit that, agree that the President was breaking the C?

In which case he has to go, just like Charles I and James II.

Now, maybe a better C will come from that, as with CI and JII, but you are the ruler, you break the C and off with your head.

Apologies if I’m not sufficiently “but he’s a lefty so it’s OK”.

But it was the Constitution, yes? You admit that, agree that the President was breaking the C?

What, you mean like G W Bush? I can’t wait for Tim to justify a coup on that basis.

Bad constitutions need to be changed. If you are physically incapable of changing that constitution within the terms of the constitution then you are going to have to use unconstitutional means. These are not always illegitimate. Usually they are, but you cannot justify a coup because someone did something unconstitutional.

I don’t think that a coup is what Honduras needs, what they need is a better constitution.

For instance, a counter example would be the threat of military involvement to oust the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey. The military considers them an Islamist party and has previously made noises threatening to remove them.

Some people have argued that certain actions taken and laws proposed by the AKP have contravened Turkey’s strictly secular constitution. If the AKP did break this incredibly secular constitution would a coup be valid, or even desirable?

In both Turkey and in Honduras the likely result would be, and is, yet another military dictatorship. Something which neither country needs.

I’ve not a legal background, so I would need to read a lot more in order to work out if and exactly how the Constitution has been contravened. However, even if Zelaya has broken it, I don’t see how supporting a coup is the logical conclusion.

23: In both Turkey and in Honduras the likely result would be, and is, yet another military dictatorship. Something which neither country needs.

But this is simply not an accurate way of representing the facts on the ground in Honduras. The military did remove Zelaya from power, yes (at the request of the civilian Supreme Court, it’s important to emphasize), but at no point was there a ‘military dictatorship.’ In fact power was handed to a civilian government headed by the Speaker of Congress, who is of the same party as Zelaya, on a provisional basis until elections which are scheduled for November. The more you look at it the more it looks like the army actually upholding the constitution rather than taking power for themselves – something I think should be applauded and even encouraged in countries which are, to put it mildly, not exactly historical examples of limited and constitutional government.

I just worry that the ‘bad constitutions need to be changed’ attitude if, taken to its logical conclusion, means the end of any constraints whatsoever on government power. This may come as a welcome result for some people, but for others, like me, who think that some actions are illegitimate no matter what proportion of the population support them, it’s quite concerning.

“What, you mean like G W Bush? I can’t wait for Tim to justify a coup on that basis.”

Indeed, I mean if only the Supreme Court in the US had been a little more protective over the last century or so, there would be no federal prohibition on drugs, no limits on inter or intra-state commerce, no legalised torture, no federal income tax and no central bank. In fact, the US (and its victims in the world) would be in a much better shape if their executive had been held to account by the judiciary.

“What, you mean like G W Bush? I can’t wait for Tim to justify a coup on that basis.”

If, as I understand the situation in Honduras, the following had happened:

Bush proposes something. The Supreme Court then says that this is unconstitutional and the President must go. The President (whether Bush or anyone else) refuses to go and the military escort him from office and new elections for the Presidency are then scheduled.

Yes, I’d support that.

OK, the American system is a little different, in that the VP stands up. The Supreme Court doesn’t actually decide that the President must go, rather, the House of Representatives impeaches and then, if that passes then the Senate actually tries the President on those charges. (I’m pretty sure although open to correction that the impeaching is the House part, the decision about whether to send for trial in the Senate. It certainly takes both houses)

Clinton you recall was indeed impeached….although from memory that’s as far as it got, it never went to the Senate. If it had gone to the Senate and the trial had convicted Clinton, certainly, I would have supported the US Military in getting him out of the Oval Office so that Al Gore would take over. Because those are the rules about how the rules are going to be made.

It’s not that the whole thing was over a blow job: it’s that these are the rules laid down about how a politician suspected, accused, of malfeasance in office is to be dealt with.

Nixon resigned when the House announced that it was going to start impeachment. I don’t think there’s much doubt that it would have gone on to the Senate and that Nixon would have lost his trial there. If he had refused to leave office at that point then certainly, entirely just that he be dragged out by the men in uniform and Ford steps up.

(Note that, under the US system, if the VP isn’t around or also goes, then it’s the Speaker of the House (currently Nancy Pelosi) who steps up to the Presidency….rather like Honduras).

Would I support the Joint Chiefs of Staff deposing Bush or any other President because they don’t like them? No. Because they think they’re breaching one or other clause of the Constitution? No. But if the JCoC are called in after the system has run its course to carry out the Constitutional result of a Senate trial?

Yes.

Because that’s what the rules are, as laid down in the Constitution.

Now, as I understand it, the Honduran situation is just as if Clinton or Nixon had been tried in the Senate and found guilty. Do I support the military in upholding the Constitutional order as a result?

Yes.

There is of course one caveat here. It might be that the limited information I have is incorrect: that the deposition was not in fact according to the Honduran Constitution. If it was not constitutional, if the boxes were not all ticked, then no, no support. But if they were, which is the impression I am under, then yes, I do want the military to obey the Constitution: just as I want them to at all other times, like not rising up and trying to replace that Constitutional order.

Perhaps a question for others here. If, and I repeat, if, all was indeed done according to the Honduran Constitution, do you support these, by definition, legal actions of the Supreme Court, the military etc, or does the deposed President get some sort of pass because he’s a lefty?

You’ll note above that I’ve referred to the US Constitution and the two potential impeachments (Clinton was and survived, Nixon resigned at the start of the process), one of a Democrat and one of a Republican and I that I would have supported the military enforcement of the outcomes of that legal process.

If Bush had been impeached, then tried in the Senate and found guilty would I have supported his removal? Yes, of course.

And the reason you do not support the analgous process in Honduras is?

It might be that the limited information I have is incorrect: that the deposition was not in fact according to the Honduran Constitution. If it was not constitutional, if the boxes were not all ticked, then no, no support. But if they were, which is the impression I am under, then yes, I do want the military to obey the Constitution: just as I want them to at all other times, like not rising up and trying to replace that Constitutional order.

I’ve yet to see the section in the constitution which sanctions waking a President in the middle of the night and – at gunpoint – bundling him out of the country in his pajamas. If you can find the relevant paragraph, I’d be happy to read it.

Perhaps a question for others here. If, and I repeat, if, all was indeed done according to the Honduran Constitution, do you support these, by definition, legal actions of the Supreme Court, the military etc, or does the deposed President get some sort of pass because he’s a lefty?

If you want to go partisan on this, Tim, we can do that, but it’ll only open you up to the charge that you’re happy to see the democratic rights of the Honduran people abrogated to sustain a system which has already been proved to be fatally flawed, and for no other reason than you don’t like the minimum wage. Maybe that’s unfair, but by flinging charges of bias around, you’re bound to implicate yourself.

28. Chindi Ojo

This is what Tim Worstall supports:

“So far, COFADEH has documented 1055 human rights violations in the first two weeks since Zelaya’s overthrow. These include 1046 illegal detentions, 59 beatings, 16 threats, 27 assaults on reporters and attacks on the independent press, six serious injuries, and four executions. In each case, the victims of the attacks have been workers, peasant farmers and the press.

“In what amounts to naked state terror reminiscent of the 1972-1981 dictatorship, workers and peasants have been detained and kidnapped by military and security personnel. “Of particular concern,” says the preliminary report, “is the repression in the Department of Colón,” which is on the Caribbean coast in northeast Honduras. Among the human rights violations described in the COFADEH document is the herding of peasant families into a soccer field “in the style of Nazi concentration camps.” The operation was carried out by military and security police.”

full report in Spanish here: http://www.rebelion.org/docs/88793.pdf

Not suprising that a “libertarian” should cheer this on, they also loved the Latin American military dictatorships and murderous African “anti-communist” movements in the 1970s and 80s aswell. Whenever the rule of capital is even remotely challanged the “libertarians” ditch their liberty and freedom bullshit and start cheering on the torturers and murderers. They are no different from fascists, in both theory and in practice, and should be treated with the same contempt.

Hmm, from the COFADEH page in English.

“In 1981 after 20 years of dictatorial regimes Honduras returns to the democratic process, but that return to power into civil hands did not mean respect for the constitutionalist state”

You see, they seem to desire a constitutionalist state, just as I do.

“If you want to go partisan on this, Tim, we can do that, but it’ll only open you up to the charge that you’re happy to see the democratic rights of the Honduran people abrogated”

Err, no. I’m saying that if the Constitution has been followed, that Consitution which is the guarantor of the democratic rights of the Honduran people (for that is what a Constitution is) then I’m just fine with what has happened.

I’ve also pointed out that if the Constitution has not been followed, if the democratic rights of the Honduran people have been abrogated, then I’m not happy with it.

What’s so tough to understand about that?

Err, no. I’m saying that if the Constitution has been followed, that Consitution which is the guarantor of the democratic rights of the Honduran people (for that is what a Constitution is) then I’m just fine with what has happened.

I’ve also pointed out that if the Constitution has not been followed, if the democratic rights of the Honduran people have been abrogated, then I’m not happy with it.

What’s so tough to understand about that?

Oh, there’s nothing tough to understand at all; it’s incredibly simplistic. All I’m saying is that the constitution doesn’t work, as evidenced by the fact that rather than having a systematic & civilian-administered impeachment process, the president was bundled onto an airplane in his pajamas. And since the constitution doesn’t work, it clearly needs reform, which for me justified Zelaya’s decision to ask a question of his people. Now, you can either agree with that or you can fetishise a faulty document which unduly restricts the ability of the population to dictate their own future. But characterising all those who’ve opposed the coup as being motivated by the belief of “he’s a lefty so it’s ok” is really quite daft.

“But characterising all those who’ve opposed the coup as being motivated by the belief of “he’s a lefty so it’s ok” is really quite daft.”

Characterise? I asked the question, certainly, but that’s not quite the same thing.

“you can fetishise a faulty document”

Upholding the rule of law is a fetish now, is it?

Upholding the rule of law is a fetish now, is it?

Again, you’d have to demonstrate the lawfulness of exiling someone at gunpoint. Hell, even the Honduras army’s top lawyer’s conceded the illegality of what actually happened, and he thinks the coup was a great thing. http://bit.ly/hx04s

You’ll note that I’ve not been arguing either for or against exile: only deposition and whether that was done according to the law.

All I’m saying is that the constitution doesn’t work, as evidenced by the fact that rather than having a systematic & civilian-administered impeachment process, the president was bundled onto an airplane in his pajamas

Except that there is a systematic and civilian administered impeachment process; it was the Supreme Court of the country which issued a warrant for Zelaya’s arrest.

And I’m not convinced that the constitution is a ‘faulty document’ which ‘unduly restricts the ability of the population to dictate their own future.’ If I were a citizen of a country which had a history of dictatorship, I think I’d probably rather have constitutional safeguards in place than not. If Zelaya’s program is really that popular, it doesn’t seem to me as though it should be so difficult to find another of its advocates to run for president after Zelaya’s terms were up; if Putin can do it, why can’t he?

Except that there is a systematic and civilian administered impeachment process; it was the Supreme Court of the country which issued a warrant for Zelaya’s arrest.

Arrest is not the same thing as impeachment.

If I were a citizen of a country which had a history of dictatorship, I think I’d probably rather have constitutional safeguards in place than not.

I can sympathise with that, and I can understand why term limits have been commonplace in the region. But I do think they restrict democracy, and that Zelaya was within his rights to ask the question, even at the risk of betraying a constitution which seems calibrated to prevent change from ever occurring.

If Zelaya’s program is really that popular, it doesn’t seem to me as though it should be so difficult to find another of its advocates to run for president after Zelaya’s terms were up; if Putin can do it, why can’t he?

His domestic agenda isn’t at issue here (at least for me); I don’t care whether he’s on the left or right. The issue is constitutional change, and it appears drafted in such a way that it can never be altered even in the event of widespread support from the public & political class. In this case, Zelaya wasn’t a particularly good president, wasn’t a particularly popular figure, probably wouldn’t have won the referendum, and almost certainly wouldn’t have been able to extend a term which was/is due to expire. But I still think he should’ve been able to ask the question.

36. Chindi Ojo

“If I were a citizen of a country which had a history of dictatorship, I think I’d probably rather have constitutional safeguards in place than not.”

If I were a citizen of a country which had a history of dictatorship I think I’d be more concerned about a military seizure of power, the imposition of a media blackout and the violent suppression of dissent, including extrajudical killings, than I would about an elected civilan president proposing a non-binding opinion poll ffs.

But lets cut the bullshit here – Dan and Tim don’t support democracy at all, they just support untrampled capitalism and like their hero Hayek they also support the murder and torture of anybody that stands in the way of realising that. I don’t see why you even give them legitimacy by debating with them Neil – they should be placed in the same anti-democratic loony bin as the BNP. They are utter scum.

“untrampled”

That’s untrammeled to you, dipstick.

Certainly news to me that Hayek supported either murder or torture. Got any evidence?

38. Chindi Ojo

He loved Pinochet’s regime, under which I think you’ll find there was plently of murder and torture. Anyway I won’t engage with your sort further – it makes me feel dirty just reading your disgusting shit.

Hayek had no love for Pinochet. If you are referring to Friedman’s meeting with him, you will also remember that he met communist dictators as well to advise them on economic matters. Those that took his advice ended up giving their people a slightly greater measure of freedom and prosperity than they otherwise would have. You couldn’t accuse Friedman, on that basis, of being either a communist or a fascist. The worst you could accuse of him was being too realist/pragmatic in being prepared to speak to dictators at all.

40. Chindi Ojo

“Hayek had no love for Pinochet.”

Yes he did – you might to want to read this

http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2002/09/12/hayek-and-pinochet/

and this

http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2005/02/25/hayek-and-pinochet-one-more-time/

As for neo-liberal economics bringing a “slightly greater measure of freedom and prosperity” to Latin America, well if you think mass unemployment, the destruction of national industry, huge cuts backs in social service and an explosion of inequality achieved that then you’re only right if you’re referring to the freedom of a tiny oligarchy at the expense of the majority driven into poverty.

“Libertarians” still haven’t learnt the lesson, they’re still cheering on murderous dictatorships as this thread attests – Passing Libertarian, Tim Worstall and “Dan” have exposed themselves as apologists for dictatorship.

Based on one quote from a pro-Pinochet newspaper, presumably originally translated into a foreign language and then back again, and a few better sourced quotes in which he discusses how large the democratic suffrage should be.

Also, while not wishing to suggest this, IN ANY WAY, legitimates a dictatorial regime, it is worth looking out the outcomes the policies that were adopted had for people on the ground: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTPOVERTY/EXTPA/0,,contentMDK:20206749~isCURL:Y~menuPK:435735~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618~theSitePK:430367,00.html

Compared with others in the region: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_South_America#Chile

Is Chindi Ojo one of Richard Murphy’s pseudonyms?

43. Chindi Ojo

Nick, using figures about poverty reduction in the post Pinochet period doesn’t provide any vindication for Pinochet:

“In 1973, the year General Pinochet brutally seized the government, Chile’s unemployment rate was 4.3%. In 1983, after ten years of free-market modernization, unemployment reached 22%. Real wages declined by 40% under military rule.

“In 1970, 20% of Chile’s population lived in poverty. By 1990, the year “President” Pinochet left office, the number of destitute had doubled to 40%. Quite a miracle.”

http://www.gregpalast.com/tinker-bell-pinochet-and-the-fairy-tale-miracle-of-chile-2/

Also see

http://multinationalmonitor.org/hyper/issues/1994/08/mm0894_12.html

44. Chindi Ojo

“In a letter to the London Times he (Hayek) defended the junta, reporting that he had ‘not been able to find a single person even in much maligned Chile who did not agree that personal freedom was much greater under Pinochet than it had been under Allende.’ Of course, the thousands executed and tens of thousands tortured by Pinochet’s regime weren’t talking.”

http://www.counterpunch.org/grandin11172006.html

Hayek must have been well aware of the torture and murder committed by the regime, Amnesty had been documenting it extensively since the mid 70s. Yet nowhere did Hayek condemn it, his only recorded statements on the regime were approving. Clearly he believed that the repression was a necessary price to achieve his conception of “liberty” (i.e free market individualism) as such he supported murder and torture where he thought it was necessary. The same is true of his contemporary followers – look at this thread, they’re making *still* making apologies for a repressive military dictatorship that is violating human rights now.

It can take a little while for the benefits of economic reforms to kick in, especially if they have been implemented by far from ideal governments. The point is Chile now has one of the most sucessful economies in South America, and also one of the most liberal.

46. Chindi Ojo

Incidently, I reckon the yankees will manage to negotiate a return of Zelaya provided that he agrees not to try and push ahead with any constitutional reforms. Whilst the Obama administration are as opposed to the spread of leftism in Latin America as the Bushites were, they’re more sophisticated in their approach. They know that Bush regimes backing of coups and destablising activities in Bolivia backfired spectacularly and strengthened the hands of the Latin American left. Instead they want civilian presidents with both their hands tied behind their back – with no real power to improve the economic conditions of the poor in their countries.

In this respect I think the Obama administration are even worse news for Latin America than the Bush scum were.

47. Chindi Ojo

“Chile now has one of the most sucessful economies in South America”

Inspite, rather than because of, Pinochet.

I have no problem with that. I have no interest in defending Pinochet, just sound economic policies.

It can take a little while for the benefits of economic reforms to kick in, especially if they have been implemented by far from ideal governments. The point is Chile now has one of the most sucessful economies in South America, and also one of the most liberal.

Oh really? Interesting.

At one stage Pinochet nearly went bankrupt. Do you know why in the end Chile didn’t run out of money?

Because Pinochet never denationalised the Copper mines, the ones that were one of the countries chief export industries. The funds from that industry saved his government. Very neoliberal, I’m sure he was just waiting for the really high neoliberal growth to kick in…

This is a pretty relevant article, by the interim president: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204886304574311083177158174.html

I think it’s hard to read it and believe all the hype about a ‘military takeover’ etc.

Nice article Dan.

Rather makes my point:

“You’ll note that I’ve not been arguing either for or against exile: only deposition and whether that was done according to the law.”

52. Chindi Ojo

Fake “libertarian” scum Tim Worstall and “Dan” support dictatorship. They have now shat all over their “libertarian” reputation (if indeed they ever had such) for the whole world to see. More details of what they love:

“Human rights court denounces press censorship in Honduras

Catalina Botero, the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), said there are “permanent forms of exclusion and censorship” in the wake of the coup that overthrew Manuel Zelaya, Telesur reports.

Botero reported receiving 12 complaints of media shut-downs and information about at least 25 journalists currently at risk. “Public media outlets which had favored president Zelaya were taken over, and the workers were fired,” she added.

She said the IACHR is monitoring the Honduran situation and is gathering the necessary information to process the complaints.”

http://knightcenter.utexas.edu/blog/?q=en/node/4716

53. Chindi Ojo

Tim and Dan also love this:

“Saturday, the body of a 23-year-old Zelaya supporter was found next to a coffee field, bearing knife gashes and signs he had been beaten. Supporters of the ousted president accuse Honduran police of murdering the man.

Munoz was buried in Tegucigalpa on Sunday, as activists chanted “blood of martyrs, seeds of freedom!”

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j8ypSuxw28USLCbS1BLqogyC6ouA

Chindi – That is terrible, and shows that the new government is not satisfying constitutional restraints either, but it was happening under Zelaya’s watch too: http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2008/wha/119164.htm


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. anotherwhitemug.com

    Liberal Conspiracy » Friends of the Honduras dictatorship- The left needs to confront the root causes of BNP … http://bit.ly/Jwp5o





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.