The Chavez offensive against Honduras continues. Today he is employing divide and conquer tactics along two dimensions: the Honduran Military and the US Administration.
The first move, astonishingly brazen, is to call for junior officers to rise up against their senior officers. Recall that Chavez himself originally attempted a coup as a junior officer. He effectively admits to fomenting rebellion in another sovereign country (via El Heraldo):
“Vamos a ver cuánto tiempo dura la obediencia ciega de los coronelos y tropas de Honduras ante la locura que estamos viviendo”, dijo Chávez, quien aseguro conocer “hasta cierto nivel” las fuerzas militares de Honduras “y es relativamente pequeña, unos diez mil hombres”, dijo Chávez.
“La mayoría formados a imagen y semejanza del imperio norteamericano”, acotó.
Translation: “‘We will see how long the blind obedience of Colonels and troops of Honduras continues in the face of the craziness we are living,’ said Chavez, who claimed to know ‘up to a certain level’ the military forces of Honduras ‘and it is relatively small, about 10,000 men,’ said Chavez. ‘The majority formed in the image of the north american imperium.'”
Despite the bluster, Chavez cannot hope to conduct an effective military operation against this small but well trained force. But that is not his goal. His goal is buy off a group of them. He will bribe them to ally with Zelaya just as he first bribed Zelaya.
The second divide and conquer tactic he uses today (in the same article) is to try to drive a wedge between Obama and Hillary. He realizes that Hillary, in moving for mediation in Costa Rica, effectively took the pressure off of the US. He calls the mediation effort a “crass error,” “an abortion,” and a “trap” that Zelaya is wisely avoiding (I guess the mediation is over). Now Chavez tries to get the US to reverse course somehow, and he knows that the only way to do it is to exploit the tension that exists between White House and State. Also, he probably feels Obama will be easier to manipulate in this regard. He calls for Obama to “put things in their place” upon his return.
His appeal to the military would be completely off the table if there were more leadership emanating from Washington. But Hondurans honestly do not know what support they will receive from their historic ally, or from the US troops stationed outside of Tegucigalpa. So a junior officer will consider “Maybe this actually will work; maybe the US would run.” Obama’s passive stance in siding with Chavez is encouraging his efforts to pry apart Honduran civil society.
Obama should call for continued talks and mediation, with an eye to the November elections as a final solution. He would simultaneously support his flank at the State Department, reassure Hondurans that are worried about Chavez, support a legal process to resolution, and, finally, counter the perception that he is simply dancing to Chavez’s every tune.