The title of our last post, The Rape of Honduras, was inappropriate when compared to the Rape of Nanking, or other mass atrocities. Nevertheless, even if it is not, as Whoopi might say, “rape rape”, it is a new kind of attack. It is succeeding, and events have crossed a threshold such that we can attempt to write the rest of the unfortunate script from here.
Chavez (if not necessarily Zelaya, who is still subject to sacrifice) is in a good position. He has been delayed 3 months, but he has accomplished several strategic goals. He has enhanced his international credentials, including strengthening his political petro-alignment with Brazil. He has covered his “Bolivarian Blowback” flank; the odds of reversals in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua have gone down because Honduras did not break away cleanly. In fact, the ground is being laid for an international force that would be able to intervene and stop anti-Chavez counter-revolutions. He has succeeded in weakening the US strong-point in Central America, opening the way for complete domination of El Salvador and Guatemala as well. Ultimately, the removal of Palmerola and trouble-free drug trans-shipment are within sight.
Tactically, by installing Zelaya in Brazil’s embassy Chavez has enjoyed a propaganda victory, has undermined the authority of the interim government, and has stopped Zelaya from being the laughing-stock he had otherwise become. Most importantly, he has re-created a beach-head “in” the country through which he can pour money and resources. The OEA delegation will be coordinating this dispersal. November elections have been declared “illegitimate” absent the imprimatur of Honduras’ enemies. The clock has been reset.
Now, what will happen is remarkably close to the original plan. Different sectors will be bought off, and (although this is not yet explicit) the Constitution will be re-written to allow a Bolivarian take-over. We can see the preparation occurring as Arias yesterday stated that the Honduran Constitution is the “worst in the world” and “everyone agrees” that it must be changed (this despite the fact that it has so far fought off Chavism more vigorously than any others). Expect the following:
1) A deal is agreed in the near-term with Zelaya enjoying reinstatement but very limited powers;
(If a deal is not agreed, Zelayista violence increases undermining November elections and forcing Michelletti into more “damned if you, damned if you don’t” choices. The local regime is further demonized and splits emerge. A weaker deal for locals follows);
2) Zelaya broadens his mandate to include the re-writing of the constitution. He rejects constraints placed on him by citing a higher law and the justice of a Bolivarian appeal to the people. Zelayista violence is applied as necessary;
3) The “cuarta urna” is explicitly negotiated into November elections. In this case whatever Constitutional process ensues is driven by the OEA (Chavez) which patronizingly helps Honduras to adopt a “better” Constitution (one which, by the way, had probably been written in June already);
4) If an agreement to include the “cuarta urna” is not agreed in pre-negotiated fashion, it is snuck in at the last minute, much as Zelaya attempted to do with the Saturday addition to the national Gaceta the weekend of his removal. In this case Zelaya again appeals to higher callings as a justification for abnegating the prior limited-power deal. It is not about him; it is about justice for the people. The existing institutions are constantly on trial from now on.
Duly elected Honduran officials understand that they cannot trust Zelaya, but they may still over-estimate their ability to control events against the influence of Chavezian oil money. As the OEA presence consolidates, that power is trending to zero. Certain individuals will do ok, but the institutions have a knife to their throat.