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September 28, 2009

Honduran Government Suspends Constitutional Rights, US Actually Condems Zelaya

This certainly hurts the interim government's moral standing but at some point something has to give.

Interim government leaders have suspended constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties in a pre-emptive strike against widespread rebellion Monday, three months to the day since they ousted President Manuel Zelaya in a military-backed coup.

Zelaya supporters said they would ignore the decree issued late Sunday and march in the streets as planned. Some already had arrived in the capital, Tegucigalpa, from outlying provinces.

The measures - announced just hours after Zelaya called on his backers to stage mass protest marches in what he called a "final offensive" against the government - are likely to draw harsh criticism from the international community, which has condemned the June 28 coup and urged that Zelaya be reinstated to the presidency and allowed to serve out his term, which ends in January.

Officials also issued an ultimatum to Brazil on Sunday, giving the South American country 10 days to decide whether to turn Zelaya over for arrest or grant him asylum and, presumably, take him out of Honduras. They did not specify what they would do after the 10 days were up.

I'm sure there will be talk of how the interim government is now as bad as Zelaya. Well, no, not really. This is a tough step and one they have put off for a substantial period of time. While it's unfortunate, to say the least, we shouldn't forget Honduras wouldn't be in this position if Zelaya, abetted by Chavez in Venezuela and Lula in Brazil, hadn't put the country in this position in the first place.

The question now is, will they proceed with the elections scheduled for November and will the suspension of rights be lifted in time for credible campaigns to be run?

The pressure will be on Interim President Roberto Michelett to deal with the imminent threat to the government and return to the normal constitutional regime as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, the country's already ailing economy is at the point of total collapse.

Hondurans flocked to supermarkets, gasoline stations, pharmacies and banks today after the acting government lifted a nationwide, soldier-enforced curfew this morning. The capital’s airport reopened for domestic flights, EFE news agency reported.

The curfew has cost the Central American nation’s $14.1 billion economy $50 million a day, said Jesus Canahuati, vice president of the local chapter of the Business Council of Latin America. Honduras has lost as much as $200 million in investment since the military ousted Zelaya from office June 28, he said.

“Those are numbers that aren’t sustainable in Honduras,” Canahuati said by telephone from San Pedro Sula. “We’re a poor country, and many people won’t eat if there’s no work.”

A rare bit of good news from the US on this front...the US Ambassador to the Organization of American States called Zelaya "irresponsible and foolish" for returning to Honduras absent a politcal settlement.

Such are the times we live in when that's actually news and unexpected good news at that.

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posted by DrewM. at 02:37 PM

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