Of course news attention is overwhelmingly focussed today on the passing of the king of pop, Michael Jackson. We are even told that global internet traffic slowed whilst humanity came to terms with its loss. However, hard as it is believe and as impalatable as it may be for some to stomach, in poorer countries life has appeared to have gone as normal.
General Romeo Vasquez chief of staff of the Honduran army put tanks on the streets surrounding the presidential palace where democratically elected Mr Manuel Zelaya lives and up till yesterday was mostly worrying about winning a referendum which will allow him to be re-elected and sit more terms.
Zelaya reckons his proposed recipe of drug legalisation or decriminalisation will reduce the 12 death a day average in Honduras which is a key transit point for cocaine leaving the south American continent for its market on the north American continent. Honduras is thus quite logically located in central America which is between the north and south continents.
Fortuanately people all over the world who have never really been tickled by the Michael Jackson phenomema did take notice of the saber rattling and in the last hours messages of support have been sent from friendly left wing regimes across Latin America. Alas, this just goes to vindicate what the army are saying : that the Honduran presidency which didn't really have such a big majority in the 2005 elections is part and parcel of the Cuban, Venezuelan, Bolivian, Nicaraguan axis of red t-shirts.
c/f coup d'etat special from TeleSur the Latin American satelite channel http://www.telesurtv.net/noticias/afondo/especiales/Gol...uras/
It is reported that President Zelaya is staying put in his palace and general Vasquez appears if not to be staying put in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa is certainly not going away and back to barracks in a great hurry. Nonetheless election officials have distributed ballot papers and urns to more than 5,000 electoral centres today. Zelaya speaking on telly from Tegucigalpa has called on Hondurans to make sure their voices are heard this Sunday (when they are expected to vote).
Moreover, Zelaya has dismissed both his minister of Defence and said chief of staff.
It might be recalled by some that during the 1980's when Michael Jackson was at its zenith, the IranContra scandal broke in Washington and the USA using the Honduran military intefered in neighbouring Nicaragua & El Salvador. (c/f http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_contra ) The now offically ex chief of staff of the Honduran military afore mentioned General Romeo Vasquez was a lower ranking army officer at that time.
Zelaya is now in the unusual position of having assumed the ministry of defence and the traditionally military role of chief of staff until he appoints replacements. This really doesn't appear to analysts to be a 100% leak proof solution to discontent in the Honduran military. Rather, it seems a foolish move, for there is one thing soldiers like - and that's a chain of command. Take away their chain of command and they get itchy in different ways. It ought not be surprising if by Sunday evening non-constitutional elements in the lower ranking officers of the Honduran army have emerged. For traditionally it is from lower ranking officers that most serious threats to constitutionalism are seen.
wiki in English on Zelaya http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manuel_Zelaya
wiki in English on the Honduran military http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_of_Honduras