Thursday, February 18, 2010

Honduran Members of Truth Commission Previewed

Radio America reported this afternoon, as did El Heraldo and La Prensa, that the Lobo Sosa government confirmed today the names of Hondurans who would be members of the truth commission.

Two of the announced members are the current and former rectors of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH in Spanish), Julietta Castellanos and Jorge Omar Casco. Casco has been working with Stein on setting forth the ground rules for the commission.

The third Honduran member of the commission will be Sergio Membreño, also an academic, who will be the technical secretary of the commission. Membreño was Deputy Chief of the Honduran diplomatic mission in Washington starting in 2003, having previously served the Honduran UN Development Program as an economist. Perhaps more intriguing, in 2007 he was the Executive Director of the Honduran National Anticorruption Council (CNA), and was quoted then as saying
Corruption [in Honduras] is closely related to a system of political favoritism, bi-partisan favoritism, and the way in which the operators of justice are named...There is a shortage of values in Honduras and it makes me sad to admit it, especially in front of the international community, but if we don't acknowledge this, it will be very difficult to find a solution [to corruption in politics]

Porfirio Lobo Sosa has already announced that Eduardo Stein will stay on as one of the three international representatives on the commission, but as yet, has not confirmed who the other two international members will be, only that the commission will be fully formed by the 25th of February. Stein said the process of organizing the commission is taking longer than he anticipated, and that it is no longer sure that the commission will be fully formed by February 25.

In reaction to the announcement of the Honduran members, the Unión Cívica Democrática (UCD), or at least one of its organizers, businessman Jimmy Dacarett, continues to call for a public consensus on who should be truth commission members. Dacarett said Porfirio Lobo
is placing his people how he wants, with people who are not qualified to be part of the truth commission.

Dacarett told La Tribuna that Julietta Castellanos, the rector of the University, has been singled out by businessmen as supporting the resistance. Stein, they allege, published articles in which he referred to events in Honduras as a military coup. In his view, this disqualifies both:
These are people who have deep beliefs about a position in this sense. As people, they are not qualified to be part of the commission. The commission has already failed because no one will accept their report as either true or false because they are not complying with the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord under a national consensus. Just like Manuel Zelaya did in his time, what Pepe Lobo is doing is going against the interests of the majority of Hondurans.

Meanwhile, the rabidly pro-coup El Heraldo spun it that Julieta Castellanos was pro-resistance because she has hired some of Zelaya's former cabinet members to be faculty and administrators at the University, and some of them had even supported the cuarta urna! They stopped short of actually saying that this disqualified her to serve on the commission, but that certainly would have been their position if they were voicing one.

La Prensa adds that Lobo responded to a question from a student later in the day, commenting on more than 3000 reports of human rights abuses in the country since June 28, saying
yes we are going to pay attention to those 3000 cases that you point out because....we want to respect those rights.

So perhaps human rights abuses might actually be on the agenda after all. Stay tuned.

Finally, Proceso Digital noted today that Lobo and Eduardo Stein would meet with the members of the committees that negotiated the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord for Micheletti and Zelaya on Thursday. The meeting is to understand what both parties intended a truth commission to do in including it as part of the Accord.


Boehmaya said...

The saddest thing is that Julietta Castellanos, if anything is not really pro-resistance. Voselsoberano reports that she was very often in golpista channels ignoring the human rights abuses and calling people to vote for the illegal elections as if nothing had happened, even denied the police had abused their use of force against her in the episode we all know.

I really have no idea what the UCD and the resistance phobic people are thinking, when they deem someone only because, accordingly to them, they are particularly biased.

Isn't a truth commission supposed to be composed of people from all sides, anyway? I don't believe anyone is exclusively non-partisan nor "neutral", especially in Honduras or worse, if only people who say it wasn't a coup and who deny the human rights abuses towards Hondurans against the coup are the only ones allowed to be in such a commission, when it is obvious they follow an agenda, if it is not their own, the golpistas'.
To believe anyone is non-partisan is a very naive and hypocritical stance, something not uncommon coming from the UCD.

What's worse is that people are made to believe with these statements from the UCD, that people from "both sides" are constituting this commission, when it is in fact not like that, in spite of their rants. Good strategy to fool Hondurans, who are neither pro Micheletti nor Zelaya and simply really want the truth.

RNS said...

The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights publication on truth commissions says that the commissioners should be either:

- Widely respected members of society who are accepted as neutral by all sides in the conflict


- The group as a whole should be seen as representative of a fair range of views on the conflict

(page 13). So, one model or the other, and Lobo Sosa is going with neither in his truth commission. Yet another reason it will fail.

Clearly Lobo Sosa vetoed Stein's idea that one of the two Honduran Representatives be from the Frente. I agree that Julietta Castellanos has nothing to do with the Frente although the UCD is just right wing enough not to see the differences. I guess that's what comes of getting International Republican Institute funding for the last several years.

Its strange when I find myself agreeing with the conclusions of the UCD, that no one will believe the final report of this truth commission, though we differ significantly on why no one will see it as legitimate.

Notice the countries from which Lobo Sosa is said to be considering the other international members of the commission: Mexico, Canada, Peru, in every case the candidates will be right wing representatives of previous governments, undoubtedly admired by the ultra-conservative wing of the Nationalist Party that is now in power. The perfect example of this is the floating of Vicente Fox's name as a possible candidate. Fox is a very conservative former president of Mexico.

None-the-less, it will likely allow the OAS and United States paper over their acceptance of the coup, which seems to me to be the sole reason that the US, through its representative, Oscar Arias, put this into the original San Jose peace plan.

phoenixwoman said...

A good whitewash can't be too thin, or people will see right through it.


RNS said...

It is already too thin for Hondurans on all sides; but they were never the intended audience for this truth commission. The right, which supported the coup, thinks this commission stinks as revealed through the comments of the UCD and the pro-golpe Frederick Naumann Foundation for the Liberty of Germany (in today's La Tribuna). The Frente thinks it stinks, and Lobo continues to pretend that they are not part of the civil society he keeps promising to "consult". Nobody in Honduras is actually supposed to be pleased by the truth commission.

This is a ballet choreographed by the United States, a required performance to be welcomed back in to the international fold. Note Phillip Crowley's repeated comments in State Department press briefings that Honduras still has to do more, but that its making good progress. They do learn; they blew it with Micheletti, so now they're keeping Lobo on a short chain until he finishes the ballet, at which point, its everything back to normal.

Since its all choreographed, you know it will be thick enough to welcome Honduras back into the international community of "democratic" nations, coup papered over, status quo intact. Eduardo Stein left Honduras for the US on Friday.