Event: Honduran ambassador to the U.N. Jorge Reina among experts to discuss military coup at University of Texas at Austin forum
When: Monday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. (Reina is scheduled to speak at about 3:30 p.m.)
Where: The University of Texas at Austin, Sid Richardson Hall, Rare Books Room
Of special note: On Sunday, Oct. 18 at 6:30 p.m., Reina and other experts will hold an informal dinner with the members of the local Honduran community to discuss the crisis. The event will take place at El Mercado South, 1302 S 1st St., Austin. Media are invited.
Background: When the Honduran army removed President Manuel Zelaya from power last summer, Reina, the country's ambassador to the United Nations and a Zelaya supporter, refused to recognize the new government or give up his position.
Reina, who continues to hold the ambassadorship, will be in Austin with other experts on Honduras to talk about the situation in the country. They will meet with members of Austin's Honduran community for dinner on Sunday night and appear Monday at a one-day forum titled "Military Coup or Constitutional Succession? Foro Urgente on Honduras."
The crisis began on June 28 when the army sent Zelaya at gunpoint into exile to Costa Rica, while a provisional civilian government was installed with Roberto Micheletti, the president of the Honduran Congress, at the helm. The military coup was the first in Central America since the end of the Cold War. It ignited political turmoil in Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere, and has led to diplomatic tensions throughout the region.
Recognizing the enormous impact the crisis has had on human rights, democratic stability and international relations, the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS) is organizing the one-day forum.
The event will bring together guest speakers from Honduras and the United States to analyze the constitutionality of the coup and its implications for the rule of law and democracy. They will also discuss the relationship between citizens, organizations and the state in Honduras in its aftermath, and assess the international community's response.
The forum will also feature Michael Shifter, an analyst with the Inter-American Dialogue, a think-tank based in Washington designed to address hemispheric issues.
Two speakers from Honduras will provide first-hand accounts of the internal turmoil, overall human rights situation and civil society resistance to the coup that emerged after Zelaya's exile. Miriam Miranda, an activist in the indigenous and afro-descendant movements in Honduras, is one of the national leaders of the Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH), a group dedicated to promoting the rights of the Garífuna minority in the country. Dario Euraque was the director of the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History until he was fired by the Micheletti government. He is also professor of history and international studies at Trinity College in Connecticut.
Professors Zachary Elkins and Jeffrey Tulis of the Department of Government at The University of Texas at Austin will discuss the legal framework in which the constitutional crisis took place and the future of Honduran democracy.