Honduras’s military acted under judicial orders in deposing President Manuel Zelaya, Supreme Court Justice Rosalinda Cruz said, rejecting the view of President Barack Obama and other leaders that he was toppled in a coup.
“The only thing the armed forces did was carry out an arrest order,” Cruz, 55, said in a telephone interview from the capital, Tegucigalpa. “There’s no doubt he was preparing his own coup by conspiring to shut down the congress and courts.”
Cruz said the court issued a sealed arrest order for Zelaya on June 26, charging him with treason and abuse of power, among other offenses. Zelaya had repeatedly breached the constitution by pushing ahead with a vote about rewriting the nation’s charter that the court ruled illegal, and which opponents contend would have paved the way for a prohibited second term. ~Bloomberg
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. ~Octavio Sanchez
I would like to think that these reports would make advocates for Zelaya’s reinstatement think again, but whenever the magic word of democracy is invoked it seems as if even those who are otherwise the most skeptical, critical thinkers become like groupies cheering for their favorite musician. Crucially, there has been a stunning absence of Honduran voices condemning the actions of the military and the transitional government. I don’t rule out that there are many Hondurans who oppose Zelaya’s deposition, but it is getting harder and harder to credit that the Honduran military acted without orders from duly constituted legal authorities. The way Honduras is being treated by the rest of the world is a disgrace, and neither U.S. interests nor regional stability is being served by the isolation of Tegucigalpa.
More from Bloomberg:
Cruz acknowledged that the interim government faced a “very difficult” task trying to sway the U.S. and other countries to recognize its authority.
“But as a sovereign and independent nation, we have the right to freely decide to remove a president who was violating our laws,” she said. “Unfortunately our voice hasn’t been heard.”
Honduras is learning the bitter lesson that so many small nations have learned in the last twenty years and in the century before that: small nations are never really sovereign and independent if some grander scheme requires them to be trampled on. It is shameful that Washington is participating to the extent that is in the mistreatment of Honduras.