I have refrained from commenting on the events of June 25th in Honduras because I knew that soon I was going to get an opportunity to speak with a very close friend with first hand knowledge. Last week I spent some time with this friend of more than two decades and we discussed the politics of the area and his home country.
This individual, a Honduran who has served in the Honduran Congress, emphasized to me that President Zelaya was ignoring a ruling by the Supreme Court and that his actions were completely illegal. My friend very soberly told me that Zelaya, yet another Hugo Chavez-supported latin american leader, simply had to be removed from office and that it had been done legally. The graveness with which he presented that fact was testimony to how serious he knew the situation was and he made it quite clear that the Honduran Supreme Court had ruled against Zelaya.
In the few days since our discussions I have done some research and then got an article today (tweeted by @KarlRove – worth following) written by none other than Miguel Estrada, who you may remember is a Honduran immigrant. Estrada’s well-written article opinion piece, titled Honduras’ non-coup, makes a few points that tell the real story of what happened.
Honduras, the tiny Central American nation, had a change of leaders on June 28. The country’s military arrested President Manuel Zelaya — in his pajamas, he says — and put him on a plane bound for Costa Rica. A new president, Roberto Micheletti, was appointed. Led by Cuba and Venezuela (Sudan and North Korea were not immediately available), the international community swiftly condemned this “coup.”
The points made by Estrada that struck me:
- The Honduran Constitution specifically forbids changing the rules limiting the President to one four-year term.
- Article 239 of their Constitution states that any President who even proposes the idea of reelection “shall cease forthwith” in his duties.
- When President Zelaya ignored the Honduran high court and attempted to proceed with his referendum, the Honduran Attorney General got an arrest warrant issued by the Supreme Court.
- The interim president, Micheletti, was lawfully made the President by the Honduran Congress.
People seem to want to think of this like some banana republic coup but this reads more like legal proceedings in the US than a bunch of generals taking over. There simply was no coup in Honduras. It is far more correct to say that there was an attempted coup in Honduras that was headed off by the rule of law.