Thursday, December 31, 2009

I'Golosi's Is Now Amanda's

I'Golosi Restaurant is now Amanda's!!! It was a pleasant surprise to see the complete overhaul of I'Golosi. The restaurant has been expanded and now opens to the street. The decor of the expanded restaurant is tastefully done while the original dining room maintains it's original decor. The restaurant now shares the name of the adjoining gift shop which has been reduced in size to make room for the expanded dining area. The outdoor terrace in the front is one of the most pleasant in Tegucigalpa. Most importantly, the menu maintains it's consistency of reasonably priced dishes ranging from kibbeh and homous, to overstuffed sandwiches, pasta, meats, pastries and espresso. Being from New Orleans, one of my favorites is the mufaletta sandwich. I normally order the large and split it. To top it off, the service is among the best I've experienced in Honduras, friendly but not overbearing.

Amanda's continues to be one of Don Godo's Favorites!!! If you've never been to Amanda's, check it out in Col. Palmira, Ave. Rep. de Argentina, casa no. 1902, tel. 239.1841. (****/$$$)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mass Repression in Copenhagen

From news reports I have seen, there appears to be brutal repression and mass arrests of demonstrators at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen...Where is Amnesty International? Why hasn't the new EU President come out forcibly against the oppression? Why don't I hear Obama and Clinton condemning these attacks against free speech? Shouldn't the world have the same commitment to human rights for protestors in Europe as they do for protestors in Honduras?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

From 'Human Events'

Honduras Tears Down a Berlin Wall
by Wendy Wright
12/06/2009


After the polls closed on the evening of Honduras’ historic election, a beaming clerk at my hotel exclaimed, "We won. We didn’t know if we’d ever get to vote again. Just by having the freedom to vote, we won."

In Honduras as an international election observer, I witnessed what could be called a re-birth of a nation. Criticized by other nations, cut off from U.S. aid, shunned by the Organization of American States, Honduras stood virtually alone. Yet Hondurans willingly risked the wrath of the international community for one purpose: to retain their freedom by upholding their Constitution.

"We'd rather be isolated from the world than under Hugo Chavez for years," Martha Lorena de Casco, Honduras Deputy Foreign Minister, said.


Five months before, President Manuel Zelaya had attempted to amend the Constitution which limits presidents to one four-year term. Written in 1982 after decades of coups and dictators, the Constitution carefully lays out protections against future power-grabs. Hondurans understood what Zelaya was trying to do. The year before he had aligned with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s ALBA, a block of socialist countries. Now he was following Chavez’s pattern of changing the nation’s Constitution to stay in power.

Instead, Honduras showed the world how to unite against a would-be dictator.

Honduras’ Congress, which must approve referendums, voted against Zelaya’s attempt to re-write the Constitution. The Attorney General filed suit and secured a court order halting the referendum planned for June 28. Zelaya changed the name from “referendum” to “opinion survey” The court ruled that this was still illegal. Zelaya had the ballots printed in Venezuela and ordered the chief of the armed forces to proceed with the survey. When the general refused, Zelaya fired him. The Supreme Court ruled the firing was illegal and reinstated him.

The ballots were seized by customs. On June 25, Zelaya organized a mob to break into the warehouse and grab the ballots. At that point the Attorney General asked the Supreme Court for an arrest warrant on charges of treason, abuse of power and other crimes. The court directed the army, which, under the Constitution, is responsible for enforcing compliance with presidential succession, to arrest Zelaya.

The military went one step farther than it should. Rather than take him to jail to stand trial, they whisked him out of the country. Some feared that if Zelaya were in the country he would incite violence to reinstate himself.

Following the Constitutional line of succession, the leader of the Congress Roberto Micheletti became interim president. The military remains under civilian control. Preparations for the November 29th elections for president, congress and mayors went forward -- even though Zelaya had previously refused to release the funds to pay for the elections. The two major presidential candidates (neither Zelaya or Micheletti were running) had been chosen nearly a year before.

Yet the international community labeled this a “coup.” Some called the scheduled elections illegitimate and demanded that Zelaya be reinstated. Ignoring Zelaya’s numerous offenses and obvious intents, and the meticulous legal steps taken by the Congress, Attorney General, and Supreme Court and overall restraint of the military, these critics in high places revealed their own disrespect for the rule of law.

One young woman recounted to me that Hondurans couldn’t understand why the international community did not criticize Zelaya’s actions. “It was when the Supreme Court ruled against him that the people regained their confidence,” she said.

It was clear: The election became a referendum on the Honduran government. The citizens would not just be electing a president. Their participation would be a vote for freedom and the rule of law.

Thousands peacefully demonstrated in support of the interim government. A small group of citizens traveled to Washington, D.C. to explain to congressmen and civil society leaders what the mainstream media was not reporting. TV shows explained the voting process step-by-step to encourage people to vote. A meticulous system was arranged to guarantee the transparency of the election.

Zelaya snuck back into the country and hid in the Brazilian embassy. He told people to boycott the elections and staked a claim upon every non-voter as a show of support for himself. His followers and Honduras’ detractors warned of violence.

Honduras became a magnet for people fighting for freedom. Nearly 400 international observers traveled to witness and ensure the integrity of the election. And, for many, to show Hondurans that they were not alone.

Armando Valladares, who spent 22 years in Cuba’s prisons for refusing to display a sign promoting communism, came. A former Attorney General in Venezuela who fled Chavez’s rule and lives in asylum in the U.S. came. Cuban exiles under the banner of Mothers Against Repression came. Nicaraguans opposing Daniel Ortega (who recently had their Constitution reinterpreted to allow him to run for president again) came.

A former member of Bolivia’s Congress, who resigned when President Evo Morales began consolidating power like Chavez had, came. "They tried to build a Berlin Wall and Honduras tore it down," he told me.

Working with the weight of global suspicion and the fate of the country on their shoulder, the Supreme Election Tribunal consulted with U.S. and other officials to organize an election that would be beyond reproach.

A few weeks before, I had served as an election official in Virginia’s gubernatorial race. The system set up by Honduras was similar but in some ways superior.

Each polling place was manned by six people from different political parties. Each voter had to show photo I.D. The voter rolls list not only names and addresses but also pictures of the voters. The ballots included pictures of the candidates.

The ballot boxes had translucent windows. The counting of the ballots was open to the public. Curtains were pulled back to allow people to peer into the rooms. One at a time, the ballots were removed, read aloud, held up for others to see, then passed to several poll workers to tally.

At polling places my team visited we found that about two-thirds of the people had voted. An astonishing turn-out considering that every adult is on the voter rolls (unlike the U.S. which is comprised of those registered to vote).

That evening at the central hotel headquarters, the Supreme Election Tribunal announced the victor. But among the hundreds gathered for the celebration, who would be the next president was an afterthought. “We won,” reverberated throughout. “Democracy won.”

But one step remained.

A U.S. brokered agreement required Honduras’ Congress to vote to reinstate Zelaya until the new president is sworn in on January 27, 2010. Three days after the election, Congress assembled. One by one, they recounted his misdeeds for the record, for the world to hear, then voted.

Putting a nail in the coffin of Zelaya’s attempt to stay in power, Congress voted 111 to 14 against reinstating the Hugo Chavez wanna-be.

Perhaps God is smiling on this poor country. When Evangelical and Catholics pastors learned about Zelaya’s referendum, they jointly called for a week of prayer and fasting. A few days into it, Zelaya was ousted.

The struggle is not over. Other countries that tried to block the election refuse to recognize the results. Many Hondurans realize they have a new challenge of rooting out a culture of corruption. But they’re emboldened by this fresh start.

“Honduras didn’t have an identity before. Now it does,” a pastor told me. Another woman elaborated, “Before we were known for corruption. Now we have a new image and we must nurture it.”

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

I'm Really Beginning to Respect Honduras

I like this quote from an article in the Wall St. Journal today:

"Honduras's refusal to buckle startled the U.S."

Vive Honduras!!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Election Day, November 29, 2009


Today will prove to be a truly historic day in modern Honduran history. It's a turning point...One of those rare days when everyone knows history is being made and that they are all a part of it. People had been both nervous and euphoric leading up to today's vote. Anxious and tense because of predictions of violence by the 'resistance', yet happy and content because Honduras is turning an important page in its 21st century history.

Hondurans are rightly proud of the fact that following their constitution, they removed a would be tyrant from office, replaced him with the constitutionally designated president of the congress, and are now voting in the election that had been previously ordained by the constitution with candidates selected by last year's primary. Honduras stood up to tremendous pressure from the world's most powerful countries and proved that she is truly 'the little country that could'...

It is with this background that I accompanied my wife to vote this morning. I had a sense of euphoria as I knew I was observing history being made even though we were only at a small polling station in the outskirts of Tegucigalpa. My wife had thoroughly researched all the candidates and voted for candidates from four of the five parties. Although I'm not a trained election observer, the elections appeared to be 'free and fair' to me. There was no intimidation, quite the contrary, people seemed genuinely pleased to be there. The atmosphere was happy, almost festive.

One old lady summed it up best...When she exited, she looked directly at me, the lone foreigner, held up her ink stained finger and said, "Viva Honduras". I smiled back at her and said "Viva Honduras".

Saturday, November 28, 2009

How Popular is Mel Zelaya and his Call for Constitutional Reforms?

Most of the media claims that the presidential election scheduled in Honduras for this Sunday, Nov. 28, is between two conservative candidates, Pepe Lobo (Nationalist) and Elvin Santos (Liberal). While it is true that Pepe Lobo is ahead in the polls with a double digit lead, there are three other candidates in the running as well. One of these candidates is Cesar Ham of the Union Democracia (UD). Mr. Ham is a leftwing candidate and a supporter of Mel Zelaya. In fact, his party's platform calls for the constituent assembly as espoused by Zelaya to re-write the Honduran constitution.

Of the five candidates running in the election, Mr Ham and the UD is the only leftist option. The moderate and conservative votes will necessarily be split between the other four candidates with Mr. Ham free to attract all of Comandante Cowboy's leftist and populists supporters for his UD party. Thus, his success in Sunday's polls can be seen as a proxy for Mel's support and whether there is a grassroots desire for a constituent assembly.

If Cesar Ham garners 40-50% of the votes, then it will be obvious that Mel had genuinely appealed to the people and that they support his agenda of constitutional change, Alba, and moving Honduras into the Chavez/Castro orbit. If Mr. Ham wins less than 5-10% of the vote, then that will say volumes as to Mel's popularity and grassroots support.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why is the OAS not sending observers for this Sunday's presidential election?

The OAS has announced that it will not send observers for this Sunday's presidential elections. Why? The answer is obvious..

From all the preparations and open and free campaigning that has been going on here in Honduras, Mr. Insulza knows that the elections are going to be free, open, and fair. If the OAS sends observers, then the OAS will be in the position of having to report that the election process was free and fair. He does not want to do that...In essence, Insulza is more concerned about Honduras becoming a Venezuelan client state than he is about democracy.

The more important question...Is the OAS still relevant in today's world after it's anti-democratic orientation has been exposed?

I hope the newly elected government in Honduras will reject any invitation to rejoin the OAS.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Honduras gears up for elections, rebuffs Zelaya

The linked editorial is one of the best I've read regarding the events in Honduras. Please read it and feel free to leave any comments...

Honduras gears up for elections, rebuffs Zelaya

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Monday, November 09, 2009

'the back of Mr. Zelaya'

Finally, a mainstream weekly tells the truth... I picked up a copy of 'The Economist' this weekend, and in an article entitled "Zelaya'a scrap of paper", it states, "the courts, the army, and a seeming majority of Hondurans have been determined to see the back of Mr. Zelaya."

Yes, that's so, so true. The majority of Hondurans only want to see Meloco's back as he goes to prison or leaves the country...

Game over Commandante Cowboy...Maybe, you can get asylum in Burkino Faso...

Friday, November 06, 2009

Sen. Vitter supports Honduras, Sen. Landrieu does not

I wrote letters to both of my senators regarding the situation in Honduras. Sen. Vitter replied, Sen. Landrieu did not (even after a follow-up email). I hope the Honduran community in Louisiana (the nation's largest) will remember this in the next election.

Below is Sen. Vitter's reply:

Thank you for contacting me in opposition to President Zelaya being reinstated in Honduras. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

As you know, the high court in Honduras ruled that President Mel Zelaya had committed crimes including violations against the Honduras constitution, corruption, and abuses of power and he was removed from power.

You may be pleased to know I recently signed a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressing my concern for her agreement to meet with Zelaya and the lack of United States action in supporting the government's action. I believe that the Honduran government operated under its own constitutional authority, and the removal of Mr. Zelaya from power was legal. Rest assured that I will keep your thoughts in mind as the U.S. Senate considers the situation in Honduras.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this important issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about other issues important to you.


Sincerely,


Senator David Vitter
United States Senator

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Meloco's Panicking!!

It's now looking increasingly doubtful that the Honduran Congress will reinstate Meloco. Mel thought he had clinched a deal, so now he's panicking...

The current score in this three way match:

Honduras 1
USA 0
Zelaya and Chavez -1

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sam 'the Bananaman', RIP

A Change in Tone

I've noticed lately that many news organizations are now referring to Pres. Micheletti as 'interim' leader instead of 'de facto' leader. 'De facto' is defined as 'existing in fact, whether with lawful authority or not', while 'interim' is defined as 'temporary or transitional'. While this is all semantics, I find the use of the word 'interim' to be more accurate and also more positive. The shift to the new adjective has been subtle, but I believe significant in that it reflects a more realistic view by the media...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Have Zelaya and Allies Launched a 'Dirty' War?

Alfredo Jalil, 81, father of Honduras' Deputy Defense Minister was kidnapped on Tuesday in Tegucigalpa. This past Monday, the body of interim President Micheletti's nephew was found in some woods in Choloma. He had been killed execution style. On Sunday, a colonel of the Armed Forces was murdered in front of his home in Tegucigalpa.

Coincidences? Alfredo's wife, Gloria Mejia publicly blamed paramilitaries of Venezuela, Nicaragua or El Salvador that might be involved. I'm sure these attacks will not go unanswered.
Has Meloco and company started a 'dirty' war? Are they trying to instigate a civil war?

If restored to power, Meloco would only have three months to serve, so what would be the purpose of trying to destablize the country and foment violence? The only explanation would seem to be that if he succeeds in regaining power, he has no plans to leave office in only three months.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Honduran Crime Rate Under Meloco

According to an AP report yesterday ("Nephew of Honduran interim president shot dead"), "Honduras has the highest homicide rate in Central America,...Some 7,235 people in the country of 7.7 million were killed in 2008, a 25 percent surge from 2007." And guess who was president at the time? Yes, you guessed it...Mel Zelaya was president and this sickening statistic was happening under his watch.

What did Comandante Cowboy do about the spiraling crime rate? Nothing as far as I know...He was too busy travelling and enjoying being president to care about the destruction of Honduran civil society...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ortega, President for Life

Now that Nicaragua's Supreme Court has ruled that Daniel Ortega can run for re-election in violation of that country's constitution, what will be the world's reaction? Specifically, the Sandinista appointed court determined that the constitutional ban on re-election was 'unenforceable'.

A predictable reaction on the part of the US State Dept.... It will aggressively seek to give the justices 10 year tourist visas to the USA (and maybe platinum American Express cards courtesy of the American taxpayers).

Monday, October 19, 2009

Crying 'Wolf''

I've been out of the country for the past three weeks, so I've neglected this blog during my absence.

As I was travelling, one thing that kept bugging me was the State Department's 'travel advisory' issued on Honduras after the events of June 28. Honduras is just as safe a place to travel to now as it was prior to June 28 (probably safer), yet the USA government is discouraging Americans from travelling to Honduras. This seems particularly odd given that most Americans travel to Roatan in the Bay Islands or the Mayan Ruins in Copan. These two destinations are particularly safe and relatively secluded from the problems in the urban area (Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula).

Why would the US government issue a travel advisory when they know it is safe? The only possible reason is to discourage travel to Honduras for political reasons in order to pressure the tourist industry and to place economic hardship on the people employed in this sector. The problem with this is that Americans depend on these travel advisories when planning international trips, and if the travel advisories become political, they lose their credibility. Just like in the story about the shepard boy crying wolf, people will begin to ignore them. Then in some future 'very unsafe situation', the warnings may not be heeded and innocent lives may be lost.

It's a shame that our State Dept. is playing politics with a service that is supposed to be apolitical, and thereby threatening the lives of the very people these advisories were developed to protect.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Congratulations Honduras!!!

Congratulations to Honduras for qualifying for the world cup!!!

Once again, Honduras is the little country that could...!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Brazil will never be a leader of Latin America at this rate

According to 'The Economist' magazine article 'Zelaya swaps exile for embassy', dated Sept. 24, 2009, "Brazil has, in practice, granted diplomatic asylum to Mr. Zelaya (although its foreigh ministry said he was just a guest). This means that under the terms of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Mr. Zelaya should abstain from political declarations."

But isn't this exactly what Meloco has been doing everyday since he arrived at the embassy? Yesterday he called on his followers to come to Tegucigalpa for the 'final offensive'. Brazil complains to the UN about harassment of its embassy, but at the same time it is not abiding by its own obligations under the above mentioned international treaty.

Talk about hypocracy...

Restitution the Right Way

While Meloco calls for restituiton to the presidency, I would encourage the Honduran government to impose a condition on Brazil that prior to any future normalization of relations between the two countries, Brazil would be required to pay restituiton and damages to Honduras for the destruction caused by Brazil's involvement in the recent events.

By allowing its embassy to be used as a base for Zelaya's calls for insurrection, many innocent people were harmed. Homes close to the embassy were invaded by Zelaya's thugs, businesses were looted, window were broken, a curfew had to be imposed nationwide (with damages to the national economy estimated at $50,000,000.00 per day), schools were closed so that innocent children were deprived of an education, and the government had to use scarce public resources for security operations close to and around the embassy that could have been used for better purposes.

All of this because Brazil wants to impose a 'caudillo' on Honduras. The Honduran government should tally all of the direct and indirect costs and present a bill to the Brazilian government, and Brazil should not be allowed to have normalized relations with Honduras until the debt is paid. In turn, the Honduran goverment should use the funds to compensate the direct victims of Brazil's complicity with Meloco.

That's my idea of restitution Mel...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Are Meloco's Supporters Racist?

Honduran businessmen at center of coup dispute

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Die-hard supporters of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya are increasingly turning their anger toward the country's wealthy business elite, a small but powerful cadre believed to solidly back the interim government that removed him at gunpoint three months ago.

The capital is now covered with graffiti demanding "Turks out! — apparently a reference to the Central American country's large number of business people of Middle Eastern descent — and on Saturday pro-Zelaya marchers lashed out at the elite's dominance over wealth in a country where millions are poor.

"They own almost the whole country," pro-Zelaya protester Arnoldo Pagoaga, a medical doctor who marched in his white uniform, said Saturday. "They're terrorists. ... They own the army, and sic it on us."

Fellow demonstrator Rafael Alegria complained that Honduras "has a large immigrant community that owns everything: commerce and industry."

"We don't really have our own economy," Alegria said. "We have to set that right."


Shame on Nike!!!

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2009944398_guests26godoy.html

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Jonathan Kay on Manuel Zelaya, the latest left-wing anti-Israel conspiracy theorist - Full Comment

Jonathan Kay on Manuel Zelaya, the latest left-wing anti-Israel conspiracy theorist - Full Comment

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'Meloco'

Now that Comandante Cowboy has shown the world that he is certifiably crazy with his comments to the 'Miami Herald' yesterday with all his talk about mind rays, radiation, and Israeli mercenaries; I came up with a new name for the man in a Stetson- 'Meloco'. Mel + loco (crazy) = Meloco.

What do you think readers? Is this an appropriate name?

I encourage you to read the editorial in the Wash. Post today where even the mainstream media is coming around and recognizing that this guy is not stable.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Is the Media Honest?

Now that the curfew has been suspended, my wife will be participating in a peace march in Tegucigalpa today, along with other 'white shirts'. Go girl go!!

I'm just curious to see how much coverage the march gets in the international media. I predict that there will be more participants in this march than in the pro-Zelaya rallies, but that this march will get only very sparse attention in the international media in comparison.

Hmmm... I wonder why. Is there a media bias by chance? Prove me wrong media. Go out there and cover the march so that the rest of the world will know that the majority of Hondurans do not want Mel back, they just wish he would simply disappear...

Beam Me Up

In an interview with the Miami Herald, Comandante Cowboy asserts that Israelis are torturing him with mind rays and toxic gases. He alleges his throat is sore from toxic gases and "Israeli mercenaries" are torturing him with high-frequency radiation that alter his physical and mental state.

I don't know about his physical state, but his mental state was altered long, long ago.

Beam me up Comandante Cowboy!!

CRS Report: Honduran 'coup' appears legit | Washington Examiner

CRS Report: Honduran 'coup' appears legit | Washington Examiner

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Former president Manuel Zelaya plays politics in Honduras | Vancouver, Canada | Straight.com

Former president Manuel Zelaya plays politics in Honduras | Vancouver, Canada | Straight.com

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Hitler was Democratically Elected too!!

I just returned to New Orleans Sunday night after spending two lovely weeks with my family in Honduras. I was struck by the graffiti everywhere, on every wall, all over the city. Graffiti was not only on the stucco walls which can easily be painted over, but also on many lovely stone walls which cannot be so easily cleaned or removed. Thus, showing the total lack of respect that Mel's supporters have for private property and their sense of vandalistic compulsions.

What also struck me was the outright racist nature of some of the graffiti towards the local Arab (or 'Turco' population). In many of Comandante Cowboy's speeches he tried to stroke class conflict and hatred by placing the blame for all of Honduras' many problems on the business class. Since much of Honduras' business class is of Arab descent, I assume many of Mel's followers equate this with Mel blessing anti-semitism (yes, Arabs are Semites also), and thus the racist graffiti.

Knowing how the European community has insisted on Mel being restored to power and after seeing the racist graffiti sprayed on the walls, I couldn't help but remember that Adolf Hitler was also democratically elected the chancellor of Germany in the 1930's. Is the world better off since the Germans did not remove a democratically elected politician from power, or would the world have been better off if he had been removed? Of course the question is just rhetorical because we all know the answer.

But maybe people just don't learn from history. The world is insisting on Mel's reinstatement, while at the same time, the graffiti sprayed on the walls of Tegucigalpa show the clear racist sentiments of many of his followers. 'Kristallnacht' anyone?

Monday, September 21, 2009

AVOID COL. PALMIRA

Zelaya is reportedly in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, which is situated on Calle de Republica de Brazil in the Col. Palmira. I recommend avoiding this area because of the potential for violence

I trust the Honduran gov't will immediately suspend diplomatic relations with Brazil and declare their personnel 'persona non grata'. It should also take a page from the US playbook during the US invasion of Panama when it was trying to get Manuel Noreiga to leave the Vatican Embassy. In that situation, the US military surrounded the embassy, played very loud music 24 hours per day, and made life very difficult for those inside. No one can complain if Honduras does the same thing because it is now totally acceptable behavior since this is what that bastion of human rights and democracy, the USA, did...Oh and while they are at it, they should cut off water and electricity too.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

An Open Letter to Senator Landrieu (D, LA)

Dear Senator Landrieu,

As you are probably aware, the New Orleans area has the largest Honduran population in the USA, so the current events in Honduras are of great interest to Louisiana. Personally, I'm an American citizen married to a Honduran woman and both of my children have dual nationality...

Unfortunately, I believe the Obama administration policy has been very misguided vis-a-vis the situation in Honduras today. The former president (Mel Zelaya) is a power hunger 'caudillo' wannabe who has no respect for democratic institutions including the Supreme Court and the Congress.

He ignored rulings of the court and bills passed by Congress. He encouraged class conflict, and the reputation of his government was one of extreme corruption and ineptitude. Crime was rampant and I had to always fear for my children's safety. (kidnapping for ransom became commonplace under Zelaya's rule, and they recently had begun kidnapping children attending bilingual schools). Poverty increased considerably under his regime while he misused scarce government funds for his own benefit.

While he should not have been exiled, the military was acting under orders of the Supreme Court when they removed him from office. Unfortunately, the Honduran Constitution does not provide for impeachment. Elections are scheduled for November and a new democratically elected president will take office in January 2010.

The current president, Pres. Michiletti, has been cracking down on public corruption and is proving an adept interim leader.

I have not seen or heard of any repression as reported in the international media. To the contrary, things seem very 'normal', and business goes on as usual. In fact, people seem optimistic about their future for the first time in the many years I have been traveling and residing in Honduras. People see the events of June 28 and the beginning of a brighter future for their nation and people.

I trust you will use your good offices to convince Pres. Obama and Sec. of State Clinton to change their current policy regarding Honduras and to embrace the positive changes in Honduras, or at least not to impede them.

If you take the opportunity to discuss this issue with the Honduran population in New Orleans, I'm sure that you will find that the majority shares this view.

Further, I hope and pray that you will use your position in the Senate to take a positive stand for Honduras's future. We do not want Honduras to become a Marxist state allied with Hugo Chavez rampant with corruption and crime. We do not want the return of Mel Zelaya.

I look forward to your response, thoughts and position on this issue which so clearly impacts thousands of New Orleans area residents.

Monday, September 14, 2009

With Friends Like This, Who Needs Enemies?


Over the years, the USA has constantly intervened in Honduran and Central American affairs in order to protect its interests without regard for the consequences on the local population. Whether the intervention was to support corrupt dictators, the US marines in Nicaragua, Bananaman Sam in Honduras, support of the overthrow of Arbenz in Guatemala, etc., etc., the US has always behaved as if it could act with impunity and total disregard of human dignity.

Obama promised to be different. He promised an end to US intervention, to let Latins handle their own affairs. Well, he lied...The USA is back to its old ways, trying to intervene in Honduras to impose a corrupt, self-declared Marxist with utter contempt for democratic institutions and norms onto the Honduran people. To make matters worse, in the name of democracy, the USA says it will not recognize a free and fair election in Honduras unless it is overseen by that same corrupt, anti-democratic government led by the discredited 'caudillo' wannabe Zelaya. (Talk about letting the fox guard the hen house.)

Personally, I don't understand the reason. Is it because it sets a bad precedent for a president to be bound by Supreme Court decisions? Does Obama somehow feel uncomfortable about presidential limits imposed by a constitution? Does the concept of 'checks and balances' make him nervous? Or is it simply that he wants Honduras to be a Marxist state allied with Chavez? Does this mean that Obama is a closet Marxist, but just won't admit it to the American people?

The reason really doesn't matter. What does matter is that it is time for Honduras to learn from this, and realize that America is not the friend it claims to be. It's time for Hondurans to understand that America's commitment to democracy is in name only. America likes to spread the perception that it believes in freedom, democracy, and human dignity. Americans like to believe this about themselves and their nation.

The fact of the matter is that this is only a perception... to be blunt, its bullshit. And its time for Hondurans to realize this.


Bravo to the brave and unbowed - Washington Times

Bravo to the brave and unbowed - Washington Times

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Op-Ed from From the Cato Institute, Sept. 8, 2009

What Principle is Guiding Obama’s Honduras Policy?

The Obama administration is threatening not to recognize the result of Honduras’ presidential election in late November unless Manuel Zelaya returns to the presidency beforehand.

The presidential poll was already scheduled prior to Zelaya’s (constitutional) removal from office last June. The candidates had already been selected by their parties through an open primary process. The current civilian interim president, Roberto Micheletti, is not running for office and plans to step down in January as stipulated by the Constitution. Both major presidential candidates supported the ouster of Zelaya. The political campaign is playing out in an orderly manner, and there’s a significant chance that the candidate from the opposition National Party will win the presidency. The independent Electoral Tribunal is overseeing the process.

And yet the U.S. Department of State is signaling that it won’t recognize the result of the poll in the name of defending Zelaya’s return to power. However, the administration’s defense of ousted leaders seems to have some caveats.

Last July, The Economist reported that Mauritania’s General Muhammad Ould Abdelaziz, the head of the military junta who led the coup that overthrew that country’s first democratically-elected president, got himself elected as civilian president after an election that the opposition called an “elected coup.” However, despite “a certain number of irregularities,” Washington recognizedAbdelaziz’s election as a reflection of the “will of the Mauritanian people” and stated its willingness to work with his government.

Why is it that the election in Mauritania—with its many blatant flaws—passed the Obama administration’s legitimacy litmus test but the one in Honduras already seems set to fail it? What foreign policy principle is the administration applying in Honduras? Certainly not respect for democracy or the rule of law, both of which Zelaya was trying to subvert when he was removed from office.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Mel Lived High on the Hog While the Poor Ate Rice and Beans

Honduras targets deposed leader over expenses

TEGUCIGALPA — Honduras' de facto government attacked deposed President Manual Zelaya on Saturday for wasting six million dollars of public funds on horses, vacations and Harley Davidson motorcycles.

Government officials distributed a lengthy list of what they claimed were Zelaya's pet luxury items, including cash for the upkeep of his horses as well as airline tickets, jewelry, the use of a private helicopter, and his own top-of-the-range motorbike, local media reported.

In an audit of Zelaya's expenses by judicial authorities, the mustachioed leader -- who was ushered out of the country on June 28 in a military-backed coup -- also spent money on expensive wines renting high-end real estate.

"By next week the High Court of Auditors will provide a report on each part of the investigation, and whether a criminal prosecution is appropriate," said Renan Sagastume, the presiding judge for Honduras' Superior Court of Auditors.

U.S. support for ousted Honduran leader baffling

U.S. support for ousted Honduran leader baffling

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Pass That Joint to Me

Brazil suspended visa-free travel for Hondurans today. According to the BBC, "by blocking new visas for Hondurans, Brazil hopes 'to promote the immediate restoration of ... Zelaya to the functions to which the Honduran people elected him,' the country's foreign minsitry said in a statement."

What have they been smoking at the Brazilian foreign ministry? The Honduran people elected Mel as a right of center candidate, not as a firebrand socialist. Once Mel knew that his ideology had changed, if he had any ethics, he would have resigned. Mel broke his covenant with the Honduran people.

Honduras: A Truth Stranger Than Fiction?

Honduras: A Truth Stranger Than Fiction?

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Chavez: Commandante Cowboy Unlikely to Return to Office

Don Hugo is currently in Libya for a love fest with its great leader, Col. Qaddafi. Together they are celebrating 40 wonderful years of Libyan bliss and good karma under the colonel's altruistic leadership. Taking a few moments for a telephone call to Venezuelan television, Chavez admitted, "Regardless of whether Zelaya returns or not, and really, at this point, that's hard to imagine, Honduras will keep up the fight."

Thanks for the honesty and candor Hugo...

I guess when you say "Honduras will keep up the fight", you mean President Micheletti and the Honduran people will continue to resist the Zelayistas in the OAS.

Thanks again Hugo for being the bearer of such good tidings!!!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shopping is Good in Panama City

So the USA is suspending the issuance of visas in its consulate in Tegucigalpa...

Who needs Miami anyway?

While shopping might be good in Miami, it's just as good in Panama City...so if you were planning a shopping trip stateside, think outside the box and go to Panama instead...you'll be glad you did. It's a nice place...modern, safe, good restaurants, and excellent shopping!!

And while you're at it, buy that condo in Panama City...they're a better value for the money than Miami.

Bottom line, if the U.S. government wants to hurt ordinary people, don't let them do it. Vacation, wine, dine, shop, and invest elsewhere...Let them be the ones to suffer instead.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Impressions of Tegucigalpa

Below are excerpts from the blog Inside South America by Tyler Bridges, a journalist based in Caracas


Mel...o drama

There's an article in this month's 'Vocero' magazine, a bilingual, freebie publication that you pick up in coffee shops by Gaspar Vallecillo Molina entitled 'Mel...o drama. Su ultimo acto. Un teatro de lo Absurdo' (Mel...o drama. His last act. Theatre of the absurd).

I just like the name...'Mel...o drama'...so fitting and so aptly put.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

BBC, Where Are You?

The homepage on my computer is BBC News. It's been my homepage for many years because the depth of their international coverage is much greater than the American news sites which tend to be extremely domestic oriented, or when they do cover international news, they tend to only cover areas such as Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Much to my dismay, the BBC's coverage of the crisis in Honduras has been extremely biased in favor of Comandante Cowboy and his followers. They have tended to report on every small protest involving Zelayalistas and portray them as brave victims while ignoring the tens of thousands of peaceful pro-government supporters.

So it comes as a great surprise that BBC didn't have a report on yesterday's demonstrations showing the random attack and burning of a bus (with people on board scrambling to get off) and the burning of a restaurant as well as other random destruction of property. Well, actually, it wasn't a demonstration or protest; it was riot. And, to make matters worse, many of the rioters were reportedly paid to participate, so it wasn't out of conviction. They are kinda like football (soccer) hooligans.

So what happened to your reporting BBC? Did your reporter just forget to file his report for the day or was it his day off? Or maybe, just maybe, the Zelayalistas didn't appear as sympathetic as you wanted (or needed)? Maybe their burning and violence didn't serve as good propaganda or garner support for the cause? Mr. BBC editor, please feel free to leave your comments in my comment section.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Reuters article

U.S. appears to soften support for Honduras's Zelaya

Wed Aug 5, 2009 2:52pm EDT

By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. policy on Honduras' political crisis is not aimed at supporting any particular individual, the State Department said in a new letter that implied softening support for ousted President Manuel Zelaya.

The letter to Republican Senator Richard Lugar contained criticism of Zelaya, saying the left-leaning former leader had taken "provocative" actions ahead of his removal by the Honduran military on June 28.

The State Department also indicated severe U.S. economic sanctions were not being considered against the de facto government of Roberto Micheletti, which took over in Honduras after Zelaya removed from office.

"Our policy and strategy for engagement is not based on supporting any particular politician or individual. Rather, it is based on finding a resolution that best serves the Honduran people and their democratic aspirations," Richard Verma, the assistant secretary for legislative affairs, said in the letter.

"We have rejected calls for crippling economic sanctions and made clear that all states should seek to facilitate a solution without calls for violence and with respect for the principle of nonintervention," he said. The letter was dated Tuesday and obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

President Barack Obama has condemned Zelaya's ouster, refused to recognize Micheletti, cut $16.5 million in military aid to Honduras and thrown his support behind the mediation efforts of Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, whose proposals include Zelaya's reinstatement.

Last week the U.S. government announced it was revoking diplomatic visas for several members of Micheletti's administration.

REPUBLICAN THREAT

But the State Department letter, while "energetically" condemning Zelaya's ouster on June 28, noted that the coup had been preceded by a political conflict between Zelaya and other institutions inside Honduras.

"We also recognize that President Zelaya's insistence on undertaking provocative actions contributed to the polarization of Honduran society and led to a confrontation that unleashed the events that led to his removal," it said.

Zelaya was pushing for constitutional reforms that included changing term limits for presidents. His opponents accused him of trying to seek re-election, but he denies the allegation.

The Supreme Court ordered his arrest and the Honduran Congress later approved his ouster.

In the letter to Lugar, the State Department also indicated the Obama administration has still not made a definite decision as to whether Zelaya's ouster constituted a coup.

"We have suspended certain assistance as a policy matter pending an ongoing determination under U.S. law about the applicability of the provisions requiring termination of assistance in the event of a military coup."

Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had asked the government to explain its policy on the Honduran political crisis, warning that Senate confirmation may be delayed for a diplomatic nominee for Latin America without it.

The letter appeared to be a response to this request.

Because of U.S. support for Zelaya, conservative Republican Senator Jim DeMint has threatened to delay a Senate vote on the nomination of Arturo Valenzuela to be assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs.

DeMint welcomed the State Department letter but said the Obama administration had not gone far enough.

"I'm glad to see the State Department is finally beginning to walk back its support for Manuel Zelaya and admit that his 'provocative' actions were responsible for his removal," he said through a spokesman.

"These admissions are helpful, but what is necessary is for President Obama to end his support for Zelaya who broke the law and sought to become a Chavez-style dictator," DeMint said, referring to Venezuela's socialist president Hugo Chavez, an ally of Zelaya.


Some Good News!!!

According to a report in Reuters today, American support for Zelaya has softened. This is cause for drinking a six pack of Imperial because this means Comandante Cowboy will not be returning to Honduras as president. Without U.S. pressure or sanctions, Mel doesn't have a chance on his own (or with Chavez's and Otega's support) of a successful return. Although long past due, in a letter to Senator Richard Lugar, the U.S. finally admits that much of Zelaya's problems were of his own making and that the U.S. doesn't have any intention of imposing crippling sanctions.

I'm sure Comandante Cowboy has already read the article or heard the news, so he must going into severe depression now. (It's time to get on the prozac, Mel).

Sweet dreams, Mel.

Three cheers and hip, hip hooray!!!

Also, my public thanks to Senators Mack and DeMint for their support of Honduran democracy.

Please read the article at: www.reuters.com/article/email/idUSTRE5744L120090805

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Graffiti, a Sign of the Times

My wife returned to Honduras yesterday after spending a wonderful summer with me here in New Orleans. She hasn't had the time to get out and about in Tegucigalpa since her return, but she did make one observation en route from the airport to home: Tegucigalpa is now full of pro-Zelaya graffiti. Every possible wall seems to have been defaced...so I guess the spray paint merchants are doing a good business.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Take a Stand Columbia

The Chavez axis with Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Bolivia has led to very rocky relations with Columbia. Recently, Venezuela has been accused of supplying anti-tank rocket-launchers to Farc rebels, and Mr. Chavez has frozen diplomatic relations with Columbia as a result. Ecuador has not had diplomatic relations with Columbia since March 2008 when the Columbian air force bombed a Farc camp just inside Ecuador. Nicaragua has had a soverignty dispute with Columbia over some Caribbean islands for some time.

All this diplomatic rancor has led to economic consequences for Columbia. Ecuador has imposed tariffs on Columbian goods and Chavez is threatening to do the same. (Please see BBC News article "Columbia's Rocky Regional Relations", dated July 30, 2009).

Wouldn't this be a good time for Columbian President Alvaro Uribe to strike a blow at the Chavez axis by recognizing the new anti-Chavez government in Honduras? Come on Mr. Uribe, take a stand for democracy: Recognize the Honduran Government.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Menage a trois

How do you say 'menage a trois' in Spanish?

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Two Thumbs Up

Saturday night is movie night!

A Behind the Scenes Look at the Recent Action in Costa Rica

Don Godo has been able to obtain behind the scenes footage of the recent action in San Jose.  Steamy stuff...No wonder Xiomara stayed in Teguz...!!!  

Friday, July 31, 2009

Honduras Libre

As everyone knows, a 'Cuba Libre' is a cocktail consisting of rum and coke with a twist of lime. But that's Cuba's drink. From now on, I intend to celebrate Honduras' liberation every June 28, but need an appropriate 'Honduran' drink.

So I would like for all readers of this blog to submit suggestions in the comment section for concocting the perfect 'Honduras Libre' drink. My suggestion is that it should be rum based, since rum already seems to be the unofficial drink of Central America and the Caribbean. Also, since Honduras is rich in fruits, maybe some native type of fruit would be an essential compliment.

I look forward to your suggestions (and to trying out the various concoctions!!)

"Venezuela Mulls Tough Media Law"

The above is the title from a news article from BBC today. It further states "A tough new media law, under which journalists could be imprisoned for publishing 'harmful' material, has been proposed in Venezuela.

Journalists could face up to four years in prison for publishing material deemed to harm state stability."

Just a look into my 'crystal ball' regarding Honduras' future if Chavez and Comandante Cowboy have their way...

More Companies That I Will Boycott

Addidas Group, Nike Inc., and Gap Inc. issued a joint letter this week asking for the "restoration of democracy in Hondudras". Are their collective heads in the ground since this already happened on June 28? Whatever their reasons are for siding with Comandante Cowboy Zelaya, I will no longer patronize their brands. It should be noted that in the case of Gap, this includes Banana Republic and Old Navy.

I hope others of similiar views to my own will join with me and no longer buy or shop at their stores or buy any of their brands.

I want to stress that other companies with manufacturing operations in Honduras have not taken a political stance and have not aligned themselves with Zelaya. These companies include Gilden, Hanes, and Russell Athletic.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Is There Love in the Air Between Barack and Comandante Cowboy?

The U.S. government still insists that Mel Zelaya be allowed to return to Honduras and resume the Presidency. Yesterday, to show they mean business, the US State Dept. cancelled the visas of four government officials and their families. (Ouch, Hillary must not know that shopping is just as good in Panama City as it is in Miami).

But what does this say about America, it's government, and it's policies? Given that Article 239 of the Honduran constitution states that any president who so much as proposes the permissibility of reelection "shall cease forthwith" in his duties, the US position seems to show contempt for constitutionality and the rule of law. In this case, the US seeks to impose a president on Honduras who is forbidden by Honduras' constitution from serving in that capacity.

Why such a disregard for Honduras' constitution? Is it because the US has an air of arrogance and considers it a 'third world' document not worthy of the paper it is printed on? Has Chavez somehow cast a 'spell' on Obama and Hillary? Are they willing to sacrifice Honduras to appease Chavez? Since the US can't push Iran around, does it want to prove something to itself by bullying poor, helpless Honduras?

Questions to ponder...

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's Time for Comandante Cowboy to Reinvent Himself (Please!)

At some point I trust Comandante Cowboy will get the message that he is not exactly popular in Honduras and that his support is anything but overwhelming. A few hints Mel... Raul Castro did not mention Honduras in a major speech this weekend...There are no throngs of supporters at the border eagerly anticipating your return (weren't you surprised?)... Hillary is irritated by your style and considers your behavior 'rash'... Four weeks have passed and the world is beginning to forget about you (Oh, not everyone has forgotten about you, the magistrates that have a warrant for your arrest are still thinking of you)...Your theatrics are beginning to seem like worn out re-runs of a bad t.v. show.

So, maybe it's time for you to reinvent yourself... and I think I have the perfect role for you (unless it 20 years behind bars as a wife to a 'salvatrucha 18' gang member)...

I'm old enough to remember the commercials for the Marlboro Man, so I was thinking that since you love the limelight, maybe you could become the 'Belmont Man'. I can see it now... You on a donkey, slowly descending a mountainside in Nicaragua, with a Belmont dangling from your mouth. You could be in every glossy in Central America!! The girls would adore you!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Boycott Citgo

Given Venezuela's interference in Honduran affairs, I have resolved never to buy gas at any Citgo station in the future.  I refuse to patronize a company who's profits go to the Venezuelan state and are at the disposal of the Chavez regime to manipulate and control Honduras.

I trust other Americans that support Honduras' struggle to maintain democracy and constitutionality will join with me and refuse to purchase any product at a Citgo station.

Op-Ed from Los Angeles Times, July 18, 2009

OPINION

The Honduran coup that wasn't

Despite howls by organizations that should know better, the nation's president legally removed himself from office by trying to alter the Constitution. The military just helped him out the door.
By William Ratliff 
July 18, 2009
We have heard a lot about Honduras lately, but there is much more at issue than the nighttime removal of President Manuel Zelaya on June 28 and its aftermath. The far bigger story is the disgrace of the world's major international political and economic organizations. 

The Organization of American States and its ambitious leader, Jose Miguel Insulza, took the lead in dealing with the crisis. The OAS gave the new de facto Honduran government three days to restore Zelaya or suffer suspension from the organization. Tegucigalpa responded by quitting first. 

But the OAS, the United Nations, the European Union, the World Bank and others were all shooting from the hip into the dark. These leaders had nothing to inform their decisions but fuzzy idealism, ideological prejudices, assorteself-interests and profound ignorance of realities on the ground in Honduras.

But that was good enough for them. Insulza rejected conversations among contending parties in favor of macho confrontation, ultimatums and polarization, to the cheers of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and other Chavistas. To their great shame, every OAS member-nation went along with Insulza. The OAS is indeed the Organization of American Sheep.

The Obama administration kept a low profile while setting up talks between the two sides, mediated by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. The talks themselves -- as well as the U.S. focus on mediation rather than just confrontation -- brought howls of rage from Chavez.

The OAS declaimed its eternal rejection of the "anti-democratic," "anti-constitutional" "military coup" by the new government. But it was Zelaya who was in the wrong. The OAS diplomats can't have it both ways -- professing their unshakable dedication to national constitutions and the rule of law even as they militantly make a hero of a country's No. 1 lawbreaker. 

What didn't the OAS, the U.N. and other leaders know that before ordering Hondurans around? As Honduran lawyer Octavio Sanchez pointed out in the Christian Science Monitor, when Zelaya issued a decree ordering a referendum on changing presidential terms, he "triggered a constitutional provision that automatically removed him from office." (Google the Honduran Constitution and read it for yourself -- Article 239.) Zelaya had ousted himself, so impeachment was unnecessary. 

So it was quite legal for the military to remove Zelaya, though the nighttime act gave an impression of a military coup to outsiders. 

It is Zelaya, Insulza, Chavez, the U.N. and all the OAS member-states who are playing at banana republic politics, not the government in Tegucigalpa. 

William Ratliff is a fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and the Independent Institute.

 

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mel, the Media Darling

Over the past few weeks, I've often wondered why has Mel become the media's darling 'du jour'? Is it because of his democratic credentials? He won a democratic election after all...but then I know that he has total disdain for democratic institutions and feels that a president can ignore the Supreme Court, Congress, the Constitution; and rule by decree instead. So this can't be it. Is it because of his charisma? What charisma? He doesn't even sing well...

Is it because of his comical 'quirks', shutting down main streets in the capital so he can ride his Harley? (Just what the traffic congested capital always needed on a busy day). Maybe it's because of his equestrian skills, riding donkeys and horses into small villages? (I guess the campesinos had a good laugh). Is it because of his cosmopolitan style, travelling all over the world when he was president of a small, poor country with a large entourage of family and friends? (That was always a good use of scarce public resources).

Is it because of his frugal nature, spending $80,000.00 in five days on his government credit card? Could it be because of his no-nonsense approach to public corruption, appointing the most corrupt people he could find to the highest positions possible? Or maybe it's his 'socialists' credentials, earned after imitating Chavez's rhetoric...(but then everyone knows he's not 'truly' a socialist, he's merely an opportunist and charlatan). Is it because he's a cute, cuddly wannabe 'caudillo', cut down to size, and they feel sorry and pity for him? Is it because of his ever increasing desperation so evident in his daily tirades? No, I just don't think these things are it...

Oh, I think I finally figured it out...It's because of his 'Stetson'? So stupid of me not to have known all along... The media must somehow find it heartwarming to see a confirmed anti-gringo adopting this so very American symbol as his own. There you have it...an anti-cowboy cowboy!! How cute indeed!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Ponderings

1- If the events of June 28, 2009 were indeed a 'coup', (I'm of the school that disagrees with that assertion, and prefers to look at those events as a 'restoration of constitutionality'), then it was one of the world's first 'velvet' coups: both bloodless and popular.

2- Given Mel's anti-American rhetoric and policies, why did his wife and son seek refuge at the American embassy and later at the American ambassador's home? Wouldn't the Venezuelan or Ecuadorian embassy have been a better sanctuary? Wouldn't they have felt more secure and blissful there?

3- If the negotiations in Costa Rica lead to Mel's return to Honduras, will he come back with his 'feathers plucked'. By this, I mean will he come back strictly as a figurehead without any powers? If so, this might not necessarily be a bad thing as this would a humiliation for him. It would actually be nice to see him transform from a 'bull' to a 'steer'.

4- And, related to no. 3, what about the criminal charges that have been filed against Mel? Will he return to Honduras to face indictment? I don't think he would agree to that option. Will amnesty be granted? That would be an insult to the Honduran people that endured his corrupt rule for way too long. If Mel were granted amnesty, what about his family? His son has also been linked to corruption and the drug trade. Will Mel return only to see his son thrown into jail?

5- This leads me to thinking about corruption in general. The new government has already made strides against corruption (arresting Chimirri, etc.) This was way past due. But will it continue? Or was it strictly 'window dressing'? Has the new government begun a new paradigm in Honduran civil and political society that will endure? Or ironically, will the end result of the Costa Rican negotiations be a return to 'business as usual'?

6- I still have not heard any criticisms from the OAS nor any explanations for its failure to act regarding Mel's illegal behaviour towards Honduran Supreme Court rulings and Honduran Congressional acts? Why are they ignoring Mel's unconstitutional, power grabbing actions? I have the same question for the world media. Did it ever occur to them that the very reason the Honduran Constitution is inflexible in its limitation to one term only for a president is to prevent power hungry would-be despots (like Mel) from continuing in power?

7- I consider the unfortunate death of a demonstrator this past Sunday to be blood on Mel's hands. He knew and even encouraged mob behavior in order to stroke his inexhaustible ego. Against all advice, (including the Cardinal's warning of possible bloodshed), he insisted on his 'airshow'. This unfortunate death would have been avoided except for Mel's actions. At the very least, it's misfeasance on Mel's part.

8- The U.S. ambassador has already commented on the use of the word 'negrito', and an apology has been issued. But I'm still wondering whether Obama actually knew where Tegucigalpa was before June 28 or not? Do I hear silence on the part of the US government? Maybe this is reason enough to reinstate geography classes in elementary schools. Maybe free subscriptions to National Geographic should have been a part of the stimulus bill.

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Best Picture from a Peace Rally in Honduras

"Honduras is an example for the world.  We don't have petroleum nor dollars, but we have balls"

Op-Ed from Forbes, July 6, 2009

The Audacity Of Honduras

Roger Noriega07.06.09, 03:11 PM EDT

As the OAS stumbles, give diplomacy a chance.


On Sunday, July 5, Honduran authorities rejected the ultimatum issued by the Organization of American States (OAS) to reinstate ousted president Manuel Zelaya. Shortly after, the defiant government was suspended from the regional body. This impasse does not reflect a failure of diplomacy, but exposes a lack of it.

In the past week, most objective observers conceded that Zelaya's aggression against Honduran Congress and Courts coupled with his willful violations of the Honduran constitution spawned this crisis. An international chorus questions the legality of Zelaya's ouster. Since I am unschooled in Honduran law, I am forced to rely on the unanimous decisions of the independent Supreme Court blessing Zelaya's replacement.

Common sense is useful here too: If a traffic cop roughs up a drunk driver at the scene of an injury accident, I doubt anyone would argue the importance of getting the drunk back behind the wheel as the best way to chastise the policeman.

The international community is so fixated on the car wreck that they have failed to notice that Hondurans have put their own legal house in order. Although the duty fell to the military to enforce a court order against Zelaya, no soldier ever held power. The duly constituted Congress--about half of whose members are from Zelaya's own Liberal Party--reviewed Zelaya's crimes and voted almost unanimously to remove him from office. Respecting the constitutional order of succession, the Congress elected its own president, Liberal Roberto Micheletti, as Zelaya's replacement. Micheletti has pledged to turn over power next January to a successor chosen in this November's regularly scheduled elections--a pledge that the democratic paragon Zelaya was unwilling to make.

While Honduran authorities have opened an inquiry into Zelaya's treatment, the Supreme Court has held its position that the military acted properly. Zelaya has been indicted on many crimes--including treason--and some of his associates with ties to corruption and drug trafficking are finally facing justice.

Hondurans are convinced that Chavez's puppetry at the OAS abetted Zelaya's illegal campaign for re-election and is now driving the rush to judgment and calls for Zelaya's return. Chavez's media outlets are whipping up internal mobs, and he has even threatened military action against Honduras to back up his demands. Astonishingly, neither the U.S. nor the OAS has called upon the Venezuelan bully to temper his rhetoric. In any case, his comments have merely served to stiffen Honduran resistance to Zelaya's return.

The credibility of the OAS and of its Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, is shot. The organization's refusal over the last few months to review Zelaya's provocative actions is a failure to use the graduated approach dictated by the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which was designed precisely to defuse crises. By contrast, its zealous rush to judgment after Zelaya's ouster bypassed the process of study and reflection called for under the Democratic Charter.

But Honduras is hardly an isolated example of the OAS's abject failure. For months, it has ignored Chavez's aggressive maneuvers to deny Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma the ability to assume the office he won last November; this weekend, Ledezma began a hunger strike in the OAS office in Venezuela to dramatize the group's hypocrisy. Insulza and the OAS have done nothing to confront the stealing of dozens of mayoral races in Nicaragua (including in the capital city of Managua) last fall. And the OAS has turned a blind eye to the aggressive measures deployed by Chavez himself as well as his allies in Bolivia and Ecuador running roughshod over government institutions, media critics and political opponents.

Insulza's unyielding defense of Zelaya and his lethargy where political rights are being trampled in a half a dozen other countries have only one thing in common: That's the way Chavez wants it.

With the OAS's leadership so thoroughly disgraced, individual governments must step forward to forge a diplomatic approach to protect the rights and freedoms of all Hondurans. A "Friends of Honduras" group could support a national dialogue or help accompany a review of Zelaya's alleged crimes and subsequent ouster. Presidential elections held in November or earlier could be monitored by the U.N. or by other independent observers. Individual nations must be counseled to cease their threats against Honduras and to stop meddling in its internal affairs.

Canada's foreign minister, Peter Kent, has been willing to speak good sense in this case, and his country is one of the few in the region that has the independence and heft to do what is right for Honduran democracy and not necessarily what Hugo Chavez dictates.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Honduras: the Little Giant

I'm just wondering whether Honduras is more like David in the biblical story of David and Goliath, or more like Thomas, 'the little engine that could'?

Friday, July 03, 2009

Mel and the Cartels? Hmmm



By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, July 02, 2009 4:20 PM PT

The Hemisphere: A Honduran official has warned that deposed President Mel Zelaya was in league with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez to ship drugs to the U.S. If true, can this really be the man the U.S. wants back in power?

Foreign Minister Enrique Ortez dropped a bombshell last week when he said Zelaya, the president who was thrown out by a constitutional process June 28 after defying the law, had a little side business with the Caracas caudillo allowing cocaine to roll into Honduras from Venezuela before heading to the U.S.

"Every night, three or four Venezuelan-registered planes land without the permission of appropriate authorities and bring thousands of pounds . . . and packages of money that are the fruit of drug trafficking," Ortez told CNN En Espanol. "We have proof of all of this. Neighboring governments have it. The DEA has it."

If Ortiz is right, the U.S. effort to restore Zelaya to power would be suicidal for U.S. efforts to destroy drug organizations south of our border. It would undercut Mexico's and Colombia's savage drug wars and give drug lords such as the Sinaloa cartel's Shorty Guzman, who has bases in Honduras, reason to strengthen operations.

It also means the U.S. must start asking questions about Chavez's role in the drug trade now that U.S.-Venezuelan diplomatic ties are being restored. Right now, it's such a hot potato that nobody in either the State Department or the Drug Enforcement Administration wants to comment on it.

Zelaya's return would put the U.S. in a dilemma. The U.S. has gone along with the Chavez-led global consensus denouncing Zelaya's exit as a coup d'etat and condemning the current Honduran government. But that position means the U.S. would have to cut off a $43 million aid package to Honduras that includes drug-fighting.

This is why the legal definition of "coup" is so touchy.U.S. policymakers are stalling about labeling Zelaya's removal as such — though hotheads in the Obama administration, such as U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, don't hesitate to use the term.

It also would represent a sorry retreat on current policy.

In 1989, the U.S. took out Manuel Noriega in a military operation over his ties to the Medellin cartel. In 1994, the U.S. cut off aid to Colombia when its new president, Ernesto Samper, was caught on tape with the kingpins of the Cali cartel and taking their cash.

Restoring Zelaya and then pretending the drug war can be won would be a travesty, harming the interests of the U.S. and all the battered nations fighting drugs alongside us.

Ortez's warning lacks detail. But it does describe the well-known problem of traffickers using Central American countries as transshipment points for drugs. This has gotten worse since Zelaya made his alliance with Chavez two years ago.

The aircraft landings, many of which become known after they've crashed with multiton shipments — cannot happen without the president of a small country knowing about them.

The recent high-profile murder of an attorney investigating money-laundering in Guatemala highlighted the problem of corruption extending all the way to the president of that country. Before he was shot dead in the street, Rodrigo Rosenberg videotaped testimony calling Guatemala's president his murderer and said the motive was to cover up the drug-linked corruption he was probing.

This same drug onslaught has slammed Honduras with crime and corruption. The country now has the highest murder rate in the hemisphere, with 4,000 dead in 2008.

It's a fact that the crime has gotten worse under Zelaya, whose commitment to the war on drugs is weak. The leftist demagogue's call to legalize drugs last October didn't come out of some principled libertarian impulse.

If Zelaya is behind Honduras' drug problems, then he can't be allowed back into the country. An international investigation must be undertaken, and Honduras must provide information.

If Zelaya is found to be in league with Chavez on drugs, then the quarrel over whether or not he was removed in a coup becomes a small matter. Then the only place for this former dictator is a jail cell, the same as Noriega got.