(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 27, 2009
THE victory of the right wing
candidate preferred by
the oligarchy and the military, Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo, in the elections
November 29 did not come as a surprise. A majority of the people had
from voting, heeding the calls by the democratically elected president,
Zelaya, trade unions and civil rights groups to boycott the polls held
the barrel of the gun. The Obama administration was, however, quick to
elections the stamp of legitimacy. After the June 28 military coup,
The isolated military backed
Honduran government could
not have survived long without the tacit support from
In the five months that have
elapsed after the ouster
Then came the “
Zelaya, who had courageously
returned to the country
in October, remains holed up in the Brazilian embassy in the capital,
The election was held under the shadow of the gun. Since the coup, the military has been riding roughshod over trade union groups and poor neighbourhoods, which constitute the main support base of Zelaya. On election day, 40,000 troops were mobilised to intimidate the electorate. Rallies protesting against the lections were brutally broken up. In many places, people were forcibly made to cast their votes. The Honduran Election Commission claimed that more than 65 per cent of the population cast their votes. In the last presidential elections, when comparative peace prevailed, only 55 per cent had turned out to vote.
The so-called “fair and free elections” were held under the supervision of the military which had control over the ballot boxes and the computers which tabulated the results. The leading opposition candidate, Carlos H Reyes, withdrew in protest. Hundreds of candidates who were concurrently running for Congress and municipal offices also withdrew, questioning the fairness of the elections. The three main trade unions along with human rights organisations and women’s groups united under the umbrella grouping --- the National Front against the Coup d’Etat, which characterised the elections as fraudulent. The military backed government had told citizens that not voting would be considered an illegal act. The two presidential candidates who remained in the fray had both supported the military coup.
Washington’s decision to recognise the legitimacy of the elections has emboldened the right wing Honduran political establishment. The “victor” of the November election, Porfirio Lobo pronounced that the military coup and the derailment of democracy are things of the past. “Zelaya is just part of the past, it is over,” he told reporters after his victory. Zelaya had defeated Lobo in the presidential elections held four years ago.
REJECTS THE SHAM
It will, however, be difficult for the country to re-enter the Latin American mainstream that easily under the present dispensation. The “Rio Group,” a 25 member organisation comprising of the entire Latin American nations, issued a statement in early November, declaring that it will not recognise the elections of November 28, if President Zelaya is not first restored to office.
The leaders assembled at the Ibero-American summit in Portugal in the last week of November were also quick to criticise the attempts to legitimise the military coup. They issued a statement demanding the “reinstatement of President Manuel Zelaya to the position that he was democratically elected for.” The statement said that this was “a fundamental step” required for the return of constitutional normality. The Brazilian president, Lula da Silva, said through his spokesman that the election was “an attempt to whitewash the coup.” The US government had been very critical about Brazil’s decision to give refuge to Zelaya in its embassy in Tegucigalpa. Brazil, which has emerged as the regional superpower, has taken a leadership role in Latin America to the consternation of US policymakers who still like to consider Latin America as their political backyard.
But Washington’s close allies in the region, like Colombia, Peru, Panama and Costa Rica, welcomed the elections and have indicated that they would follow the Obama administration’s lead in recognising Lobo as the next president of Honduras. But the majority of Latin American nations remain steadfast in their rejection of the sham election. As President Lula said: “It’s not possible to accept a coup, whether it’s a military coup or dressed up as a civilian coup.” President Obama’s endorsement of the election after his initial criticism of the coup has been a further cause of disappointment for many of his supporters. Obama had said in July that “it would be a bad precedent if we start moving backwards into the era in which we are seeking military coups as a means of political transition, rather than democratic elections.”
At the OAS summit held earlier this year, Obama had told his fellow Latin American and Caribbean heads of state that the US seeks “a new chapter of engagement” with the region. The US state department had also issued statement after the coup that the US “would not be able to support” the outcome of an election” because they would not be “fair, free and transparent.” But the Obama administration under pressure mainly from the Republican right wing abruptly changed tack and granted legitimacy to the elections and the military backed government. The Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, had warned against trusting Washington on the issue of restoring democracy in Honduras from the very outset. Zelaya made the mistake of trusting Washington to be an honest broker and is now paying the price for his political naivety.