Breaking News: Deal Emerges in Honduran Coup Crisis

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Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and de facto Honduran leader Roberto Micheletti reached an agreement on Thursday that involves sharing power for the remaining of Zelaya’s term. More from Democracy Now!:

…Roberto Micheletti, said the agreement would create a power-sharing government and require both sides to recognise the result of the November 29th presidential elections. It would also create a truth commission to investigate the events of the past few months.

Micheletti and Zelaya held talks separately on Thursday with Tom Shannon, the US assistant secretary of state, and Dan Restrepo, Washington’s special assistant for Western Hemisphere affairs. As the negotiations were underway Thursday, a rally by hundreds of pro-Zelaya protesters in Tegucigalpa was broken up by police who fired tear gas.

A few questions still remain about the agreement — Congress has to approve the agreement and some experts are worried about continued bitterness from Zelaya supporters who do not want a power sharing government.

I think the most important part of the deal is that it establishes a Truth Commission to look into abuses (on both sides) committed during the civil unrest during the days of the coup. Though details of the commission are not laid out yet, it is a very important first step to ending this crisis appropriately.

What do you think of the deal?

Getting (even more) Scary in Honduras

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If you’ve been keeping up with the news in Honduras, you know about the crackdown on protesters, crackdown on media outlets, and slow diplomatic talks.

Supporters of ousted Honduras President Manuel Zelaya sit in front of Honduran army soldiers, 3 July 2009  © AP/PA Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills

Supporters of ousted Honduras President Manuel Zelaya sit in front of Honduran army soldiers, 3 July 2009 © AP/PA Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills

You also might know it’s a pretty emotional issue for Hondurans, many of whom stand completely with Zelaya or the de facto government. Just read the comments on my last blog and you’ll get the idea.

But did you know about an executive decree that bans all public meetings and gives incredible power to police? Yep, it’s true. According to a new AI story:

Honduran de facto president Roberto Micheletti must rescind a decree that provides sweeping new powers of detention to the police, bans all public meetings and imposes a 45 day curfew, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

“Honduras risks spiralling into a state of lawlessness, where police and military act with no regard for human rights or the rule of law,” said Susan Lee, Americas Director at Amnesty International. Roberto Micheletti must urgently rescind the decree and send clear instructions to the security forces to respect human rights in all circumstances and at all times.”

Since AI ran this story, Micheletti has vowed to reverse the decree — but not surprisingly has been slow to follow through.

From the beginning of the crisis in Honduras, Amnesty International has tried to make sense of the issue through a human rights lens rather than taking political sides — calling out human rights violations and getting the word out about unlawful abuse and detentions. Even though Amnesty is producing thoughtful research and news stories about human rights abuses in Honduras, more has to be done.

With rumors of civil war among some social organization spreading and the diplomatic talks stalling, now is time for you to take action to help end this crisis and restore human rights to the Honduran people!

Hope and Human Rights Abuses in Honduras

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Mediation efforts in Costa Rica concerning the ongoing crisis in Honduras reached a turning point today as diplomats and the interim (and openly racist) Honduran government agreed that ousted President Zelaya could return to Honduras within the next 24 hours. This comes as a relief to many human rights activists and President Arias of Costa Rica who feared that the crisis could lead to civil war.

Supporters of ousted Honduras President Manuel Zelaya sit in front of Honduran army soldiers, 3 July 2009

Supporters of ousted Honduras President Manuel Zelaya sit in front of Honduran army soldiers, 3 July 2009 © AP/PA Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills

But as mediation in Costa Rica appears to be helping the crisis, a new report by COFADEH (Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras) details 1161 seperate human rights violations since the morning of the coup. Amnesty International has also issued several statements urging the interim Honduran government to respect the rule of law and human rights during this tumultuous time.

Will the police and interim government ever be held accountable for the violations that happened and are still happening in Honduras? It will certainly take a lot of outside pressure from NGOs and the international community, and let’s hope Honduras stays in the headlines long enough so that the pressure stays strong on human rights violators. But after reading an eyebrow raising story from Democracy Now! alleging that many top officials in the interim government were trained by the U.S. military, I hope General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez’s law avoiding skills aren’t as polished as Cheney’s!

Crisis in Honduras…Obama and Chavez agree?

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Unrest in Honduras flared today as protesters spared with police over the recent exile of President Manuel Zelaya. Zelaya was ousted over the weekend by the Honduran military after disagreements among officials about a controversial constitutional referendum Zelaya had asked Hondurans to vote on last Sunday. The referendum would have changed the constitution to allow Zelaya an additional term as president — a move some have argued looks suspiciously close to the referendum Hugo Chavez proposed for Venezuela in 2007.

Amnesty International has issued a press release on the crisis arguing that President Zelaya must be allowed to return to Honduras immediately and safely. Amnesty also raised concerns about the safety of protesters and increased media censorship.

Interestingly, the Obama administration has tepidly stood on the side of leftist Zelaya — arguing that his exile was illegal and he should be reinstated to office immediately, a stance shared with Chavez. But as Paul Richter of the Los Angles Times points out, the U.S. has not gone so far as to remove its ambassadors from Honduras or declare the incident a coup d’etat.

However, I think Obama made a great statement today that shows some insight into U.S.-Latin American relations when he said, “The United States has not always stood as it should with some of these fledgling democracies, but over the last several years I think both Republicans and Democrats in the United States have recognized that we always want to stand with democracy, even if the results don’t always mean that the leaders of those countries are favorable towards the United States.”

As AI stated in their press release, I hope that this crisis will get resolved quickly and peacefully but am ready to roll up my sleeves and start writing letters if the situation gets worse.