Didn't Micheletti check our production schedule?

Oh the perils of running a news weekly. We posted a story today that will appear in our next issue reviewing a diplomatic breakthrough in Honduras that seemed early this week to have ended four months of political crisis and social chaos in Central America's third-poorest nation. Unfortunately the good news on the presumed deal between ousted President Manuel Zelaya and de-facto President Roberto Michellitti is already old news. The deal, which was aimed at restoring the deposed president to power long enough to finish his term of office and get Honduras through to its Nov. 29 presidential election, seems to have completely unraveled, and, according to some observers, it may have been intended to so unravel from the get go. At least that's the opinion of Ethan Katz at Washington's Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA). He argues that the fecklessness of the U.S. State Department may have doomed Zelaya to a political purgatory inside Tegulcigalpa's Brazilian embassy.

A few weeks ago COHA's Adam Isaacson told me it seemed that the Micheletti regime seemed quietly ready to endure the slings and arrows of outraged international diplomatic opinion in a waiting game to the Nov. 29 Honduran elections, under the apparent belief that once new elections were held all the political and economic recriminations surrounding Zelaya's June 28 ouster would diplo-miraculously subside. Though it cut off some aid, suspended visas and offered some indications that it would not regard the outcome of the elections as legitimate if Zelaya were not returned to office, it is fair to say that the Obama administration and State Department have not been as forceful as they could have been on the issue of the elections and the return of normal relations. Micheletti and his freres perhaps astutely noted some ambiguity in the U.S. position. Cut to last week and the U.S.-brokered deal is concluded that seems to leave all parties as satisfied as they can expect to be under the circumstances: Zelaya in a toothless restoration and moved out of the Brazilian embassy, a unity government established and hands across Honduras on Nov. 29.


But just a few days after the deal was announced no progress had been made on its major components, and the Honduran Congress has been demonstrating little interest in reconvening to vote for a Zelaya restoration. COHA's Katz says Zelaya's fate was sealed when deal-broker Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon said the mere presence of the deal, not its actual enforcement, was enough to tip the U.S.'s position on the upcoming election, a position reinforced by Secretary of State Clinton (in her second surprise aboutface in recent days—Go ask Abbas, I think he'll know), who managed to break Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) hold on Obama’s nomination of Arturo Valenzuela as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs with a phone-called confirmation of Shannon's statement. Was the whole weekend escapade a cynical exercise in diplomatic damage control and face-saving eyeing Nov. 29 all along?

Zelaya's antics leading up to the June 28 coup—or arrest, depending on which side of the street barricade you're leaning—could not have endeared the democratically elected born-again leftist to the Obama administration, which already has enough headaches to contend with. But joining the other members of the Organization of American States, the U.S. had presented a unified position on Zelaya's restoration as something of a nonnegotiable. In a region troubled for generations by military dabbling in democratic processes, the removal of Zelaya was an unexpected reminder of some truly bad old days, and it was hoped that America's boy prince of a president was ready to model new good neighborly behavior. After the last few days of apparent machiavelian intrigue, however, it could be that the Obama administration was modeling a prince of a decidedly different sort.



Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
8 years 10 months ago
From what I understand the military had nothing to do with Zelaya's removal from office.  I thought it was the supreme court of Honduras that ousted him after he was impeached by the legislature in a process similar to what we have in the US.  The military removed him from his residency under orders from the new government.  Is this understanding wrong?  Wasn't Zelaya removed from office by a democratic process?  I understood the only mistake they made was to then oust him from the country.
I thus do not understand the comment about ''bad old days'' and ''military dabbling in democratic processes.''  It seems to imply this was a military action.  The bad guys in this are many including the Obama administration but apparently the government of Honduras acted reasonably and have been unfairly punished by the US and others.
Gabriel Marcella
8 years 10 months ago
Neither did Daniel Ortega, president of Nicaragua and friend of Zelaya, check your schedule. He has created a crisis by pushing for a constitutional reform to allow himself, a corrupt dictator, to run for re-election in 2011. This is how the Zelaya problem started in Honduras. Do we have a double standard here, one for dictators and one for democrats? Perish the thought that America Magazine that would indulge in double standards!


The latest from america

Youths attending a pre-synod meeting participate in the Way of the Cross at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome on March 23. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
The meeting of the Synod of Bishops on young people is an opportunity for an ongoing conversation between everyday lived experience and church teachings.
Michele DillonSeptember 21, 2018
Pope Francis ends his official visit to Vilnius on Sunday evening at the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights, housed in the former headquarters of the K.G.B.
Edward W. Schmidt, S.J.September 21, 2018
Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark told the people of his archdiocese Sept. 21 that Pope Francis has granted his request that he stay at home to remain with them during this "time of crisis" in the U.S. church.
Catholic News ServiceSeptember 21, 2018
Girls gather for celebrations marking the feast of the Assumption in August 2012 in Aglona, Latvia. Twenty-five years after St. John Paul II visited Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, Pope Francis will make the same three-nation visit Sept. 22-25, stopping at a number of the same places as his saint-predecessor. (CNS photo/Ints Kalinins, Reuters)
He is the second pope to visit these Baltic nations. John Paul II came to the region in September 1993, after the collapse of communism, and was welcomed as a hero. Pope Francis comes exactly 25 years later, but much has changed since that first papal visit.
Gerard O’ConnellSeptember 21, 2018