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November 30, 2009

Tanks and teargas: Honduras's election fiesta

Hondurans went to the polls yesterday in what the pro-coup media cheerfully called the "fiesta electoral."

It's a wild party that drew a bad crowd.

The United Nations and the Organization of American States refused to send election observers because they saw the contest as hopelessly compromised. The elected president, Mel Zelaya was deposed by a coup on June 28 and illegally deported at gunpoint. He later snuck back into the country and took up residence in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa.

The U.S. originally said it wouldn't recognize elections under the rule of the coup regime, which has been condemned by numerous international human rights organizations for curtailing freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press and for using arbitrary detention and excessive (sometimes lethal) force against opposition leaders.

Yesterday, the regime sent tanks to surround about 1000 peaceful protesters and bombard them with water cannons and tear gas. 

BoRev is liveblogging the election. The big question is: How many Hondurans joined with Zelaya in boycotting the election?


On the bright side, we learned that President Obama's foreign policy is decided by Jim DeMint.

I told you so. (muddle around for 3 month, fake election, the suddenly a wingnut gets elected)

in other word, Honduras is a regime change job.

This writer is so biased it makes me question her professionalism. Why this writer doesn't write about the violence by Zelaya's supporters, threats of blood in the streets if the attend the polls, she doen't want the world to see how massive this election is. She want's to know about Honduras more thant the people who live there. We the people of Honduras support the elections, at the end the numbers will show the truth. I feel sorry for this biased writer.

Hey, Oscar, how about introducing some facts instead of just insulting me personally? Are you denying that the regime had tanks on the streets on polling day? Does Zelaya have tanks that I don't know about? Has he kidnapped any journalists? Has he revoked any civil liberties from inside the Brazilian Embassy?

At this point, your argument boils down to "I'm from Honduras and you're not." ...which is kind of a non starter. In case you haven't noticed, both Micheletti and Zelaya are from Honduras and they have markedly different opinions about how this crisis should be resolved. The fact that you're from Honduras doesn't make you representative of all Hondurans.

If you base your reporting on Radio Globo and Radio Uno, you're obviously going to have a very one-sided view of the situation here.

The fact that you're not from Honduras makes your ignorance forgiveable.

Again, how about some facts or links to back up your assertions? Just calling me ignorant isn't an argument.

Oh, and riomonga, why did the regime shut down Radio Globo and Channel 36 in the days before the election? The de facto foreign minister Carlos Lopez Contreras admitted to shutting down Channel 36 last week because the government didn't like what it was reporting.

At this point, your argument boils down to "I'm from Honduras and you're not." ...which is kind of a non starter.

How about "I'm in Honduras and you are not"? The inference, at least, of his post is not just that he's from Honduras but that he's there, experiencing the election first-hand. That doesn't guarantee that Oscar will report anything true or relevant, but I do think being an eyewitness or a participant in the event in question has some value. I don't know whether Oscar's assertions are "facts," but he does make several claims which are not personal insults to you: that Zelaya's supporters are guilty of violence, that citizens were threatened with attacks if they voted, that the turnout for the election was "massive." It may be hard to determine the truth of any of those claims, but if you have evidence to the contrary, it would be interesting to have you engage him at that level rather than to dismiss his comment as nothing more than a personal attack on your writing.

Is Oscar in Honduras now? He doesn't explicitly say so, although he appears to invite the inference. Like I said, I'm happy to debate him if he wants to put forward some concrete facts, whether gleaned from first-hand experience, media reports, or any other source.

The regime is claiming a 60% turnout, which if true, would imply that Zelaya's boycott was not successful. It's also possible that the turnout doesn't reflect the scope of the boycott because resisters boycotted by spoiling their ballots rather than staying home. The regime has been canvassing intensively for resistance members in the days leading up to the election. According to a letter obtained by a human rights organization called the Quixote Center, the military sent out a letter to mayors in October asking them to name names. So, boycotting by spoiled ballot might have seemed like a safer option to some boycotters. The UN and the OAS refused to sent election monitors because they didn't want to legitimize the election. So, we're basically stuck with the regime's figures supplemented by the reports of various volunteer election monitors, primarily from partisan groups.

If Oscar knows about violence by Zelaya supporters, I want to hear about it. According to William Finnegan's excellent piece on the coup in the latest edition of the New Yorker, the only major act of violence alleged against pro-Zelaya forces was the torching of an empty Popeye's Chicken in Tegucigalpa. The coup is levying the charges and the pro-Zelaya contingent maintains that the golpistas burned down the Popeye's themselves to frame them. The piece isn't available online, but it's well worth buying the magazine.

Well, Oscar, the ball's in your court now. Did you observe the election first hand? Did you vote yourself? Do you have evidence of violence by Zelaya's supporters, and threats to potential voters?

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