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Honduras: Political Crisis Over Controversial Referendum

Categories: Latin America, Honduras, Elections, Politics

Honduras is going through one of its most difficult moments of its political history. Honduran President Manuel Zelaya removed General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez as Chief of the Armed Forces [es] [1] and accepted the resignation of Defense Minister Edmundo Orellana Mercado. The announcement was made after meeting with military leaders of the armed forces to seek protection of the polls for the referendum that has been promoted by the executive branch to be held on Sunday, June 28, 2009. This referendum will decide whether or not a Constituent Assembly is convened in order to write a new Constitution [2].

General Vázquez Velazquez found himself in a difficult situation, because the request or order of the President as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, contrasted with the conclusion reached by both the National Congress and the Supreme Court, that the referendum is illegal. Soon after the removal of General Vázquez Velazquez, Army Commander General Miguel Garcia Padgett, commander of the Naval Force, Rear Admiral John Paul Rodriguez, and Air Force commander, General Luis Javier Prince Suazo resigned from their posts.

In the streets of cities such as Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, there is prevailing tension and anxiety of not knowing what will happen next, with charges of a coup d'etat and lack of support of democracy in the country, from both supporters and opponents. This is seen most in the capital of Tegucigalpa, where businesses and schools were closed, gas stations and supermarkets full of people looking for supplies, and a military presence on the streets to prevent disturbances.

Hondurans have been using their blogs and social networking sites like Facebook, Blipea and Twitter to give their thoughts on the situation and to inform the country and world about the course of events.

Irina Vanessa Orellana of La Vida es Bella Aunque No Me Creas [es] writes this post to document what is happening:

Escribo este post, principalmente para dejar una huella en la historia que estamos viviendo, esperando dentro de poco tiempo poder leer el mismo, con la satisfacción de que sólo estamos pasando por un mal momento, esperando que lo que se viene, no sea nada parecido a lo que otros latinoamericanos ya tienen en Venezuela o Nicaragua….escribo con el miedo que muchos y muchas hondureñas estamos sintiendo, al ver que este frágil sistema democrático se nos está yendo de las manos. Ojalá que no pase nada peor!

I am writing this post, primarily to leave a mark on history about what we are experiencing, waiting to read the same in the near future, with the satisfaction that we are only going through a rough patch, hoping that what is coming, is nothing like what other Latin Americans like Venezuela or Nicaragua is going through… I write with the fear that many Hondurans are feeling when they see this fragile democratic system is passing through our fingers. Hopefully nothing worse happens!

However, there is a great deal of criticism for Zelaya. David Morán of El Catracho [es] writes that the president's actions are not helping the current Constitution [3]:

El irreversible presidente que tenemos arguye que nuestra Constitución ha sido pisoteada por los grupos facticos del país; pero él, en vez de hacer que se respete, pretende, luego del ultraje a que ha sido sometida, darle el tiro de gracia y asesinarla, esto con el fin de instaurar una asamblea constituyente que redacte otra, una que emule el sistema de represión socialista y paternal que existe en Cuba, sumiéndonos en una situación peor a la actual donde todos corremos el riesgo de perder nuestras libertades individuales.

The irreversible president has argued that our Constitution has been trampled by fanatical groups in the country, but he, instead of respecting the Constitution, intends, after the outrage that has expressed, shot and killed it, this in order to establish a constituent assembly to draft another document, one that emulates a repressive socialist and paternal system that exists in Cuba, placing us in a situation, worse to the one where we are today where we all risk losing our individual freedoms.

However, there are some supporters of the referendum, like the blogger at Honduras en el Mundo [es] who writes that voting is a way to find out about how much support there is [4] and that people should just vote “No” if they do not agree. He also criticizes the opposition for “campaigns of terror” and the hints of a coup for opposing the change that many people want. In addition, Juan Carlos Rivera of Mirada de Halcon [es] criticizes the media and the press for their role [5]:

En Honduras, como siempre ha ocurrido, la prensa, controlada por grupos conservadores, recurre a las herramientas más burdas para frenar cualquier movimiento que implique un cambio de la estructura política puesto que supone, para ellos, la pérdida de privilegios, comodidades y recursos materiales, obtenidos, en la mayoría de los casos, de manera irregular.

In Honduras, something which has always happened, the press, controlled by conservative groups, use the crudest tools to halt any movement that involves a change in the political structure that means, for them, the loss of privileges, comforts and material resources, usually obtained by irregular means.

This developing crisis in Honduras is not getting the media exposure that other countries receive like Iran [6], writes La Gringa's Blogicito.

Olga Iris Mencia B. of Hibueras [es] provides the opinion that the events in Honduras are necessary to wake the country up [7] and wonders about its future:

Lo que está pasando ahora en el país es lo que debe ser. Sin cambiar un ápice, con las renuncias debidas, con las destituciones dadas, con el apoyo de la gente, con las burlas de las oligarquías, con la indiferencia de la inconsciencia, con la movilización armada oficial, con los enojos del legislativo, con la corruptela tradicional del poder judicial, con el presidente y su personalidad. Cada hecho es un paso hacia el fortalecimiento de la soberanía. Cada hecho es un paso más hacía la agudización de la crisis, a ver más claro que la ciencia es ciencia y que la historia es irreversible aunque se juzgue cíclica, Que pasará en Honduras?

La historia se escribe cada día.

What is happening now in the country is what should be happening. Without changing one detail, with the due resignations, with the removals, with the support of the people, with the mockery from the oligarchies, the indifference of unconsciousness, with the mobilization of the armed officials, with the anger of the legislature, with the traditional corruption of the judiciary, the president and his personality. Each event is a step towards the strengthening of sovereignty. Each event is a step towards the exacerbation of the crisis, to see more clearly that science is science, and that history is irreversible event though it is judged to be cyclical. What will happen in Honduras?

History writes itself each day.