A quick update before I get to the rant: The pro-democracy movements are planning a series of nationwide protests to begin tomorrow, which of course sends the gasping, grasping golpistas into paroxysms of fear. As Al Giordano of Narco News reports from Honduras:
The coup regime is frightened enough by the growing wave of peaceful protests across the country that it placed advertisements in pro-coup daily newspapers announcing new penalties against the redress of grievances nationwide:
“Anybody who calls for leads any meeting or demonstration illicitly will be punished by a sentence of two to four years in prison and a fine of 30,000 to 60,000 Lempiras (about $1,500 to $3,000 US dollars)."
In other words, one doesn’t even have to present at a protest to be imprisoned for it: Simply calling on others to attend now earns any citizen or broadcaster that honor.
A good article with some historical context appeared on the History News Network last week.
Meanwhile, what does the AP produce? A piece – “A look at efforts to extend term limits worldwide” – full of bullshit that of course is being picked up by a huge number of “news” sources.
From the second sentence
Referendums on term limits have been held worldwide in recent years. While they have failed in a handful of cases — including Honduras,...
they spread misinformation. When they get to discussing Honduras specifically, the problems continue:
HONDURAS: Before his ouster in a June 28 coup, President Manuel Zelaya had been trying to organize a referendum to gauge popular support for a constitutional overhaul, defying court orders declaring the vote illegal. Opponents say he was trying to extend his presidential term and used this as the rationale for the coup. Zelaya denies such intentions and is in exile in neighboring Nicaragua.
These statements are completely misleading. What Zelaya was conducting was a public consultation, a nonbinding opinion poll (allowed by the constitution), asking whether people would like to be able to vote in the November elections on whether to convene a constitutional convention to draw up a new constitution to be put to a later vote. The poll said nothing about presidential term limits. The vote on convening a constitutional convention, were it to take place, would be during the November elections in which a new president would be voted in. What Zelaya's "opponents say" neither holds water nor even makes sense. Stop repeating it as if it had any basis in reality, AP! Be journalists and investigate whether it’s true before saying it is in your second sentence!
They’re no better on Bolivia:
BOLIVIA: Voters approved a new constitution in January that gives President Evo Morales a shot at remaining in office through 2014 if he wins elections scheduled for December.
And the US constitution gives Barack Obama a shot at remaining in office through 2016!!!!!!eleventyone11!!! Seriously. The previous constitution allowed two nonconsecutive five-year terms; the new one allows two consecutive five-year terms. When the constitution had been approved but before it was submitted to popular referendum, the AP, despite its having been pointed out to them that they were wrong (as I noted in a previous post), persisted in claiming that the new constitution would allow Morales to run indefinitely.
They spread lies, and they do so in moments when the fate of democracy hangs in the balance, in a manner that strengthens the hand of antidemocratic forces.
…In other worrisome media news, Human Rights Watch reports on measures limiting freedom of expression in Venezuela. While I don’t take everything in the report at face value, it is certainly troubling, and they've been doing a good job on Honduras. I plan to investigate further.
(Oh, and PS: Thank you to everyone who has said nice things about the blog and encouraged me in my efforts. I'm touched and flattered, and couldn't appreciate it more. I have to turn off comments for a couple of days, but will be back soon.)