Friday, May 13, 2011

Is it indispensable for Honduras to be in the Organization of American States?

I have heard three distinct arguments supporting the critical need to be part of the Organizations of American States:
1) Obtain recognition at the international level as a country and thus gain a voice and vote in international forums and treaties, including OAS itself.
2) Gain access to financial resources
3) International recognition as a moral and ethical imperative that help Honduras qualify as a state.

Let me examine the first argument.
a. Honduras is recognized by the United Nations as a country. In fact Ambassador Mary Elizabeth Flores Flake presented her credentials to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

b. President Lobo Sosa delivered an official statement at the Millennium Development Goals Summit on 20 September 2010.

c. We have opened new diplomatic relations. On September 30, 2010, Honduras Ambassador at the United Nations (UN), Mary Elizabeth Flores Flake, signed a formal opening of diplomatic relations with her counterpart from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ambassador Flores Flake also signed a treaty with Montenegro on July 9 2010.

d. The Ministry of Foreign Relations (Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores) lists more than 35 countries where we maintain a Embassy or a Consulate. Note that many of these serve at itinerant representatives for Honduras, and thus some serve more than one country at a time. 

So, the argument that we are not being recognized by the international community is wrong. In fact, the only countries which do not recognize us and with whom we had relations before are the usual suspects: Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Cuba and a couple of other ALBA countries, plus the OAS as an organization. If I missed anybody, please add via comments.

Let me examine the second argument.
a. According to the Project database at the World Bank there are 21 active projects and 3 projects in the pipeline for Honduras. The last project approved at the World Bank for Honduras was the 0.4 million US$ project titled “Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM) in the Greater Tegucigalpa Area”. This project
was approved on March 23 2011. Previous was a 2.55 million project given to FHIS on September 7 2010.

b. Similar situation at the Inter American Development Bank. Last project approved was a 38.2 million US$ given to the Education Ministry on April 26, 2011. Previous project approved was a 1.5 million US$ given to Technical Planning and Cooperation Ministry on March 23, 2011. Total number of approved projects is 35 projects in implementation using loans provided by the IADB, 3 of them given after December 1, 2010. There are 100 projects total in implementation using loans, grants, investment or guarantees provided by IADB. 

c. Have there been resources that the country has definitively lost due to the political instability? Yes, there are several fund sources which are in fact closed such as those from ALBA and Petrocaribe. Other sources may have been lost, but I am not sure anybody can estimate a dollar value. In fact the World Bank and the IADB paused operations for a while, although many of the pending projects were extended to compensate for the administrative decision to pause proejct implementation.

However, if the World Bank and the IADB continue providing resources to Honduras, then the door is open to other sources of financing.  The argument that recognition by the OAS is a requisite to accessing funds simply does not wash very well and/or is limited to a set of donors, which of course includes the usual suspects listed above.

Let me examine then the third argument.

This is perhaps the most difficult argument to deal with as it implies a lot of subjectivity in terms of what qualifies a country as a recognized state by other countries. If this were a valid argument then we would have to disqualify Cuba who has not been a member of the OAS for roughly 40 years after being expelled by the organization. One could conceive an argument that Cuba was unjustly expelled from the OAS, yet the original reasons for expelling Cuba for violating the principles of the OAS Charter remain. Is Cuba then a lesser state because it is not an OAS member state? Obviously not, so the same principle should apply to Honduras who now is fully complaint with the OAS charter, and who has complied with all the requests and conditions put forward by the OAS.

In other blog contributions,  I have suggested strongly that we think even more why we want to be a part of such an organization in the first place? I still need more information that will convince me that it is indispensable for Honduras to be part of OAS,in other words, that the advantages of being part of the OAS outweigh pursuing alternatives such as bilateral relations and other international forums which are more welcoming so much that it is a desirable option.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The spin already started - A complot to kill Zelaya

One of the former first ladies, Mrs. Xiomara Zelaya denounced today that a friend told her that Mr. Jose Lamas - a major lumber and forest exploitation empresario in Honduras-  had told her that there is a plan to kill here husband Manuel Zelaya Rosales as soon as he sets foot in Honduras. To see the article in the newspaper el Heraldo press here

This brought many responses all the way from the President to the Attorney General claining that they will investigate the source of these claims, and that they will provide security to guarantee the safety once Zelaya comes to Honduras.

Besides the fact that a Honduran is more likely to be killed by common criminality than most other countries in Latin America, seems to be that if somebody wanted Zelaya dead, they probably would have the resources to do it in Dominican Republic. Why wait until Zelaya's coming back to Honduras?  Political gains or just spin by Zelaya and his accolites to justify maintaining the aura of a sacrifice and martyrdom...

The major damage that these stories cause is that of distracting ourselves from discussing solutions to increase wealth and end poverty in Honduras. I obviously have distracted myself already....

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Why are we asking, rather than pushing for change?

In one of my latest posts I was asking the question: Is it too much to ask several things from a true leader? Is there such a leader like that in Honduras? Note the immediate irony of these questions...

I seem to have fallen in the trap of waiting and longing for the Messiah...the leader who would take us to heaven, or who would bring heaven to earth. Thinking this a bit more carefully, isn't this thinking at the foundation of our problems? Waiting for the leader-to-be such as Mel Zelaya, Pepe Lobo, Callejas or the mythical Rodas Alvadarado o Tiburcio Carias...isn't this a battle with a secure an possibly disastrous ending?

We know that leaders can make a huge difference in turning around a country. Lee Kuan You and his Ministers and Advisers were sufficiently wise to engage the country and get them involved to the point of finding a common cause and goal, making Singapore focus on excellence in almost every aspect of life. How much of this collective action is cultural and how much is the right leadership at the right time when the historical moments happen ("las coyunturas historicas") is not clear to me.

Honduran farmers and Bt maize  
Cesar Indiano in his article posted today in La Prensa, for the article press here:

"Mi amigo Carlos Gómez suele decir “jamás seas ni ofrecido ni igualado” pero nosotros no tenemos remedio porque el problema de nosotros no es un problema de dinero (por cierto, los que tienen lo esconden y lo cubren en bancos extranjeros)... para mí el problema es que somos cómodos.

Queremos que otros vengan a realizar hazañas de prosperidad en un país que nosotros hemos hundido en la desconfianza, el nepotismo y los trámites. Somos tan inocentes y a la vez tan desenfocados que creemos que las personas ocupadas de este mundo, tienen tiempo de sobra para venir a bailar punta y a danzar “la tusa” y “el sueñito”.

Cesar Indiano's  main point is that it is our own fault because we are too comfortable in not doing things ourselves. How do we break this impasse?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Re-posting: Michael P. Fay caning in Singapore

I am re posting this note. Hope that the large Honduran government delegation that went to  visit Korea and Singapore learned many lessons including the one I consider the most important one: one has to put respect and compliance with the law and order above everything else and that one has to stamp out corruption and those acts that violate law and order without any delay or excuse. The price we will pay for forgiving or forgetting the acts of corruption, mismanagement and violation of the constitution and our laws by Mr. Manuel Zelaya Rosales is simply too high.

 The Caning of Michael P. Fay in Singapore
Ratan canes used in Malaysia
In case you do not remember, Michael P. Fay is an American who's brief shot to fame came from his sentence to caning in Singapore as an 18-year old who was convicted of theft and vandalizing private and public property. Mr. Fay, a student at the Singapore American School was convicted for vandalizing cars in addition to stealing road signs to four months in jail, a fine of 3,500 Singapore dollars (US$2,414) and six strokes of a cane in the buttocks conducted in prison in a public place. After requests for leniency  by the US government, the Singapore President of the time, Ong Teng Cheong, reduced the number of strokes from SIX to FOUR, as a sign of good will to President Bill Clinton. The sentence was carried out May 5th 1994 at the Queenstown Remand Centre. After his sentence Mr. Fay left Singapore for good.

What does Mr. Fay's conviction and sentence in Singapore have to do with us in Honduras? Plenty. This is a sign of unwavering respect for the law and the un-ambivalent carrying out of justice in a country, in spite of external pressures. You may disagree that the penalty was excessive in Mr. Fay's case, but the matter of fact is that the rule of the law was respected and carried out without hesitation.

We, in Honduras, need to learn this lesson from Singapore, especially now that President Lobo is apparently considering putting ours laws to the side in order to gain international acceptance, and allow Mr. Zelaya to roam free in Honduras without facing justice. The Supreme Court, Congress and the Ministerio Publico, need to stand together in one voice and say "Yes, Mr. Zelaya is free to return anytime he wants. This is his constitutional right. However,once he sets foot in Honduras he will be arrested and put under the jurisdiction of the legal system, unless his attorneys organize his voluntary presence in front of a judge - which by the way has to be approved in advance by a judge- an the submit to eventual judgement by the legal system. This process is contemplated within Honduran law.

Anything less, sends the message that the executive branch dominates other branches of government. This is a break from the idea of separation of powers and independence of the branches of government, which are the pillars of constitutional democracies. We cannot allow this to happen.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Is it too much to ask?

Is it too much for ask for a political leader who:

- Will lead us in the route of excellence in all aspects of our national life

- Will not lower its head because we are a proud nation...not to Fidel, Hugo, Obama, Insulza, or Lula/Dilma...
- Will not accept any compromise that will violate our constitution and who will govern under the unwavering command of law and order?
- Will not tolerate any acts of corruption?
- Will finally say no more to anybody and everybody who tries to tells us what to do?
- Puts our national sovereignty ahead of any personal gain?
- Will finally say we will build our future on our more hand me downs, charity or donations...everything will be due to our own effort?

When and how long will we have to wait until we reach this nirvana?

Or is it....that such leader does not exist in Honduras....we have to force this ourselves???

Y todo paso sin que pasara nada...

Le seguimos el jueguito a los del ALBA, OEA y demás que ahora nos tienen que decir cuales deben ser nuestra políticas internas. Todo el mundo tiene que opinar en nuestros asuntos, al final del día desde que los dejamos hacer esto le dimos luz verde para que lo continúen haciendo. Desde el FMLN, los docentes de El Salvador, Rouseff y Chavez, todos a discutir acerca de la problemática de Honduras....ya basta!!

¿Hasta cuando vamos a continuar agachando la cabeza y recibir el castigo que nunca acaba? ¿Sera que somos tan borregos y masoquistas? Como dijo hoy en HRN en su programa radial el periodista Danilo Izaguirre "la OEA y la ONU meten sus manos en Honduras porque somos pobres y somos verdad porque los dejamos"

Mientras tanto el ex-presidente que quiso ser Rey, Manuel Zelaya Rosales, dice que no regresa a Honduras,porque se siente perseguido, a pesar que le revocaron las ordenes de captura y los juicios pendientes,aunque estos últimos por errores de procedimiento. Como no Chon!! Si regresando a Honduras se convierte de regreso en ciudadano hondureño y deja el papel de mártir y la consiguiente lluvia de dolares o euros, viviendo como millonario en la República Dominicana...y todos los pobres tontos que siguen suspirando por este personaje, ¿No se dan cuenta de esta realidad?

Por lo menos algunos de los allegados de Zelaya, miembros del grupo denominado "patricios", los militares y Callejas se presentaron ante las cortes a deducir responsabilidades.

Valgame Dios...que papos que somos de verdad...