2009 July 04 Saturday
Honduran President's Removal Seen As Lawful

Octavio Sánchez (whose name sounds pretty Spanish), a former presidential advisor in Honduras, argues that the removal of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya from office was lawful and in accordance with the Honduran constitution.

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."

Article 239 does seem pretty clear, doesn't it?

Other parts of the Honduran government opposed Zelaya's attempt to make himself President for life.

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya vowed on June 25 to ignore a Supreme Court ruling ordering him to reinstate the head of the armed forces Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Romeo Vasquez. Zelaya had fired the general for refusing to support a non-binding referendum the president had called to change the Constitution and allow his reelection.

The Supreme Court, Congress and the country's attorney general have said that Zelaya's referendum is illegal. Hours after Zelaya's vow not to heed the Supreme Court's decision, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez complained that ''there is a coup d'etat under way in Honduras,'' led by the ``retrograde bourgeoisie.''

I'm all for the retrograde bourgeoisie.

But Barack Obama supports the Leftist.

"We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the President of Honduras - the democratically elected president there," said President Obama.

Obama is joined in this by Fidel Castro and the communist revolutionary Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua. But Zelaya really did try to violate the process of constitutional change in Honduras in order to give himself more power.

While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite, the power to open that door does not lie with the president. A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress.

But Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. Chávez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.

The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused.

Can the Hondurans stand against the combined pressures of the Leftist governments of Cuba, the United States, Venezuela, and Bolivia?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2009 July 04 12:30 AM  Ethnic Conflict


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