News on the Honduran Coup

When I first heard about the military coup in Honduras I noticed some reference to the extra-constitutional activities of the ousted president and the attempts by their legislative and judicial branches to check his actions. Soon however I noticed a shift in the news coverage as a party line began to develop. First Hugo Chavez was condemning the coup and then others joined the chorus – including the U.S.  Soon the news coverage had been dumbed down to exclude any mention of the real reasons for the coup while focusing on the ideal that “there should be no military coups in the modern world.” (That came from an analyst on NPR.)

[quote]I began to wonder what to do or say as I began to feel that we were being misled but feeling powerless to say anything meaningful because I don’t consider myself to have any expertise on Honduras. Thankfully today I stumbled onto a good analysis at NO QUARTER by Larry Johnson. (Warning – there is one instance of Language I Would Never Use™ in the article.)

Johnson reminds readers of the facts of the case:

For starters the ousted President, Zelaya, had become close buddies with Chavez of Venezuela and was pushing to over turn the Honduran Constitution that limited Presidents to one term. This was not your typical military coup. This had the backing of the legislature and the judiciary. But Zelaya is doing a good job of playing the victim.

My first reaction had been that the United States should not get involved but after reading Johnson’s recommendation that the U.S. needs to engage [quote1]I would clarify my position to say that the U.S. should not get involved internally in Honduras, but that we should also make it very clear that expect others (Chavez and cronies) to not meddle internally in Honduras either. The Hondurans started this on their own and should be allowed to finish it on their own. The only way that any other nation should be involved is if the Honduran’s clearly seek that external assistance.

I was impressed with how accurate Johnson’s assessment seemed to be (and it seemed very consistent with the perceptions of some other people I know who have firsthand experience of living in Honduras), but perhaps I should not be surprised considering that he has intelligence experience specifically in Honduras:

I was the Honduran analyst at the CIA from 1986 thru 1989. I also lived in Honduras running a community development in the campo back in 1978.

13 comments for “News on the Honduran Coup

  1. June 30, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    My wife’s parents lived and worked in Honduras in the late 80s and early 90s. They loved the place and the people. At one time they even considered buying a retirement home there where they might have lived half of each year. (Circumstances dictated otherwise.) My wife has lived in Central America and has spent time in Honduras. So we know a little bit about Honduras.

    This latest turn of events is rather nasty. I am concerned that Hondurans have no good mechanism for impeaching their president. I guess they thought that no one could do too much harm in a single four-year term. It also concerns me that they have certain provisions of their constitution that can never be amended. (I suppose they would have to draft a new constitution if they wanted to change any of those.) The fact that the military grabbed the bad president and hauled him out of the country instead of arresting him and putting him on trial seems problematic. (Of course, the latter action may have appeared problematic as well.)

    But I am even more concerned that the Obama administration quickly stated that it would consider only the ousted administration to be the valid government of Honduras. I trust that the administration has more inside information about the whole matter than does the public at large. I would hope that it would use this knowledge to formulate good policy on the matter. I am not persuaded that this is the case.

    • June 30, 2009 at 9:14 pm

      My understanding is that the Honduran Supreme Court with the consent of their legislative branch ordered the military to arrest the president and anyone helping him to enact the vote that had already been declared illegal (which was designed to give him another term in office).

  2. Josh
    July 1, 2009 at 9:51 am

    I was listening to NPR’s coverage and I was surprised as well that there was no mention of the reasons for the coup.

  3. July 3, 2009 at 10:36 am

    I noticed the same thing. Note the difference in coverage between The Miami Herald and ABC NEWS ABC news doesn’t think that it is important to report that it was the Honduras Supreme Court that ordered the military to oust Zalaya. ABC News uses as a headline: Obama condemns Honduras coup. Since when was a constitutional process a “coup” – military involvement or not? Obama then goes on to say, “The United States believed Mr Zelaya remains the president of Honduras” and called for “international cooperation to solve the crisis peacefully.” What does he mean by this- Is Obama calling for a global tribune to “peacefully” install the president that Obama recognizes, if not the one recognized by the Supreme Court of Honduras? And compare this language to Obama’s depiction of the slaughter of Iranians who peacefully assembled in protest of their tyrannical government as a “debate. That sounds peaceful and civilized, while you would think there was a revolution in the streets of Honduras from the language he uses in that transfer of power.

    Both Obama and the UN called the removal of Zalaya “unconstitutional” What constitution are they referring to? De we have the constitution of the global tribunal? I think not- and what ever happened to Obama’s recent policy of “not meddling with sovereign nations”

    The first to condemn the “coup” were Obama, Hugo Chavez, Castro and Noriega. The Un then passed a resolution condemning the unconstitutional decision of the Supreme Court of the formerly sovereign nation of Honduras. It seems the oligarchy of world power has grown very strong and has an agenda that should give the free world cause for concern.

    • July 3, 2009 at 10:56 am

      It should not be a surprise to anyone that the oligarchy of world power (good description by the way) has grown very strong. They are especially strong against nations that are small and not aggressively favorable to terrorism. I’m not completely confident that sending Zalaya into exile was legal under the Honduran Constitution, but their constitution is flawed by the fact that there is no provision for impeachment when the president was so obviously abusing his power and flouting the constitution and the other branches of government at every turn.

      Despite any small technicalities we obviously agree that the president is wrongly applying a blatant double-standard to these two situations and the media is allowing him and other world leaders to get away with it.

  4. July 3, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Quoting David”I’m not completely confident that sending Zalaya into exile was legal under the Honduran Constitution, but their constitution is flawed by the fact that there is no provision for impeachment when the president was so obviously abusing his power and flouting the constitution and the other branches of government at every turn.”

    I don’t know Honduras law but the way it works in the United States – courts interpret the law and thereby set the precedent. Especially the Supreme Court. The court has to base it’s interpretation on the constitution.

    I did a quick search for the text of the Supreme Court Ruling but nothing came up. Apparently the reasoning of the Supreme Court of Honduras is not considered to be news worthy, while Obama, Chavez, Noriega, Castro, The UN’s statements on the constitutionality of what they have termed a “coup” is what is publicized world wide.

    I consider the words of ruling the Honduras Supreme Court a very relevant piece of information that is missing in this story, apparently dumbed-down for mass consumption reflecting the image which the ruling elite imaging project upon the people of the world.

    If anyone has any information on the text of the ruling- or any justification given by the “world court” for why they have over ruled the Supreme Court of Honduras – and what the constitutional basis for either claim is- as well as what constitution is the point of reference. Please post.

    • July 3, 2009 at 3:18 pm

      Let me simply clarify that I am confident that arresting Zalaya was legal/constitutional but as I understand it their constitution has no provision for impeaching the president so I’m not sure that they had particular authority to deport him and send him into exile. If they jailed him and put him on trial I would have had no doubts about the constitutionality of that action.

  5. July 4, 2009 at 6:14 am

    But that can only be known through the Honduras Constitution and if you have access to that- why haven’t you posted it? Zalaya acted against the constitution. Is it not possible that the constitution contains clauses for action taken against anyone who violates the constitution regardless of what power they hold? The office of the presidency of a nation does not usually make that person immune from obeying the laws of the nation. The constitution is the ultimate law. It seems as though your reasoning goes to the impeachment of a president as though the president is not governed by the laws that apply to all citizens of Honduras- as though a president can act against the Honduras Constitution- where as an ordinary citizen cannot. I

    An article I found in Canadian press reports:

    “We will not obey the Supreme Court,” Zelaya told more than 2,000 cheering supporters gathered in front of the presidential offices, mostly labour leaders, farmers and leftist groups that make up the bulk of his support. “The court — which only imparts justice for the powerful, the rich and the bankers — only causes problems for democracy.”

    What a bunch of rhetoric when in fact the band of thugs that the United Nation has become are indeed the rich and powerful trying to force Honduras to install the president of their choice.

  6. July 4, 2009 at 6:19 am

    Is it not possible that the statutes that justify the removal of Zalaya are not ones to do with the impeachment of a president but rather to do with anyone who violates the constitution?

    I was trying to edit my previous post to add the above but the new format this bog uses will not hold it’s place so that such an edit is possible.

    • July 6, 2009 at 12:08 pm

      Thank you for pointing out that I have been remiss in linking to the Honduran Constitution. Here it is in Spanish. (Here is an English translation by Google.)

      Let me be clear that I am not an expert on the Honduran Constitution and I have not read it in its entirety. What I have said about it is based on the best information I have – now if someone questions my conclusions they have the tools to correct me. If anyone has corrections to what I have said please cite the Constitution. I will do the same for any future assertions related to the Honduran Constitution.

  7. July 4, 2009 at 6:31 am

    Your point raises a question about our own constitution. The president, and I assume consgressional representatives, must take an oath to “preserve, uphold, and defend” the United States Constitution but does the Constitution define the consequences of breaking that oath?

    • July 6, 2009 at 12:12 pm

      I thought this comment deserved a separate reply. The Constitution and our laws do not provide any remedy for elected officials who ignore their oath unless they actively break our laws. This exposes the assumption that the people are to hold their elected officials accountable for the discharge of their office (and their adherence to its oath) by replacing them if they break the oath without actually breaking the law. Sadly we have largely fallen down on the job there.

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