Tuesday, July 7, 2009

President Zelaya Attempts to Return to Honduras

Military Coup Blocks President´s Return, Time for U.S. to Act

The moment President Zelaya's plane came into view in the sky over the Toncontin airport, two things happened: tens of thousands of demonstrators awaiting Zelaya broke out in cheers to welcome it, and the Honduran armed forces mobilized on the landing field to prevent it from landing. In the fading light of dusk, the plane circled the landing strip several times. Then the voice of the president came over the airwaves.

Interviewed by Telesur, Zelaya said the control tower informed the pilots that air space was closed to all but military planes. The military vehicles parked on the runways made landing impossible. "I'm doing all I can do," the president lamented. "I'm in the cockpit and the two pilots are doing everything possible." He added, "If I had a parachute, I'd jump out of this airplane right now, but we can't land."

I'd say at this point, the ball is clearly in President Obama and SOS Clinton's court. Honduras is dependent upon the United States. The US gives Honduras $50 million in aid. Honduras is in the CAFTA 'free trade' pact, and sends 70% of its exports to the US, and receives 50% of its imports from the US.

A cut-off in aid is required by US law at this time. This is clearly a military coup, and needs to be defined as such by the US government. Which would automatically trigger a cut-off in US aid under US law. Last Thursday, the State Dept. announced a 'pause' in such aid pending review of the situation. Such a cut-off of aid would not have a huge immediate impact, as undoubtedly Honduras has already received most of this year's money. But it would threaten no new aid in the next fiscal year, which would have an impact.

More important would be the declaration of trade sanctions by the US. As Honduras's major trade partner, that would have an immediate impact. Especially on the wealthy business owners who are backing the coup. Watch and listen closely to see if the US is willing to even threaten this sort of action.

The United States has the leverage to end this coup and put President Zelaya back into office for the remainder of his term. The interesting question will be whether it decides to do so.

Watching the Media
On Sunday, the Honduran military killed yet another protester as crowds gathered for Pres. Zelaya's attempted return. Remember how when the Iranian forces killed a protester, her name and image was all over the corporate media? Apparently dead Honduran protesters don't rate the same treatment. I went to CNN to see how they were covering it, and unless the protester's name happened to be Michael Jackson, it isn't mentioned. In fact, the word 'Honduras' does not appear at all on CNN's front page.

Its rather easy to tell which protests have the official approval of corporate America, and which protests don't.

This post at a blog called Mimundo.org has a lot of great pictures of Sunday's protest in Honduras.

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