THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 527, July 12, 2009
"Robert McNamara It is good that he died."
Honduras Coup d'etat: Was It Right Or Wrong?
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
On Sunday, June 28, 2009, Honduran President Manual Zelaya was awakened from his bed by the sound of gunshots and the yelling of his guards. About 20 minutes later, Army soldiers took Zelaya from the palace to a waiting plane. He was flown against his will to San Jose, Costa Rica, where he now lives in exile.
Honduran officials made the decision to remove this President from office after Zelaya's efforts to change the Honduran constitution. Zelaya was planning for a nationwide referendum, asking voters to vote to rewrite the constitution to allow him to serve more than one term as president.
The Supreme Court of Honduras recently ruled that the referendum was unconstitutional. Specifically, the Honduran constitution forbids referendums to make constitutional changes within six months of elections. But the court ruling did not deter Zelaya. The Army refused to distribute ballots, which is their customary responsibility before elections.
After the forced exile, the Parliament formally removed Zelaya from the presidency and named congressional leader Roberto Micheletti as acting President until the end of Zelaya's term in January 2010. Micheletti is a member of the Liberal Party, the same party as Zelaya. Micheletti was an opponent of Zelaya's plan for the referendum.
Zelaya was a devotee of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and maintained a close relationship with the Marxist ruler. The reasons given by the Honduran Supreme Court, the military and the Parliament for the ouster was that Zelaya had violated the constitution, and that the remaining government took the necessary legal steps to remove Zelaya from office. The government officials also feared that Chavez would have too much influence in the Honduran government through his relationship with Zelaya.
The overthrow did not come as a surprise to American officials. The Obama administration had been working behind the scenes for weeks to try to prevent the removal of the president. Predictably, Obama and Chavez condemned the removal and exile of the president, and are calling for his return to the presidency.
Now, was the coup d'etat right or wrong?
From my vantage point, the removal of this president was not a coup d'etat. According to Wikipedia, a coup d'etat is "is the sudden, unconstitutional deposition of a legitimate government, by a small group of the State Establishmentusually the militaryto replace the deposed government with another, either civil or military. A coup d'etat succeeds when the usurpers establish their legitimacy if the attacked government fail to thwart them, by allowing their (strategic, tactical, political) consolidation and then receiving the deposed government's surrender; or the acquiescence of the populace and the non-participant military forces."
In Honduras, the president violated the constitution. The Supreme Court ruled that his actions violated the constitution. The Parliament agreed, and authorized the military to forcibly remove the president and relocate him to another country. These actions were all done out in the open. American diplomats and officials from the Organization of American States worked with government leaders to prevent the removal.
The legitimate government was not overthrown. It was the legitimate government that removed a lawbreaker from office.
In my opinion, the Honduran branches of government acted within their constitutional authority to bring the Executive branch back into constitutional compliance.
No coup d'etat. Simply the orderly function of a government under its own laws. Honduran leaders showed the world that the rule of law can exist, even in a part of the world where bloody overthrows are commonplace.
What an amazing example to the citizens of the United States!
The United States has had presidents now for over 50 years that have violated the US Constitution hundreds of times. The last two presidents have made it into a parlor game. Hardly a day goes by that a new act of constitutional defiance is not perpetrated by our current president.
If the Legislative and Judicial branches of the US government had one-tenth of the courage and moral conviction of the Honduran government, they would do what the Hondurans did.
It is an embarrassment that a small, poor nation like Honduras proves the rule of law, while the American president...supposedly a Constitutional authority and former constitutional law teacher...ignores our own constitution in a naked power grab. Then, in the face of our constitution and his understanding of the Honduran constitution, he calls for the return of the deposed Zelaya to office.
The Obama position is breath-taking, isn't it? I'd like to call it hypocrisy, but it really is not. Obama is simply rejecting the rule of law in his own country, and expressing the desire that another country reject their rule of law. Seeing this example of political discipline is likely uncomfortable for him to watch.
Has Barack Obama no shame?