Will Harper tie aid to the military coup?
The increasing violence and public demonstrations in Honduras is gaining more international attention. Now, more and more national leaders are required to publicly announce their position on the coup.
At the very outset of the coup, many countries were quick to condemn the military on ousting the President during the middle of the night. But Harper — just as late as he was for many G8 photo ops — hesitated to remark on the situation.
So, why was Harper so late to respond? His actions at the G8 summit this week suggest he does want to do something about the plight of so many underprivileged people in this world, right? Well, actually, only if it’s to his advantage to do so.
In May the Globe and Mail reported that Ottawa was reducing aid for many African countries — apparently, countries that are recovering from genocide aren’t that fashionable anymore. Now, 80% of Canada’s $1.5 billion annual aid budget is targeted for Latin America and the Caribbean because of newly aligned geopolitical and trade interests. All aid is tied, but maybe Harper figures that countries in Latin America have more economic potential than the poverty-stricken countries of Africa. And this potential would certainly be heightened under the Micheletti regime, which is intimately connected with Honduras’ business elite.
Interim president, Roberto Micheletti, and the military have accused Zelaya of wanting to change the constitution. This, of course, refers to Zelaya’s proposal to hold a non-binding poll asking the citizens if they would consider opening the constitution to changes. Many suspect the real reason is Zelaya’s shift towards a politics that recognizes the human condition in Honduras: under Zelaya the country has seen an increase in minimum wage and a decrease in the price of public transportation. Zelaya ran on a very conservative platform, so his move towards a more progressive style of politics is criticized as heavily influenced by Chavez’s Venezuela.
As public opposition and resistance in Honduras continues, Canadians must not swallow allegations about Zelaya’s despotic desire to change the constitution and pressure Harper to make an explicit stance condemning the military coup and support democracy in Honduras.