Monday, June 29, 2009

The OAS and Honduras

Not surprisingly, there are protests in Tegulcigalpa, and roadblocks. The longer this government insists on remaining in power, the more likely it is that violence will ensue.

So can the OAS do anything useful? Let's see. Chris Sabatini at Americas Quarterly has a good post on the topic, concluding with:

In the case of Honduras, President Zelaya passed over the head of the Congress to call for vote on June 28 that would have allowed a national referendum in October on a series of unspecified-constitutional reforms, including the removal of term limits to allow him to run for re-election. President Zelaya’s plan was constitutionally questionable from the beginning, bypassing the Congress and opposed by the Supreme Court. When the head of the army expressed his disapproval he was removed, even though the Supreme Court called for his restoration.

Each of these actions to tear down checks and balances and consolidate executive power should—in theory—have triggered the consideration of the OAS under the Democratic Charter. But they didn’t. And now we’re left with an OAS that is—rightly—condemning a coup that could have possibly been averted and forced to call for the return of a President who himself had done little to respect his own constitution.


Gabriel,  11:07 AM  

I agree with Sabatini. The OAS is both hypocritical and useless. Where were they when Ortega stole last year's elections?

jd,  5:55 PM  

I dunno. I understand the criticisms, but if the OAS really raised a stink every time an executive in the region overstepped his authority...there would be no OAS. And who would benefit from that: the leaders least inclined to abide by international norms.

Military coups, on the other hand, represent a clear red line that everyone can agree on. It's not a perfect system, but it is what it is.

One thing I've not seen is an explanation of the Honduran Supreme Court's ruling that the armed forces commander must be reinstated. Why can't a civilian president fire a general?

Justin Delacour 9:48 PM  

How exactly is Sabatini's post a "good post," Greg? Sabatini's post is just back-door apologetics for a coup. This is no time to be taking pot shots at the OAS.

This is the problem that Zelaya's people will face. The Washington establishment isn't really committed to isolating Honduras' golpistas. This is the only valid point that Gabriel has made. The Washington establishment will pay lip service to the need to restore the country's democratically-elected president, but talk is cheap.

As for Sabatini, what we have here is a former point man of the National Endowment for Democracy who is less concerned about a military coup than he is about the fact that the OAS is no longer a U.S. rubber stamp.

Perhaps Sabatini needs to be reminded that Condoleeza Rice's call for the OAS to micro-manage every Latin American democracy according to her dictates was roundly rejected by the hemisphere.

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