Three Risks

Could it be? Shannon says that the restitution of Zelaya is fully in the hands of the Honduran Congress. Zelaya is frantically reacting. Honduran Civic groups are standing up to internationalist bullies in Tegucigalpa. Has the US, finally, shown her ally the minimum support it needs to survive the Venezuelan assault on its institutions?

If so, bravo to Hillary. Once before, when she “kicked the can down the road” to the Arias mediation, we thought she had made a good move in creating space – space that was necessary to undo the damage from Obama’s catastrophic snap “coup” reaction. But then the US imposed additional sanctions on Honduras, presumably because of pressures from Caracas. Let’s hope that does not happen again.

The sun has broken through the clouds, and now the survival of strengthened Honduran democratic institutions suddenly is looking likely. There are three main risks remaining.

First, Chavistas may somehow pull a dirty trick with the Congress or Supreme Court. Recall that in Bolivia a key constitutional proposal was enacted when most of the opposition was unable to meet and vote. Similarly, just in the last month, Ortega finagled a supreme court decision in Nicaragua regarding his right to re-election. Again, this was accomplished with the tactic of arranging to have a vote while opposing justices were unavailable. Hondurans better post a whip at each door of the legislative meeting rooms.

Second, Chavez may somehow get inside Obama’s head again. At this point, Obama’s instincts for self-preservation must make him aware that his best exit is a successful election on November 29. Chavez may try to exploit the Obama/Hillary tension, or somehow demonize Shannon, who seems to be the grown-up in the room.

Third, the resort to more violence in the streets.

Minimal US support for elections makes all three tactics look like long-shots for Chavez now. So much grief could have been avoided if we had supported them earlier. Chavez will beat a tactical retreat and think about limiting strategic blowback against ALBA.

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