What Manuel Zelaya's return means for
The former president's return is welcome, but human rights remain at risk in
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 28 May 2011
Former Honduran President Zelaya's return home Saturday has important implications for the western hemisphere that, we can predict, will be widely overlooked. Zelaya was ousted from the presidency when he was kidnapped at gunpoint by the military on 28 June 2009. Although no hard evidence has yet emerged that the
Zelaya's return represents a partial reversal of that coup d'etat and Washington's efforts to consolidate it, just as President Aristide's return to Haiti after seven years in exile, on 18 March – despite furious efforts by the Obama administration, and even President Obama himself, to prevent it – is a partial reversal of the 2004 US-organised coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Haiti. And it is another demonstration of how the western hemisphere has changed: the agreement for Zelaya's return was mediated through the governments of
Instead, the mediation process had the unanimous support of Latin America and the Caribbean, which endorsed it through their new organisation, Celac (the Community of Latin American and
The Obama administration lost a lot of trust throughout the hemisphere as a result of its support for the Honduran coup government, and so it was not surprising that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was smart enough to endorse the Cartagena agreement (for Zelaya's return) after it was signed. She had been lobbying, without success for the past year and a half, to get
The agreement met some of the demands of President Zelaya and his allies, but not others. It allows for the participation of the National Front for Popular Resistance, which struggled against the coup and subsequent repression, as a legal political party. It also states that people can organise plebiscites of the kind that Zelaya was overthrown for organising. And it has guarantees for the safety and security not only of Zelaya, but also of others who fled after the coup and remain in exile; it also contains certain non-enforceable human rights guarantees.
And that is the big problem: human rights. Less than a year ago, Human Rights Watch noted that "
Three Honduran journalists have been shot since 11 May; two of them, TV station owner Luis Mendoza and television reporter Francisco Medina, were killed. Paramilitary groups have killed over 40 campesinos since Lobo has been in office. Trade unionists have also been killed, including Ilse Ivania Velásquez Rodríguez, a striking teacher whom Honduran police shot in the face, at close range, with a tear gas canister in March.
The OAS will likely vote on Wednesday to readmit
But it is better to have Zelaya back in the country than outside of it. He will have a voice that can possibly break through the rightwing media monopoly, and if he uses that to oppose the repression there, it can have a positive impact. As elsewhere in the hemisphere, the media – controlled largely by wealthy elites – are a major obstacle to progress. In
On the positive side, it is good to see Latin American countries taking control of the mediation, with
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eyewitness: The Indignant beat back authorities Barcelona
Sunday, May 29, 2011
The central plazas of dozens of cities and towns across
The movement, known as "#Spanishrevolution" after the Twitter hashtag used to spread news, pictures and footage of the revolt, began with an internet call for a May 15 protest to demand “Real Democracy Now!”.
The protesters — dubbed indignados (the indignant) — were violently attacked, but tens of thousands of people retook the plaza. The plaza occupations spread across
The movement is driven by anger at the savage austerity imposed by the government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero from the center-left Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE). Having spent billions of Euros bailing out the big banks after the 2008 financial crisis, the government is making ordinary people pay the cost.
Suffering is widespread among Spanish people. The official youth unemployment rate is more than 40%.
This led to the rout of the PSOE in local and regional elections on May 22.
The occupations were originally planned to last until the May 22 poll. But the assembly at Puerta del Sol voted to continue the encampment for at least another week — and to use the plaza as a base to spread the protest movement to neighborhoods throughout the city.