Situation Update

July 22, 2009 at 3:43 pm 1 comment

Hola from the Central American hostspot that is Honduras. No breaking news yet, unfortunately. So I’ll give you a little recap of the situation. . WHILE REMAINING NEUTRAL. . . I’m sure all you NY Times readers out there already know all of this in more detail, but for my friends who don’t read. . .

So, the President (ex?) of Honduras, Manuel (Mel) Zelaya, was planning on holding a referendum vote (Cuarta Urna, meaning Fourth Ballot box) on June 28th asking if the government could change the constitution to eliminate term limits for any elected official.  A week prior, the congress had deemed this vote unconstitutional and told Mel not to proceed. Mel had asked the head of military for protection/back up the day of the referendum. The head of the military said no, seeing as the whole thing was deemed illegal by the government. Mel immediately fired the top military official. He was soon reinstated by the congress a few days later.

Up through June 28th, Mel continued with his plans to hold the referendum, ordering the ballot boxes be delivered. On the morning of the referendum, military forces entered Mel’s house that Sunday morning by force, escorted him out of the country, and dropped him off in Costa Rica in his pyjamas, unbeknownst to the Costa Rican President.

Immediately following the take over, power was turned over to the head of Congress, Roberto Micheletti (He was the next-in-line. There currently is no vice president. The former VP is on the party ticket to run for president in the November elections. The VP stepped down from his position when he was accused of being “acting” president when Mel was out of the country. Honduran constitution indicates no re-election for previous presidents. I know, confusing). Micheletti has been in power ever since, conducting government stuff, whatever that means. He also has chosen a new cabinet. Micheletti has stated that Mel’s return is not an option. However, he did state that he would move up November elections and has every intention of stepping down when the new president comes to power in January.

As an aside, I would like to point out that the Honduran constitution does not have a due process for removing a president, like an impeachment process or something of that nature. I have yet to read the constitution; so don’t quote me on this. I’ll get back to you on it.

Meanwhile, Mel has traveled back and forth to the US, Nicaragua, El Salvador, pleading his case. He spoke in front of the UN and the OAS (Organization of American States). Soon after, the OAS voted to suspend Honduras from its club. In addition, the international community does not recognize the new government wither and condemns the coup (except for Taiwan and Israel, I think). There has been a freeze in a ton of funding, including USAID and almost all European aid too. While the US government condemns the coup, they have only pulled some of their aid to Honduras. Alas, this is why I am still here.

In true Latin style, Mel dramatically tried to return to Honduras on July 5th via airplane and land in Tegucigalpa’s airport. The plan failed miserably seeing as the whole airport was surrounded/inundated by military. Pro-Mel protesters gathered outside the airport, throwing rocks and trying to break the fence down. The protest turned deadly when one young man was killed by military fire.

Hilary Clinton met with Mel a few weeks ago and appointed the president of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias, to act as mediator between the two parties. So far, the talks have been no great. Both sides are unwilling to budge and claim that the Honduran constitution is on their side. A 7-point resolution was drafted this past weekend, which Mel and his party agreed to, however Micheletti did not accept. The resolution proposed that: Mel returns as President, drops the Cuarta Urna and constitutional reforms, political amnesty will be granted for any political crimes committed before and after June 28th, move up elections to October, and create a “reconciliation group” consisting of representatives of the main political parties in Honduras to ease the transition.

Mel is now claiming that he will return today either by air, land, or boat. He said he made the mistake the first time by telling people when, where, and how he was returning.

Over the past month in Honduras, things in my neck of the woods have been rather peaceful. There has been increased military presence in my town and on the highways, performing vehicle searches. There had also been nation-wide strikes, including teachers, bus drivers, and public water workers, to name a view. Also very popular are the “tomas de carreterras”, literally “taking of the highway”, or roadblocks. People gather at important highway intersections, like right outside my town, and block the highway for the entire day so nobody can pass. Often times there are 2 bused from the same line, one on one side of the block, and one on the other. The passengers de-board, walk around the protesters, and hop on the bus on the other side. There have been many roadblocks throughout the country. There have also been a ton of Pro-Mel and Pro-Micheletti demonstrations, which I have avoided like the plague.

I am standing fast, and hoping this gets resolved soon. I am still not able to travel to/through San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, but I can travel throughout the west, when there are now roadblocks. I am just counting my blessings, and am continuing to work as much as I can. Fortunately, I can conduct most water project designs without funds, so I can get by. Unfortunately, all of my work is outside of Santa Rosa and it has been difficult to travel due to roadblocks. I am keeping a positive attitude, and still thank the heavens that I am not stuck in some office cubicle. And I got to bake oatmeal raisin cookies the other day in my new toaster oven! Life’s little pleasures. . .

And really, the news media is ridiculous. It is amazing how much the skew the story and their info. Don’t believe everything you hear or see.

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

To prove to you all that I am actually working. . . Something brewin’ at the border (wish it was good beer)

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Sean Harvey  |  July 23, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Hi Kat P!

    Glad to hear you’re ok and doing well! You’re looking good! I love reading the blogs. Stay in touch.

    Sean

    Reply

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