Saturday, July 11, 2009

Honduras, Si! Zelaya, No! (Part II)

Last week, when I published Honduras Si, Zelaya No, my usually liberal commentariate sat on their hands in mute silence. Clearly, they are uncomfortable with any criticism of Obama. I have also broken knuckles in both hands, pounding on the walls of closed minds in a couple of Pro-Zelaya Diaries on the Daily Kos. But, as Blomberg reports, the Honduran power struggle fairly splits Democrats, Republicans.

In the meantime, I have seen nothing which encourages me to move off of my original anti-Zelaya position.

Admittedly, Miguel A. Estrada is a conservative attorney. But everything (again) I have read indicates that his chronology, Honduras' Non-coup: Under the country's Constitution, the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya was legal, published yesterday is accurate and reliable. Excerpts:

Something clearly has gone awry with the rule of law in Honduras -- but it is not necessarily what you think. Begin with Zelaya's arrest. The Supreme Court of Honduras, as it turns out, had ordered the military to arrest Zelaya two days earlier. A second order (issued on the same day) authorized the military to enter Zelaya's home to execute the arrest. These orders were issued at the urgent request of the country's attorney general. All the relevant legal documents can be accessed (in Spanish) on the Supreme Court's website. They make for interesting reading.

What you'll learn is that the Honduran Constitution may be amended in any way except three. No amendment can ever change
  1. the country's borders
  2. the rules that limit a president to a single four-year term and
  3. the requirement that presidential administrations must "succeed one another" in a "republican form of government."
In addition, Article 239 specifically states that any president who so much as proposes the permissibility of reelection "shall cease forthwith" in his duties,
Article 239 — No citizen that has already served as head of the Executive Branch can be President or Vice-President.

Whoever violates this law or proposes its reform, as well as those that support such violation directly or indirectly, will immediately cease in their functions and will be unable to hold any public office for a period of 10 years.
and Article 4 provides that any "infraction" of the succession rules constitutes treason. The rules are so tight because these are terribly serious issues for Honduras, which lived under decades of military rule.

As detailed in the attorney general's complaint, Zelaya is the type of leader who could cause a country to wish for a Richard Nixon. Earlier this year, with only a few months left in his term, he ordered a referendum on whether a new constitutional convention should convene to write a wholly new constitution. Because the only conceivable motive for such a convention would be to amend the un-amendable parts of the existing constitution, it was easy to conclude -- as virtually everyone in Honduras did -- that this was nothing but a backdoor effort to change the rules governing presidential succession. Not unlike what Zelaya's close ally, Hugo Chavez, had done in Venezuela.

..... The attorney general filed suit and secured a court order halting the referendum. Zelaya then announced that the voting would go forward just the same, but it would be called an "opinion survey." The courts again ruled this illegal. Undeterred, Zelaya directed the head of the armed forces, Gen. Romeo Vasquez, to proceed with the "survey" -- and "fired" him when he declined. The Supreme Court ruled the firing illegal and ordered Vasquez reinstated.

Zelaya had the ballots printed in Venezuela, but these were impounded by customs when they were brought back to Honduras. On June 25 -- three days before he was ousted -- Zelaya personally gathered a group of "supporters" and led it to seize the ballots, restating his intent to conduct the "survey" on June 28. That was the breaking point for the attorney general, who immediately sought a warrant from the Supreme Court for Zelaya's arrest on charges of treason, abuse of authority and other crimes. In response, the court ordered Zelaya's arrest by the country's army, which under Article 272 must enforce compliance with the Constitution, particularly with respect to presidential succession. The military executed the court's order on the morning of the proposed survey.

..... As noted, Article 239 states clearly that one who behaves as Zelaya did in attempting to change presidential succession ceases immediately to be president. If there were any doubt on that score, the Congress removed it by convening immediately after Zelaya's arrest, condemning his illegal conduct and overwhelmingly voting (122 to 6) to remove him from office. The Congress is led by Zelaya's own Liberal Party (although it is true that Zelaya and his party have grown apart as he has moved left). Because Zelaya's vice president had earlier quit to run in the November elections, the next person in the line of succession was Roberto Micheletti, the Liberal leader of Congress. He was named to complete the remaining months of Zelaya's term.

It cannot be right to call this a "coup." Micheletti was lawfully made president by the country's elected Congress. The president is a civilian. The Honduran Congress and courts continue to function as before. The armed forces are under civilian control. The elections scheduled for November are still scheduled for November. Indeed, after reviewing the Constitution and consulting with the Supreme Court, the Congress and the electoral tribunal, respected Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga recently stated that the only possible conclusion is that Zelaya had lawfully been ousted under Article 239 before he was arrested, and that democracy in Honduras continues fully to operate in accordance with law. All Honduran bishops joined Rodriguez in this pronouncement ......

Watching the on-line comments on Honduras news items, the comment from Hondurans is decidedly anti-Zelaya. That's not a scientific poll, admittedly. But I'm totally fatigued by global statements that the 'rest of the world' agrees that Zelaya should be restored to power. The rest of the world is not paying attention.

Reich-wing, Weimar Republicans may be correct half as often as broken watches. This is one such instance.

8 Moderated Comments:

Blogger Petrosexual said...

Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua), Evo Morales (Bolivia) all want to recruit and enroll Manuel Zelaya in their school of Continuisimo: "one man, one vote, one time". Liberals and socialists will fall over themselves falling for that. Predictable.

7/11/2009 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Kentucky Rain said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/11/2009 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger Kentucky Rain said...

I have to say I don't give a rat's ass about Honduras. I don't intend to visit, and I don't own property. I have no money invested in any of their infrastructure, and I don't think that what they do will have a serious impact on what we do. So in conclusion may I just say:

Fuck 'em!! Strong letter to follow!

P.S. Petro you are an idiot!

7/11/2009 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger Commander Zaius said...

Didn't have a chance to hear the full story until I read this post. Chavez is a dick, Ortega from what I know in the past is an ass kisser, but I saw Morales on The Daily Show and to be honest I sort of liked him.

Petro, you are an idiot.

7/11/2009 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Actually, Beach, Petro is half correct. His first statement is accurate, IMO. I'll be quoting him as I make my rounds on the 'Net.

7/12/2009 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger Bluegrass Pundit said...

Your assertion liberals are avoiding this story want this story is right on the money. They are hoping it will go away ASAP. I gave your blog a follow on blogger. :)

7/12/2009 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger Jack Jodell said...

Liberal, progressive, whatever - Zelaya was a stinker. We have to call a spade a spade. No matter what his agenda was, or how much it may or may not benefit the poor and downtrodden in Honduras, Zelaya broke the law in his nation built on law. He was just like Bush and Cheney were here in that regard. The only difference, of course, was that the Hondurans had balls and booted his ass when he crossed the line, which is exactly what we should have done but didn't with the Bush regime.

7/12/2009 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

William Ratliff, The Honduran coup that wasn't:

..... the OAS, the United Nations, the European Union, the World Bank and others were all shooting from the hip into the dark. These leaders had nothing to inform their decisions but fuzzy idealism, ideological prejudices, assorted self-interests and profound ignorance of realities on the ground in Honduras.

..... rejected conversations among contending parties in favor of macho confrontation, ultimatums and polarization, to the cheers of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and other Chavistas. To their great shame, every OAS member-nation went along.....

Michael Lisman, Zelaya's point of no return says that the world community is right to have second thoughts about restoring the ousted Manuel Zelaya to power in Honduras:

......the world has now become painfully aware of two things they had not anticipated.

The first is how ardent, unanimous, and organized the interim government in Honduras is against any sort of reprieve for Zelaya, much less his reinstatement.

The second is how erratic and unfit for leadership Zelaya has become.

Over the weekend, that reasoning changed. On Sunday, Zelaya's triumphant return was stymied by a determined Honduran military, and bolstered by popular support for the interim government. Zelaya's premature and embarrassing return attempt may well prove to be the turning point in this high-stakes drama. As the clock ticks on Zelaya's comeback, the option of moving up November's elections to September becomes an increasingly appealing resolution for the international community.

..... Widely reviled by the political class in Honduras (including the leaders of his own Honduran Liberal Party), Zelaya is now known not only as the hapless president ousted at gunpoint in his pajamas, but also by his atrocious governance record and erratic behaviour – which includes nearly doubling the minimum wage to the severe detriment of his country's economy, repeatedly refusing to submit a 2009 budget to congress, and ultimately disavowing both legislative and judicial checks on his power. Some countries, such as Canada, Taiwan and Israel are beginning to hedge their initial tacit support for Zelaya's return. Others that were only last week pushing for Zelaya's reinstatement are starting to realise that the bloodshed and turmoil that his return would inevitably cause may simply not be worth the trouble.

..... someone in Micheletti's circle needs to help his interim government understand the necessity of managing its international public relations to help position itself for the coming negotiations. Loyalist partisans now serving as spokespeople for the government have failed miserably in persuading anyone outside of Tegucigalpa that the Honduran constitution – which has no single mention of a provision for the removal of a president from office – provides a legal basis for their actions. Blind intransigence worked to create the impasse thus far, but it will undercut their position as they seek to regain the confidence and repeal the sanctions of their allies, as well to placate a confused and increasingly indignant Honduran population.

7/19/2009 07:16:00 AM  

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