A 'coup' in Honduras? Nonsense.

Big Don

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A 'coup' in Honduras? Nonsense.

Don't believe the myth. The arrest of President Zelaya represents the triumph of the rule of law.

By Octavio S獺nchez
Christian Science Monitor EXCERPT:

Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Sometimes, the whole world prefers a lie to the truth. The White House, the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and much of the media have condemned the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya this past weekend as a coup d'矇tat.
That is nonsense.
In fact, what happened here is nothing short of the triumph of the rule of law.
To understand recent events, you have to know a bit about Honduras's constitutional history. In 1982, my country adopted a new Constitution that enabled our orderly return to democracy after years of military rule. After more than a dozen previous constitutions, the current Constitution, at 27 years old, has endured the longest.
It has endured because it responds and adapts to changing political conditions: Of its original 379 articles, seven have been completely or partially repealed, 18 have been interpreted, and 121 have been reformed.
It also includes seven articles that cannot be repealed or amended because they address issues that are critical for us. Those unchangeable articles include the form of government; the extent of our borders; the number of years of the presidential term; two prohibitions one with respect to reelection of presidents, the other concerning eligibility for the presidency; and one article that penalizes the abrogation of the Constitution.
During these 27 years, Honduras has dealt with its problems within the rule of law. Every successful democratic country has lived through similar periods of trial and error until they were able to forge legal frameworks that adapt to their reality. France crafted more than a dozen constitutions between 1789 and the adoption of the current one in 1958. The US Constitution has been amended 27 times since 1789. And the British pragmatic as they are in 900 years have made so many changes that they have never bothered to compile their Constitution into a single body of law.
Under our Constitution, what happened in Honduras this past Sunday? Soldiers arrested and sent out of the country a Honduran citizen who, the day before, through his own actions had stripped himself of the presidency.
These are the facts: On June 26, President Zelaya issued a decree ordering all government employees to take part in the "Public Opinion Poll to convene a National Constitutional Assembly." In doing so, Zelaya triggered a constitutional provision that automatically removed him from office.
Constitutional assemblies are convened to write new constitutions. When Zelaya published that decree to initiate an "opinion poll" about the possibility of convening a national assembly, he contravened the unchangeable articles of the Constitution that deal with the prohibition of reelecting a president and of extending his term. His actions showed intent.
Our Constitution takes such intent seriously. According to Article 239: "No citizen who has already served as head of the Executive Branch can be President or Vice-President. Whoever violates this law or proposes its reform [emphasis added], 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."
 

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Interesting. Zelaya certainly seemed poised to try for a power grab so he could alter his country's constitution and prolong his stay in office...perhaps indefinitely. I understand that the Honduran Supreme Court had ruled that the referendum Zelaya proposed to conduct was illegal. Yet are we to accept that Honduras has no legitimate legal process for impeaching and trying Presidents and other elected officials who overstep their bounds and abuse the privileges of their office?

Regardless of the very real justifications for wanting to remove Zelaya from office, such action must be done peacefully according to established legal procedures. Or, you can have soldiers shoot their way into the man's office, threaten to kill him if he doesn't immediately drop his cellphone and surrender, then grab him in his pajamas and ship him out of the country. You can do that alright, and there's a name for it... "Coup d'etat," or if you prefer, "Golpe militar." Yep, it's a coup, in any language, and when you do that, ironically you give a man who deserved to be out of office undeserved credibility around the world.
 
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Interesting. Zelaya certainly seemed poised to try for a power grab so he could alter his country's constitution and prolong his stay in office...perhaps indefinitely. I understand that the Honduran Supreme Court had ruled that the referendum Zelaya proposed to conduct was illegal. Yet are we to accept that Honduras has no legitimate legal process for impeaching and trying Presidents and other elected officials who overstep their bounds and abuse the privileges of their office?
Only if we read their Constitution:According to
Article 239: "No citizen who has already served as head of the Executive Branch can be President or Vice-President. Whoever violates this law or proposes its reform [emphasis added], 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
Regardless of the very real justifications for wanting to remove Zelaya from office, such action must be done peacefully according to established legal procedures. Or, you can have soldiers shoot their way into the man's office, threaten to kill him if he doesn't immediately drop his cellphone and surrender, then grab him in his pajamas and ship him out of the country. You can do that alright, and there's a name for it... "Coup d'etat," or if you prefer, "Golpe militar." Yep, it's a coup, in any language, and when you do that, ironically you give a man who deserved to be out of office undeserved credibility around the world.
 

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Interesting. Zelaya certainly seemed poised to try for a power grab so he could alter his country's constitution and prolong his stay in office...perhaps indefinitely. I understand that the Honduran Supreme Court had ruled that the referendum Zelaya proposed to conduct was illegal. Yet are we to accept that Honduras has no legitimate legal process for impeaching and trying Presidents and other elected officials who overstep their bounds and abuse the privileges of their office?

Regardless of the very real justifications for wanting to remove Zelaya from office, such action must be done peacefully according to established legal procedures. Or, you can have soldiers shoot their way into the man's office, threaten to kill him if he doesn't immediately drop his cellphone and surrender, then grab him in his pajamas and ship him out of the country. You can do that alright, and there's a name for it... "Coup d'etat," or if you prefer, "Golpe militar." Yep, it's a coup, in any language, and when you do that, ironically you give a man who deserved to be out of office undeserved credibility around the world.

Not necessarily. Not if their established law states that he broke the law and was supposed to be removed from office.

Besides, the law enforcement in Honduras is called the Civil Guard. Ostensibly, this organization is controlled by army officers and a part of the Ministry of National Defense and Public Security. By necessity then, the only organization that could arrest him was the army.
 

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... the law enforcement in Honduras is called the Civil Guard. Ostensibly, this organization is controlled by army officers and a part of the Ministry of National Defense and Public Security. By necessity then, the only organization that could arrest him was the army.

The real problem here is not that the appropriate agency (the "Civil Guard" you say?) that arrested him is a branch of the military. The problem is how the arrest was performed with guns blazing, and that President Zelaya was shipped out of the country without any form of trial. If that's what the Honduran constitution allows, it is seriously in need of reform! And, that's not just my opinion. Apparently, its the overwhelming opinion of civilized governments worldwide (including our own). And many of those governments are not sympathetic to Zelaya's policies.

What we are talking about here is how to conduct an orderly and legal transition of power in a region with a long history of military coups. I mean, the term "Banana Republic" refers to more than a line of casual clothing.
 
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The real problem here is not that the appropriate agency (the "Civil Guard" you say?) that arrested him is a branch of the military. The problem is how the arrest was performed with guns blazing, and that President Zelaya was shipped out of the country without any form of trial. If that's what the Honduran constitution allows, it is seriously in need of reform! And, that's not just my opinion. Apparently, its the overwhelming opinion of civilized governments worldwide (including our own). And many of those governments are not sympathetic to Zelaya's policies.

What we are talking about here is how to conduct an orderly and legal transition of power in a region with a long history of military coups. I mean, the term "Banana Republic" refers to more than a line of casual clothing.
For the THIRD time now, the relevant portion of the Honduran Constitution:
Article 239: "No citizen who has already served as head of the Executive Branch can be President or Vice-President. Whoever violates this law or proposes its reform [emphasis added], 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
 

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If Honduran law is not followed, then other 'presidents' mgiht try the same thing, like Obama. The law said ONCE. And it mean ONCE.

Here in the U.S. it says TWICE. And it means TWICE.

If any of our presidents, Bush, Clinton, Reagan, etc... tried to run again, I'd want them locked up to!

If you allow them to ingnore such a law, who knows what other laws they may ignore... like banking laws (ops... I think Obama might have broke a few of them for the 'stimulus' and bailouts.)

Deaf
 

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For the THIRD time now, the relevant portion of the Honduran Constitution:

Yeah Don, we heard you the first time. So what's your point? That, according to the Honduran Constitution, Zelaya was in violation of the law and, per said constitution, should be removed and barred from holding political office for 10 years? Or are you pointing out the irony that this document threatens anyone attempting to "reform" this provision with removal from office!

Heck, in either case, the way the Honduran military and Zelaya's opponent's handled the affair was shameful. You may not agree, but don't just go on repeating yourself. I'm not deaf! "Deaf" is the guy on the previous post. LOL
 
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Yeah Don, we heard you the first time. So what's your point? That, according to the Honduran Constitution, Zelaya was in violation of the law and, per said constitution, should be removed and barred from holding political office for 10 years? Or are you pointing out the irony that this document threatens anyone attempting to "reform" this provision with removal from office!

Heck, in either case, the way the Honduran military and Zelaya's opponent's handled the affair was shameful. You may not agree, but don't just go on repeating yourself. I'm not deaf! "Deaf" is the guy on the previous post. LOL
The point is, he was making a power grab and was legally removed. That ain't a coup
 

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The point is, he was making a power grab and was legally removed. That ain't a coup

Yep. You're right. He was making a power grab (or preparing to), and apparently violating his countries constitution. And, he probably should have been removed from office.

Now for the third time, Don, the problem is how he was removed from office. You can deny that there is a problem all you want, but the the US, along with the OAS, UN, and majority of the civilized world does have a problem with this. And that means there IS a problem, regardless of your or my personal opinions.

Now what do you think will happen next, when Zelaya tries to return to Tegucigalpa? I'm thinking it's not going to go well.
 

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He's lucky he was not hung or shot for treason. To try a power grab of ones own country by violating its constitution is treason. He betrayed his oath of office, which included PROTECTING AND ENFORCING THE CONSTITUTION.

And for the OAS to gripe over this is an interference if Honduras internal affairs (you guys remember who made an agreement to not do that kind of thing?)

What is more, since they said they would arrest him if he goes back. Well why does he not do that to clear his name? The government of Honduras is on record of saying they would arrest him. Ok, have him go back and charge him with treason.

Simple, no?

Deaf
 

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He's lucky he was not hung or shot for treason.[
He very nearly was... which would have unleashed massive civil unrest (since Zelaya does have a huge following among the middle and lower classes), which in turn would have likely forced Michelleti and his military backers to crack down and impose martial law. Not a desirable way to further a democratic government.

Ok, have him go back and charge him with treason.
Now you're talking my language! Zelaya needs to go back and make his case in the courts, and then abide by their decision. Of course, he tried to ignore the Honduran Supreme Court before this all went down. Now he doesn't have any other choice. That's the proper way to resolve this.
 

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Yep. You're right. He was making a power grab (or preparing to), and apparently violating his countries constitution. And, he probably should have been removed from office.

Now for the third time, Don, the problem is how he was removed from office. You can deny that there is a problem all you want, but the the US, along with the OAS, UN, and majority of the civilized world does have a problem with this. And that means there IS a problem, regardless of your or my personal opinions.

I am thinking that 'immediately' means what it says. Months of court proceedings while the president stays in power is not 'immediately'.
that consitutions was created in a context where corruption and greed were so widespread that they foresaw a president changing the rules to make himself president for life. The people who drew up the constitution knew what happens if they allowed for that to happen. Without 'immediately', the president could just bribe a couple of judges and have the matter postponed indefinitely.

Btw, regardless of whether we have a problem with it or not, it is not our business. It is an internal affair, and the people kicking him out were granted the right to do so according to their constitution.
 

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Even the Honduran military is starting to admit that what they did was illegal.

''We know there was a crime there,'' said Inestroza, the top legal advisor for the Honduran armed forces. ``In the moment that we took him out of the country, in the way that he was taken out, there is a crime. Because of the circumstances of the moment this crime occurred, there is going to be a justification and cause for acquittal that will protect us.''

Best solution of a bad lot? Probably yes. Better for Honduras and the US in the long run? Probably. Legal? Not even as far as I can throw the Statue of Liberty. And the Rule of Law has to matter.
 

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Btw, regardless of whether we have a problem with it or not, it is not our business. It is an internal affair...


None of our business? When has that ever stopped us before? I just hope that the situation settles down and we don't get involved. If the Hondurans can work this out themselves, peacefully, that will be a real victory.
 
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None of our business? When has that ever stopped us before? I just hope that the situation settles down and we don't get involved. If the Hondurans can work this out themselves, peacefully, that will be a real victory.
Perhaps if our president wasn't out condemning the enforcement of the Honduran Constitution...
 

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None of our business? When has that ever stopped us before? I just hope that the situation settles down and we don't get involved. If the Hondurans can work this out themselves, peacefully, that will be a real victory.


The Hondurans are going to have an interesting time of it. There are NO articles of impeachment in the Honduran Constitution. Whatsoever. Therefore, there is no legal way to remove the standing President of the contry, and extralegal means will have to suffice to enforce the will of the legislature. The apparent lack of formal trial is also bad form - the real problem is that the Honduran Consititution, as written, is not uniformly enforceable.
 

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The Hondurans are going to have an interesting time of it. There are NO articles of impeachment in the Honduran Constitution. Whatsoever. Therefore, there is no legal way to remove the standing President of the contry, and extralegal means will have to suffice to enforce the will of the legislature. The apparent lack of formal trial is also bad form - the real problem is that the Honduran Consititution, as written, is not uniformly enforceable.

Thanks for the info. From what I can see, the current Honduran Constitution is a relatively young document, having been drafted in 1982. It is also the sixteenth constitution in that country's turbulent history, which makes Don's comparison to our US Constitution a bit of a stretch. In Honduras, the term "constitution" clearly doesn't carry the same almost sacred weight that it does here. Their constitutions have historically been disregarded and disposed of many times.

However, on the positive side, since their constitution is young, perhaps this time they will resolve this crisis peacefully and reform and amend the deficiencies of this document rather than disregarding it. If the Hondurans are able to do this, perhaps their constitution may evolve, as ours has, into a workable blueprint for a stable democratic republic governed by laws. One can only hope.
 

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Thanks for the info. From what I can see, the current Honduran Constitution is a relatively young document, having been drafted in 1982. It is also the sixteenth constitution in that country's turbulent history, which makes Don's comparison to our US Constitution a bit of a stretch. In Honduras, the term "constitution" clearly doesn't carry the same almost sacred weight that it does here. Their constitutions have historically been disregarded and disposed of many times.

I cannot speak spanish, so I will pass no judgement on the document itself. But you will excuse me if I do not hold great faith in the long term viability of a constitution that contains 375 articles. There must be a significant amount of specific laws therein, rather than simply the mechanisms and limitations on the generation and enforcement of law, meaning that any bad law there is rather deeply entrenched.
 

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From what I have read the confusion come from multiple fronts.

1) Many interpret what Zelaya did as not violating the constitution because he called for a poll/referendum/(a bunch of other terms) to ask the population if they would be interesting in voting on the issue, not an actual vote on the issue. Others say it still violates the constitution.

2) Many say the bigger problem is that he tried to use public money and man power to accomplish this poll, which is not allowed.

3) The Supreme Court said what he was doing was illegal, and the military went to arrest him, but instead of bringing him to a court for trial they shipped him out of the country, which is not within it's legal jurisdiction to do.

4) There is no article in the constitution for impeachment. If he is found guilty of trying to change the article on term limits, he can be removed immediately from office. If he is found guilty of anything else, there is no precedent, he could conceivably retain the office of the president while still in jail.

5) The congress elected a temporary president based on an evidently false letter of resignation from Zelaya, and without any court ruling as to him being removed from office. So, they have not gone through legal channels to replace him, and the current president, Micheletti, does not hold the office legally.

Basically, it's a complete cluster**** all around by everybody.
 
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