Lobo Sosa is quoted as saying that the officials of the Judicial branch-- over which the Executive of course has no direct power--
"know that any decision that would be to go and order jailed the ex-president Zelaya would be a great problem for Honduras, that would not be right for Honduras."Sounds good, right? well, not so fast: Lobo Sosa also is quoted as saying that the justices
"The Supreme Court of Justice has said to me: 'we understand the law, justice, but we also understand the actual political situation that we Hondurans confront'."
"are not going to generate any type of conflict over this; they are not going to more than what is incumbent on them in accordance with the law and that allows people to be heard in liberty." "Without me being the Judicial Power, what I have discussed with the president of the Court (Jorge Rivera), is that they have a real recognition that there are things that simply have to be given all the facility so that that do not generate a great conflict for our dear Honduras."Not quite so clear now, is it?
Lobo Sosa is playing a risky card here: if Zelaya accepted this offer and came back, the Public Prosecutor and courts would have to maintain what he says is their understanding of the political repercussions for Honduras of pursuing the charges that were put together in the wake of the coup. The amnesty passed by the Honduran Congress was limited to "political crimes", meaning it wiped the record clean for the authors of the coup; but among the charges the Public Prosecutor developed against Zelaya are a series of so-called "common crimes" not covered by the amnesty.
So what Lobo Sosa is engaged in here is a kind of bait and switch. He is careful to make clear that he is not the Judicial authority; and so he does not guarantee anything, actually.
But this kind of statement gets blurred when reported in the international press.
Lobo Sosa is actually doing something much subtler than it appears on the surface: by focusing on Zelaya, he is able to advance the idea that international pressure not to grant Honduras easy return to the OAS and SICA, represented most recently by the protest of UNASUR countries against his attendance at the summit in Spain, is just about the treatment of the former president. And this allows him to make a politically popular claim in Honduras, that it is unfair for the international community to make a demand that Zelaya return, and even that Zelaya is simply being an obstructionist:
"President Zelaya does not come because he does not want to come, he is Honduran and he has the legitimate right to come when he wants; I feel more that it is a political matter."
What this claim echoes, of course, is the attempt by the Honduran right to dismiss broader issues by equating the Frente de Resistencia with the liberal party, by labeling public demonstrators in favor of a Constitutional Assembly as "zelayistas", and by ignoring the broader set of concerns that UNASUR governments, and others, have expressed about continuing human rights abuses against those who opposed the coup d'etat and continue to oppose Lobo Sosa's government.
In fact, as a fascinating post by Adrienne Pine, and editorial opinions reproduced at voselsoberano demonstrate, there is active debate in the opposition movement about what place former president Zelaya has and should have. It serves a conservative purpose to reduce the complexity of positions to a more familiar narrative that treats Zelaya as a would-be Peron. The opinions of those in opposition range from endorsements of Zelaya as the one president who actively took up popular causes, without direct benefit and paying the ultimate political price, to those who are skeptical of all would-be political leaders.
Zelaya has become a potent symbol in the post-coup universe of Honduras. So it is probably worth giving the person, Mel Zelaya the last words here, rather than let him remain a symbolic pawn debated by those on the left and right in Honduras and abroad:
"Señor Porfirio Lobo, I am grateful for your good intentions but your own Minister of Security contradicts them, the prosecutor contradicts them, the magistrates contradict them." "Lift the orders to capture me, annul the penal cases presented by the golpistas, and I assure you that tomorrow by noon I will be in Honduras."
I would just add that I always felt Zelaya's decision to reenter Honduras and get trapped in the Brazil embassy was among his worst post-coup moves. Short term, retaining freedom of movement and action is more important than being a symbolic prisoner. From a political organization perspective, if he's worried about being arrested, then he's more effective staying outside the country and working from there.
For us, the issue is no longer what Zelaya should or should not have done, or even, what he is doing now.
Porfirio Lobo Sosa is saying what he understands the international community wants him to say. But it is questionable whether he can back up what he is saying with action. Zelaya is calling a bluff; and if you read Lobo Sosa's entire set of comments, he doesn't say that Zelaya won't be arrested. He says the courts have assured him they understand what would be bad for the country.
Well, that frankly is what got the court deeply implicated in the coup in the first place.
The second point we are making here has to do with the way that Zelaya is a symbolic double-edged sword for the resistance movement. Every time the Honduran press or politicians equate the resistance with Zelaya, they diminish the popular movement. And at the same time, the resistance wants and needs to acknowledge Zelaya both as a symbol of democratic suffrage taken away, and as a real actor who took actions for the benefit of the people.
What is absolutely clear reading the informal and formal writing from the opposition about Zelaya is that he does not figure as the leader of opposition. He is not leading the political organization of either the resistance or reformulation within the Liberal Party.
Zelaya is a symbolic double-edged sword for the resistance movement. Every time the Honduran press or politicians equate the resistance with Zelaya, they diminish the popular movement. And at the same time, the resistance wants and needs to acknowledge Zelaya both as a symbol of democratic suffrage taken away, and as a real actor who took actions for the benefit of the people.
Expanding on that would make for a good blog post.
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