US Press Falsely Claims Honduran Plurality for Coup

Monday, 13 July 2009 18:24 By Robert Naiman, Truthout | name.

US Press Falsely Claims Honduran Plurality for Coup

    Did a CID-Gallup poll last week indicate that a plurality of Hondurans support the military coup against democratically elected President Zelaya? Yes, according to The Washington Post [July 9], The Wall Street Journal [July 10], The Christian Science Monitor [July 11], and Reuters [July 9], which all reported that the poll showed 41 percent in favor of the coup, with only 28 percent opposed.

    But in fact the poll showed that 46 percent - a plurality - were opposed to the coup, according to The New York Times [July 10], The Associated Press [July 11] - and the president of CID-Gallup, in an interview with Voice of America on July 9.

    As of this writing - Sunday evening, 5:30 pm Eastern time - none of the outlets which reported the poll incorrectly had corrected their earlier, inaccurate, reports.

Also see below:     
Robert Naiman | Honduras's Coup Regime: Poster Child for Trade Sanctions    â€¢

    In reporting the poll incorrectly, the Post, the Journal, the Monitor and Reuters gave the impression that more Hondurans supported the coup than opposed it, suggesting that this meant trouble for the international coalition pressing for the restoration of President Zelaya - which includes Costa Rican President Arias and Organization of American States Secretary-General Insulza, as well as the Obama administration.

    Of course, even if a poll had showed a plurality in favor of the coup, that would not legitimize the coup. But the opinion of the population, even if difficult to discern in the repression following the coup, is without question a key fact in understanding the situation. To misreport such a key fact is to substantially misinform. To fail to correct such a mistake compounds the error.

    The incorrect report of the poll appears to have originated in the Honduran La Prensa. But the US press should have checked before simply repeating what was in La Prensa, particularly on such an important fact, particularly because the result was counterintuitive.

    But perhaps the result was not counterintuitive for these press outlets, and that may suggest a deeper problem - the US press is out of touch with the majority of the population in Honduras, and therefore credulous to results which misreport Honduran public opinion as being much more similar than it is to the opinions of Honduran elites.

    To ask for corrections, you can contact The Washington Post This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; The Christian Science Monitor here, and The Wall Street Journal This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Honduras's Coup Regime: Poster Child for Trade Sanctions

by: Robert Naiman  |  t r u t h o u t | Perspective

    According to press reports, so far the mediation of Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, encouraged by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has not produced any change in the refusal of the coup regime in Honduras to allow Honduras's democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya to resume his office. That's not surprising: the strategy of the de facto regime seems to be to try to run out the clock on Zelaya's term as long as they can.

    That's why it makes sense for the US, working together with the governments in the region, to continue to ratchet up pressure on the coup regime. Indeed, as Reuters reported:

On the eve of Thursday's talks, the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa said Washington had suspended $16.5 million in military assistance programs to Honduras, and added an additional $180 million in US aid could also be at risk.

    One lever that the US government has not publicly discussed using is trade sanctions. Simply beginning the discussion would increase pressure on the coup regime to stand down.

    Trade agreements to which the US and Honduras are signatory are unlikely to present any obstacle, because the coup regime in Honduras has no standing to press any claims on behalf of Honduras in any international body. No government in the world, including the United States, recognizes the coup regime as the legitimate government of Honduras. If anyone in Honduras wanted to press a claim, the approval of President Zelaya would be needed.

    Indeed, there is a powerful and recent precedent for ignoring any attempt by the coup regime to represent Honduras in any international body: that's what members of the Organization of American States - including the US - did last Saturday, when the coup regime tried to withdraw Honduras from the OAS.

    The OAS had given the coup regime a Saturday deadline for allowing the reinstatement of President Zelaya, or the OAS would suspend Honduras from membership. The coup regime tried to pre-empt the suspension by announcing Honduras's withdrawal from the OAS. The announcement was ignored, and the OAS suspended Honduras.

    So, if the US imposed trade sanctions on the coup regime, and the coup regime tried to complain, the US could simply ignore it, as it ignored the coup regime's complaint on Saturday. No government or international body in the world would take the coup regime's side; no government recognizes the coup regime as the legitimate government of Honduras.

    Of course, the actual use of trade sanctions would raise justified concerns about who they will hurt, and the Obama administration can - and I'm sure they would - take this into account when deploying this lever. The choices aren't "no trade sanctions" or "embargo." The Obama administration could target imports or exports that would send a strong signal to the coup regime and its supporters in Honduras's economic elite that they will pay an increasing price for intransigence, while avoiding imports and exports that would significantly affect poor Hondurans.

    Merely starting the discussion will increase pressure on the coup regime - so let the discussion begin. If the Obama administration would simply announce that it is studying the possibility of trade sanctions, that would be a big step forward.

Last modified on Monday, 13 July 2009 19:33