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


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 anti-cowboy cowboy!! How cute indeed!

Thursday, July 09, 2009


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.

Preventing a Honduran Bloodbath

The following is an op-ed that from The Washington Post, July 3, 2009 by Carlos Alberto Montaner

Preventing a Honduran Bloodbath

The United States Ambassador to Honduras, Hugo Llorens, an extremely competent diplomat, tried very hard to keep Honduras's Congress from ousting President Manuel Zelaya. After his arguments and pressures were exhausted, and faced with something that seemed inevitable, he did what he could: he sheltered the president's son at his residence to save him from any violent outcome.

Fortunately, Zelaya's expulsion from the presidency and from his country was bloodless. It wasn't exactly a military coup: the Army acted on orders from the Supreme Court after Zelaya's continued violations of the law. The ousted president seemed intent on getting reelected, even if it meant violating the Constitution, and on dragging the nation into Hugo Chávez's "21st century socialism" camp against the will of the Honduran people.

Nevertheless, if there is still something worse than the depressing spectacle of a freely elected president forced to leave his country at gunpoint, it is that same leader trying to force his way back in. If Zelaya returns, he will be arrested and charged with an array of crimes. His imprisonment will embarrass any who decide, irresponsibly, to accompany him on such a mad adventure.

This is most grave. Hugo Chávez and Daniel Ortega are already talking about invasions and resorting to force. That could unleash a bloodbath and would certainly destroy the weak political institutions that Honduras labored to achieve three decades ago, when the era of military dictatorships mercifully ended. Peter Hakim, president of Inter-American Dialogue, put it this way: "Zelaya is fighting with all the institutions in the country. He is in no condition really to govern."

And that's the truth. According to Mexican pollster Mitofsky's April survey, Zelaya was Latin America's least popular leader. Only 25 percent of the nation supported him. Another survey found that 67 percent of Hondurans would never vote for him again. Why? Because the Hondurans attributed to him a deep level of corruption; because they assumed he had links to drug trafficking, especially drugs originating in Venezuela, as former U.S. Ambassador to the O.A.S. Roger Noriega revealed in a well-documented article published in his blog; and because violence and poverty -- the nation's two worst scourges -- have increased dramatically during his three years in power.

Simply put, a huge majority of the country -- including the two major political parties (including Zelaya's), the Christian churches, the other branches of government and the armed forces -- do not want him as president. All agreed that he should finish his mandate and leave power in January 2010, but no one wanted him to break the law to keep himself in the presidency. Hugo Chávez has already done that, and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, Bolivia's Evo Morales and probably Ecuador's Rafael Correa are also trying to do the same. The Hondurans, without question, do not want to go down the path of Hugo Chavez's collectivist and anti-Western "caudillismo," allied to Iran, Cuba and North Korea.

What to do under these circumstances? The worst idea is to resort to force. The government of interim President Roberto Micheletti already is summoning reservists and the Army is preparing to defend the nation's sovereignty. The nationalist discourse is heating up with talk of "defense of the motherland" against foreign enemies. They worry about foreign aggression, shrewdly propelled by Chavez and his crew, in which -- inexplicably this time -- the Americans have sided with the enemies of democracy and the rule of law.

If a conflict explodes, one of the Western hemisphere's poorest countries will suffer the bloodletting that Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua experienced during the Cold War.

The solution is to move forward with the general elections planned for November. It's a solution within everyone's reach: the candidates are already there, freely elected in open primaries, and both enjoy much popularity. Why plunge this society irresponsibly into a maelstrom of violence? Once the new government is selected, a government that enjoys the legitimacy generated by a democratic process, the Honduran people can push this lamentable episode into the past.

That will be best for almost all parties in the conflict. Zelaya may lose the game, but Hondurans will not pay with their blood for the mistakes and misdemeanors of a maladroit ruler.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Very True!

June 30

The Independent, London, on the ousting of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya:

The ousting of the Honduran President Manuel Zelaya by the country's military at the weekend has been condemned by many members of the international community as an affront to democracy. But despite a natural distaste for any military coup, it is possible that the army might have actually done Honduran democracy a service.

President Zelaya was planning a referendum to give him power to alter the constitution. But the proposed alterations were perilously vague, with opponents accusing Mr. Zelaya of wanting to scrap the four-year presidential term limit. The country's courts and congress had called the vote illegal.

This is an increasingly familiar turn of events in emerging democracies: an elected leader, facing the end of his time in office, decides that the country cannot do without him and resorts to dubious measures to retain power. ...

Honduras underlines that free votes only count if accompanied by a confident parliament, an independent judiciary, an unfettered media and impartial electoral monitors. The true test of a democracy's health is not the holding of elections. It is the possibility of power peaceably changing hands.

Corruption and Mel Zelaya

Apart from his illegal grab for perpetual power, I haven't heard many comments in the international media regarding corruption in the Zelaya government which was alleged to have been rampant.

Shouldn't some of the media be investigating corruption at Hondutel and Zelaya's connection to Mr. Chimirri, or corruption at state owned ENEE during the past few years (that is a nice new building they have in Tegucigalpa, and I understand the rent is way above market rates), or maybe Zelaya's alleged connection to the international drug trade and drug cartels (Trujillo anyone)? What about rumors of drug use among his high officials?

Hmmm, maybe these would turn out to be as Al Gore so aptly put it, 'inconvenient truths'...