Sunday, July 10, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC:  Honduras Truth Commission rules Zelaya removal was coup

The Honduras Truth and Reconciliation Commission has concluded that the removal from office of former President Manuel Zelaya was a coup.


The Commission said Mr Zelaya broke the law when he disregarded the Supreme Court ruling ordering him to cancel the referendum.


The report said the Honduran Congress lacked a clear procedure to resolve power conflicts such as the one which arose in June 2024 between the president and Congress, but that it had acted beyond its limits by deposing the president.

The report further said that Congress overstepped its powers when it nominated Speaker of Congress Roberto Micheletti as interim president.

This pretty much sums up my conclusions on the situation at the time that 1) it was a coup (as I noted from the beginning), that 2) Zelaya acted illegally in refusing to stop the plebiscite (see discussion here and here), and that 3) the whole situation was made all the more problematic because of a lack of adequate institutional mechanisms to deal with Zelaya’s actions.

Now, it is worth noting that of the transgressions under discussion, the illegal removal of the president (and his exile) was by far the most egregious.

A major issue for the Honduran government ought to be constitutional reform to create a procedure for dealing with a president who ignores a court order as well as a functional impeachment process (as it stands, things are vague and dysfunctional).

Institutions, or the lack thereof, matter.

The Commission was appointed by the OAS and has no binding legal authority on the Honduran government.

Originally written for OTB.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the Sacramento BeeCocaine lab in Honduras alarms anti-drug officials

The jungle complex was the first large drug-processing laboratory found north of South America’s Andean region, and it signals a major change in the cocaine business. Traditionally, the industry has processed leaves from the coca plant in hidden labs in Colombia, then shipped the cocaine to North America and Europe.

Now, however, some traffickers are shipping semi-refined coca paste, or cocaine base, to Honduras, where it goes through the final processing into white powder, police officials believe.


Counter-drug officials offered several possible motives for why traffickers would shift processing northward to Central America, including a Colombian crackdown on so-called precursor chemicals, the ingredients needed to turn coca leaves into cocaine powder.

Basically, this is the balloon effect for processing.   If the authorities are going to make it difficult for the traffickers to obtain chemical in one place, they will simply shift the process elsewhere.

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Saturday, March 26, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Honduras drops arrest warrants for ousted Manuel Zelaya.

As we all may recall, Honduran President Manuel “Mel” Zelaya was invited, one fine Sunday morning, to board a plane to Costa Rica. Now, I must confess that I would very much like to go to Costa Rica, but there is a good way to be invited to Costa Rica, and a bad way. The problem in the Zelaya case is that said invitation was delivered by the military while Mel was still in his jammies.

At any rate, after many adventures, Mel found himself out of a job and is currently residing in the Dominican Republic and would like to return home and was a combo vacation invite and Trumpian “you’re fired.”

The piece notes that despite having three arrest warrants cancelled, he still faces corruption charges.

All my posts on Honduras can be found here, which includes the many adventures of Mel Zelaya and a discussion of the fact that, yes, is was a coup.

Wednesday, January 6, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

CNN has the following odd headline:  Obama-Cuba honeymoon may be over

What began as a hopeful "new beginning" for U.S.-Cuba relations, as President Obama once put it, may be settling back into the same old relationship that has gripped the two Cold War foes for half a century.

Yes, there were some critics of the administration that saw it as siding with Venezuela and Cuba against the coup government in Honduras and yes there was some softening in rhetoric (slight though it was) between the US and Cuba because Obama wasn’t Bush, but a “honeymoon”?  I think not.

As such, what we have is what we have had for five-ish decades of US-Cuba policy, i.e., no diplomatic relations and much ire.

The proximate cause of the CNN piece is a column by Fidel Castro in which he is highly critical of the American President.  How novel, yes?

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Saturday, December 12, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

The BBC headline proclaims:  Ousted Honduras President Zelaya ‘will meet successor’.

The lede paragraph states that the two will meet next week in the Dominican Republic.

However, as one reads the story one sees such phrases as “however neither has confirmed this” and “many details about the meeting still remain unclear.”

So, as with most things in regards to these ongoing events, waiting to see what actually happens is a good call.

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Thursday, December 10, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

It would appear that a drama that started with an exile, may end with an exile , although as has been the norm for this situation, nothing is easy:    Manuel Zelaya exile move from Honduras ‘postponed’.

A Honduran foreign ministry spokesman earlier said a safe-conduct pass had been signed, which would have enabled Mr Zelaya to leave.

But reports later emerged that no agreement had been reached on the means and terms of Mr Zelaya’s departure.

Anyone who has been following this story will not be surprised that “no agreement had been reached” or to learn that the two parties (the Honduran government and Zelaya) see the situation quite differently.

As Greg Weeks notes:

This particular episode in the continuing drama bears the same characteristics as other past episodes. The coup government appears to be negotiating in good faith, a deal is imminent, then the deal falls apart. The coup government figures that the mere gesture is sufficient to appease the international community and it buys time.

Pretty much.  And the whole thing rolls on…

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Saturday, December 5, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AFP:  Honduras revises down participation in disputed polls

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) posted figures of 49 percent participation after two thirds of votes were counted, down from 62 percent initially given on Sunday.

At this point, the number of blank and null votes (a potential sign of serious protest to the process) appear to be in line with past patterns (although such a statement is based on still unfinished counts).  In terms of a simple comparison, Matthew Shugart noted the other day that “In 2024, there were 133,351 ‘nulos’ and 55,139 ‘blancos.’”

At the moment the TSE is noting,  Votos Nulo: 72,026 and Votos Blanco: 45,274.

If anything, the change from 62% turnout to 49% is not an insignificant shift.  However, even 49% turnout is not going to be enough call the legitimacy of the election into question (at least not any more than has already been done).  Put another way:  I can’t see the number changing anyone’s mind about the situation.

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Thursday, December 3, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via CNN:  Honduran congress votes against ousted president

Deposed Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya will not be reinstated as head of state, a majority of the Honduran congress voted Wednesday.

In an hours-long process, 114 lawmakers voted in favor of a motion to keep Zelaya a political outcast. A simple majority of 65 votes in the 128-member body was required to reject his reinstatement.

Hardly a shock, given that the vote was about a deal that was supposed to be addressed before the elections.  Indeed, once it was clear that the Congress would not vote until after the elections, it was quite clear what the outcome would be.

However, had the Congress voted to restore Zelaya to fill out the lame duck portion of his term (president-elect Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo will assume office early next year) it might have put pressure on states in the region to recognize the election.  As it stands, a number of regional powers such as Brazil and Argentina, have said that they will not recognize the outcome.

The reporting on this matter continues to be poor (other recent examples here and here), and underscores how an idea, once out in the public domain, persists.  To wit:  the CNN piece contains the claim that Zelaya was seeking to hold a vote to extend his term in office:

Congress sought opinions from the nation’s Supreme Court and other bodies before holding the vote. The court ruled last week that Zelaya cannot return to office without first facing trial on charges that he acted unconstitutionally when he tried to hold a vote that could have led to the removal of presidential term limits. The Supreme Court had ruled before the coup that the vote was illegal and Congress had forbidden it.

The coup came on the day the term-limits vote was to have been held.

As I (and others) have repeatedly noted, the vote in question was not about term limits.

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Monday, November 30, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC:  Honduras elects Zelaya rival Porfirio Lobo as president

Mr Lobo is seen as a unifying figure. He won 56% of the vote, with over 60% of registered voters taking part.

A clear winner and high turnout were what the interim government were hoping for to give the election legitimacy.

Indeed, as Greg Weeks notes, the turnout is such that it will likely induce more countries to recognize the results than were publically willing to do so before the elections.  Boz has some numbers from previous elections for comparative purposes.

Matthew Shugart also had some pre-election thoughts worth noting and that are relevant for anyone taking a broader look at the election results, especially those about the Congress.

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Sunday, November 29, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Greg Weeks previews today’s elections in Honduras over at The Monkey Cage.

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