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Editorial/Opinion

 

Gustavo Coronel: A conversation
with Jose Miguel Insulza about Honduras

 

 

 

This morning, July 16, I had a conversation with Jose Miguel Insulza about Honduras. For about one hour he spoke to me and one hundred others in the audience about the political crisis developing in Honduras. He explained why the OAS had behaved the way it did. At times he was passionate in defense of his role in the crisis and, at times, he bordered on cynicism in his comments about Latin American politics and leadership. I heard a man trapped by the political environment in which he has to perform.

I would like to comment on some of the things he said:

1. “To the OAS Honduras is a matter of principle”. He added: “As George Keenan once said, when things get very difficult, it is a good idea to resort to principles”. And he also allowed himself to say: “But, only when things are really difficult”, half in jest, half seriously. This statement impressed me because it showed Insulza really believes that the OAS acted on principle in the case of Honduras, rather than with political hypocrisy. He is sincerely convinced that the actions taken by the OAS in Honduras are consistent with the actions the organization has, mostly, not been taking about the gross violations of the Inter American Charter in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua, to name just the most prominent of transgressors. Are principles applicable to some countries and not to others, Mr. Insulza? Some days ago, Venezuelan politician Teodoro Petkoff revealed a conversation with Insulza in which he had said: “We cannot be too exquisite (principled?) about Cuba” (to justify the suspension of the 1962 decision to expel this country from the OAS) , adding: “because there are at least seven countries in the OAS that would not pass the test of the Charter, Venezuela included”. If principles were really involved, as Mr. Insulza claims, he would have been forced to take action against these seven countries or, if this is not possible, resign immediately from his position. This would have been a principled attitude.


2. Passionately, Mr. Insulza said: “A coup is always a rape of democracy” and added: “This is why there can be no compromise and President Zelaya has to return to the presidency”. I asked him if, by any chance, they at the OAS were not confusing the identity of the rapist. Are the rapists the National Congress and the Supreme Court of Honduras, which declared Zelaya’s efforts to run the referendum illegal and unconstitutional and ousted him from the presidency? Or is the rapist the President who tried to place himself above the constitution of his country, therefore losing his legitimacy? Could Fidel Castro not be defined as a rapist of Cuban democracy? And yet, Mr. Insulza has said (in another occasion) that the legitimacy of the Cuban regime is based on the figure of Fidel Castro! The Cuban regime, rapist of Cuban democracy for 50 years, was invited back by the same group of governments of the OAS that now talk about the rape of democracy in Honduras. Talk about inconsistency!

3. Mr. Insulza said he could not accompany Zelaya tin his attempt to return to Honduras because he did not have the authorization of the OAS and because of safety concerns, giving the impression that he had been willing to travel. He did not say that such a trip had been a provocation on the part of Zelaya and had represented a violation of Honduras air space by a Venezuelan aircraft. He never mentioned that the pretensions of President Correa (Ecuador) and President Fernandez (Argentina) to travel with Zelaya had alo represented intervention by these presidents in the internal affairs of Honduras. Mr. Insulza seems to have real problems in accepting “clumsy” coups but no problems at all with “elegant” coups. His indignation has been reserved for the action of the military taking Zelaya in his pajamas and placing him in a plane to Costa Rica. This was certainly clumsy. But he has never said a word about the “elegant” coups in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, where authoritarianism and abuse of power have progressively replaced democracy before his eyes.

In general Mr. Insulza said that the OAS had limitations and one of them is that the presidents of the region have easier access to the organization than other institutions in those countries. Well, we know that. The case of the Venezuelan Governors and Mayors opposed to Chavez is a good example of such a preference, since it took a hunger strike by one of them, Antonio Ledezma, to catch the ear of the secretary general. Mr. Insulza claimed that he had received Mayor Ledezma before his hunger strike but failed to mention that this was a brief courtesy call where he made no attempt to look into his plight.

The conversation with Mr. Insulza gave me the impression that he was rather content in having the OAS as a syndicate of presidents, more so than an organization that could truly serve as guarantor of democracy for the peoples of the hemisphere. Frankly, if the OAS cannot play this role, then is dead.




 

Gustavo Coronel is a 28 years oil industry veteran, a member of the first board of directors (1975-1979) of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), author of several books. At the present Coronel is Petroleumworld associate editor and advisor on the opinion and editorial content of the site. Petroleumworld does not necessarily share these views. Petroleumworld not necessarily share these views.

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Petroleumworld News 07/17/09

 

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