Free Markets, Free People

Obama, Clinton and the State Department Are Wrong About Honduras

I think we know the answer to the question “what in the world are Constitutions for if not to be followed” as we address it to those named in the headline, but we now have the Congressional Research Service weighing in on Honduras and it isn’t good news for the US’s policy toward that country.

David Freddoso reports that the CRS’s Senior Foreign Law Specialist Norma Gutierrez has completed a study of the Honduran actions as they relate to former president Mel Zelaya and they don’t reflect well on the US. Freddoso has distilled them to the following:

* The Honduran Congress appears to have acted properly in deposing President Manuel Zelaya. Unlike in the United States, the Honduran Congress has the last word when it comes to interpreting the Constitution. Although there is no provision in Honduras’s Constitution for impeachment as such, the body does have powers to disapprove of the president’s official acts, and to replace him in the event that he is incapable of performing his duties. Most importantly, the Congress also has the authority to interpret exactly what that means.

* The Supreme Court was legally entitled to ask the military to arrest Zelaya. The high court, which is the constitutional venue for trials of the president and other high-ranking officials, also recognized the Congress’s ouster of Zelaya when it referred his case back down to a lower court afterward, on the grounds that he was “no longer a high-ranking government official.”

* The military did not act properly in forcibly expatriating Zelaya. According to the CRS report and other news stories, Honduran authorities are investigating their decision, which the military justified at the time as a means of preventing bloodshed. In fact, Zelaya should have been given a trial, and if convicted of seeking reelection, he would have lost his citizenship. But he is still a citizen now, and the Constitution forbids the expatriation of Honduran citizens by their government.

* The proper line of succession was followed after Zelaya’s ouster. Because there was no Vice President in office when Zelaya was removed (he had resigned to run for president), Micheletti was the proper successor, as he had been president of the Congress.

So the only unlawful or improper act, according the the CRS, was the forceful expatriation of Zelaya. Despite the desire to avoid bloodshed, the military should merely have removed and arrested him. Other than that, everything appears to go precisely as it should according to their constitution and their legal interpretation of it.

For a man who just stood up in the UN and claimed the right of people for self-determination (except in Iran, of course), he sure is working awful hard to ensure Honduras’s citizens don’t enjoy that right.

He’s wrong. Secretary of State Clinton is wrong. The State Department’s actions against Honduras are wrong. No equivocation here – the US is on the wrong side of this issue. This needs to be rethought and readdressed quickly and Mel Zelaya ought to be treated like he deserves – as someone who broke the law of the land.

[HT: looker]



32 Responses to Obama, Clinton and the State Department Are Wrong About Honduras

  • So, it really wasn’t a military coup, contrary to the assertion of a certain professor here? I’m shocked.

  • Holy SH!T! Could there be a more damning analysis? This should be headlining every newscast tonight.

    I know it won’t, but it should.

  • Notice that no networks cover the Honduras story. Why? Because even some of them, as leftwing as they are, know what is happening and are truly embarrassed by what this thug in the White House is doing.

    This is why Zogby and the NBC/The Wall Street Journal polls are showing that The Clown™ is becoming more unpopular, even after the town halls stopped and The Clown™ gave his big speech that was as popular as a turd.

  • Coup is always the word I read – be it’s source AP or Reuters. That’s the meme. Coup. Always.

    Now, lately I’m trying to puzzle why it is the Brazilians are making Mel Zelaya sleep on chairs. (

    They don’t have any beds in that embassy? They don’t have any provisions for people staying IN the embassy, overnight? Nothing? They have to sleep on chairs?
    I’ve slept on chairs, I’ve slept on the floor, I prefer the floor. I camp regularly, I have a cot. Shame that the Brazilians can’t afford to buy Mel a cot or do you suppose there’s a cot shortage in Tegucigalpa brought on by the coup? Maybe a result of the cutting off of American aid?

    You’d have thought Mel would have asked the Brazilians where they were going to put him up before he spent many hours switching vehicles and sneaking back into Honduras to end at the embassy doorstep.

    Maybe he did, he’s such a trooper, when they told him “Mel, you’re going to have to sleep on chairs, because the Brazilian Women’s Bikini Volley Ball team is in town this week, and they’ve taken up all the rooms!”, Mel said “Oh, well, I love my country so much, I will sleep on chairs!”

    Poor Mel, sleeping on chairs while Israeli agents beam beams at him!

    Am I the only one that wonders at the theatrics going on here, do these guys think the average Honduran is REALLY that stupid?

    Oh, wait, why not? the President and the Secretary of State of the United States thinks this was an illegal coup!
    Carry on.

  • This Honduras incident really makes me ill. I feel horrible how our leaders have treated these people. It was obvious the the very outset that what they did was constitutional, if a little overzealous in the implementation (i.e. banishment vs arrest) but i give them a bit of slack taking into account the history of the region with these types of matters. They wanted a figurehead sch as this as far away from his few supporters as possible.

  • Wait… Hasn’t TAO just been loudly praised for apologizing for all the nasty things the US has done since before Jan. 20 of this year? And hasn’t he promised that the US will stop throwing its weight around? As in, NOT interfering in the internal affairs of other countries?


    He has no problem telling the Israelis what to do. He has no problem with telling the Hondurans what to do. Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, not so much.

    • When you think about it, that is like a typical bully, Act mean to everyone around him, even his own family, but cower to those who are likely to fight back.

    • And what do Israel and Honduras have in common? They are both recipients of American aid and assistance. They were, up until recently, considered allies (so was the UK, ask Mr. Brown how that’s working for him these days….)

      What do Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Cuba have in common? They don’t give a rat’s ass what the US says and don’t expect to get any aid, and they certainly were NOT considered allies by the Bush Administration.

      So, who do we play hardball with? The Oxymoronic leadership of Obama indicates you play hardball with your allies and you make apologetic small talk with your previous (and still!) hostile acquaintances.

      Brilliant. He’s a genius I’m tellin ya, a SUP-ER GENIUS!

  • I have a feeling that over the next four years, this country will be on the wrong side of many such issues.

  • Sorry, guys, you’re wrong again. It was a military coup because the removal of the President was done illegally. There is no way around that. Even if one could argue that the President broke the law, if the legal process isn’t followed and the military intervenes and changes who is in power, it is by definition a coup.

    So keep whining about the big bad media never reporting things the way you see it. The reason is you twist things to mean what they really don’t, then act shocked…Shocked, I say!…that somehow your view isn’t the one that gets reported. It’s sort of funny.

    • Sorry, guys, you’re wrong again. It was a military coup because the removal of the President was done illegally. I decree it. I don’t care if this guy is a Senior Foreign Law Specialist. Yes I know I pull out the credential thing all the time on you dense righties, but credentials only matter when people agree with wise leftists. If Obama and Hillary say it was legal, there is no way around that, because they are brilliant wise leftists who think like me and have godlike powers of political science.

      Who is this lawyer guy anyway? What makes him anyone special? Congressional Research Service? During my extensive tenure as a very highly placed gopher in DC in the 1980s, I never heard of these people Therefore they don’t exist. This is all a hoax, I bet.

      Even if one could argue that the President broke the law, if the legal process isn’t followed and the military intervenes and changes who is in power, it is by definition a coup. And the legal process just wasn’t followed, because it’s just impossible for any legal process to depose a wise leftist before the end of his term. Or maybe even then.

      So keep whining about the big bad media never reporting things the way you see it. It’s not because they’re biased, oh no. I decree it. They are just stating objectively correct positions supported by wise leftist post-modern philosophy, which of course you ex-military basket cases around here just don’t understand. So you twist things to mean what they really don’t, then act shocked…Shocked, I say!…that somehow your view isn’t the one that gets reported. And no, I don’t have to give you any links or support that you have it wrong, so stop asking that! I decree it, I tell you! Between me and Obama, what more do you want, you thick Neanderthal righties!?! I’m a serious professor of political science specializing in international relations, with a book and everything, and it’s not either done by a vanity press who suckers social science professors, so you just really need to stop saying that!

    • It was NOT a military coup, because the military was not in charge. The military did the bidding of the supreme court. The legislature approved of the action, and the constitutional next-in-line took the office.

      None of that would have happened in a military coup.

      Why not dispute the findings presented by Norma Gutierrez: that the Honduran congress and supreme court both acted appropriately? I’m betting it’s because you know those facts are beyond dispute.

      The military did not do wrong in seizing Zelaya, the only thing it erred in was in deporting him. But that doesn’t change the underlying fact that Zelaya’s removal from office was ordered by the congress and courts.

    • But Zelaya did break the law, and the legal process was followed. I’m actually surprised that there are people who consider this a military coup, considering that the military didn’t intervene at any step in the process. They became involved at the behest of the supreme court, which acted lawfully, as did the legislature.

    • Scott,

      I don’t understand why you are claiming the removal of Zelaya was a coup. The analysis correctly points out the Congress was the arbiter of Constitution and Zelaya was absolutely in violation of the Constitution and, in fact, ordered the military to aid him in violating the Constitution. The military refused. The Supreme Court then ordered, as is their right, the military to remove Zelaya from office. That is specifically authorized by the Constitution.

      It appears your only complaint is the military did the actual removal, but that is exactly how their Constitution works. If your reasoning were anywhere near correct, if the Supreme Court had ordered the police to arrest Zelaya, everything would be fine with you. Are you really certain you want to argue that position? Your position fails the laugh test.


    • It’s admirable, Scott, the way you simply disregard a series of facts in order to maintain the Party line.

      Very scholarly of you.

    • You’re too much. Exactly how dense to you have to be?

      I hope one of your less left-bent students brings this up in your class and asks you how a two-bit professor of political buffoonery in a college in Maine has the balls to argue with a Congressional Research Services Senior Foreign Law Specialist (do you suppose this person has PhD’s, MA’s and other spiffy abbreviations following or preceding his name, just like you?)


      The only thing you lack from your posts Erb, is a tag line where you post “la la la la la la, I’m not listening! Dr Erb is not Listening!…la la la la la la”.

      Thank God my grandparents are dead and don’t have to see how low their beloved state has fallen.

  • Scott:

    Coup d’Etat is defined as a sudden, violent and illegal seizure of power from a government. I don’t see that in Honduras.

    The President’s term in office is limited by the Honduran Constitution just as the U.S. Constitution limits the term of an American President. What would you say if George W. Bush had decided to have Congress revoke the 2004 and all subsequent Presidential elections?

    The new democracies in Central America are very sensitive to dictatorship and they have provisions to prevent the extralegal concentration of power. Zelaya was following Chavez model. The legislature removed him, the supreme court approved it and ordered the military to expel him which they did. The rule of law prevailed.

    Is your definition of a coup different from mine?

  • If they had deposed a right wing president ERB would be singing their praises. Obama too.

  • arch asked Erb: “Is your definition of a coup different from mine?”

    Erb seems to have a whole dictionary different than ours. For instance, when someone here asks him for ‘proof of his assertions’, his dictionary translates that as ‘(1)ignore requests for proof; (2)make accusations, (3) quote or link drivel from his own blog (4)all of the above.

    His post-modern training requires interpretaton of facts according to one’s wordview. It also requires the rejection of facts that don’t properly fit those worldviews and the acceptance of alternative interpretations (sometimes all of the alternative interpretations simultaneously).

    This would confuse anyone accustomed to the application of reason on a daily basis, those that work in engineering, or the hard sciences for instance. Conversely, those that aren’t used to a daily application (or even monthly or yearly) of reason aren’t confused at all. Those that work in the ‘soft sciences’ like Political Science and Sociology for example.

  • The next President is going to have his or her hands full making amends for all of BO’s mistakes.

  • You are arguing with Erb, hahaha

    Might as well argue with your dinner table for all the difference that would make. I am so glad I studied science and engineering instead of the garbage these guys teach. Post modernism scam job. If it wasn’t for university and government they would be washing your car at the car wash or serving you fast food.

  • capt joe:

    I really pissed off erb a year or so ago when I quoted an old operations officer who said:

    “Never try to teach a pig to sing.
    It wastes your time,
    And it annoys the pig!”

    I was just trying to annoy the pig. Erb took it personally.

    • I’m all for getting entertainment from Erb-tweaking, but if you get tired of it, remember there’s another saying involving pigs:

      “Never mud-wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it.”

      It’s clear that Erb derives some kind of perverse satisfaction from getting everyone stirred up here, and responding to him feeds that. I used to be convinced it was because he needed to bolster his self-worth by having someone to talk down to, but I’m considering JWG’s alternate hypothesis from a thread yesterday:

      I’ve postulated before that Erb is just like the kid that keeps hanging around the other kids who constantly tease him out of a perverse need for the attention. There’s one in every grade level. That kid trains himself to think he’s popular with the others and completely ignores the fact that he’s really their bitch.

  • Vienna Convention Article 41 Big News Now!

    Yes, I know you probably haven’t heard of it. I doubt I had until yesterday. It was signed in Vienna on April 18, 1961, by just about every nation on the globe. (Think, taxpayers of the world, how much all this wining and dining in a world capitol cost you!).

    Suddenly, it’s important. Everyone is talking about it. Hillary warned Honduras not to violate the Vienna Convention. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly punctuated it. The next day the US Department the Department spokesman Ian Kelly also warned the the Vienna Convention treaty must be followed.

    What is this, you might ask? It is a threat to Honduras not to try to enter the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa to arrest Ex President Mel Zelaya, who is using the Embassy as a base to call for rebellion in Honduras.

    Like all legalese, it’s long and obtuse. The stuff lawyers love (and profit by).

    As I understand it, it basically makes an Embassy a place where one country can do darn near anything they want in the host country, without any interference. They are free to conduct business as they like, communicate freely in any manner, receive and deliver any material duty free, without inspection. Pretty powerful stuff. To wit:

    1. The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.

    There are a couple of important caveats, however. Especially Article 1.

    2. Without prejudice to their privileges and immunities, it is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State. They also have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State.

    There is another:

    3. All official business with the receiving State entrusted to the mission by the sending State shall be conducted with or through the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the receiving State or such other ministry as may be agreed.

    Now, we all know that everyone, Zelaya, Costa Rica, the United States, the rest of the World have recognized Micheletti’s Government as the “de facto” Government of Honduras. It is a working Government. We are clearly not a “failed state.

    Clearly, these caveats have been forgotten.
    It is time for a little respect!

    From Tegucigalpa

  • “Might as well argue with your dinner table for all the difference that would make.”

    That’s an understatement. A “coup” that not only did not remove civilian government, but left Zelaya’s own expletive deleted party in power, is, of course, no coup at all.

  • Usually, when a president is kidnapped by armed men and sent into exile, this is a coup d’etat. If in the U.S., the military grabbed Obama, sent him into exile, and then the Roberts-Scalia court declared its agreement of this, that would be the equivalent action. As for Zelaya’s party, most of the party supports the coup. Let’s say that Obama really was a progressive… the only way this fictitious progressive Obama could be elected would be for him to run for the Democrats… so he’s elected but the Blue Dogs and others try to block him… and if there is a coup these Blue Dogs would probably support his removal, if the establishment considers that he is too dangerous.

    I have seen this silly idea presented that Honduras is an imperfect Third World country so we should expect that they eschew impeachment proceedings or due process and “enforce” the constitution through what appears to be a coup d’etat… and that we should accept that this is the way the law is enforced there. That is just a bad joke, let me say that.

    • Actually a coup usually doesn’t involve “exile”. What you’re reflecting is your narrow-mindedness. If the constitution doesn’t conform with your arbitrary ideas of what constitutes “acceptable law” then you dismiss it. Honduras has been operating under this constitution for over 20 years. The laws aren’t unknown to the political leaders of the state and as legal scholars here have noted in their analysis of the constitution, the only thing which was not in conformity was the exile. Zelaya should have been arreted and incarcerated. The fact that you don’t happen to like that really doesn’t then make it a “bad joke”.