Saturday, July 17, 2010

Refounding the Liberal Party

On July 14, Vos el Soberano published a brief note under the headline "When they expel the dictator then we can talk".

It reported the content of a message sent by ex-president José Manuel Zelaya Rosales to the Consejo Central Ejecutivo (Central Executive Committee) of the Liberal Party.

In it, Zelaya reportedly said he would talk with that group when it fulfills three requirements:
  • when “the Central Committee announces against the Coup”
  • when "They expel the dictator [Roberto Micheletti]”
  • when “They demand justice for the intellectual and material authors of the 166 assassinations [by repressive organs of State on account of the Coup]. ”

Zelaya's communique was one response to a proposal by Elvin Santos Lozano, president of the Central Executive Committee (and father of the failed 2009 presidential candidate of the party), that Zelaya return to Honduras and rejoin the Liberal Party in order to unify it (and thus save it). Seems like a rough judgment on his own kid.

As an editorial by Radio Progreso, also available on Vos el Soberano, notes, Hondurans find themselves
with a situation unequalled in the political history of Honduras: a president who was overthrown by a coup d'Etat and sent into exile, and, after one year, is reclaimed by two antagonistic projects and political forces. The president that was proscribed, sent into exile and considered as the cause of the major division and polarization in the life of the country, now his return appears to be fundamental to the exit from the institutional stagnation in which we find ourselves and to make possible national reconciliation.

We have previously explained the outcome of the Tocoa Assembly of the Frente, in which Liberals in resistance were unable to seat additional delegates and withdrew from the provisional governance, explicitly without withdrawing from the Frente itself. This led to a curious sequence of actions by the Liberal Party itself.

Leadership of the Liberal Party came out shortly after the end of the Tocoa assembly of the Frente with an open invitation to the Liberals in resistance to reintegrate in the party. This explicitly included an invitation to Zelaya to return and organize a political "movement" within the party.

First, Marlon Lara, ex-campaign director for the party, currently second vice president of Congress, said the Tocoa meeting showed that the Liberals in Resistance should return to the party and contribute to its unification. Lara
exhorted them to collaborate with the initiative of the Consejo Central Ejecutivo to procure granitic unity of the party for which a commission will travel to the Dominican Republic to negotiate with the overthrown president Manuel Zelaya.
At about the same time, members of the Liberal Party held what was reported variously as a unity forum or a gathering of Zelaya supporters, the latter the way El Heraldo headlined their article. It was said to bring together "a part of the directorship of the Liberal resistance, ex-officials of the deposed president Zelaya, and presidential aspirants", implying that these are all categories of Liberal Party members with reasons to oppose the current governance of the party.

At this forum, Eduardo Maldonado, ex presidential contender, said that "the unity of his party passes by the return without conditions of ex president Manuel Zelaya." Esteban Handal Pérez, another "pre-candidate" for president, called for a special party convention to vote in new leadership.

Edmundo Orellana, who reportedly also participated,

insisted on the need for the authorities of his party to convene, as quickly as possible, internal elections (not primaries) to change all the authorities: central, departmental, and municipal.

As the article notes, the majority of those who would be removed from office belong to one of three major movements within the Liberal Party: those headed by Elvin Santos, Roberto Micheletti and Eduardo Maldonado. Maldonado volunteered to have the occupants of the two seats his movement controls on the Central Executive resign. No one from the Santos or Micheletti camp attended.

Also present and speaking at the forum: Jaime Rosenthal, perennial presidential aspirant and owner of El Tiempo.

According to La Tribuna, all the speakers called for the immediate and unconditional return of Zelaya, hoping he will take a place as a "standard-bearer" in the party, and most of the speakers at the forum endorsed a national constitutional assembly as a the only way to institute social and economic changes. The exceptions to the latter call: Jaime Rosenthal and Esteban Handal

As we write, the Central Executive Committee is reportedly writing a letter to ask whether Zelaya would receive a delegation to talk things over in the Dominican Republic. As reported by El Heraldo, "some political sectors" speculate that Zelaya will receive a delegation if the Central Executive Committee calls the "events of June 28" a coup:
The Central Executive [Committee] has not said if what occurred the 28th of June was or was not a coup d'Etat nor has it condemned nor applauded the situation of which Zelaya, member of the Liberal Party, was victim.

Elvin Santos Lozano ducked the question, saying that the Truth Commission will decide what happened. Not too promising in terms of meeting Zelaya's stated condition. And of course, no reference to the requirement that Roberto Micheletti, honored senior Liberal Party member, be expelled.

Tiempo, in its reporting on the forum by dissident Liberal Party members, underlined that members of the present Central Executive Committee "do not enjoy the sympathy and backing of the majority of the Liberals".

That was inadvertently underlined when presidential hopeful Handal helpfully predicted that the proposed commission to Zelaya would be a fiasco.

Victor Sierra, a director of the Liberal Party movement M-Lider (Movimiento Liberal Democrático Revolucionario), probably had the single most evocative comment.

As reported in Tiempo, he proposed to "refundar el Partido Liberal": refound the Liberal Party.

Now, where have we heard something like that before?

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