Composed of former Guatemalan vice president Eduardo Stein; Michael Kergin, a Canadian diplomat; María Amadilia, former Peruvian minister of justice; and Honduran members Julieta Castellanos and Jorge Omar Casco, assisted by Sergio Membreño as technical secretary, the Commission will begin its work on May 4.
As Mejía points out, conservative forces in Honduras-- notably the Unión Cívica Democrática (UCD)-- are opposed to including Julieta Castellanos. In addition, Mejía points out, "human rights groups criticised the inclusion of Casco, whom they link with the most radical fringe of the political right". Meanwhile, the Human Rights Platform notes that the Truth Commission has been established without following international norms.
The selection of the international members of the commission appears to have been constrained by the need to avoid participants from countries that have been critical of the coup. Since few governments in the world refrained from expressing outrage about the de facto regime, and many governments have not yet recognized the Lobo Sosa administration, the range of candidates was restricted from the outset. While Mejía cites Minister of Foreign Relations Mario Canahuati as saying the selection was made from a group of 15 competitive candidates, she quotes Reina Rivera of the Human Rights Platform as saying that
We believe that the selection of the international members was made more on the basis of their nationalities than their competence and abilities. The representatives from Canada and Peru are not well looked upon in some sectors, which is why some reject the Commission, while others view it with reservations.Among those skeptical others: pro-coup businessman and ANDI president Adolfo Facussé, who reportedly said
this Truth Commission is a demand of the international community and we already know what its findings will be.... [These] will be geared to what the world wants to hear, and not to what really happened in Honduras. I don't have very high expectations regarding this question. It won't contribution to reconciliation; on the contrary, it will create greater division.Finally, something on which both sides can agree! But surely even if it doesn't heal the wounds, finding out the truth will help? well, not so fast:
As we previously pointed out, the fact that the commission will seal records for ten years suggests the search for truth in Honduras is premature, if the committee thinks the country cannot handle hearing what it expects to discover. The report that Stein suggests will be complete in eight months is hard to imagine, if it has to avoid sensitive topics.
On the positive side, Mejía reports plans for an "Alternative Truth Commission", reportedly with the backing of Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, to "monitor the process and the conduct of those who make up the Truth Commission".
So, while we may share the skepticism of the left, right, and pro-business sectors in Honduras about the official Truth Commission, there is a chance that opposition to the proposed whitewash will keep a focus on the actual events of the coup and its aftermath and give human rights groups a chance to call attention to ongoing repression.