In private meetings with the US Embassy shortly after the June 2009 ouster of Mel Zelaya, the chief justice of the Honduran Supreme Court, Jorge Alberto Rivera Avilés, and the country’s attorney general, Luis Alberto Rubí, claim they never issued a “request for an arrest warrant” nor an actual “arrest warrant” for the then democratically-elected Honduran president. According to diplomatic cables from the US Embassy in Honduras obtained by Wikileaks and released this morning by El Faro, Rubí met with the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa in the hours immediately following the 2009 coup, telling officials there that he had only ordered the “confiscation of polling materials” and “had not asked for Zelaya’s arrest” in the days before his kidnapping and expulsion.
Shortly thereafter, however, Rubí’s story came out to the public looking significantly different. In a press conference on June 30, the attorney general praised the ouster of Zelaya for its supposed “legality” and maintained that the action had been taken after the issuance of an international arrest warrant against the president. The alleged documentation calling for the president’s arrest also went public leading one to believe the aforementioned Honduran officials were either being less than honest in his talks with the US Embassy or that the coup regime fabricated documents attempting to legitimate the coup after the fact.
In an interesting passage of one cable cited in the El Faro report, US ambassador Llorens also cites conversations he had with three prominent Honduran businessmen Antonio Travel, Emilio Larache, and Emin Barjum shortly after the coup. Similar to Rubí and Rivera Avilés, the men note the “illegal” nature of the coup but support the coup regime no less under the notion they could successfully wait things out until November elections “restored a constitutional government.”
A July 24 cable from the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa, obtained by Wikileaks and released to the public earlier this year, said there was “no doubt that the military, Supreme Court and National Congress conspired on June 28 in what constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup against the Executive Branch.”
Speaking at a press conference after returning to back to Honduras this weekend, Zelaya called for a thorough investigation into his 2009 ouster.
Today’s bullet points:
· More on Honduras as the OAS prepares to vote on the readmission of Honduras to the inter-American body today. FNRP deputy coordinator Juan Barahona says the FNRP opposes the return of his country to the OAS this week, arguing the Lobo government must first prove it can comply with all the points of the Cartagena Accord before its brought back into the fold. Speaking with TeleSur, Barahona says that to allow Honduras back into the OAS this week would allow the coup d’etat of 2009 to be “left in impunity. Just as Honduras’s expulsion from the OAS came through consensus, its re-integration should so too come through consensus, says Barahona. Ecuador has said in recent days it opposes Honduras’s re-admission this week, but added it will abide by whatever decision the OAS reaches today.
· On human rights in Honduras, Human Rights Watch is calling on the Lobo government to ensure government officials stop attacking the credibility of human rights prosecutors in the country. The head of the country’s Human Rights Unit, Sandra Ponce, was the most recent target of such attacks. After opening an investigation into the deaths of seven alleged youth gang members in Ciudad Planeta, near San Pedro Sula, Deputy Secretary of Security Armando Calidonio publicly criticized Ponce and her Unit for targeting the police during their investigations. Since those statements, Ponce has received numerous threats.
· In a letter from the US House to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 87 Democratic members of Congress say the Honduran government must be more actively “pressed” by the US to end abuses by state security forces. The group also calls for the suspension of U.S. aid to the Honduran military and police until “mechanisms are in place to ensure security forces are held accountable for abuses.”
· Regarding Honduras’s political future, various suggestions this week that former first lady Xiomara Castro de Zelaya could be a candidate for president in 2013. AFP reports after an interview with Castro de Zelaya. In its coverage of this weekend’s return of Zelaya, IPS says Castro de Zelaya will run. This morning Democracy Now also airs an interview with the former first lady. And finally Lisa Sullivan of the School of the Americas Watch was among those who accompanied Mel Zelaya back to Honduras Saturday. She posts a report-back from this weekend’s historic event, highlighting its regional significance.
· Colombia’s El Espectador has a good interview with Colombian foreign minister Maria Angela Holguín, the woman responsible for implementing quite significant shifts in that country’s foreign policy over the last nine months. TeleSur, meanwhile, interviews the woman who preceded Holguín, current UNASUR Secretary General Maria Emma Mejía, about regional integration.
· Ahead of elections in Peru, journalist Gustavo Gorriti of IDL-Reporteros speaks with WOLA’s Adam Isacson about Sunday’s vote and why much of the country’s intelligentsia has opted for Ollanta Humala. Jo-Marie Burt and Coletta Youngers, meanwhile, offer a closer looker at Keiko Fujimori and legacies of Fujimorismo. And Ollanta Humala sits down for an interview with TeleSur.
· As an autopsy gets underway to determine the definitive cause of death of former Chilean president Salvador Allende, a file from a military court’s investigation into Allende’s death suggests the former leader “may have been shot from a small firearm before he shot himself with a machine gun from under his chin.” The New York Times and AP report in English; Chile’s CIPER with the longer story in Spanish. AP also reports on new calls that the death of Chilean poet and longtime Communist Party activist Pablo Neruda be investigated. Neruda died on 23 September 1973, less than two weeks after the coup against the Allende government. The cause of death was then said to have been prostate cancer.
· The body of a possible witness to the killing of two land reform activists in the Brazilian Amazon was found Sunday just one day before the Brazilian government said it will increase policing in the Amazon rain forest in an effort to stem such attacks. The group Catholic Land Pastoral says more than 1,150 rural activists have been killed in Brazil over the past 20 years.
· AP and BBC on a brief visit to Bolivia Tuesday by Iranian defense minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi. Vahidi is wanted by Argentina for allegedly helping to organize the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994 which killed 85 people. Vahidi was in Bolivia for the inauguration of a defense academy for ALBA member states. Late Tuesday, Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca wrote a letter to Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman saying that Vahidi had left the country at the request of the Bolivian government.
· Reuters says four Cuban men who threw anti-government leaflets in Havana's Revolution Square were sentenced Tuesday to up to five years in prison by a Cuban court. Elizardo Sanchez of the independent Cuban Commission of Human Rights has asked Amnesty International to put the men on the group’s list of “prisoners of conscience.”
· The International Crisis Group has a new report assessing the work of Guatemala’s UN-backed anti-impunity commission, CICIG.
· And the LA Times notes the passing of longtime Guatemalan human rights advocate Ricardo Stein. The Times calls Stein one of the “key architects” of the 1996 Guatemalan peace accords. In neighboring El Salvador during the 1980s, he helped create the Center for Information, Documentation and Support for Research at the Jesuit-run University of Central America. From 1998 to 2006 he directed the Soros Foundation Guatemala. Stein was 62.