Monday, May 10, 2010

"Are you deliberately avoiding the word 'coup'?"

Our headline comes from a question the Los Angeles Times asked in a Q/A with Eduardo Stein today.

His response?
"That is precisely what we want to clarify. ... There are people here who argue it was a constitutional succession, with minor mishaps along the way. I went on record [shortly after the coup] saying that a forced expulsion of a popularly elected president, taken by military people and thrown out of the country, is a coup. ... Here, I have been reprimanded for taking sides. So now we are calling it an alteration of political institutionality, and we will examine whether there was a constitutional framework and if rights were respected." [emphasis added]

"Here" is Honduras, where Stein was in Tegucigalpa while being interviewed.

If anyone is in doubt as to why members of the Frente de Resistencia doubt the potential for this "Truth Commission" to help resolve the conflict that continues in Honduras, let this be a moment of clarification.

Holding open the possibility of supporting the spurious argument that the coup d'etat that occurred was actually a "constitutional succession" means starting by having already yielded to the faction that was responsible for disrupting constitutional government in Honduras.

And there is more to sustain the suspicions of opponents to the coup:
"there are some things that happened that have antecedents of not just weeks but maybe months or years. Eruption was a date and time, but it took a long time to cook."

Through the repressive rule of the de facto regime, a repeated claim was that the world-wide repudiation of the coup d'etat was unfair because international agencies would not listen to their interpretation of events throughout the term of José Manuel Zelaya Rosales as evidence justifying the coup. Well, it sounds like they will get their way on this one as well.

Not that Stein actually cares that progressives in Honduras will not cooperate with him:
"Among the Zelayistas and the resistance, they see us as just an extension of the coup, only window-dressing."

I suppose that we should be grateful that Stein at least differentiates between personal supporters of Zelaya and the broader resistance. But on the downside, he equates progressives and the extreme right, and thinks that by refusing to acknowledge those with the most at stake in the conflict, the Truth Commission will somehow be able to make a difference:
"We are not worried about the extremes. We have found enough interest among groups who want to come forward. And we have to be surgically careful not to allow ourselves to be sucked into the political squabbles."

Well, I hate to tell him, but the Truth Commission has already been sucked into "political squabbles". That should be the whole point, surely: to clarify the issues that surround differences in power and the exercise of authority about which stake-holders disagree.

And when you think you are avoiding being drawn in, you actually are in danger of accepting the premises offered by one side or another. Such as that it may not actually have been a coup, and the "causes" (read: justifications) may have developed long before the decision was made to kidnap the legally elected president, expatriate him unconstitutionally, and appoint a member of Congress as "president" without legal justification.

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