Monday, July 06, 2009

A Lesson From Honduras

We have followed the peculiar events in Honduras here and here.

Since then, the world of officialdom has chosen to side with the ousted President. The United Nations, the Organization of American States, the U.S. Department of State and our own President have all condemned the Honduran government for staging a "military coup" when President Zelaya was arrested and booted out of the country.

Since then, he has gone from Costa Rica to the United States to address the U.N. and has attempted to return to Honduras, only for his plane to be turned back. If Zelaya does return to Honduras, he is subject to arrest and prosecution.

It is not accurately described as a "military coup," since the army never controlled the government. Their Constitution's line of succession was followed, and the interim president, notably, is a member of Zelaya's own political party.

What I do not understand, and an answer has not presented itself, is why such a response was necessary. If the President is found to have breached the nation's laws, is there no procedure for impeaching him and or otherwise reigning him in? For instance, when he fired the head of the army, the government overruled him and reinstated General Vasquez Valesquez. If the referendum is indeed illegal, there would be no need to honor the result. Better still, why not allow the people to vote on the referendum? Since all it would do is pave the way for a constitutional convention, why not permit the vote? If the result is, indeed, the end of term limits for a President, why not permit that and rule that it takes effect with the next President rather than Zelaya?

The lesson I am taking from this is that one can have a Constitution and branches of government and separation of powers, but these alone do not mean the people are being represented. Are the interests of the Honduran people being protected when the chief executive, an elected officer, is summarily booted from office and sent into exile without any process? Is democracy being protected when the government shuts down the media and cracks down on demonstrators? Honduras has now seen the death of its first protester.

It is no surprise, given these events, that officialdom would turn against the government and treat this like a coup, referring to the Constitutional government as a "military junta" and demanding Zelaya's return. Even the Council on Hemispheric Affairs took the unusual step of retracting an early report on the Honduran crisis, a report that was critical of Zelaya's initial actions (intended to extend his Presidency in a manner similar to Hugo Chavez), and replacing it with a report heavily critical of the government instead.

Who, I wonder, is siding with the people? What serves their nation best, it would seem, is a full hearing about Zelaya's referendum, what laws were broken if any, and the most orderly way to redress the situation and restore a legitimate government in line with its own Constitution. Let Zelaya come back and return to his elected job while the incident is assessed.

Zelaya may have been in the wrong, but the response has been so over the top and destructive that few even remember that.

Hey Veronica, we hope you're okay!

1 comment:

Darlene D said...

What a big boy! Time flies!