Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Honduras

The Heritage Foundation has the best summary of the "Coup" in Honduras:

On June 28, the Congress and Supreme Court of Honduras ,with the assistance of the Honduran Armed Forces, physically removed President Manuel Zelaya from his residence and expelled him from the country. The new Honduran government states President Zelaya’s removal from office was the result of legal orders issued by its supreme court. In a matter of hours, a new government was sworn in. It promises, unlike Zelaya, to abide by the Constitution, move ahead with national elections, and respect basic rights and liberties. Civilian, not military, leaders have taken charge.

From everything I have read, President Zelaya was trying to sidestep the law in Honduras in order to install himself as a dictator similar to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. The Honduran Supreme Court, Congress, the national prosecutor, major churches, businesses, and members of President Zelaya's party decided they were not going to allow this to happen. The government (not a fringe military general) seized Zelaya, placed him on an airplane, and sent him to Costa Rica. They then voted on, and installed an interim government until the next elections are held. The interim President, Roberto Micheletti, is from Zelaya's own political party. Coup's are typically power grabs by a party that is out of power. President Micheletti has agreed to serve until the elections in November and promises to step down after that.

As Glenn Garvin points out in the Miami Herald,"[t]he Honduran army clearly did not act on its own when it arrested Zelaya and sent him packing. The supreme court says the generals acted on its orders, and almost every Honduran politician of any note -- regardless of party -- has voiced approval." Outside of Honduras, the actions of the Honduran government have been met with swift criticism.


Chavez has threatened an armed invasion of Honduras if the country swears into office any President other than Manuel Zelaya. Secretary of State Clinton has said the action of Honduras' government should be condemned by all. President Obama has threatened to withhold military aid to Honduras unless they return Zelaya to power.


This appears to be an internal matter to me. It is not a military coup, but appears to be the Honduran government acting with it's power, and using the military to enforce the laws of the land. I think there are some parallels between the actions taken by their government and the actions we would take if we impeached a President here in the U.S. It is very hard to predict how this will play out. While President Obama decided not to meddle in Iran, he has quickly aligned himself with Chavez and the Castro brothers over Honduras. I do not understand why the President would pick Honduras to try and exert influence, and I don't know why he would decide to join the Chavez / Castro team. However, he has. And in so doing, he has placed the United States in a loose - loose situation. As the Heritage Foundation explains:


If Zelaya is returned, he will hail Chávez, Castro, etc. as the true saviors of his regime, with a grudging recognition to the U.S. Zelaya will be granted a six month opportunity to foster polarization, pillory the democratic opposition, and destroy as much of the independent institutions of his country as possible. If the new government resists the OAS resolution, Chávez and company will undoubtedly act, saying their interventions (whether diplomatic, economic, or even military) in Honduras are being done to uphold an OAS mandate and defend democracy. Actions the U.S. clearly supports.



Neither of these situations is good for the country. Red State is asking it's readers to contact their Representatives and ask they support President Roberto Micheletti. There is a chance some Representatives may want to redeem themselvs after Friday's vote. I would encourage you to follow the Red State link. If your representative or senator is on the foreign relations committee, give them a call and tell them to take a deep breath, then back off and let the government of Honduras sort these things out.

15 comments:

Brandon said...

Andy,

I agree that it's a good thing that Zelaya is out of office, but I'm confused about why it happened.

As I understand it, impeachment proceedings were beginning or about to begin when the military took action. I don't understand why they felt that they had to overthrow him now when in a few weeks at the most he would have been removed from office anyway.

Perhaps a compromise can be worked out where Zelaya is returned to Honduras, is impeached and convicted, and then exiled to a country of his choice.

Andy D said...

From the Miami Herald:

First Zelaya scheduled a national vote on a constitutional convention. After the Honduran supreme court ruled that only the country's congress could call such an election, Zelaya ordered the army to help him stage it anyway. (It would be ''non-binding,'' he said.) When the head of the armed forces, acting on orders from the supreme court, refused, Zelaya fired him, then led a mob to break into a military base where the ballots were stored.

Other sources I have read said that after this, the Supreme court ordered the military to arrest him and kick him out of the country.

The current President has said Zelaya would be welcomed back into the country as a citizen if he agrees to be peaceful and renounces any military help from Hugo Chavez.

Andy D said...

Brandon,

Red State is reporting that Honduras has no impeachment process.

Brandon said...

Andy,

According to this Forbes article, the Supreme Court has two options when the president breaks the law. They can initiate criminal proceedings for breaking the constitution's ban on referendums and the court may use the military to arrest him. So it sounds like they do have impeachment in Honduras and the military's only mistake was prematurely kicking Zelaya out of the country before he was convicted.

http://www.forbes.com/2009/07/03/hunduran-coup-foreign-policy-opinions-contributors-haber-maurer.html

Brandon said...

Here's the link to the Fobes story, I just realized that I forgot to paste it in my comment.

http://www.forbes.com/2009/07/03/hunduran-coup-foreign-policy-opinions-contributors-haber-maurer.html

Andy D said...

I read the Forbes article, and it was very good. I think the conclusions the author draws in he article are interesting, but not the only conclusions that can be drawn.

The bottom line point is: The government in Honduras could have done things different. It doesn't appear to have done anything illegal, and it sure wasn't the bloody coup that Hugo Chavez, Hillary Clinton, and the American media would have us believe it was.

pack04 said...

What it sounds like from the Forbus article and other things I have read is that this is a coup and everybody has bad memories and ideas on coups so they think this is bad.
When I see a picture of Casto, Chavez and Zelaya I say "well that can't be too good." When Chavez is saying he will use his military to get his guy back in power is scary. It makes me think Zelaya was not that great. By the way, why are we not too mad that Chavez has threatened to attack this country.

From what it sounds like the congress and supreme court would have done this legally if they had waited a day and offically brought charges and arrested him and such. Perhaps if they did this more in the open they were scared that Zelaya would just take over then and there. It sounds like he already had dictatorial tendencies. A threat on his power from the government might have pushed him over the edge.

Additionally, this is an internal Honduran issue. Why are we or other country even sticking our head in this. How mad would we be if foreign counties were as involved in our changing of power as they are in this one.

I remember being mad as hell that President Obama campaigned in Germany as if they would have a say or impact on OUR decision.

Anonymous said...

Cuba is a one party dictatorship kept in power by the military and a secret police state which locks political opponents and newspaper reporters up for life.

The Organization of American States, with the blessing of Obama, restores them to full membership in the OAS.

A democratically elected President is removed from power by other Democratic institutions ( Congress and the Supreme Court ) with the blessing of the Presidents own party, by a 100 to single digit vote of congress, for violating the Democratic constitution of Honduras and attempting to change that Democratic Constitution by illegal, one party, means.

The OAS suspends Honduras with Obama's Blessing.

Cuba with a communist, one party, openly anti-democratic government is welcomed back into the OAS just a couple of months before.

It Appears Obama favors one party dictatorships like Cuba, Iran and Venezuela over multi-party constitutional governments like Honduras.

Strange thing is, the U.S. main stream media is OK with Obama's position on this, even though Venezuela and Iran are in the process of shutting down and taking over all media outlets that disagree with the government's propaganda.

Strange country the US has become recently.

Brandon said...

Anonymous,

I would suggest to you that the reason that the U.S. didn't object to the lifting of Cuba's suspension had more to do with the fact that they knew that Castro wouldn't rejoin the organization than it did with Obama wanting to cozy up to Chavez and Castro.

Likewise, if the Honduran Supreme Court had charged Zelaya rather than ordering the military to throw him out of the country, the U.S. would not have objected.

Andy D said...

Anonymous, I am not very familiar with the OAS. So far, it looks like they are very similar to the UN. If that is true, I really don't put a lot of weight in their opinion.

Obama was very eager to avoid any appearance of meddling in Iran. He was also very quick to jump into the thick of things in Honduras. I think he should have acted exactly opposite of that.


Hmm, I don't think I am as quick to agree with you on this one Brandon. While the Honduran government may not have gone down the path some would have preferred,everything still looks like they acted legally. Quick, but legally. They also had to act quick as Zelaya was trying to steal ballots. It also looks like they have a lot of support from the other branches of government.

On the other hand, some stories are starting to leak out that the U.S. government was trying to keep Zelaya in office before the Supreme Court acted. I am looking for some reliable information on that...

Brandon said...

Andy,

The only thing I really have an issue with is the fact that they didn't bother to try and convict him of his crimes before kicking him out.

Honduran leaders have been quoted as saying if Zelaya returns to Honduras, then he will be immediately arrested and tried for his crimes. If they are going to try him if he returns, then why didn't they do that before kicking him out of the country? I think that if they had done that, then there would be little credible condemnation of the actions of the new government.

Andy D said...

The short version is I don't know why they didn't go that route. There seemed to be some sense of urgency on the government's part. I am not sure if they were afraid he would move before they were able to try him or not.

the anonymous guy said...

The rule of law is so inconvenient. It's not always worth the trouble.

Andy D said...

Very funny anonymous.

From everything I have read, it appears the government acted well within the rule of law. I think Brandon's point is they could have prevented some of the international criticism if they had taken a few additional steps. I am not sure they could have avoided the criticism from Hugo Chavez, Castro, the OAS, or potentially Obama.

Andy D said...

The Heritage Foundation had these questions on their website for President Obama regarding his comments on Honduras from July 6th. I have included them here because I think they are great food for thought for this discussion:

1. What authority, in a constitutional republic, gives an executive like Mr. Zelaya the right and power to override his nation’s Constitution and its fundamental institutions? Where does one draw the line? And where were the OAS, the UN, and the U.S. as Mr. Zelaya began to act unconstitutionally?

2. When does rule of law slip toward mob tyranny? Mr. Zelaya’s defiant march onto an air force base on June 25 to recover voting materials, his very public defiance of the Supreme Court, and his efforts to mobilize the street against the elite do not reflect serious respect for the rules of the democratic game.

3. Why do Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, and Cuba’s Raul Castro believe, like President Obama,
[think]that it is very important to restore Mr. Zelaya to the presidency in Honduras?