Letter to the President: Honduras Human Rights Violations and Elections


Dear Colleague:

In accordance with the Council on Hemispheric Affairs’ underlying mission to promote rational and constructive U.S. policies towards Latin America, our organization has been delighted to help Miguel Tinker Salas and his associates to distribute the following letter to the President that has already been signed by 240 academics and Latin America experts. This document details the ongoing human rights violations in Honduras and urges President Obama and his administration to take a strong stance against the de facto regime that seized power this past June. While the U.S. government has said that it will support the outcome of the November 29 elections, if conducted under the de facto government these elections cannot be considered free or fair. We are concerned that an apathetic response from the Obama administration will establish a dangerous precedent of support for the military usurpation of a democratic government and lend legitimacy to an abusive and unjust regime. The situation is in danger of becoming a caricature of the lessons that should have been learned during the brutality of military juntas in Latin America during the 1980’s and 90’s.

If interested in expressing support for this letter, please send your signature and institutional affiliation (for identification purposes, only) to Miguel Tinker Salas, MRT04747@pomona.edu, or Dana Frank, dlfrank@ucsc.edu.

Dear President Obama,

We are writing to urge you to stand with democracy and human rights in Honduras. With only days left before the scheduled November 29 elections the U.S. government must make a choice: it can either side with democracy, along with every government in Latin America, or it can side with the coup regime, and remain isolated. Moreover, the U.S. cannot afford to maintain its deafening silence regarding the innumerable and grave human rights abuses committed by the coup government in Honduras – a silence that has become a conspicuous international embarrassment. The U.S. must forcefully denounce these abuses, and match its words with action as well. It must make the coup regime understand that the United States government will no longer tolerate the violence and repression that the Micheletti government has practiced against the Honduran people since seizing power on June 28, 2009.

Honduras now stands at the edge of a dangerous precipice. The coup regime remains determined – in the absence of significant pressure from the U.S. government – to move forward with the elections, in the hopes that the international community will eventually recognize the results. In so doing, they hope to legitimize their illegal and unconstitutional government.

Free and fair elections on November 29 are already impossible, as more than two-thirds of the campaign period allowed under Honduran law has already passed, under conditions in which freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press have all been under attack throughout the country. This repression has been widely documented and denounced by Honduran and international human rights organizations, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International.

The Rio Group of 23 nations, which includes nearly all of Latin America and much of the Caribbean, had forcefully declared that it will not recognize the November 29th elections if President Zelaya is not first re-instated. Thus the United States is at odds with the rest of the Hemisphere in its stated willingness to recognize these illegitimate elections.

Free and fair elections can only be carried out in a climate in which debating, organizing, and all other aspects of election campaigns can be conducted in an atmosphere that is free from fear; in which all views and parties are free to make their voices heard – not just those that are allowed under an illegal military occupation. We therefore call on the U.S. government to support an electoral process in Honduras that allows for a full three months – as mandated under Honduran law – for electoral campaigning, to take place after the restoration of President Manuel Zelaya. Only in this way can the electoral process achieve legitimacy in both the eyes of the Honduran people and the international community.

In the months that have transpired since the April Summit of the Americas, we are saddened to see that your promise of treating Latin American nations as equals is evaporating. You declared at that time, “I just want to make absolutely clear that I am absolutely opposed and condemn any efforts at violent overthrows of democratically elected governments, wherever it happens in the hemisphere.” In remarks that were recorded, cited, and broadcast all over the world, you asserted: “The test for all of us is not simply words, but also deeds.” Since then, your government has failed to match these words with deeds regarding the coup d’etat in Honduras. As a result, the United States is once again isolating itself in the Americas.

The U.S. must also match its rhetorical commitment to democracy with concrete deeds, and support the immediate restoration of Manuel Zelaya to the presidency of Honduras and full guarantees of a free and fair election.

Sincerely,

Miguel Tinker Salas
The Council on Hemispheric Affairs

11 thoughts on “Letter to the President: Honduras Human Rights Violations and Elections

  • November 12, 2009 at 10:21 pm
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    Justification to continue to get funding by convincing your donors on your active participation to defend democratic values?. It would be sound to get support from COHA to conduct an independent survey and see what we hondurans think about our future. It is not fair that while a substantial majority of the people of Honduras considers Zelaya as a traitor, corrupt and ready to be dictator, many leftist lunatic tilt their biased analysis to defend an antidemocratic ruler. Free elections are our call for our future. Unquestionable political, social and economic changes need to be done within a frame of respect and freedom.

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    • November 13, 2009 at 1:37 am
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      Quite a number of polls demonstrate the opposite, that a majority of Hondurans prefer the legally elected President returned to his position.

      It is also the formal position of every single government in the region, including the right wing, leftist-hating governments of Mexico and Colombia.

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  • November 13, 2009 at 3:04 am
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    What a wonderful opportunity for COHA and other non biased organizations, to sponsor independent polls. The available statistics from independent polls, shows Mr. Zelaya as a non suitable person to govern Honduras again. At the last analysis, comparing the 70's and 80's with, what is currently happening in Latin America and in Honduras in particular, is totally misleading. Can you imagine in the 70's a foreign airplane flying over a country's sovereign airspace with UN delegates trying to land to reinstate an ousted president, without violating the international laws?. Can a foreign government facilitate an embassy premises to an ousted president and use the facilities and calling for civil unrest and violence, without violating the Vienna Convention? Sure!!!. This is possible, when a small and poor country is involved!!. Like Honduras.
    OOH “El Sayyid”, master of military arts!!!. Do you live in this era, or are you living in the glory of the epic romanticism??.

    Mr. El Cid, What a wonderful name to depict a person who loves the

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    • November 13, 2009 at 1:59 pm
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      I don't know if you think this is a serious comment, but upon reading it, I think it is not. Why not go ahead and allege that coups are okay because you saw a report on the internet that Zelaya was working with space aliens to steal homeless children's kidneys?

      Just bear in mind — all the excuses that are being used for a coup in Honduras are going to be stored away and used the next time some ambitious military officer thinks he has a friendly legislature or a few courts, and this will happen whether the recognized government being overthrown is on the left OR on the right.

      Don't be surprised when some conservative or neo-liberal government gets overthrown in a supposedly 'Constitutionally' sanctioned coup from a leftist military officer, and they follow the Honduran example closely. I keep trying to remind you types that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

      And FYI, I adopted the pseudonym in honor of the poem, not the actual figure of history, who was simply a mercenary at the hire of the Christians or the Muslims in Spain, whoever paid best.

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  • November 13, 2009 at 11:57 pm
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    So Mr. Cid, WHAT WAS THE ALTERNATIVE? Justify an illegal referendum by urging people to vote against Zelaya? Zelaya tried to get away with destroying the Honduran constitution, and he was stopped. If you don't like the actions of the Honduran military, well that's tough, because we have the support of the Americans, and that's all that matters.

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    • November 14, 2009 at 10:49 pm
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      The Honduran Constitution holds that a public leader may be charged with a crime, arrested, and tried. If convicted in a court of law (an actual trial, not a court pronouncement), then his citizenship would have been removed and thus he would no longer have legally qualified for his office. At that point his appointed vice president in the legal line of succession would take office.

      There is no other legal procedure to remove an elected President. This includes claims of "Article 239" which was not cited by the courts. There too, charges and a trial and conviction would be required.

      I mean, if you're going to claim that the Honduran death squad military gets to do whatever it wants as long as its long time funders and commanders, the US government, allows them, well, maybe you're correct.

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      • November 15, 2009 at 2:22 am
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        Well, then you obviously hadn't been following Honduran politics. The Honduran VP quit in disgust back in 2007, Roberto Micheletti was next in succession as president of Congress. And in Honduran politics, nobody moves against the caudillo because they're too scared, this includes Congress and the courts. They would've never protected the democratic system as long as Zelaya was in power. Therefore, force really was the only way. And yes, whatever the funders and commanders in Washington say is the law.

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        • November 15, 2009 at 3:33 am
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          Okay, so, no legal process of either trial and conviction or succession was followed, but this is great and democratic because you like the result and Washington seems to let the idiot death squad military call the shots. Okay. Great point made. A true victory for democracy. Yay!

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        • November 15, 2009 at 3:38 am
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          By the way, you still haven't even outlined how Zelaya was going to extend his term.

          The referendum he proposed suggested a Constitutional Assembly to consider the reform of the Constitution. It said nothing about term limits. Had it been voted on in the cuarta urna, it would have had no effect until long after Zelaya had left office.

          But I see that you like the situation where those with guns call the shots, so please don't be complaining here if the Honduran destabilizes, because this is clearly what you wanted — a bunch of leftover 1980s death squad morons in charge of Honduras. Good luck with that!

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  • November 14, 2009 at 4:50 pm
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    If it not were for the seriousness of the situation, I would laugh out loud at the hypocritical postures of "democrats" like Chávez, Ortega, and ("Believe It Or Not (R)") no less that RAUL CASTRO, hollering, crying foul, and demanding that Democracy be "restored" in Honduras!!!!! COHA is a but bunch of naive ignorants who know NOTHING about the Honduran constitution. Why doesn't COHA demand that Democracy be restored in Cuba, for instance?

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  • November 16, 2009 at 4:54 pm
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    It seems that many of you believes that the Honduras (the second poorest country in LA with the highest degree of criminality in Centra 'America and the second largest undernurished and illiterate population in Latin America) needs at this time rule by the military in partnership with an empresarial oligarchy and corrupted political parties. For me it is hard to see a poverty stricken country utilized as the only US ally in the area to contain progressive governents in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua (I am leaving Costa Rica out) . The cost of to the Honduran people will be too much to bear. It is not going to be easy for the USA/Golpistas to maintain control of Honduras since the events of the 28 of June created an organized Resistencia that will not go away. I am not betting on these horses….!

    Reply

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