Octavio Sánchez, a lawyer, a former presidential adviser (2002-05) and minister of culture (2005-06) of the Republic of Honduras, explains the portion of the constitution that cost Zelaya his 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."
Notice that the article speaks about intent and that it also says "immediately" – as in "instant," as in "no trial required," as in "no impeachment needed."
Continuismo – the tendency of heads of state to extend their rule indefinitely – has been the lifeblood of Latin America's authoritarian tradition. The Constitution's provision of instant sanction might sound draconian, but every Latin American democrat knows how much of a threat to our fragile democracies continuismo presents. In Latin America, chiefs of state have often been above the law. The instant sanction of the supreme law has successfully prevented the possibility of a new Honduran continuismo.
The Supreme Court and the attorney general ordered Zelaya's arrest for disobeying several court orders compelling him to obey the Constitution. He was detained and taken to Costa Rica. Why? Congress needed time to convene and remove him from office. With him inside the country that would have been impossible. This decision was taken by the 123 (of the 128) members of Congress present that day.
Don't believe the coup myth. The Honduran military acted entirely within the bounds of the Constitution. The military gained nothing but the respect of the nation by its actions.
The man that congress has replaced Zelaya, President Roberto Micheletti, has already agreed to hold elections ahead of schedule to allow the people of Honduras to elect their president.
The reason congress had the power to replace Zelaya with Micheletti, is explained by Macon.com:
Last December, the Honduran vice president resigned. No replacement had been named. The Honduran constitution requires that in such circumstances the head of congress become provisional president, much like our speaker of the house would become president were both Joe Biden and Obama become incapacitated.
Now Roberto Micheletti, a member of Zelaya’s own political party, is president of Honduras. Despite protests from Zelaya’s supporters, the nation’s trade unions, business groups, Catholic Church, and most citizens supported Zelaya’s ouster — no one wanted a tyrant, let alone one propped up by drug lords and marxist thugs like Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro.
By meddling in Honduras affairs and once again coming down on the wrong side of a legal issue, Barack Obama is showing his clear inexperience in handling foreign affairs.
Erickson concludes, "For perspective, Obama more quickly condemned President Zelaya’s ouster by a democratic government than he condemned Iran for gunning down its citizens who had taken to the streets to demand freedom. Obama needed public pressure to even discuss Iran. Sadly, our president needs public pressure to align his moral compass toward freedom."
Kirchick is an assistant editor of The New Republic and a Phillips Foundation Journalism Fellow and addresses this issue succinctly:
Nevertheless, the Pentagon has cut off all cooperation with the Honduran military and Obama administration officials told The New York Times of their intention to give the poverty-stricken Central American nation "a taste of isolation" (would they threaten such consequences for the mullahs in Iran?).
Secretary of State Clinton said that Honduras' actions "should be condemned by all" and President Obama said that his administration would "stand with democracy" by supporting Zelaya's reinstatement. Propping up an authoritarian undermining his country's constitution (which he claimed needs fixing to reflect a new "national reality," apparently one in which he rules forever) is a strange way to demonstrate that solidarity.
It is unfair to the people of Honduras and their institutions to characterize the removal of Zelaya as the rogue work of the country's military, and the most noxious aspect of the coverage this past week has been repeated use of the term "coup" to describe what transpired. A military coup is an extra-legal action occurring outside the realm of constitutional authority and democratic decision-making. This does not accurately describe what happened in Honduras, where the president was blatantly breaking the law and acting in dictatorial fashion, the military was acting on the orders of the Supreme Court, the nation's civilian attorney general concurred with its rulings and Congress validated Zelaya's removal.
And so the United States now finds itself in league with the likes of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, the latter of whom has threatened war on the nascent Honduran government. In his weekly newspaper column, Castro gloated about American support for Zelaya, writing that "Even Mrs. Clinton had declared that Zelaya is the only president of Honduras, and the Honduran coup leaders can't even breathe without the support of the United States."
Conservatives, and conservative bloggers have come out against any actions taken against Honduras for following the rule of law and ousting Zelaya.
In this, like with the Iranian protests, I find many on the right and left agree as I look around the blogosphere and see many on the left feel the same way.
To restore Manuel Zelaya is to power to subvert the rule of law, not to uphold it. It is rare that I agree with Mario Vargas Llosa, the Peruvian writer, but in this case I do. Mr. Vargas Llosa writes in the Washington Post:The crisis in Honduras should bring to people's attention this truth about Latin America today: The gravest threat to liberty comes from elected populists who are seeking to subject the institutions of the law to their megalomaniac whims.
Uribe is not a populist but if he seeks a third term, he deserves to be included as one who seeks to subject the institutions of the law to their megalomaniac whims. The rule of law must triumph over the will of men who would be despots.
In the meantime, while Obama is meddling in Honduras affairs, he is protecting Iran from further financial sanctions, even while the Iranian regime is murdering their citizens for protesting the rigged election.
However, diplomatic sources in New York reported that American officials are working behind the scenes to prevent new sanctions from being imposed against Iran.
The clowns are definitely running the show.