NYT Reports Honduras (Opponent Opinions) From Afar

Looking at a June 28 New York Times report that the “Honduran President Is Ousted in Coup,” A Tiny Revolution blogger Bernard Chazelle (6/28/09) writes that “from the byline alone, you know this is going to be good”: “Elisabeth Malkin, in Mexico City, with reporting by Simon Romero from Caracas.” To Chazelle this all “makes perfect sense since, as we all know, Mexico City and Caracas are the two major cities in Honduras. (Too bad they had no reporter in Bangkok. I hope the Pulitzer committee doesn’t notice.)”

Moving on to the piece’s actual content [since altered by the Times], Chazelle responds to the peculiar opening line stating that “The Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya, was ousted by the army on Sunday after pressing ahead with plans for a referendum”:

A referendum? OK, but for what? “… a referendum that opponents said could lay the groundwork for his eventual re-election”

OK, so we ask his opponents what the referendum is about. How about asking a more neutral observer? Like? “Mr. Zelaya pressed ahead with plans for a nonbinding referendum that opponents said would open the way for him to rewrite the constitution to run for re-election despite a one-term limit.”

Yes, I think we got that point. Opponents of the referendum really don’t like that referendum. But what’s the referendum about? I’ll go out on a limb and, on the basis of what our crack reporters have told us, I’ll take a wild guess: “Can I, el Caudillo Zelaya, run for president again and again and again? Yes or no?”

Let’s check with Dr. Wikipedia to see how well I’m doing: “Incumbent President Manuel Zelaya wanted to hold a non-binding referendum on whether to convene congress to modify the constitution.”

So, “it’s non-binding, meaning that it has no enforcement power,” and “it’s not a referendum to change the constitution,” but only “a referendum to convene a constitutional assembly to modify the constitution.” No wonder the Times lede has Chazelle reduced to this: “Hmm… me very confused.”

One thing Chazelle is sure of: “There’s no way this would have happened if the U.S. had said no. And if anyone doubts there’s bad blood between Honduras and the U.S., one has to go back only nine months for Honduras’ decision to delay the accreditation of the U.S. ambassador in solidarity with Bolivia.”