Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Honduran Turns


Two letters
to the WaPo make a strong case for supporting the so-called "coup" in Honduruas, a constitutionally justified measure preventing another Hugo Chavez in the western hemisphere. The writers are a former Honduran ambassador to the U.S. and Honduran native Miguel Estrada, a prominent attorney in Washington, DC. Unlike Obama, Bush would likely have recognized the new government, and not stood by Chavez, etc. See also WheatandWeeds for continuing coverage.

Discussions - 12 Comments

I think the U.S. stand at the moment, and the rest of the world's stand, is fine as it is. In a regime of laws, and in a democracy, masked soldiers arriving on that home of the president to kick him out of the country, in his pajamas, is not right. The police, on the order of the Supreme Court, should have prosecuted him for breaking the law; the Honduran leadership should have attempted to defeat his referendum at the ballot box; the Congress should have impeached him. To dare equate the military barging into the presidential mansion because they do not like the president's politics to the American system of impeachment as Mr. Estrada does is an insult.


If Mr. Bush or Mr. Obama ever acted illegally or in blatant opposition to the constitution, there would be such an uproar of public condemnation if the army showed up at the White House in the early hours of the morning and kicked the president out into Canada. We would the Congress to begin an impeachment process or, depending on the circumstances, civil authorities under order of the Attorney General or the Supreme Court to arrest the president for prosecution.


Furthermore, I have finished skimming through a bullet-point view of the Honduran Constitution (as the full thing consists of 379 articles plus the preamble), and no where did I see anything saying that the military barging into the president's home to kick him out of the country as constitutional. I saw proof that what Zelaya was attempting to do was, indeed, unconstitutional (per the constitution, amendments cannot be made to the amendment process, the former of government, the national territory, and the presidential term of office). Then again, in Article 2 of the constitution, it declares that popular sovereignty wins in all cases and that to supplant popular sovereignty or usurp power is a "crime of treason against the fatherland."


Now, the constitutional area that the Congress/Supreme Court/Military are using to support their coup is Article 239, which states that if the president ceases to exercise his office if he tries to reform the principle of alternation of the presidency. To do so incurs High Treason, but requires due process of law-- arrest, trial, impeachment, and conviction. As I said though, the constitution has other articles that can sort of come into conflict with this (and, anyways, in practice the constitution is largely ignored by the military of Honduras), which is why the Congress did things like say it had a letter of resignation from Zelaya.


The more I learn about Zelaya, the less I like his politics. He isn't as bad as Chavez, and he has certainly played up the poor and impoverished behind executive power against the rich and well-established behind the Supreme Court and the Congress in that country. Yes, as per the constitution, Zelaya was acting illegally. However, he should have been prosecuted, impeached, or defeated at the ballot box, not ousted by his military. It was a coup, and while it would be nice to see allies of Hugo Chavez defeated, to supplant representative government in favor of military forcefulness is not to be respected or tolerated.

Obama and Hillary have been outrageously and arrogantly wrong on this, and the OAS and the UN (of course) even more so.

To dare equate the military barging into the presidential mansion because they do not like the president's politics to the American system of impeachment as Mr. Estrada does is an insult.

Insult to who? Your glib assumption that Honduras has the same constitutional setup as the US is incorrect. And the military did not "barge into the presidential mansion because they do not like the president's politics". Kindly gain some minimal understanding as to what transpired before shooting your mouth off about it.

It was a coup

Look up the word "coup", you dolt.

to supplant representative government in favor of military forcefulness is not to be respected or tolerated.

Then it's a good thng that did not happen. Representative government is alive and well.

Normally I don't respond to people who have to resort to insults in discussion, but I obviously was not explaining myself well enough for understanding. I did not make an "assumpton" that the Honduran constitution (which, in response to your jibe at having a minimal understanding of things, I actually read) was similar to our own; Mr. Estrada (whose letter I read in full) did, I criticized that as an insult.


With its homage to popular sovereignty reigning supreme over everything, the ability of the executive to have much more influence than he ought to over the legislative and judicial branches, and the general autonomy of the military from civilian authorities, their constitution tends to be a mess, and the big problem is because it tends to be ignored by factions like the military.


I'm not going to bother looking up the word coup, as my understanding of the word is somewhere along the lines of a sudden and illegal (and usually, but not always, violent) seizure of power. What the military did was illegal; even their top lawyer has admitted the military acted illegally by barging into his house before the sun came up and throwing him out of the country. Their own constitution states that he needs to be prosecuted by the law; the Supreme Court signed an arrest warrant for him, but rather than arresting and prosecuting him, they kicked him out of the country. The compliance of the Congress (as well as its forged resignation letter) puts them in the wrong as well.


I'm not saying Zelaya should not be removed as president; as per their constitution, he acted illegally. But, if he is removed, it should be done legally; the military acted in a sudden and illegal manner (read: coup) to remove the executive from power, rather than respecting the rule of law and the people that the government represents by arresting and prosecuting him under the law.


The rest of the world (like Obama and Clinton) are right to condemn this as wrong and as a coup. Their primary issue, though, is apparently misunderstanding the problem as they push for Zelaya to be reinstated rather than criticizing how he was ousted.


And, for your reference, here is the full text of the Constitution and, if you don't feel like translating the Spanish, this links to studies on the Honduran government and has a link for a brief (English) summary of the current constitution.

In paragraph three of my original post, I was also trying to point out that the president has (tenuous) legal ground to pursue his constitutional reforms. The constitution's declaration in (heavily flawed) article 2 says that, "Sovereignty of the People may also be exercised directly, through the plebiscite and the referendum." The article before that says the sovereignty of the people is supreme, and the government branches only act as proxies for the people's sovereignty. Technically this means that, the other portions of the constitution declaring alteration to presidential term limits illegal notwithstanding, the popular sovereignty (that is, majority) may decide whatever they want. I think Zelaya realized this, and the Congress and military--which, despite the liberal party holding the narrow majority of the congress, both are still made up more of the elite of the nation--feared Zelaya's manipulation of the overwhelmingly-majority poor for this power grab. It still does not justify them acting illegally and throwing out the president like that.

Jason Steck makes a better argument as to the legality of the coup, but he still agrees that it is indeed a coup-- just, a legal one. I can buy his logic a bit more, and it stems back down to the stupidity of this foreign constitution. However, again, the RCW story still does not take into account that the military did act extralegally by kicking Zelaya out of the country and not giving him a trial.


The real issue is how to keep Zelaya out of power most effectively. The rest is just navel-gazing.

I'm not saying Zelaya should not be removed as president; as per their constitution, he acted illegally. But, if he is removed, it should be done legally

It was done legally.

the military acted in a sudden and illegal manner (read: coup) to remove the executive from power, rather than respecting the rule of law

You don't have the foggiest idea what you are talking about. The military did no such thing. They acted in accordance with the wishes of the Supreme Court and the legislature. Honduras today has a civilian government. That is a curious outcome from a "coup". As I say, you don't know what the word means.

You don't even deserve correction but others here may need to read
this.


Obama is quite wrong to claim that the removal of Zelaya was "illegal." The Honduran president forfeited his right to rule under Article 239 of the Honduran Constitution, which bans presidents from holding office if they even propose to alter the constitutional term limits for presidents. And the Honduran military, which acted on orders of the Honduran supreme court, expressly had the right to remove the president for seeking to alter the constitutional term limit, under Article 272 of the Honduran Constitution, as even left-leaning commentators have now admitted. The Honduran military's role in enforcing the court order does not make it a "coup" anymore than federal troops' role in enforcing the court-ordered integration of the Little Rock public schools in 1957 constituted a military occupation or takeover.

The Supreme Court ordered Zelaya to be arrested, not deported. He was to be immediately removed from office without trial, but he was also to stand trial for treason. The military took it upon themselves, as the first article I previously linked to showed, to break into his home and kick him out of the country. As I have already conceded, removing Zelaya from office was legal; removing him from the country without trial was not, as their military's chief lawyer admitted. And, as I said, the Congress is in the wrong as well for, instead of saying they were acting constitutionally in having Zelaya removed from office and installing Micheletti, forged up a letter of resignation from Zelaya in an attempt to justify what they were doing. And, like I also conceded, Obama's response is flawed in that it is calling for Zelaya to be reinstated rather than criticizing the extralegal way of removing him from office. The military admitted to acting illegally by kicking him out of the country, but they claimed it was for the greater good of the country to stop riots from breaking Zelaya out of jail--- funny, as all the articles being linked to seem to show his support as tenuous among the people and certainly not enough to cause great civil disorder if he were legally imprisoned.


As I said, it is still a coup, but as the Steck (who appears to be more of your persuasion than mine) link pointed out, a legally-constituted coup. Removing him from the country instead of imprisoning him, though, was illegal.


I also think that it really was the military that took the initiative in this, as the http://www.miamiherald.com/1506/story/1125872.html article I linked to seems to show, with the lawyer saying the top brass in the military decided to go ahead with the removal. The Court did not declare it had issued an arrest warrant until afterwards, and the Congress did not officially oust Zelaya until hours after the military had kicked him out of the country (along with producing the forged letter of resignation). Now, I'm not completely sold on the idea that it was the military leading the way, the Congress and Court may have been acting prudently in keeping things quiet until they acted, but the military in that country is relatively autonomous, has a habit of not really caring about the constitution, and is admittedly anti-leftist.

This site has a good play-by-play of the whole day (and though Zelaya is most definitely a socialist, I think calling him an outright communist goes too far).


In response to Mr. Frisk, I agree. I believe that, had the Honduran military imprisoned Mr. Zelaya and the Congress and Courts issued their warrants/declarations and the like as he was arrested, it would not have garnered such widespread attention and condemnation. Now, the rest of the world, misinformed as to the legality of the situation due to the illegality of the deportation of the former president, is clamoring to reinstate him to power and thus complicating how to keep him out of power. It would be most effective if he was allowed to return to the country, arrested as the government explained what he did wrong, and placed on trial and then imprisoned, exiled, or executed (whatever their penalty for treason is) afterwards.


As I have said, I don't like Zelaya's politics and he compromised his office but acting illegally, but his illegal action does not justify the illegal action of kicking him out of the country rather than putting him in front of a court to decide his guilt (on the treason charge; his presidential authority was automatically given up, as John's link highlights) and the penalty he ought to receive. In matters where the law is broken, as Zelaya did, conviction and penalty ought to be mute to both the mob of his supporters and the political tendencies of the other branches of government. He broke the law; that much was clear, and he ought to have been prosecuted without the military asserting its power to sentence him to exile without trial. It would have most likely saved Honduras most of this trouble, and if the Hondurans agree to take him in and arrest him, let the world know that he did break the law, and then put him on trial for his punishment, I think a lot of the world would come to its senses about the issue.

If Mr. Bush or Mr. Obama ever acted illegally or in blatant opposition to the constitution, there would be such an uproar of public condemnation if the army showed up at the White House in the early hours of the morning and kicked the president out into Canada. We would the Congress to begin an impeachment process or, depending on the circumstances, civil authorities under order of the Attorney General or the Supreme Court to arrest the president for prosecution.

do you follow American politics? The if has happended numerous times and reaction is to do nothing or deny that it happended.

I think this is another group of people trying to stop their country from being taken over by the globalists and their stooges that is why our globalist regime wants to demonize them.

@ Brutus: Could you flesh that out a little more? I'm not sure exactly what you mean about globalist stooges. Honest question. (Sad that I felt I had to qualify that -- seems that one has to with all the mudslinging).

Leave a Comment

* denotes a required field
 

No TrackBacks
TrackBack URL: http://nlt.ashbrook.org/movabletype/mt-tb.cgi/14121