Thursday, December 03, 2009

The letter, maybe – but the spirit?

Yesterday the Honduran Congress reiterated its support of the June 28 coup, 111 -14.

This seems to fulfill the letter of the San José/Tegucigalpa Accord that demanded a congressional vote on the restitution of president Zelaya. But I have my doubts.

First of all, I wonder why it took so long, especially since the vote was so one-sided. The hope was that soon after the accord was agreed upon in late October that the Congress would vote. But delay followed upon delay and the vote came after the disputed elections. I have my theories but I won’t speculate here.

Secondly, Pepe Lobo who won last Sunday’s election talked about national reconciliation, but it was his party, the Nationalist Party, that proposed the resolution that was voted on. I hope Lobo has the courage to do something dramatic.

What concerns me most is that none of this really seems to deal with the real problems of Honduras.

First of all, I fear that the election and the Congressional vote will increase the polarization in the country - not only between supporters and opponents of the coup, but between the economic and political elites and the poor.

Secondly, I have my doubts whether the new Congress and Pepe Lobo will take drastic steps to deal with the dramatic inequality in Honduras, but will continue with neoliberal policies that have widened the gap between rich and poor.

Thirdly, I have my concern that hopes of the poor for more participation in determining the direction of their country have been frustrated.

Also, this leaves in place the bi-party system which distributes favors among their activists and uses programs and money to garner votes and support.

And, what does this mean for Latin America which has been moving toward strengthening democracy? Honduras was a “fragile” democracy and is even more fragile, especially in light of the failure of the US to be consistent in its opposition to coups. Will this give the green light to disenchanted economic and political elites in other Latin American countries to join with the military and overthrow leaders they don’t like?

Yet, there may be signs of hope – but not from the powers that be. (I originally wrote “not from above” but changed it, since hope really comes from “Above,” from God who identifies with the poor and oppressed.)

During these months since the coup, a movement has grown in resistance. It is distinct from the followers of Zelaya (and should be). People have raised questions and have been willing to take risks by advocating against the coup. Some have been beaten and about 21 or so killed. They have endured this without taking up arms. (Thank God.) There have been some violent outbursts in a few occasions, but the Resistance has adhered to nonviolence for the most part.

The struggle for justice and for real participation in Honduras will be long.

But this passage from today’s Catholic lectionary reading from Isaiah 26: 4-6 is a telling warning:
the Lord is an eternal Rock.
He humbles those in high places
and the lofty city he brings down.
He brings it down, down to the ground,
flings it down in the dust.
It is trampled underfoot
by the feet of the needy,
by the footsteps of the poor.

slightly corrected, 2:00 pm, December 3, 2009

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It doesn't even fulfill the letter. "Formal delivery of the accords to Congress for the effects of point 5, of “Executive Power”.)" was supposed to happen October 30th, along with the announcement of a Unity Government on November 2nd. Neither point was fulfilled, nor could the latter be accomplished without Zelaya's participation.

The semblance of the letter, a pretense of the letter, a mockery of the letter: none are the same as the letter.