Thursday, July 2, 2009

Settling and unsettling

I'm happily back home in Suchitoto after an excellent month in Antigua during which some clarity about verb tenses may have settled in. It feels good to be settling in to the house, good to be listening to the winter rains in the patio. Today's rains were fierce, creating little rivers on their way to the drain and big rivers out in the street.

What's unsettling is watching the U.S. attention span shift with such speed from the coup in Honduras to Michael Jackson's death and the affairs of Governor Sanford. Here in Central America what happened in Honduras, and what happens next, has huge repercussions. All the countries of Central America, except perhaps Costa Rica, have a long history of military coups, mostly backed by previous U.S. governments. But it's been 16 years since the last military coup in Central America, and it has seemed that stable democracy was finally here to stay. But a look at the front page photo in today's Prensa Grafica (above) shows something all too familiar to Latin American readers: the man who was selected, not elected, as President, Roberto Micheletti, ushered forward by the officer right behind him: there, you could say, is his backing!

What has happened so far in international and U.S. and central American reaction has been encouraging. Honduras finds itself isolated and threatened with the loss of financial aid and market access that will be devastating in this very poor country.

In Guatemala and El Salvador, there's been immediate notice and concern that a successful coup in Honduras could lead to others. What happens next will determine how likely that is. Tonight Manuel Zelaya, the elected President of Honduras, is here in El Salvador as the guest of President Mauricio Funes. And tomorrow?

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