It seems that the other day there was a coup in Honduras (at least I think it was a “coup”; the Spanish phrase that La Nación is using is “golpe de estado,” which literally means “hit of state”… I’m gonna go with “coup” on this one).
In any case, I’m not sure if they’re reporting this much in the U.S. and elsewhere, but here it pretty big news. Sure, Honduras is a country or two away, but the country between Honduras and Costa Rica is Nicaragua, not exactly a paragon of order and stability over the last couple of decades. So we have a relatively good-sized buffer zone between “us” and “them,” but there’s a lot of regional identification around here, and people in Costa Rica are quite interested in what’s going on up north currently. In fact, Costa Rica did get mixed up in the whole affair initially, and it was in a way that was so weird that while reading about it in the paper, it seemed like the sort of quirky military coup that might happen in a Wes Anderson movie.
Costa Rica’s involvement started when the president of Honduras, Manuel “Mel” Zelaya (in the picture to the left, from Wikimedia Commons), showed up at our airport in his pajamas on Sunday morning. Apparently the Honduran military decided to take over the country, and after they arrived to Zelaya’s residence, they took him by gunpoint to an airplane. That airplane landed at Costa Rica’s JuanSantamariaInternationalAirport at 8:10 a.m., at which time the President was “left” at the airport, while the military apparently returned to Honduras. Zelaya said in La Nación: “I left with the clothes I was wearing; I’m not wearing socks, I’m not wearing underwear.”
Now, we’ve all been in awkward situations like this, especially after a long Saturday night, but this has got to set some sort of precedence for weirdness. My particular interest lies with the Honduran military soldiers who kidnapped Zelaya: what did they actually do after arriving at the airport? Did they get out, talk to the guy who guided the plane to the gate with those glow sticks, and say, “Hey, here’s our President, do you mind watching him while we do some errands up north?” How did they address the radio tower? “Heads up, President coming in!”? Did they have to take him through customs or immigration—good luck, Mel!—since he probably didn’t happen to have his passport in his pajama pocket? Or did they just land without permission, open the pressurized cabin door with a whoosh, toss Zelaya out onto the tarmac, and then take off again? The newspapers are suspiciously silent as to the answers to all of these questions.
The day of his arrival here, Zelaya had a joint press conference with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who looked somewhat confused in the newspaper picture (although to be fair, Arias often looks a bit confused in newspaper pictures). Arias condemned the coup and demanded that Honduras take back its mustachioed, V-neck T-shirt-wearing President.
As the days have progressed, Zelaya went to a meeting of Latin American Presidents in Nicaragua and apparently continued on to the U.S. to talk to U.N. General Assembly or something like that (I stopped paying close attention to the articles around this point). He eventually plans on returning to Honduras on Thursday (today). However, a new “President” has taken power in Honduras in the meantime, and this new guy with an Italian-sounding name has promised that Zelaya will be imprisoned if he returns to the country. The international community has rallied around Zelaya by demanding his reinstatement as President, and has proposing severing basically all ties with Honduras, up to an including an full embargo on shitty reggaeton record imports.
Anyhow, this situation is weird, and to paraphrase Brazilian President Lula* said, “We can’t permit right in the 21st century, that we have a military coup in Latin America. It’s unacceptable.” And he’s right. Do they still even do military coups these days?
Maybe that’s what’s going on: Central America is suffering from 1980s nostalgia and trying to recapture some of the “romance” from that era.** Nicaragua’s current President is Daniel Ortega, the same Sandinista President from the 1980s that got involved in their country’s civil war. And our current President in Costa Rica is Oscar Arias, the guy who was also President in the 1980s, and who won a Nobel Prize for helping end the civil war in Nicaragua. Iran’s got some weird turmoil going on, possibly just to set up a new Iran-Contra Affair for this century. And finally, Honduras decides to throw a military coup.
And everywhere I look, all I see are Land Rovers from the late 70s and early 80s, and Michael Jackson’s music is on every station!
It’s Political 80s Night here in the isthmus! Put on your Member’s Only jacket and come on down!
* Brazilian Presidents, just like Brazilian soccer players, have only one name.
** I am obviously joking about this whole matter, and I hope I don’t offend anyone by taking it too lightly. My best wishes are with everyone in Honduras, and let’s all hope for a safe and speedy resolution to this debacle!
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