Thursday, February 11, 2010

UNAH Under Pressure for Hiring Ex-Zelaya Officials

A story in El Heraldo yesterday reports that two former members of the Zelaya administration are, or are likely to be, hired by the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras (UNAH).

Speaking to reporters, the rector of the university, Julieta Castellanos-- who became inadvertently famous as the woman who was attacked by anti-riot police in August, 2009, when she and other university officials came out to calm a confrontation between police and students-- is quoted as saying hiring Armando Sarmiento and Marlon Brevé "is not against the Law".

Armando Sarmiento was director of the Honduran equivalent of the IRS (the DEI). He will occupy the position of secretary of Institutional Development of UNAH. Marlon Brevé was Minister of Education in the Zelaya administration. According to an article on the Radio America website, the UNAH is awaiting a response from Brevé to an offer of a position in the directorship of post-graduate studies.

The Radio America article leads with a claim that the rumor circulating is that
UNAH has been converted into the refuge of Zelaya ex-officials.
"Refuge" in this and other press coverage is an interesting choice of words, suggesting that ex-Zelaya administration officials are being viewed as illegitimate. This is made extremely clear in the way that Castellanos is forced to reply to questioning: not only was she compelled to state that these hires were not against the law; she also is quoted as saying
We have interviewed many people for these jobs and we consider that they are people that have the expertise.
Castellanos is, once again, showing personal integrity. But she is also acting like an academic, as if the real world around her will accept the idea of going ahead without dragging history into things. Meanwhile, the press is clearly ready to conduct a witch hunt, and the university is being painted as of questionable loyalty.

The scrutiny being leveled at these appointments strongly suggests that at least some Hondurans-- notably, those who control these media outlets-- are far from putting the coup behind them. Are former members of the government not to be hired in positions they are qualified to hold? Or, as other comments in these articles suggest, does the Honduran media-- whose biased reporting was a major factor in inciting the coup d'etat-- really want to see show trials over the cuarta urna campaign?

It will be in reactions to things like the attempt by former Zelaya government members to reintegrate in civil society that the thinness of "reconciliation" will be most obvious. Naming a few token outsiders to your cabinet doesn't create reconciliation-- and neither will conducting a pretense of a truth commission.

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