Why is Zelaya’s Constitutional coup attempt ignored by the world?

June 29, 2009

Let’s review the stages of what happened in Honduras:

-President calls for a vote on having a referendum to allow his reelection

-Supreme Court and Assembly say it is illegal and Court rules so. Military warns that the law should be obeyed. Constitution actually says even promoting reelection is illegal.

-President removes Chiefs of Staff of military, Court tells him he can’t do that.

-President continues with plans to carry out vote on Sunday. On Sunday, military arrests him.

-National Assembly votes unanimously to name a new President, Supreme Court backs it.

-World is in outcry over Zelaya’s overthrow but was not over outright coup against Constitutional order.

The first question is why was the removal of Zelaya illegal, despite all independent institutions backing it, while similar removals of elected Presidents in Ecuador and Bolivia did not even raise an eyebrow in the world’s international “democratic” institutions and Nations?

The second question is why it appears as if democracy in our Hemisphere refers only to the fact that Presidents are elected, but somehow they can ignore the laws, the institutions and the Constitution once they get there and its fine with the world, but any attempt to force these elected Presidents to respect the institutions is somehow ignored and even considered suspect by world opinion, particularly if the elected President seems to be left wing. There is clearly a double, if not triple standard in all this.

Finally, why is it that the OAS can meet so fast to meet in these cases but has yet to look at the rape of the Venezuelan Constitution by Hugo Chavez or even his role in the Honduran affair. Chavez was indeed elected by the people but that does not give him the right to violate our rights, anymore than Zelaya attempted to violate everyone’s rights in Honduras by carrying out an illegal vote.

Until institutions like the Supreme Court, the National Assembly and others are not allowed to curtail Presidential power, by maintaining checks and balances and limiting what Presidents can do, our countries will not have a true democracy. The Constitution is there for everyone and the President should be the first person to defend it and promote. If not, it is the people that are left defenseless from the Dictadorcitos that fate throws upon us like Hugo Chavez and wannabe Zelaya.

Zelaya simply tried to stage a Constitutional coup because he was the President, but somehow the world seems to have ignored all of this, against the background of institutions that in the end did follow the law and the Constitution in order to remove him.

54 Responses to “Why is Zelaya’s Constitutional coup attempt ignored by the world?”

  1. Gringo Says:

    Well said, Miguel.

  2. Matteo Says:

    What removal of an elected Peruvian president are you talking about?

  3. liz Says:

    OAS is just a president’s club….

  4. moses Says:

    According to the Washington Post, Hillary Clinton is refraining to declare that there was a coup, since then US would have to cut aid to Honduras.

    See this link:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/29/AR2009062902793.html

  5. experiencedtraveller Says:

    Because its FOR THE PEOPLE!

    /You need to throw your head back hard and raise both fists quickly when you shout that. The ensuing blood rush and minor grade whiplash produces a wonderful, momentary euphoria.

  6. Syd Says:

    thanks for the summary, Miguel. Perhaps dates might further clarify.

  7. Syd Says:

    are the govt’s of Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia as indebted to US aid as is Honduras, in exchange for observing democratic principles?

  8. DanielR Says:

    Miguel

    I agree with most of what you said, but having watched the entire congress session via CNN, there are a couple of things that seems fishy, and that don’t create a “cut and clear” perspective of a transparent and legal transition (in my mind):

    1. the congress presented a letter of resignation that was used as the main reason why the president was replaced. This letter was then called a fake by Zelaya himself. If this is a fake, or Zelaya was forced to sign it, it would render the whole transition illegal.

    2. if the reason was that Zelava was breaking the law (which was not used as the reason at the session), the military “exiled” the president, instead of submitting him to the proper authorities. He was “exiled”, or “deported” as a sitting president, as the congress had not ruled on his replacement. One Honduran constitutional expert on CNN indicated that no-one in Honduras has the authority of deporting a national against their will. So, why did they do it? Why didn’t they leave him alone in his house, or place him under house arrest or something. Again, this rushed, improvised decision might add to a list of anomalies or illegalities that are muddying the whole process in the eyes of the international public.

    I’m saddened because it seemed that the Honduran people had the strength to fight the rogue president using all the means and tools of their constitution and laws, and then did this… I’m happy that they were really trying to shield their country from another Chavez-like experience… but was it done properly?

  9. Megalops Says:

    Bravo Miguel!

    The OAS is a club where only presidents and their political parties are represented. Guess who they are going to protect. The false underlying assumption in all these multelateral clubs is that democracy=keeping the elected president in his place no matter what he does.

    The hard question as you clearly explain above is: What are people supposed to do when a President violates his own constitution?

    Having said that, I do believe Honduras should have sent “Gorilaya”, as I am sure Chavez calls him, to jail after the corresponding trial.

  10. Justin Simms Says:

    Wait a minute here—a constitutional amendment that says that the people can never change elements of that document!?!?

    Can any one say “US client state”. Just say it, “colony”, “vassel state”, etc.

    Get the picture as to why the entire sold condems this–as the Honduran military puts down it’s own democratic order withbloodshed.

    You folks fell for Carmona and kidnapping an elected leader,and you haven’t evolved much.

    Compradoritis,perphaps?

    Anyway,as the say–how’s that work for ya?

    Nice

    Too

  11. Deanna Says:

    Nice summary of events, Miguel. Agree that OAS is just a club of presidents, just as the UN is, and their opinions will always be that of the incumbents, or those who hold power. Just because the president is popularly elected, it doesn’t mean that they act democratically while in office. That’s why we have a “democratic Chavez”, a “democratic Correa,” a “democratic Ortega”, etc, etc. Even Ahmedinejad is “democratically” elected!!!! By the way, so was Hitler!!!

  12. moctavio Says:

    It was done as properly as you can in my own opinion, I don’t think they needed a letter of resignation. Let me give you a comparison: CAP was impeached for using some funds to help Violeta Chamorro. Was it fair what was done to him? I don’t think so. Chavez should have been impeached eons ago under the same criteria. Was it legal? Yes! The Venezuelan National Assembly wanted to get rid of him for whatever reason and they voted to do so. However, criteria like that should be applied uniformly, not pick your crime to fit the impeachment. If the whole Assembly voted unanimously and the Supreme Court backed it, there is little anyone can say. Who are the people? The Assembly represents the people, period. As to sending him in exile, well, I wished Chavez had left for Cuba, not stayed. Too: Chavez did resign and he should have been tried for murder, Carmona was not the real problem, he was a fool.

  13. Martin Says:

    Sounds like another psf has invaded the thread (or is it that same guy under an another assumed name!) I’ll just ignore him.
    Miguel, your question is remarkably pertinent, and remarkably unanswerable by any simple statement. I’ve just finished watching Chavez raging away in Nicaragua followed by a brief press appearance by a tight-lipped Hillary, and a report that Obama, during a meeting with Uribe, had declared Honduras’s actions ‘illegal.’
    Once again, things are not looking good. A Chavez victory here (and that’s what the return of Zelaya would be) means its all over for freedom in Latin America for the foreseeable future. Surely Obama knows this–or someone in his entourage has reminded him of it. Sadly he seems intent in joining in hammering the last nails in that coffin.
    Perhaps the answer is that the forces of liberal democracy have now become so morbidly intimidated that they dare not even answer the doublespeak of their enemies. And the supreme leader of those forces is still Barack Hussein Obama. If he doesn’t speak up you can be dead sure no-one else will. It is a sad day indeed. I am bitterly disappointed by this president, from whom I had originally hoped for great things.
    The brave people of Honduras and their democratically elected (and legal) representatives deserve the best, but I afraid they are going to come under tremendous pressure in the next few days. The UN will be next. If the US throws it’s weight in too, it’s hard to see how they can resist almost the entire world. The long term consequences will certainly be dire.
    There’s still just the chance that Obama is double-bluffing, and that Hillary is still looking for some wriggle room, as the WP article suggests is possible. But at this stage no one can reasonably count on that.

  14. Justin Simms Says:

    You have to have an inkling that being taken by armed men and foorced to sign a document is illegit, this logic stinks of Pinochet.

    Try again.

  15. Justin Simms Says:

    Love it–you guys are really believing that the whole world is being guided by Chavez’s super powers–does Karl Marx also feature in this movie? Loving it.

  16. Sergio Says:

    Well said Deanna, the major problem is that even though democracy is the best political system, it has flaws. In Latin America most of the population is ignorant, and because they represent the majority we are doomed. And don’t forget our latin heritage where we pretty much dont care about laws, people or anything but ourselves

  17. Megalops Says:

    The OAS cares only about form and not about substance, that is why the CAP impeachment was Ok for them but Hondura’s way of getting rid of its last caudillo unaccpetable.

  18. KA Says:

    Miguel the only question I have is why didn’t they just impeach him. It would have taken longer but they wouldn’t have gotten into this mess. Obviously congress and the supreme court would have ruled against him.

  19. Justin Simms Says:

    Yes kidnapping is too readily frowned upon…and the ignorant horde of the poor protesting in the streets can’t be trusted with the vote–that’s what you call ‘democracy’.

    Amazing

  20. moctavio Says:

    A “horde” of 400 people, get off that cloud! Thats what YOU call democracy.

  21. moctavio Says:

    KA In the end they di impeach him, unanimously too.

  22. KA Says:

    So from what I have gathered then is that Honduran law allows for revoking a persons citizenship for violating the constitution? Hence the arrest and exile? If this is the case I find it strange but whatever… although while constitutional the congress/army/supreme court should have known the international consequences of going down this path.

  23. Roger Says:

    Most outside of LatAm have no idea of what Illiberal Democracy is. They only hear the democracy word used. Simply put. Once elected, they change laws even the constitution in order to stay in power forever. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illiberal_democracy Yesterday was a classic example of such a move. What I like the best is that they waited till just hours before the Venezuelan provided election which Im sure had many payoffs and bribes paid in USD! How clever the Hondurans are. Looks like Chavez never even suspected. Meanwhile down in Argentina more Venezuelan malatins were going help bolster the economy with only political losses to show for it. Considering the size of Argentina a few malatins more or less does not add up to much.

  24. Justin Simms Says:

    With Hess antihuman and oppressive notions being bandied about here, is it any wonder that the people of the Americas are shifting left?

    You are endorsing political oppression. Our and simple.

    Sad

  25. Andromeda Says:

    This ‘coup’ was a blessing for a lot of people.

    OAS needed something like this pretty badly in order to regain some power after the last Honduras meeting fiasco when they were wounded by the new ‘Buena Vista Social Club’, also known as ALBA.

    Obama sent the archaic CIA conspiracy theories packing by condemning the coup in its early stages and somehow manages to keep his backyard crybabies looking at other targets on where to point their insults.

    Chavez uses the coup to show Obama that he is clearly the region’s strongman and that he can control almost every country diplomatic and military decisions.

    Even the old geezer from Costa Rica has 5 minutes to spread his no army needed gospel.

    Too bad for them that the rest of the civilized world (and I mean the ordinary people, not the politics) doesn’t give a fuck about the Honduras situation. The results of Michael Jackson’s second or third autopsy are even more important than Mousavi’s green movement.

    Then why not follow the sentiment of the masses and start talking about the death of the famous entertainer-pedophile and let the ‘Presidents Club’ discuss by themselves their ‘Entre bomberos no se pisan la manguera’ club rule?

  26. Justin Simms Says:

    Wow, it looks like the whole world can’t see that Honduras is now totally liberated–Chavez has them frightened and brainwashed.

  27. Bridge Says:

    I think Fausta wrote a rather good summery of events

    http://faustasblog.com/?p=13712

  28. concerned Says:

    I believe that Honduras knows Chavez’s play book pretty well and have also watched and learned from what has, and is happening in Venezuela. How many times has it been commented that it was a mistake to not get Chavez out of the country, instead allowing him back into power the following day? With the large concentration of Venezuelan and Cuban military on the ground in Honduras to “assist” with the amendment vote, getting Zelaya out of the country probably prevented a bloodbath. Take away the prize and there is nothing to fight over.

    Obama and Hillary are on a trial period in my opinion. Obama was placed on such a high pedestal that if he is not careful, his only way will be to go down in popularity. On a scale of 1-10, Obama is grading about a 2 on the Iran fiasco and is not placing very well in this event either. Obama is also being advised not to come out in support for the coup from the lessons learned when Bush was too quick to support the 2002 event in Venezuela. That has given Chavez his much needed enemy for blaming everything wrong with his robolution. The only thing that should be said by any government is that this is a problem for Honduras and that following their constitution should be their guide for democracy to be effective. No one person is above the constitution which is in place to protect the people (Chavez). If Zelaya overstepped his bounds then his removal would have been appropriate. If Chavez was not ass deep in Honduras’ politics, they would have followed a different path in the form of an impeachment. It is very easy to play “Monday Morning Quarterback” and second guess what they should have done…but in my opinion, they did the right thing in possibly the wrong way. That doesn’t mean that Zelaya should be allowed to return.

  29. Deanna Says:

    Zelaya announced that he’s going back to Tegucigalpa on Thursday to take back his presidency. But he wants Insulza and the other Alba presidents to go with him as backing and protectors. Question: will the present Honduran government allow him to go back and try a counter-coup (with the 400 supporters in the street) or will they allow him to go back and face jailtime? Will the present Honduran government even allow those Alba presidents to enter their territory, without explicit invitation?

  30. torres Says:

    It seems the that it wasn’t so much about reelection as it was about dissolving Congress: http://laprensahn.com/País/Ediciones/2009/06/30/Noticias/Si-regresa-Mel-ira-a-prision

    It seems that it was because Mel was attempting to carry this out the next day that the the Supreme Court and Congress asked the Military to act the way it did.

  31. GWEH Says:

    Justin, what’s with the name dropping? Carmona, Pinochet, Marx … you are a Chavez loving twit. We have no room for your likes here so go away.

    And yes, I would sed you to the reten and have you beaten and raped by fellow inmates.

  32. ErneX Says:

    Excellent piece Miguel, I’m linking this one around…

  33. moctavio Says:

    It’s been seven years since Carmona was stupidly and briefly named President by the military after Chavez ordered his troops to kill and attack innocent civilians. Seven years after Chavez also led a coup that KILLED 200 people, including many innocent civilians, he became President. Why is this little fact forgotten so easily?

  34. Justin Simms Says:

    This coup is falling apart. What is amazing is the support for what is blatantly an attack on the constitutional order.

    Not I my will there be a new constitution out of this–there will also develop a new dominant political party. LOL

    Daddy Obama will not invAde Honduras and Che’s ghost is restless.

    This is a teachable moment for the popular classes.

    I am almost tempted to fly down to Honduras on Thursday and celebrate with the victorious masses.

  35. Roberto Says:

    I think that the new gov’t. in Honduras has at least two hole cards to play.

    1) Zelaya is stripped of Honduran citizenship. Their constitution states unequivocably that this can be done for promoting re-election.

    2) He broke the law on Saturday, by publishing in Gaceta the call for a referendum, which is clearly illegal, as the Constitution states that referenda can be called up to 6 months BEFORE a scheduled election.

    So that’s at least two cards they hold against Megalomeno, I mean, Mel Zelaya.

    American Airlines have some really cheap one way tickets to Honduras these days. Make sure you get on an Airbus flight, you’ll like it!, and so will the rest of the world.

  36. veneco Says:

    For spanish readers, read the whole crisis developement.

    Apparently, this Zelaya guy is like a spoiled kid who won’t take no for an answer.

  37. Bill Says:

    “The first question is why was the removal of Zelaya illegal, despite all independent institutions backing it, while similar removals of elected Presidents in Ecuador and Bolivia did not even raise an eyebrow in the world’s international “democratic” institutions and Nations?”

    Well putting him on a plane out of the country didn’t help. I suspect his travel agent, even if they were acting within the law, slapping their foreheads and going “DOH!”

  38. Jennifer Big tiities Says:

    Chavez can suck my hairy tits!

  39. Andres F Says:

    President Kirchner and OAS secretary general, to accompany Manuel Zelaya on Thursday to Tegucigalpa.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/30/honduras-manuel-zelaya-military-coup

  40. veneco Says:

    Looks like I’m HTML challenged today. Here’s another try.

  41. La Gringa Says:

    The UN has just condemned Honduras and ordered Zelaya back to the presidency. The new Honduran government has issued a order of capture for Zelaya for 18 crimes (abuse of power, etc,) though there are many more crimes he should be charged with though, sadly, we have too many corruptos here for them to get into that. Honduras has asked Interpol to arrest Zelaya and bring him to Honduras.

    CNN en Español and CNN in English are reporting a completely biased view and much misinformation. They have even been using Telesur’s feed and reporter!

    For the moment, the Honduras people are holding strong and promise to fight any attempt for the world to force upon them a president who they don’t want. It’s an extremely poor country with 60% of the population in poverty, a 30% unemployment rate and half the country under 14 years old.

    Simultaneously with the UN meeting where the US sold them to the wolves, a peaceful protest was held in the capital city had at least 20,000 people with possibly a similar number in the 2nd largest city.The people begged CNN and President Obama and the rest of the world to listen. “We don’t want to be Cuba!” “We are fighting for democracy and our constitution.” “CNN come to talk to us! We are the people. We aren’t revolutionaries.”

    In contrast, violent pro-Zelaya supporters numbered in the 100’s at most and some were thought to be from Nicaragua. They threw rocks at military and police and hit them with sticks, obviously trying to make a show for CNN, who does cover the pro-Zelaya faction.

    They made a serious error by taking Zelaya out of the country instead of just charging him. I don’t know what was behind that decision, but they were representing the wishes of the majority of the people, rich and poor.

    So for the moment, we have this tiny, poor little country standing up to the world. Sound like a fairy tale? Yeah. Very sad, but it’s true.

    I write about it in my blog, but please, I already have enough of the Chavez koolaid drinkers. They are getting boring.

  42. Salimy Says:

    Miguel…Mi mensaje para los Hondurenos…… MANTENGANSE FIRMES!!!…

  43. Eric Lavoie Says:

    I find it so interesting how the left wing message is becoming truth, i guess if you repeat the lie often enough morons start believing it.
    Sad, i checked CBC.ca comment section on anything to d with it and any POV nmot with Chavez et al are put down by the kool aid drinking crowd.

  44. An Interested Observer Says:

    “It was done as properly as you can in my own opinion, I don’t think they needed a letter of resignation. Let me give you a comparison: CAP was impeached”

    So why didn’t they just impeach him? The possibly-fake resignation letter (since disavowed, which raises enough doubts about either its authenticity or whether it was signed under pressure to disqualify it in my mind – Presidential changes, whether by election or not, need to be above reproach), along with the quick removal from the country are both so reminiscent of an old-school coup, that it’s hardly surprising that anyone should draw any conclusions of similarity. The fact that the VP hadn’t been sworn in yet, so couldn’t take office, doesn’t help at all.

    Miguel, you laid out very nicely the basic potential grounds for impeachment. And had they simply stopped the election (though that would definitely not have been as easy as simply saying it, given how Zelaya was forcing the issue) and started the formal impeachment process, then there would have been some whining, but no real grounds for true complaints. No one at the OAS (except Venezuela) would have invoked the Democratic Charter, for example.

    Let me put it this way: just like nothing the prior Presidents of Venezuela did or didn’t do can justify any action by Chavez, nothing Zelaya did justifies other Hondurans putting away the Constitution for the sake of convenience.


  45. But he refused to stop the illegal vote, that is why he was removed. Yes, they could have done it in a more organized fashion, but the vote was like an impeachment and succession follows what the Constitution says. Wha’s the difference in the end?

  46. An Interested Observer Says:

    What’s the difference? Do ends justify the means, Miguel?

  47. Nick Says:

    Your first statement is false. it was a (non-binding) poll for a constitutional assembly. why do u publish such things? its hard to believe somebody when there argument is full of fallacies. i couldnt even make it past the second line.

  48. moctavio Says:

    Yes and the only driver was to rewrite the Constitution so he could run again. And it was illegal, even if non-binding.

  49. Debi Says:

    Lots of good commentary.

  50. Jeremy Says:

    NICK, the Honduran constitution makes it clear that intent matters, as in the promotion of an act designed to change the presidential limitations. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t binding. It was still illegal and he knew it. He was told by anybody and everybody in the Honduran government. He also violated a law passed by congress that banned any government polls, non-binding or otherwise, 180 before a national election.

    INTERESTED OBSERVER, Article 239 of the Honduran constitution states than any government official who violates the prohibition on presidential limitations, including only promoting the idea, immediately ceases to perform his duties in the government. There is no impeachment needed, as Mel effectively resigned.

    JUSTIN SIMMS, what????

  51. An Interested Observer Says:

    Jeremy, thanks for that clarification – I had read somewhere that the Honduran Constitution doesn’t allow for impeachment, and that there was another procedure, but had no idea what it was.

    That said, I can’t tell from that sentence what process would be necessary to determine that. Obviously, Zelaya doesn’t agree that he ceased to perform his functions. There needs to be a clear, proper decision (does the Constitution say who should make that determination? I would think that would fall to the Supreme Court, at least eventually), which should be enforced by authorities. The Hondurans skipped those steps and went straight to good old-fashioned methods, which understandably raises serious red flags.

  52. Tomas Says:

    When I saw Hugo Chavez’ Shiny red farm tractors rolling down the middle of downtown San Pedro Sula last year with big ribbons on them I said to myself “oh no Hugo is up to something” my little voice was right again.

    Hey does anyone know if Zelaya’s pajamas can be found anywhere I want to sell them on E-bay!!!!

    Did they really have Micky Mouse all over his PJ’s ?


  53. [...] Why is Zelaya’s Constitutional coup attempt ignored by the world? «June 29, 2009 … -President calls for a vote on having a referendum to allow his reelection … -Supreme Court and Assembly say it is illegal and Court rules so. Military warns that the law should be obeyed. Constitution actually says even promoting reelection is illegal. [...]


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