Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
Honduras seems trapped in the past. Radio stations play aging hits from Mexican crooner Jose Jose and cumbia dance numbers from the mid-’80s. Women’s fashions are out-of-date and guards nestling big rifles guard beauty salons and pharmacies as they have for decades.
Politics are also mired in the past in this deeply conservative country of 7 million people. While elsewhere in Latin America a new generation of leftists has taken power, putting business leaders on the defensive to some extent and to varying degrees, Honduras’ business elite flexed its muscles when a leftist prsident hinted he wanted to extend presidential term limits.
For four months Honduras has been led by a de facto leader, Roberto Micheletti, who took over after the army, Supreme Court and Congress together pulled a coup on elected President Manuel Zelaya, who was flown out of the country. Zelaya later sneaked back in to take asylum in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa. Repeated attempts at a negotiated settlement between the two have dissolved into bickering.
Micheletti has shown staying power — even after he was isolated on the global stage. That’s because he is backed by a secretive and relatively small group of business leaders that have long wielded political power in this Central American country, which is heavily dependent on foreign aid and on its biggest trade partner, the United States. The Honduran Documentation Center think tank has documented the control that a group of intermarried families has on the country’s banks, industries such as the maquiladora factories that make clothes to export to the U.S., coffee and banana and cattle production, and power generation. The book “The Powers that Be and the Political System,” by a group of researchers, argues that the business class has increased its influence over politics since Honduras returned to democracy 30 years after two decades of off-and-on military regimes. The book says each business group owns a media outlet that helps it maintain and transfer power from the “dinosaur” leaders to the next generations of “babysaurs.”
from Africa News blog:
In Guinea this week, at least 157 people were killed when security forces opened fire on a demonstration against military junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, according to a local rights group.
Much has changed since I visited the country in April and May this year. Then, the young Camara -- or "Dadis" as most Guineans refer to him – did not look particularly dangerous despite his images staring out from walls, buildings and roundabouts all over Conakry, and cassettes of his speeches on sale in the markets.
TEGUCIGALPA – When ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya made a symbolic (and brief) return to his homeland on Friday, what could have been a potentially dangerous situation turned out to be a show for live television — a far cry from the bloody coups of the past in Latin America.
Even as he walked toward the border in sight of Honduran security forces waiting to arrest him, Zelaya, in his trademark cowboy hat, took a call from CNN’s Spanish language channel and conducted a long interview with the broadcaster.
The interim government, led by Congress speaker Roberto Micheletti, argue that Zelaya’s ouster was legal as it was ordered by the Supreme Court after the president had tried to extend his four-year term in office illegally.
They say he was acting unconstitutionally and had to be removed.
The rest of the world seems to disagree. From U.S. President Barack Obama to arch-U.S. rival Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, world leaders have condemned Zelaya’s removal and used the term “coup.”
In the days before the coup, opposition leaders said they planned to impeach Zelaya over his plan to hold an unofficial public survey to gauge support for letting presidents run for re-election beyond the current one four-year term. They said a congressional committee set up to investigate Zelaya found he had violated the Central American nation’s laws and would ask Congress to declare him unfit to rule.
Does one unconstitutional act justify another? In a democracy, is it ever justified for soldiers to seize a president and spirit him out of the country? Does the fact that Congress quickly elected a successor, who will serve only until presidential elections in November, make any difference?
Fifteen years ago this month, Guinea’s late ruler Lansana Conte made clear what form democracy would take under his rule.
We answered a summons to a late night news conference to hear the result of his first multiparty election, speeding through silent streets where armoured vehicles waited in the shadows. The interior minister announced that ballots from the east, the opposition’s stronghold, had been cancelled because of irregularities. Conte had therefore won 50.93 percent of the vote. There was no need for a run-off because he had an absolute majority.
Members of Guinea-Bissau’s unruly armed forces have blotted the military’s record again with another attack against the country’s political institutions. Early on Sunday, Nov. 23, renegade soldiers, their faces hooded, sprayed the Bissau residence of President Joao Bernardo “Nino” Vieira with machine-gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire. The president survived unhurt this latest apparent attempt to topple him.
But The attack underlined the fragility of the small, cashew nut-exporting West African nation, one of the poorest in the world and a former Portuguese colony which has suffered a history of bloody coups, mutinies and uprisings since it won independence in 1974 after a bush war led by Amilcar Cabral. The assault followed parliamentary elections on Nov. 16 which donors were hoping would restore stability and put in place a new government capable of resisting the serious threat posed by powerful Latin American cocaine-trafficking cartels who use Guinea-Bissau as a staging post to smuggle drugs to Europe.
Soldiers took power in a coup in Mauritania on Wednesday after presidential guards deposed President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi when he tried to dismiss senior army officers. Abdallahi took over only last year after winning elections to replace a military junta that had ruled since it toppled the previous president in a bloodless coup in 2005. The largely desert nation, one of Africa’s newest oil producers, has suffered five coups since 1978 but Africa as a whole has transformed its reputation for violent government ousters in recent years after notching up around 80 successful coups and many more abortive attempts between the 1950s and 2004.
There have only been a handful of military seizures in the last five years compared to the heyday of military takeovers in the 1960s. In the mid-70s around half of African countries had military governments. Since then, democracy has gradually made ground and attempts to seize power are strongly frowned upon.
There can be few countries where the art of the coup is so finely honed as in Turkey, adapting as it does constantly to the spirit of the age, spawning over the decades its own enigmatic lexicon – the “Coup By Memorandum”, the “Post-Modern Coup”, the “Judicial Coup”, the ill-starred “e-Coup”.
Now newspapers (largely pro-government newspapers it should be said), gorge on tales of coup plots dubbed ‘Glove’, ‘Blonde Girl’ , ‘Moonlight’ and devote pages to a shadowy militant group code-named “Ergenekon”. Two retired military commanders, supposed members of the group, have been arrested at their homes on military compounds; a bold step by civilian authorities against an army that jealously guards its privileged status. Critics of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan call the arrests, also netting businessmen and journalists, a ‘revenge action’ for moves by the conservative judiciary to shut his AK party on charges of Islamist subversion. Ertugrul Ozkok, editor of Hurriyet, a newspaper critical of the government , suggested authorities were riding roughshod over judicial processes. If things are as they seem, he said, “none of us can feel comfortable any more. Any one of us can be taken from our homes and held in custody.”