Sunday, June 28, 2009

Obama and Honduras

According to the Guardian, U.S. officials are working to get Zelaya back into the presidency and believe there will be consensus in the OAS to say the coup "cannot stand."

President Barack Obama called Sunday for "all political and social actors
in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the
Inter-American Democratic Charter" as the Central American crisis unfolded.

For those conditions to be met, Zelaya must be returned to power, U.S.
officials said.

Knowing trouble was brewing in Honduras over several weeks, the Obama
administration warned power players there, including the armed forces, that the
United States and other nations in the Americas would not support or abide a
coup, officials said. They said Honduran military leaders stopped taking their
calls.

15 comments:

Gabriel,  7:54 PM  

Forgive my cynicism but I doubt this is true. I think the US govt is happy they don't have to deal with another Chavez wannabe and they are just saying this for Latin consumption.

Russell 8:28 PM  

This is good news. Thanks for helping me follow this story.

Euvin 8:30 PM  

Article 42, Section 5 of the Honduran Constitution of 1982 strips Nationals of their citizenship if these “Incite, promote or aid in the continuation or re-election of the President.”

It appears the Supreme Court was within its right in ordering the Armed Forces to remove President Zelaya from office. By organizing a referendum to be reelected he violated the constitution. Furthermore, the Inter-American Democratic Charter is nullified when the president breaks national constitution.

In the absence of a Vice-President, the Speaker of National Congress of Honduras is required to ascend to power. The appointment Roberto Micheletti Bain as interim appears to be within the legal sphere. A new election should be called as soon possible so properly elected official can take the office of the Presidency.

Greg Weeks 8:49 PM  

Euvin, there must be due process, a trial, a defense, etc. Not the military grabbing him and flying him to another country.

leftside 9:35 PM  

It is unbelievable to watch the right celebrate this tragic rupture of democracy.

Euvin, this vote had only a hypothetical relationship to extending the Presidential term. It was a non-binding referendum to gauge support for one day allowing another vote on whether to begin the process of Constitutional reform. Whether any democratic Constitutional assembly would decide to make a reform in that area is very doubtful - but at any length totally hypothetical. I don't believe Zelaya has even broached the topic. So to say consulting the people is grounds for kidnapping a President is just absurd. The military ought to be ashamed and anyone who supports this abduction and coup has shown to be no democrat.

Gabriel,  9:44 PM  

leftside,

That's irrelevant. Zelaya insisted on pursuing a course that was clearly called illegal by the Supreme Court. Of course that doesn't justify a coup but Zelaya is the one who started this mess. If he had followed the law, as he now asks of others, none of this would have happened.

Anonymous,  9:45 PM  

Exactly Greg.

For shame Euvin, attempting to justify the indefensible.

The full sections of the constitution though, partly quoted, show why it's so controversial. It basically forbids any way to change, ever, by any means, a one-term limit for the presidency, and calls for punishing people for even advancing the idea. That is really tyranny by constitution and it should be no surprise that people would look for some way to change it, even though it leaves no clearly constitutional way to go about doing so. Past generations have no right to dictate their favored law for all time and leave no option at all for future generations to change it. So Zeleya proposed a non-binding referendum be placed before the people asking if changing this should be placed on the agenda.

The Honduran SC said this is illegal. Zeleya wanted the poll to go forward anyway. What would be in the powers of the SC would be to prevent the poll from taking place or hold its results invalid. There would then be the possibility of bringing some kind of procedure against Zeleya. But they have no authority to summarily remove the elected president and have the military kidnap and exile him. Get real.

One should really ask, why was it so dire that such extreme actions had to be taken to prevent such a referendum, which has no force on its own, from even taking place? The answer seems obvious: The coup and its supporters knew the people disagree with them and would vote for Zeleya's proposal, which would make it difficult to keep rejecting and blocking what the people have voted for. So in order for the voice of the people not to enter the debate, they resort to force.

Justin Delacour 12:19 AM  

By organizing a referendum to be reelected

Has that even been established? My understanding is that the referendum was about whether to write a new constitution. I haven't heard anything about what the proposed changes to the constitution would be.

In any case, Greg is perfectly correct. You don't resolve disputes between the different branches of government by having the military nab the president and wisk him out of the country.

The right-wingers are really taking a short-sighted view of this debacle. In light of how many countries are arrayed against what's happening, the right really has nothing to gain from pushing this coup.

Gabriel,  12:40 AM  

I don't think anyone other than Hondurans are pushing this coup.

Tambopaxi 12:44 AM  

Greg,

Due process is a valid concept, but it's valid only insofar as all parties to a Constitution ahere to that concept.

Zelaya ignored due process when he chose to violate Art. 42 of the Constitution, as well as Art. 239, 373 and 374 of the same document, all of which are expressly aimed at precluding actions like those taken by Zelaya. The Honduran Supreme Court, the Electoral Tribunal and the Congress all declared Zelaya's referendum intiative illegal, and Zelaya chose to ignore those legal decisions - all due process decisions -as well.

In violating the Constitution and ignoring legal decisions and mandates of the other branches of government, Zelaya declared the concept of due process null and void, and he served warning on those branches that if they were foolish enough to do nothing, they were toast - and so was the concept of checks and balances and balance of power against the executive in Honduras.

I agree with Steven Taylor's analysis that what the Congress and military did in Honduras meets the definition of a coup. I would submit, though, that Zelaya left them no choice. He was clearly willing to violate all Constitutional articles, laws and regulations that were set up to keep him from doing what he did, and if the other branches had acceded to his actions, Honduras would be well on its way to having another long, long term (or permanent) President, a la Venezuela.

Anon. 9:45, your assertion that Zelaya is victim of "tyranny of the constitution" is absurd; the non-executive branches of the government of Honduras acted in full compliance with their constitutional rules of the game, and Zelaya did not. It's unfortunate that they had to throw Zelaya out of the country (and again, I believe that it was a coup) but Zelaya had clearly gone rogue and off the Constitutional reservation, creating a chaotic situation where the Constitution didn't - and couldn't - apply.

In circumstances like these the other branches either had to act, and act radically, or submit to the same sort of executive subjugation that's occurred in Venezuela and is going to occur (Constitutionally, btw) in Ecuador. The good thing about Honduras and its Constitution is that the drafters had experienced executive power-grabbing (and military coups) in the past, so they'd written safeguards in just to head-off people like Zelaya.
Luckily, those same people didn't cave in to his initiatives...

Anonymous,  1:53 AM  

Tambopaxi, your whole post is utter nonsense and pathetic apologetics. First to me you say: "your assertion that Zelaya is victim of "tyranny of the constitution" is absurd;"

That is not what I said. Your strawman is absurd, but I guess necessary. Zelaya is a victim of right-wing thugs and vested plutocrats who don't care about anything except their own agenda, least of all democracy. What I said is that a constitution that blocks all avenues for changing its provisions and even criminalizes people promoting the idea of changing them, is a form of tyranny in itself. This is a general point about the unjust nature of these provisions in the constitution which "have to" be defended from the public saying they don't like them.

"It's unfortunate that they had to throw Zelaya out of the country (and again, I believe that it was a coup) but Zelaya had clearly gone rogue and off the Constitutional reservation, creating a chaotic situation where the Constitution didn't - and couldn't - apply."

B.S.

They didn't "have to do" any such thing. They wanted to and did to advance their own agenda. What exactly would have happened if this non-binding referendum had gone forward that just "had to" be stopped by the most extreme means necessary? What kind of constitution makes asking the public a non-binding poll question illegal anyway?

There's only one reason why they'd "have to" do what they did: they knew the public would vote in favor of Zelaya's proposals, revealing their anti-democratic character when they continued blocking what the public had voted for.

If they have a legal dispute over something the president is doing then there is a procedure for censure or removal. They could use that. You're defending the indefensible with nonsense.

Gabriel 2:05 AM  

That's completely wrong anonymous.

Zelaya broke the law. Repeatedly.

I'm sorry it came to this but Zelaya made clear he did not respect any separation of powers.

Justin Delacour 2:33 AM  

I don't think anyone other than Hondurans are pushing this coup.

If the Honduran right had any sense, it wouldn't have countered Zelaya's moves by means of a coup. I mean, think about it. Given that the opposition has control of all of the major institutions of the country except the presidency, they certainly had other ways of scuttling Zelaya's plans than some ham-fisted coup. This was just a very short-sighted move on the right's part. In the long run, this could very well arouse more popular sympathy for Zelaya than would otherwise be the case.

Look, it's fine by me if the Latin American right wants to weaken itself with ham-fisted moves like this one, but the apologists for such moves (i.e. Gabriel and Tambopaxi) ought to learn to recognize a lost cause when they see it.

Anonymous,  3:41 AM  

I've noticed Gerry and Tambopaxi show up one after another at some other blogs. Looks like an organized disinformation campaign afoot.

leftside 1:32 PM  

Can anyone produce evidence that zelaya intended to end term limits? Until then we are simplygoing in circles like the military wants. what the military wants. I'm looking for a quote from zelaya.

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