Friday, July 17, 2009

Honduras: The Latest Developments - 7/17/2009

First, we are pleased to report that Enrique Ortez Colindres, the coup government's foreign minister who called President Obama a "negrito", has resigned, citing pressure from the U.S. Embassy. The U.S. Embassy says it didn't exert any pressure for him to resign even though it did protest his slur against the president.

The New York Times reports that some progress is being made in negotiations over the future of Honduras but that the central issue of the presidency is unresolved. Micheletti has said he will step down...but not if Zelaya comes back as president, which he is threatening to do shortly.

Massive blockades by Zelaya supporters are going on at this time and, in an act of solidarity, FMLN sympathizers are blockading several customs points on the El Salvador-Honduras border to affect trade. The curfew was lifted for a few days but has now been reimposed.

Meanwhile, the Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH), which is keeping systematic track of these matters, has issued a preliminary report (.doc) showing over 1,155 cases of human rights violations since the coup began. 59 people have been injured or beaten and one demonstrator, 19-year-old Isis Obed Murillo Mencías, was killed by a shot in the head. There have been more than 1,000 people detained, most of them for curfew violations associated with public demonstrations. Additional human rights violations involve impeding or threatening members of the media and shutting down radio stations.

As for the Catholic hierarchy in Honduras, a Zenit article titled "Church Not Taking Sides in Honduras, Says Cardinal" is fairly lathered with His Excellency's bias against the Zelaya administration. Excerpting with added emphasis:

"The Church," [Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga] added, "is not on anyone's side. The Church seeks reconciliation, peace, the search for understanding through dialogue."
Oh, yeah? What about:

"The prelate noted that among the "followers of the preceding regime, there are also many Catholics acting in good faith, since they do not have all the information."?


"Political parties can be legitimate, can have a different way of thinking, but this does not in any way justify a violation of the law," he continued. "If we look back, we find that no law has been respected because the first one in violating it is the highest authority." ?

"Not taking sides"?? Check out what His Excellency said in another interview with Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as reported by John Rosenthal of American Spectator:

Rodríguez said that it was "absurd" to qualify Zelaya's removal as a military coup, noting that "there is not a single military official that in any way belongs to the [current "de facto"] government." Accusing Zelaya not only of violating the Honduran constitution, but also of misappropriating international development aid, he insisted that the aim of negotiations "cannot be to bring about Zelaya's return to Honduras and his restoration to the President's office. The man has shown that he is dishonest and incapable of governing within the limits of the constitution."

"During the crisis, the parliament and the justice system have shown that they are functioning well," Cardinal Rodríguez told the FAZ, "Now everything depends on strengthening these institutions and not following the path taken by Venezuela, Bolivia or Ecuador in systematically discrediting democratic institutions."
And in another interview with El Mundo as reported by Reuters, Rodriguez said of Zelaya:

"He doesn't have any authority, moral or legal...The legal authority he lost because he broke laws and the moral authority he lost with a discourse full of lies. The most patriotic thing he could do is stay away. Anything else is just trying to impose Hugo Chavez's project at all costs."
Por favor, Monseñor Cardenal, deje de mentir porque no estás engañando a nadie. No one is fooled by your "non-aligned" rhetoric.


  1. Thank you for your update. The Cardinal has been interviewed at least four times in the past week, repeating that he is not taking sides but attacking Zelaya and Chavez. I think he has a great fear that Honduras will become another Venezuela which he interprets as being anti-Catholic.
    Yet I know from where I sit in Western Honduras that many people in the Catholic church are saddened (or worse) with the Cardinal's statements.
    He needs our prayers.

  2. Yes. Not all members of the Catholic clergy -- or even hierarchy -- in Honduras agree with the Cardinal. One Jesuit, quoted in the Reuters piece if memory serves correctly, says that the Church has lost its credibility as a neutral mediator because of this.

    One of the most interesting interviews Rodriguez gave was with La Vanguardia, where he discloses that Zelaya was actually a student of his when Zelaya was 14 years old and the Cardinal was a young Salesian teaching in one of his order's high schools. Rodriguez characterizes Zelaya as a good, "clean" boy who Rodriguez felt had a vocation to the priesthood. Rodriguez wonders aloud whether Zelaya might have become a priest had he (Rodriguez) stayed on at the high school. So I think there is a subconscious sense of personal betrayal perhaps that Rodriguez is not owning up to and that is affecting his ability to really deal with this crisis objectively. It's worth considering, anyway...

  3. As you've noted there are statements from the Jesuits, the Dominicans, and the Honduras Conference of Men and Women Religious. The Jesuit. Fr. Ismael Moreno, is the director of Radio Progreso and Eric-SJ, which released an extremely balanced proposal two days before the coup.

    There's also the issue of the Cardinal's reading of the role of the Catholic hierarchy in Venezuela. I also would not be surprised if he has in the back of his mind memories of the Nicaraguan cardinal Obando y Bravo and his disputes with the Sandinistas as well as with some clergy who were very sympathetic to the Sandinistas. Note his use of the term "class hatred".
    There also may be a sense of personal betrayal because of t a June 19 or 20 meeting of the bishops with Zelaya. The interview with Fr. German Calix in Religion Digital intimates a sense of betrayal.