Friday, November 27, 2009

Here's an excellent explanation of the coup in Honduras

Honduras. Why was there a coup against President Zelaya?

Charles II has an excellent series explaining the problems there.

Whom the gods would destroy, part 1: the crisis in Honduras.

A big part of the problem in Honduras is the irrational and disorganized Constitution. It is widely recognized that the Constituion of Honduras must be changed. The powers of the status quo. Chiquita, the descendant of United Fruit; the military, a number of oil companies and mining companies and some sweatshop operators do not want this to happen. There are 12 families in Honduras who control almost all business. Ten of them were behind this coup.
Whom the gods would destroy, part 2: The crisis in Honduras.
The following were the reasons given for the coup:
  • Zelaya was trying to succeed himself in office, either by re-election or by seizing power, specifically by having a referendum (note the term) on whether to hold a Constitutional Convention
  • Zelaya was mentally ill
  • Zelaya had broken one or more "set-in-stone" articles of the Constitution, whose punishment is immediate removal from office
  • Zelaya had committed numerous civil crimes and had to be removed from office
  • Zelaya was a communist or, at least, an acolyte of Hugo Chavez, who wanted to turn Honduras into a new Venezuela or a new Cuba.

The following were the explanations for why the coup was wrong:
• Zelaya had raised the minimum wage from about $1.20 per hour to $1.70 per hour, angering sweatshop owners, the restaurant owners, Chiquita, and others who rely on low wages (Honduran minimum wage laws are complex, and beyond the scope of the present work.)
  • Zelaya had refused to illegalize the "morning after" pill, angering the Roman Catholic hierarchy, as well as most evangelicals
  • Zelaya had resisted privatization of the electrical an phone companies, angering those who hoped to profit from privatization
  • Zelaya had ended the Byzantine regulation of gasoline, which had boosted prices, obtaining cheap gas through Petrocaribe, and angering international oil companies and those who profited from the existing system
  • Zelaya had joined the Bolivaran organization ALBA, which includes Cuba and Venezuela, providing a pretext to anti-communists to accuse him of communist sympathies
  • Zelaya wanted to convert Palmerola airbase to civilian use (the runway at Toncontin airport is too short for civilian aircraft to safely land), angering the US military
  • Zelaya wanted to fulfill the campaign rhetoric on an Asamblea Nacional Constituyente (Constitutional Convention), and was laying the framework by holding a non-binding poll to put political pressure on Congress to act. Since the power of the oligarchy requires that the political system frustrate any possible reform, this threatened their interests

Part III is yet to be published.

Needless to say, Charles II provides good explanations of what I have written here.

It is my opinion that this political battle is another in the interminable war between the social forces of tradition, the social forces of global trade, and the social forces of the even more recent Industrialization.

I suspect they are all connected in the French Revolution, U.S. Civil War, the Great War and WW II, the Cold War, and the current battles in America between the conservatives and the liberal/progressives. A lot of it is carried by global trade, while more of it is involved in both the advances in communications technology, the growth of populations, and the movement of the growing populations off the farms and into the cities - something that passed 50% of the World population about half a century ago.

As the urban technological societies expand they demand oil and raw materials, so they create and manipulate local elites in third world societies. All of these social changes are being fought against by the forces of the status quo who will lose because of them. Khadaffy took over Libya because of this dynamic. The Iranians kicked out the Shah because of it. The Saudi royal family runs scared of the religious elites because of it. The Muslim Brotherhood grew up in Egypt because of it.

The difference between the voters in America for the Democrats and those for the Republicans also reflect this urban - rural split. You will notice that in 2008 Democrats overwhelmingly carried the metropolitan areas, and the Republicans carried the rural counties.

When people who grew up in a rural farming family are forced to move to cities to support their families, the city dwellers and the rural elites both lose power. The new urban residents are not, in fact, urban culturally. That takes a generation.

Another problem occurs when rural herders are forced to live inside fenced land. They do not adapt well to the societies of farmers or to city societies. We are seeing this dynamic occur world wide.

Honduras is just one more example of these problems of various societies adapting to the new economic, demographic and social changes. Zelaya tried to change government and the powers of the status quo conducted a coup to remove him. Charles II also alludes to a similar problem which hamstrung Clinton when he was elected President. I suggest that the same dynamic is behind teh desperate battle by the powers of the status quo to stop Obama from reforming the disastrous American health insurance system.

Honduras and the coup against Zelaya is another example of the battle between the forces of the status quo and those demanding change to meet new economic and social conditions.

Addendum 12/13/09 12:54 pm
Here is Part III of Charles II's diary on the Honduran Coup. This part of the diary covers the responses of the various players to whom the coup has been important.

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