Honduras Defends Its Democracy
Fidel Castro and Hillary Clinton object.
Hugo Chávez's coalition-building efforts suffered a setback yesterday when the Honduran military sent its president packing for abusing the nation's constitution.
It seems that President Mel Zelaya miscalculated when he tried to emulate the success of his good friend Hugo in reshaping the Honduran Constitution to his liking.
But Honduras is not out of the Venezuelan woods yet. Yesterday the Central American country was being pressured to restore the authoritarian Mr. Zelaya by the likes of Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega, Hillary Clinton and, of course, Hugo himself. The Organization of American States, having ignored Mr. Zelaya's abuses, also wants him back in power. It will be a miracle if Honduran patriots can hold their ground. That Mr. Zelaya acted as if he were above the law, there is no doubt. While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite, the power to open that door does not lie with the president. A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress.
But Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. Chávez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.
The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused.
Calculating that some critical mass of Hondurans would take his side, the president decided he would run the referendum himself. So on Thursday he led a mob that broke into the military installation where the ballots from Venezuela were being stored and then had his supporters distribute them in defiance of the Supreme Court's order.
The attorney general had already made clear that the referendum was illegal, and he further announced that he would prosecute anyone involved in carrying it out. Yesterday, Mr. Zelaya was arrested by the military and is now in exile in Costa Rica.
It remains to be seen what Mr. Zelaya's next move will be. It's not surprising that chavistas throughout the region are claiming that he was victim of a military coup. They want to hide the fact that the military was acting on a court order to defend the rule of law and the constitution, and that the Congress asserted itself for that purpose, too.
Mrs. Clinton has piled on as well. Yesterday she accused Honduras of violating "the precepts of the Interamerican Democratic Charter" and said it "should be condemned by all." Fidel Castro did just that. Mr. Chávez pledged to overthrow the new government.
Honduras is fighting back by strictly following the constitution. The Honduran Congress met in emergency session yesterday and designated its president as the interim executive as stipulated in Honduran law. It also said that presidential elections set for November will go forward. The Supreme Court later said that the military acted on its orders. It also said that when Mr. Zelaya realized that he was going to be prosecuted for his illegal behavior, he agreed to an offer to resign in exchange for safe passage out of the country. Mr. Zelaya denies it.
Many Hondurans are going to be celebrating Mr. Zelaya's foreign excursion. Street protests against his heavy-handed tactics had already begun last week. On Friday a large number of military reservists took their turn. "We won't go backwards," one sign said. "We want to live in peace, freedom and development."
Besides opposition from the Congress, the Supreme Court, the electoral tribunal and the attorney general, the president had also become persona non grata with the Catholic Church and numerous evangelical church leaders. On Thursday evening his own party in Congress sponsored a resolution to investigate whether he is mentally unfit to remain in office.
For Hondurans who still remember military dictatorship, Mr. Zelaya also has another strike against him: He keeps rotten company. Earlier this month he hosted an OAS general assembly and led the effort, along side OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, to bring Cuba back into the supposedly democratic organization.
The OAS response is no surprise. Former Argentine Ambassador to the U.N. Emilio Cárdenas told me on Saturday that he was concerned that "the OAS under Insulza has not taken seriously the so-called 'democratic charter.' It seems to believe that only military 'coups' can challenge democracy. The truth is that democracy can be challenged from within, as the experiences of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and now Honduras, prove." A less-kind interpretation of Mr. Insulza's judgment is that he doesn't mind the Chávez-style coup.
The struggle against chavismo has never been about left-right politics. It is about defending the independence of institutions that keep presidents from becoming dictators. This crisis clearly delineates the problem. In failing to come to the aid of checks and balances, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Insulza expose their true colors.
O'Grady: Honduras Defends Its Democracy - WSJ.com
Absolutely amigo! "It's the will of the people." Why does the US constantly have to give its two cents on any altercation in the world. But what bothers me the most here is the fact that the Obama administration calling this "coup" illegal. In what way is this illegal? The Honduran supreme court and congress did what they had to do. Their constitution clearly states that term limits can not be altered, but this Zelala guy did it any ways. If anything what he did was illegal! And now he is paying the price. But here comes the UN and other foreign governments (and US) condemning the Honduran people for their actions. My question is do these foreign governments just want to make sure that their power is garenteed in todays world if something like this happens to them? And what confuses me is Mr. Obama's definition of democracy..... Does he see the executive office as the supreme branch of the land? That its word triumphs all? Probably not, but it sure gives ya something to chew on. Most likely he tried to gain some respect from Chavez and Castro. But why would you want to appease those monkeys? Their politics are so old school they haven't even evolved yet...
I was thinking today and can't give a proper response. Obama is in line with the rest of the United Nations on this one, not that that makes it right. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt and say they're not familiar with the situation but they can't be that ignorant.
However, it'd also be wrong to say that every Honduran is behind this as well, and maybe in general a military coup seems to give the appearance of a violent revolution.
Iran is a situation where if we come out on the side of the revolutionists, the Iranian government will use it as a way to spin the revolution as a Western plot, which they're already doing with Britain. Even Moussavi has said not to ask for outside help since it will only have negative results, in terms of the Supreme Leader using it as proof to legitimize his claims and continue his propaganda war.
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