I have to admit it. The political crisis in Honduras has stumped me. I'm stumped. We've just celebrated our 4-week mark under the new regime, and I still don't know what to think about it. Believe me, I understand the situation pretty darn well, but I don't know whether to feel relieved or disappointed that the military arrested Mel in his pyjamas and flew him to Costa Rica. For me, this is a strange sensation to be at a loss for a snap judgement when it comes to politics. Snap judgements aside, I can't even come up with a lag judgement! (This usually a lot easier for me...)
Disclosure: The Honduran Political Crisis has me feeling like a right-wing hack, for example when I read the Wall Street Journal with enthusiastic agreement. That's a weird feeling because...
Disclosure: I'm a bleeding heart liberal whose decision to leave the United States admittedly had a little to do my shattered nerves following George W. Bush's election to a second term. I cried tears of joy when Obama was elected. I'm hugely supportive of universal health care in the United States. I think the government should provide heavy funding for education, for research for all types of scientific and technological advancement, for the arts, etc., etc., etc. I think we should regulate our economies to create markets that distribute wealth and opportunity equitably, and protect our environment. Blah, blah, blah, you get the point. So, what's my problem with Mel Zelaya's plan for a left-ward shift in Honduran society? Shouldn't I feel more supportive of him? Shouldn't I be cheering him on, like I did when "el Bigote" was elected in 2005? (Viene Mel, Viene Mel, Urge Mel!!!) Why?
1. First, the situation is complex and historical.
This story has been building for a long time. Mel has been cozying up to Chavez for the better part of 4 years. Political vision aside, not a single last Honduran that I have met has any patience for Chavez. We can all mostly agree that he's truly bellicose, brash and buffoon-ish. Nevertheless, Honduras has signed into PetroCaribe and ALBA, and we're all wondering, "how far is this thing going to go with Venezuela?" If that doesn't make you uncomfortable (which it doesn't me), Mel has been subjecting the country to his abysmal management style for a long time. Corruption, narco-trafficking and gang violence has exploded under Mel's supervision, so almost everyone's unhappy on some level. (I, myself, heard the clack-clack-clack of assault rifles making mincemeat of two men in a truck from my morningbed about a month ago!!) In this context, Mel begins shoving, in bold face, an arguably illegal set of actions on the country to make himself president for another 4 years, and with more discretionary power! "If this is the direction Mel has taken the country, what happens when he gets an unfettered carte blanche?" we're all thinking. It was an irresistible temptation, really, when he violated laws that somebody threw him out of office. I, for one, envisioned the police kicking down Mel's door a thousand miles away, and I'm not even a political analyst. Not that I disagree with his intent.
2. Second, neither national nor international media sources are impartial brokers of information in this case. No way.
Let me just say: I've never felt so betrayed by the international media. The media jumped into this situation with political preconceptions about the events without comprehending the context. It's a bizarre sensation to be told one thing, and to experience something altogether different --all the while people all over the world accept it as gospel truth-- and you're powerless to do anything about it. On the other hand, they're closing ranks in the national media; opposition t.v. and radio stations are being harassed a bit and even closed in some situations. In sum, I never thought it until now: establishment media = error. (Long Live MSM 2.0! Look it up; it includes you.)
3. Third, there's enough hand-dirt and face-egg to spread around
I'm sympathetic with Mel's desire to reform the constitution, along with earnest labour organisations, ethnic groups and reformers, but he made his own political ambitions and destiny inextricably part of the reforms. Bad. And he linked the reforms to the style of government Chavez has promoted. Doubly bad. (See point 5) On the other side, the military acted impetuously in exiling Mel. Bad. Bad. But they followed civilian orders by arresting Mel, as the Supreme court ordered his arrest. ...Good? By the way, did you catch the interim government's first international overture:
"I've worked with fags, prostitutes, pinkos, blacks and whites. This is my work. I studied this. I don't have racial prejudices. I like the little black man from the cane fields that's presiding over the United States."--Enrique Ortez Colindres, interim Foreign Minister.
Coming this weekend:
points 4 and 5.