Free Markets, Free People


It seems what has happened in Honduras is being characterized by most as a “military coup”. However Fausta, who has been following it all very closely, seems not to be sure that is the case. Instead she and some others are characterizing it as the military enforcing the orders of the Supreme Court and Congress.

Not being a Honduran constitutional expert or even really knowing whether that is legally permissible under their constitution, I’ll leave it to others to decide what the action really is. However, from Fausta, some background info that will get you into the picture. It is all about a referendum which President Manuel Zelaya wanted to hold concerning his term in office which is constitutionally limited to one term. Zelaya wanted to be able to serve another and decided a referendum would do to make that happen. The Supreme Court of Honduras declared such a referendum illegal. Zelaya essentially told them to pound sand (a very Jacksonian reaction):

Background on the referendum, which Zelaya insisted on in spite of it having been declared unlawful:

* When the armed forces refused to distribute the ballots, Zelaya fired the chief of the armed forces, Gen. Romeo Vásquez, and the defense minister, the head of the army and the air force resigned in protest.

* Yesterday the Supreme Court ordered by a 5-0 vote that Vásquez be reinstated.

* Honduras’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal ordered authorities to pick up all the ballots and electoral material, which were held by the country’s air force.

* The country’s Attorney General requested yesterday that Congress oust Zelaya.

* The courts have declared the referendum unlawful. Last Tuesday the Congress passed a law preventing the holding of referendums or plebiscites 180 days before or after general elections. Congress has also named a commission to investigate Zelaya.

This is the first coup in Honduras since 1982 when a democratically elected civilian government came to power .

So the question remains, was the military acting on its own or under the orders of some other constitutional body that had the legal right to order the removal of the president? It may turn out that both sides acted unconstitutionally and illegally. However it should be noted that the Honduran Attorney General had weighed in on the situation:

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.

So it is conceivable that the military was acting under the AG’s orders.

What Zelaya was trying to bypass is this provision in the Honduran Constitution:

Title VII, with two chapters, outlines the process of amending the constitution and sets forth the principle of constitutional inviolability. The constitution may be amended by the National Congress after a two-thirds vote of all its members in two consecutive regular annual sessions.

Apparently, at the moment, all is calm and quiet in Honduras. The Congress has accepted a “letter of resignation” from Zelaya which Zelaya (who is in Costa Rica) says he didn’t write. The Congress has also voted to make their head the new president.

Reaction has been swift and negative. The OAS said it would refuse to recognize the new government. President Obama said he was “deeply concerned” and called on Hondurans “to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic charter”, whatever that means.

It certainly seems that at least one party was trying to circumvent the “rule of law” in this case. Whether the others who removed him were remains to be seen. But the Obama administration is sticking by its one-note foreign policy song:

“We think this can be resolved through dialogue,” said the senior administration official.

Meanwhile, Hugo Chavez, with all his new Russian military equipment is rattling sabers in Venezuela as he sees a part of his Bolivarian Socialist revolution go astray. Of course the first knee-jerk reaction is to blame it on the US. In fact the Obama administration claims to have tried to stop the “coup” when it learned about it (some might see that as “meddling” in the “internal affairs of another country”).

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, blamed “the Yankee empire”, and threatened military action should the Venezuelan ambassador to Honduras be attacked; President Evo Morales of Bolivia described Mr Zelaya’s removal as “an assault on democracy”.

Of course both Chavez and Morales have stagemanaged similar assaults on their own Constitutions and managed to pull them off to their advantage.

As Drudge would say – developing …


22 Responses to Honduras

  • It is all about a referendum which President Manuel Zelaya wanted to hold concerning his term in office which is constitutionally limited to one term. Zelaya wanted to be able to serve another and decided a referendum would do to make that happen


    So basically, he decided to pull a Mayor Bloomberg, who also decided that voter-imposed term limits was merely a pesky technicality to his plans to serve extra terms. Actually, Zelaya is MORE into democracy than Bloomberg. At least Zelaya put it up for referendum, Bloomberg just rammed it through City Council in a shady deal.

    Think Honduras would care to swap?

  • Zelaya is a thug in the form of Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and The Clown™. The Clown™ denounces those who disagree with him, flip-flops on his promises, and refuses to follow the law because he does not like it (I point to the law which forces a President to give 30 days notice before an Inspector General in the government is relieved of duty, and a good reason given for their removal, a law which The Clown™ broke to no outcry this past month).

    That is why I truly believe that when it comes to everything he has said, The Clown™ will do what he has to to stay in power. Zelaya tried the same crappola in Honduras, and when that country’s Supreme Court told him that he couldn’t he went forward anyway and he was removed from office. We do not have anyone in this country strong enough, or brave enough, to tell The Clown™ that he cannot do what he is doing. We have an out of control Attorney General who is working hand-in-hand with him to break laws. Do you think our military would be as daring and courageous as Honduras’ in removing a threat to their way of life? I don’t think so.

  • So much for not wanting to be perceived as meddling in the affairs of other nations!  Backing a president who wanted to make a change to the country’s constitution in an illegal manner?  Is there any word that the US told this guy that we would help him as long as he accepted his Supreme Court’s ruling?  I get the feeling that the answer to that is “no.”
    Does Obama feel that actions like this will make Chavez friendlier to the US?

  • I live in Honduras. My wife and I retired here, 14 years ago. We love living here.  It is a beautiful Country populated by mostly hard working, honest people who wish to live with peace and opportunity.

    Three and a half years ago, Mel Zelaya was elected President of Honduras. He ran in the Liberal Party, roughly the equivalent of the Democrat Party in the USA. He campaigned on a conservative note. Things changed pretty rapidly after he took office. He has been a disaster to private initiative of every kind; personal, entrepreneurial, and industrial. He ignored all but his own executive branch of Government. (Honduras, like the USA, has a “checks and balances” system comprised of a Congress and Supreme Court.) . Zelaya’s support was very limited from rich and poor alike, the only exceptions being some indigenous (no doubt deserving) that he showered with benefits and promises of much more.

    Zelaya’s removal  was a Democratic move (Impeachment Equivalent) to try to restore order in a country falling into the abyss because of a corrupt President that was becoming more dictatorial by the day, under the tutelege of Hugo Chavez. The Supreme Court and Congress worked together for several days to assure continuance of Democracy, in lieu of the Dictatorial Socialist path Zelaya was following. There has been NO rupture of Democracy here. Roberto Micheletti, President of the National Congress and a member of Zelaya’s own Party was named interim President, to remain until elections scheduled in November (which Zelaya had wanted to abrogate to remain in power). Micheletti has already appointed a cabinet of good advisors, a couple of them I’ve met, and in whom I have confidence. I can pretty well assure you that if the new Government continues, it will be more democratic and transparent than the Zelaya Government.

    It seems most inappropriate that world leaders roundly oppose the replacement of Former President Mel Zelaya, when they know little or nothing about the situation here.

    I would appreciate it if world leaders would come to Honduras and review the situation on the ground before pontificating about Law and Constitution. It is Zelaya who did the first “golpe de estado” through a large number of actions. The National Congress simply did its part to preserve Democracy here.

    Please pass this message to everyone who might be interested. We don’t need brickbats, we need support. We do not need to be the next Socialist victim.

    Pray for Honduras. God Bless Honduras.

    • Sir,

      Unlike you, I do not live in Honduras, and, except for knowing that Tegucigalpa is the capital, know nothing about the country.

      So it appears amazing that despite knowing nothing about the country, when it was announced that Zelaya had been removed for trying to hold an illegal referendum so he could extend his own hold on power, I supported the move. And although you are an American, please accept my apologies that the man feigning being President of the United States actually came out and sided with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez against the people of Honduras.

      Now, stay strong down there. We are currently waging our own battle against a leftist thug in this country.

    • Sir;

      Thank you for this information and your perspective.

  • I can infer from this that the current White House and State Department would have been “concerned and alarmed” and “would only recognize the legitimate government” of Iran if Ahmadinejad had lost and complained and held protests in the fashion of Mousavi in the last election.
    One should also pay attention to the weight that the White House can of Spam pays to a Constitution.  If he doesn’t think the military actually enforcing the Constitution of Honduras is valid, exactly who does the Spam think WOULD?  The UN?  The OAS?
    I’m not sure if they’re just in “don’t upset the applecart!” mode in Washington or not.  I tend to think they are, because recognizing the Hounduran Army was standing up for the Constitution (assuming it plays out to the end in that fashion) against a Chavez style thug meddling with it, might mean we actually had to take a stand in Honduras against incursions by Cuba/Venezuela/Nicaragua, and others who might try and restore a lefty law breaker.
    Ospama is willing to take a stand, so long as taking a stand involves being on camera, talking glibly, and not really doing anything.

  • Course the condemnation seems to be pretty universal at this point.  I’m confused..the guy threatens an illegal referendum and tries to jam it through like a good thug…He gets derailed, and the politicians from every country (along with all their dogs) condemn it.
    And if the referendum had gone against him, would they start screaming about the ballots being fixed?  I just don’t get this.  There has to be some conservative South American/Central American country who thinks this wasn’t a BAD thing, but so far the reports indicate it’s all against forcing the weasel into exile.

  • In re: the legality of the coup, I would simply note that just because members of the government assert that their actions were legal does not make them so.

  • looker,
    It is because there is a difference between pursuing appropriate legal actions against Zelaya and showing up at the presidential mansion prior to sunrise, arresting him and booting him from the country.

    • In case you missed it, the President and his supporters showed up at an air base and TOOK the confiscated ballots that the Congress had mandated be, uh, confiscated.
      His referendum was called in open defiance of the Congress and the Courts.
      The Congress voted to remove him.
      So, they have a check and balance system like ours – 3 wings – Legislative, Judicial, Executive.  The other two branches objected and took legal action to stop him.   He then proceeded to take illegal action to do what he damned well pleased.
      Considering his palace guard isn’t the same as the military…it seems…what did you expect, that they’d try and arrest him?  what?
      What answer WOULD be acceptable – I assume “talk” will be the answer.  Clearly he was beyond talking, and once they realized that, they followed suit.

  • This sounds like an overreaction to a bad situation, what possible effect could this impotent vote have? The legislature could tell everyone its a void vote and means nothing. Then if for some reason he wouldnt leave the presidency, they arrest him. Obamas reaction is upsetting at the least, scary at the most as he makes no mention of the actions the president was trying to take against the honduran constitution. I think they should have waited for more direct illegal actions or at least waited till he used public funds for the vote and started impeachment, if such a thing exists in their constitution.

    • “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.”
      If this is true, i see no issues with the “coup”.

  • Sources are showing multiple opinions on what happened in Honduras. At some sources say the country should have taken him to trial. However, others claim the way it was handled was appropriate. People also think Obama should step in to take action. What would he do? Although the US is the Founder of Democracy, it doesn’t mean we are the one to discipline other countries if they do it differently than we do. 

  • If the reading of the Honduran Constitution is correct there may be a clause in there that charges the military with defending it.
    Article 272 –
    ———- Machine Translation —————-
    They are constituted to defend the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of the Republic, to maintain the peace, the law and order and the empire of the Constitution, the principles of free vote and the “rotation of power” in the exercise of the Presidency of the Republic.
    ———– Original Text —————-
    Se constituyen para defender la integridad territorial y la soberanía de la República, mantener la paz, el orden público y el imperio de la Constitución, los principios de libre sufragio y la alternabilidad en el ejercicio de la Presidencia de la República.
    Perhaps they should have just arrested him instead of exiling him.  Exile might be a better answer (certainly from HIS viewpoint).

  • Why all the fuss, Obama and Zelaya are fellow travelers.  Obama has been, very eloquently,  telling us this fact himself. Funny, how so few are actually paying attention to his words and all the pictures he’s been painting for everyone. Obama’s trying to do the same thing here.

  • Thanks, James,
    We need all the support we can get. Actually, those inclined to liberty need help everywhere!

  • Report from Honduras:
    So far, the news seems OK. Few problems, business and commerce more or less normal. Coffee, bananas, and clothing shipping out like normal. President Micheletti has named a very qualified cabinet, much more qualified and experienced than ex-President Mel Zelaya had…packed with cronies and family members. Not much rioting here, not to say it has been trouble free. Bloodless, at least so far. (Pray for us!).
    Today, over 20,000 peaceful demonstrators marched for Rule of Law, Constitution, and AGAINST the return of Mel Zelaya in Tegucigalpa’s Central Park while Zelaya himself was playing victim in front of a bored looking UN Assembly.
    Tomorrow, as I understand it, President Micheletti will travel to the US seeking support. All Honduras hopes he gets it.
    But I have to recognize that we’re in a delicate situation, and will be for some time to come.
    But Hondurans are intelligent, and hard working, and with decent management capable of pulling us up from a corrupt, third world abyss.
    I’d like to think the process has begun.