Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jail vs. exile

The "replacement government" (the BBC puts it nicely) has said that Zelaya will be jailed if he returns to Honduras, as he says he will on Thursday. If that is the case, why was he not simply jailed on Sunday? There is still no evidence of any legal avenue for forcibly exiling him.


Gabriel 11:28 AM  

Agree. They should have simply arrested him and put him in jail.

Mike 12:33 PM  

On what basis, Gabriel? Holding a plebiscite on whether to hold public discussions on changing the constitution is not grounds for removing a president.
Good perspective on all this can be found at chavezcode.com.

leftside 1:57 PM  

You are exactly right Stimpson. They are trying to tell us that it is evidence of authoritarianism to hold a non-binding poll. If it would have been a binding referendum to begin a process of Constitutional reform that would have been one thing. But this was nothing but asking the people if they are interested in beginning the discussion. The Executive does not need the permission of anyone for such a poll.

I have also asked anyone to provide evidence that Zelaya wanted to push an end to term limits or his own re-election. the truth is that time after time, he made clear he was not interested in such things.

leftside 2:04 PM  

I understand that actually the referendum was originally meant to be binding, but after the Supreme Court ruled that to be Unconstitutional, Zelaya switched it to be non-binding. Is this true? If so, the Court never ruled on Sunday's non-binding referendum and therefore any court order to a previous ballot does not apply. This then, should reverse the whole series of events, including the military not assisting with the poll and the subsequent firing of General Velasquez. Why has this all important, yet quite simple point been lost in all the coverage??

Anonymous,  2:08 PM  

Well they have just issued a warrant to arrest him, they should have jailed him from the beginning. Frankly both parties broke the constitution, which seems to be lost in the discussion. However the congress and supreme court lost credibly by solving it in a rather undemocratic way.

Like I said yesterday it is unfortunate that we give so much credibility to the executive branch and ignore the fact they they sometimes break the constitution.

leftside 2:11 PM  

KA, how did Zelaya break the Constitution if the poll was non-binding and the Supreme Court decision only applied to a binding referendum?

Gabriel 2:17 PM  

On what basis?

He broke the law.

Kicking him out of the country was the wrong response.

leftside 2:23 PM  

What law Gabriel?

Anonymous,  2:27 PM  

I do believe the supreme court ruled that, and the constitution makes it pretty clear that using foreign material and sources for hold an election is unconstitutional, which in fact what was happening when Chavez sent election material and advisors to Honduras about two weeks ago.

He was not holding a simple "poll" as you make it out to be.

Gabriel 2:30 PM  


I'm not sure why you keep bringing up the 'non-biding' status. It is irrelevant since there is opt-out clause based on whether the results were binding or not.

leftside 2:37 PM  

Oh now it is about the foreign ballot papers. Come on. The decision was clearly reported to be about 1) holding a binding referendum without Congress and the Electoral authorities assent, and 2) holding a referendum on changing the Constitution when 7 of the articles can not be changed. Again, if the referendum became a non-binding public opinion poll, both of these rulings have no meaning.

Anyone have the Supreme Court decision to put this latest foreign materials argument to bed?

leftside 2:41 PM  

Gabriel, I am going to keep pounding this point until I get an answer. Weeks and most of the mainstream media seem to be totally skipping over this critical point. I want clarification. Unfortunately your sentence about a "opt-out clause" does not provide that. Please elaborate.

Gabriel 2:43 PM  

binding or non-binding is irrelevant. the Congress, the SC, the Electoral tribunal all deemed it illegal. The attorney general said he'd prosecute anyone who participated.

Yet Zelaya ignored all this, broke the law, stormed the military base where the ballots were held (in direct violation of a judicial order) with his supporters, and published on Saturday the decree going ahead with the poll.

leftside 2:44 PM  

Boz quotes Zelaya as definitively stating (as he had many times before): "I will return as a farmer when my mandate is over. Never to be president ever again."

He thinks it is the key to resolving the two sides. I would add that this has always been a manufactured issue by the right-wing and military. There is no indication that they would respond positively now.

Greg Weeks 2:54 PM  

The issue of binding vs. nonbinding is irrelevant. The constitution prohibits reforming the presidential terms, so even formally asking about a commission was deemed illegal. We can argue about whether that interpretation is valid, but the fact remains that it was the ruling.

leftside 3:16 PM  

Greg I totally disagree with that analysis. You tie the very general language of the referendum with a specific concept of changing term limits that never existed anywhere but in the minds of the political opposition. The referendum language was:

"Do you think that the November 2009 general elections should include a fourth ballot box in order to make a decision about the creation of a National Constitutional Assembly that would approve a new Constitution?"

The court ruled that any action to to change term limits (and 6 other Articles) would be Unconstitutional. But there clearly was no such action, again, except in the minds of a few.

And there is a world of legal difference between a binding referendum that would have begun the process of Constitutional reform and one that had no legal consequences whatsoever. The court ruled on the former but made no such declaration on the latter. Unless I can be shown otherwise, it seems clear to me that the Court's decision had no jurisdiction over any type of non-binding poll. Like you say, provide the proof please.

Greg Weeks 3:19 PM  

That is a good point it had nothing about presidential terms, but it can easily be interpreted as including the entire constitution. Again, the main point is that the Supreme Court ruled on it.

However, I have not seen the ruling, which would be interesting to read. The Supreme Court website won't load, as indeed neither will the presidency's.

Greg Weeks 3:25 PM  

Now suddenly the Supreme Court site works, but I cannot find the exact wording of the ruling about the vote. That would be good to know. Indeed, one frustrating part of this process is that so many decisions are made with vague public reasoning.

Gabriel 3:29 PM  

a long summary of this mess:


Greg Weeks 3:35 PM  

That is a useful chronology, though it does not address the question of how the Supreme Court ruled that the referendum was illegal if it did not specifically mention reforming the forbidden articles of the constitution.

leftside 3:56 PM  

The chronology also does not say how a ruling against a binding referendum relates to a non-binding poll that was altered specifically to be in accordance with the Court's ruling.

Greg Weeks 4:05 PM  

It strikes me that you know you haven't planned a coup very well when after the fact everyone is still trying to figure out what your justification was.

Gabriel 4:15 PM  

Reading the timeline by La Prensa you clearly get the sense that this has been escalating over time, as Zelaya kept bringing this up in different ways and kept being shot down by the other institutions. By last Saturday, when Zelaya published the decree, it finally exploded. I doubt anyone planned anything with great detail.

Greg Weeks 4:21 PM  

If it was legal, as supporters claim, then it should have been planned in detail, with specific and public justifications. Instead we are all left scratching our heads about the court rulings that supposedly legitimized it.

Gabriel 4:28 PM  

Adding to the mess the Attorney General orders Zelaya arrested:


AFAIK this is not a new AG, he's the same one under Zelaya.

The soap opera continues!

Greg Weeks 4:35 PM  

Thursday's return will be something. Even Cristina Fernandez will be there.

Gabriel 4:38 PM  

It's like an A-list party, everyone will be there!

Justin Delacour 4:58 PM  

I think that to lose oneself in every little legal detail is to miss the broader issue. The broader issue is that people are alarmed by the possible precedent that a democratically-elected president could be summarily removed from office by force without due process. Given Latin America's history, people become understandably queazy anytime the military high command breaks from protocol and ousts their commander in chief.

Justin Delacour 5:08 PM  

The coup leaders don't make much sense. First they dump Zelaya in Costa Rica and leave him to his own devices. Then the Attorney General turns right around and says today:

"We have already issued an international arrest warrant to capture the former president anywhere in the world."


Greg Weeks 5:13 PM  

I didn't make that connection--that is pretty bizarre. Another question is who decided to boot him out of the country. That was clearly a bad decision for a number of reasons, from legal to practical to PR.

boz 5:18 PM  

The Hondurans who have run this event have made a number of dumb and strange decisions since the start of the coup. I joked with someone yesterday that their incompetence in managing the coup should be reason enough to show why they shouldn't govern.

leftside 5:58 PM  

Justin, I udnerstand your focus on the larger issue a military coup presents, but I think it is important to try to untangle these bogus legal arguments being made by the coupsters as well. False assertions are being made in the MSM now that are going completely unchallenged. The LA Times piece today by Richter stated twice point blank that Zelaya was pushing to "to ammend the constitution to end term limits." This is simply a false story put out there by the coupsters to try to legitimize their actions. Their lies must be confronted at all ends.

Justin Delacour 9:05 AM  

The LA Times piece today by Richter stated twice point blank that Zelaya was pushing to "to ammend the constitution to end term limits."

Oh, I know, everybody has been saying that. Even alternative media say that. Even Amy Goodman said that.

It just goes to show that the whole culture --including alternative media-- are overly dependent upon mainstream media. We pick up a report from the mainstream media and, somehow, we assume that the report has all its facts straight. It's just dumb. I don't totally trust anything I read nowadays.

But in the end, I'm not sure it's really gonna matter all that much. This coup is probably toast.

Steven Taylor 1:11 PM  

Justin has a point about the reporting--the consulta that Zelaya wanted did not mention re-election (see here) and yet it is almost universally reported that he wanted a vote specifically on the question of re-election.

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