Honduras: What was on the referendum ballots printed in Venezuela

UPDATED
See 4:45PM update below

I have not seen the ballots printed in Venezuela that were to be used in last Sunday’s referendum that Mel Zelaya had contrived, however, Honduran daily La Prensa reports the referendum question,
¿Está de acuerdo que en las elecciones generales de 2009 se instale una cuarta urna en la cual el pueblo decida la convocatoria a una asamblea nacional constituyente? = Sí…….ó………..No.
(my translation: If you quote it, please credit me and link to this post)
Do you agree that a fourth ballot box be installed through which the people will decide to convene a constitutional assembly? Yes…….or………..No.

This is in direct violation of the country’s Constitution, which forbids the President from calling for changes to the Constitution. Articles 373 and 374 of the Honduran Constitution specifically state that ammendments to the Constitution be approved by 2/3 of the votes in Congress AND specifically forbid any President of the country from extending term limits. The Constitution also says these two articles can not be ammended.

The same article at La Prensa states that Zelaya prepared a decree ordering all institutions of the State to bring about the project, which Zelaya deemed “an official activity of the Government of the Republic”. This means that the notion that Zelaya’s referendum was non-binding is false. Zelaya clearly meant to make his Sunday referendum official and binding. La Prensa says the decree, dated June 26, was published Saturday June 27.

Many reports in the media make it sound like Zelaya came up with this project with short notice, and was removed with even shorter notice. La Prensa has a lengthy article (in Spanish) itemizing the timeline of Zelaya’s process of trying to bring about the Sunday referendum. Mel Zelaya first brought up “the fourth ballot box” idea on February 17th this year during a parade showcasing several tractors gifted by Hugo Chávez, two days after Chávez’s own referendum extending indefinitely his term in Venezuela.

The article is very interesting and has a great deal of information. For instance, in June, while the Tribunal Superior de Cuentas, TSC (Superior Tribunal for Accounts) was being asked to investigate where Zelaya was getting money for the “fourth urn”, Zelaya was denounced at the Public Ministry for not submitting a General Budget to Congress. The Congress vice-president accused Zelaya of diverting 5.5 billion lempiras to finance the fourth urn campaign. Bureaucrats who participated in a demonstration favoring the referendum admitted that they had received 300-500 lempiras for attending. By April the country’s institutions had warned Zelaya that what he was attempting to do was not only unlawful but also would be considered a coup d’etat.

Latest news as of 1:30PM Eastern
Roberto Micheletti was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal:

He promised the country would hold presidential elections as scheduled in November, and that he would step down in January, when Mr. Zelaya’s term was due to end.

Mr. Micheletti called for “understanding” from other nations, especially the U.S. “If [the U.S.] does not recognize us, it would be condemning to failure the aspirations of Hondurans,” he said. Comparing Mr. Zelaya to former U.S. President Richard Nixon, he added, “At least Mr. Nixon had the courage to resign after breaking the law.”

The Journal has a brief video of demonstrations,Honduran authorities detained and later released seven AP and TeleSur reporters. Here’s video (in Spanish) from Chavista TeleSur,


telesur equipo detenido 29
by noticias24

Inka Kola has photos of yesterday’s demonstration. Three labor unions supporting Zelaya have scheduled a strike for today.

CNN en Español showed another demonstration, supporting new president Roberto Micheletti.

Zelaya is now in New York City, where he will address the UN. He says he’s going back to Honduras on Thursday with OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza and Argentinian president Cristina Fernández.

I have no idea why Fernández wants to inject herself into this. Her party was resoundedly defeated in last Sunday’s congressional elections.

Micheletti and the Honduran Congress have stated that Zelaya will be arrested upon arrival.

Interesting posts:
Investor’s Business Daily:

There was a coup all right, but it wasn’t committed by the U.S. or the Honduran court. It was committed by Zelaya himself. He brazenly defied the law, and Hondurans overwhelmingly supported his removal (a pro-Zelaya rally Monday drew a mere 200 acolytes).

Yet the U.S. administration stood with Chavez and Castro, calling Zelaya’s lawful removal “a coup.” Obama called the action a “terrible precedent,” and said Zelaya remains president.

In doing this, the U.S. condemned democrats who stood up to save their democracy, a move that should have been hailed as a historic turning of the tide against the false democracies of the region.

The U.S. response has been disgraceful. “We recognize Zelaya as the duly elected and constitutional president of Honduras. We see no other,” a State Department official told reporters.

Worse, the U.S. now contemplates sanctions on the tiny drug-plagued, dirt-poor country of 7 million, threatening to halt its $200 million in U.S. aid, immigration accords and a free-trade treaty if it doesn’t put the criminal Zelaya back into office.

Not even Nicaragua, a country the State Department said committed a truly fraudulent election, got that. Nor has murderous Iran gotten such punishment, even as it slaughters Iranian democrats in the streets. But tiny Honduras must be made to pay.

We understand why the White House is so quick to call this a “coup” and to jump to the side of Hugo Chavez. The Venezuelan despot has made political hay against the U.S. over its premature recognition of the Venezuelan coup leaders who tried to overthrow Chavez in 2002. Obama wants to avoid that this time.

The White House also wants to mollify the morally corrupted Organization of American States, which, by admitting Cuba, is no longer an organization of democracies and now, through its radical membership, tries to dictate how other countries run themselves.

Such a response says that democracy effectively ends with elections. It says rule of law is irrelevant and that rulers have rights, not responsibilities. But if leaders can’t be held accountable, they should be removed, as happened in Honduras.

If the U.S. does hit Honduras with sanctions, it will earn ill will in the country lasting for years. It will further erode U.S. moral authority and cost us influence in the region — becoming an embarrassing footnote in the history of U.S.-Latin American relations.

Francisco Toro of Caracs Chronicles writes on Fetishizing the Presidency

Somehow, though, when the Honduran Congress, with the support of the Supreme Court, moves against the president, the continent’s foreign affairs ministries fly into deep crisis mode.

This underscores a harsh reality for Latin American believers in liberal constitutionalism. Deep down, only Presidential Power is considered real power in Latin America, which is why only moves against the president are considered actual coups. Our constitutions generally define all branches of government as equal, but it seems some are more equal than others.

It’s precisely because such attitudes are so widespread in the region that Honduras’s political class panicked when faced with a president determined to make his power permanent. And while it’s true that, in their reaction, the generals stepped beyond constitutional boundries, the hard line the Obama administration has taken against the Honduran coupsters needs to be balanced with a realistic assessment of where the deeper threat to Latin democracy comes from these days.

Under Fidel Castro’s iconic shadow and Hugo Chávez’s day-to-day leadership, a new generation of authoritarian leftists has mounted a concerted campaign against the kinds of constitutional checks and balances that make liberal democracy viable. Honduras’s political class grasped clearly that to allow Zelaya’s charisma to trump the nation’s explicit constitutional ban on presidential continuismo would be to open the door to the kind of institutional involution that Venezuela and Bolivia have experienced, with a hyperempowered executive gradually eating away at the other branch’s prerogatives until nothing of the Republic is left.

Don’t miss also Michael Goldfarb conversation with Ambassador Otto Reich.

Later today I’ll be in Ed Morrissey‘s, Silvio Canto‘s and Rick Moran‘s podcasts, and will continue to update you on this story.

UPDATE
Chicago Boyz speculates on outcome:

The best that can be said about our president’s involvement in this issue is that it risks transforming a difficult situation into a disaster. Absent US pressure (never mind US support) the Honduran political scene would likely return to something like normal, with popular and media focus shifting from the deposed Zelaya to the coming elections. By getting involved in support of Zelaya we probably make a drawn-out crisis inevitable, and we green light further subversion of Honduran democracy by Chavez and Ortega. In the worst case a military insurgency or civil war supported by the dictators is conceivable. That would be a catastrophe.

Go read the rest.

Miguel Octavio wants to know Why is Zelaya’s Constitutional coup attempt ignored by the world?

4:45PM
zonu2x30

Mel Zelaya addressed the UN General Assembly appealing for international support for his reinstatement, and claimed he didn’t intend to run for a second term.

Also this afternoon, World Bank pauses lending to Honduras, and delivery of $270 million has been suspended “pending clarification of the country’s political situation.”

Another Honduran politician named Zelaya writes on the Very Constitutional Coup. More commentary and analysis at Mcauley’s world (via Neo-neocon and Frontline).

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35 Responses to “Honduras: What was on the referendum ballots printed in Venezuela”

  1. safariman Says:

    Wow Fausta. Another great and enlightening account. Keep up the good work.

    I loved the way CNN Espanol is covering Zelaya’s UN Propaganda speech right now. Zelaya ranting on the left, shots of Thousands of peaceful demonstrators simultaneously applauding Mels absence, and return to Constitutional law.

    Best from Honduras

  2. Anthony (Los Angeles) Says:

    Who needs the MSM when we have Fausta? ;)

  3. DirtCrashr Says:

    Thank you for all that!! We should be shamed by this administration’s Ugly American response.

  4. La Gringa Says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for your articles giving another view that CNN will just not give us.

    As a long time resident of Honduras, I have much more information on my blog. La Gringa’s Blogicito

    The US is a traitor to Democracy and has thrown Honduras to the wolves for political purposes simply because we are not important.

  5. El-Visitador Says:

    Great post. Thank you for the link to the news article at La Prensa of San Pedro Sula, Honduras. For those of you able to read Spanish, Fausta’s linked chronology of Zelaya’s overstepping court orders, Attorney General indictments, Supreme Court sentences, and Electoral Tribunal resolutions over a period of months is nothing short of stunning.

    Link again (Spanish):

    http://laprensahn.com/Pa%C3%83%C2%ADs/Ediciones/2009/06/27/Noticias/Honduras-La-ruta-ilegal-de-la-Cuarta-Urna

  6. johnboswell Says:

    Honduras dictatorship keeps on “defending democracy”:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE55S5W120090629

  7. Pat Patterson Says:

    That has to be a first, a dictatorship based on Congress and the Supreme Court of a sovereign nation. Plus it’s very hard to get excited that the propaganda arm, Telesur, of the Venezuelan government, now whining about being shut down, is seen as an enemy of the Honduran state. I can only wish that John Boswell has exercised the same amount of pique over the censoring and then shuttind down of independent media in Venezuela or Cuba.

  8. safariman Says:

    I thought Reuters was supposed to be independent, but it now appears to be about the most one sided, except for what comes out of Cuba or other ALBA members.

  9. Kate Says:

    He didn’t intend to run for a second term? Jajajajajaja me río para no llorar…

    If that is the case, I would love for someone to explain to me why, last-minute, was the question on the ballot changed? (link in Spanish)

    http://www.latribuna.hn/web2.0/?p=13653

  10. johnboswell Says:

    Some photos of the repression:

    http://incakolanews.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2009-06-30T09%3A27%3A00-04%3A00&max-results=8

    ..including one of an AP photographer being attacked by the coup’s thugs for filming the truth. But then, AP is probably “one sided” like Reuters, CNN, Telasur and all the other media being repressed by the democracy defenders.

  11. Fausta Says:

    If you check my links, you will see that I had already included that one, John.

  12. joated Says:

    Thanks for following this so closely from the start.

    Obama: On the wrong side of national sovereignty…again. I wonder how this “constitutional” scholar (?) views our own Constitution?

  13. Amerisrael Says:

    “Many reports in the media make it sound like Zelaya came up with this project on short notice..”

    Almost a year ago the Honduran VP Micheletti complained that Zelaya was trying to bring off a “self-coup”.

    Blogger Aaron Ortiz at “Pensieve” wrote about this on Sept. 12, 2008-
    http://blog.aeortiz.com/2008/09/lunacy-in-honduras.html

  14. MissJean Says:

    Obama thinks the US Constitution is a “flawed document”. No wonder he doesn’t support Honduras defending their own constitutional processes.

  15. My News Summary, 6/30/2009 « Mr. Smith Goes Conservative Blogging Says:

    […] now “meddling” in Honduras: What was on the referendum ballots printed in Venezuela, White House Doubles Down On Honduras, Horror! US Co-Sponsors Pro-Zelaya UN Resolution With […]

  16. Coco Says:

    God Bless Honduras…I hope they send them all to jail when they land on Thursday…Chavez included! It’s sad to see so many of today’s world leaders be so blind to what is really happening…most likely they are just protecting their own behinds from their own political gaffes, present and future!!! We cannot allow Chavism to spread in Latin America…thank god Panama snubbed Balbina Herrera in the polls (Chavez’s pick)!! Panama is with you Honduras…fight on!!

  17. safariman Says:

    Coco,

    Thanks for your post. I’m beginning to think we might pull through.

    From Honduras

  18. Who decides what is legal in Honduras? - Techlog Says:

    […] Fausta has more on the constitutional issue: … […]

  19. The Coalition of the Swilling Says:

    Honduras…

    The wonderful Fausta has the complete story…….

  20. Michael Fidanza Says:

    Thank you Fausta for all your excellent coverage on this issue!! I will be speaking at length today on my show will be sure to talk you up. You OWN this story!

    Michael

  21. J Says:

    I don’t think Honduras can stand against the USA/IMF/UN…..who will back them? Obama has come out into the daylight on this one…..he is exposed as what he really is…an enemy of liberty. Watching this man’s reactions to the different world crises, it is evident that, here in the USA, we will be facing similar tests to our liberty, and so far, our rulers are winning.

  22. Nothing Shocking About This Coup » Pirate's Cove Says:

    […] Fausta wants to know what was on those referendum ballots, which were printed in Venezuela. […]

  23. Tambopaxi Says:

    Fausta, Thanks for the detailed reporting on this issue. I’m glad that Honduras’ democratic institutions and the Consitution were able to stop this guy.

    While I don’t see myself as a left or right ideologue sort, I am strongly against the growing trend of continuismo emerging in Venezuela, Ecudor (I live in Quito), Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Colombia, wherein more and more LA leaders see themselves not just as elected leaders but as crowned ones, with indefinite mandates to do as they please.

    These guys aren’t so much socialists (or conservatives, in the case of Uribe) as they are arrogant, dangerous guys who want complete power basically forever. Andres Oppenheimer came out with an article on this anti-democratic phenomenon which is worth a read. The most exasperating aspect of all of this is that the trend is not a new one; we’re merely seeing a repetition of history down here, only with new names. Sigh… I wish Latin America could really learn to grow up.

  24. tree hugging sister Says:

    Bravo, Fausta!

    I’m curious how many of the American ex-pats in pricey Honduran beach houses voted for Obama.

  25. Fausta’s Blog » Blog Archive » #Honduras: Zelaya postpones his trip back “for the weekend” Says:

    […] Yesterday Mel Zelaya was talking tough at the UN and said he would fly back to Honduras on Thursday, accompanied by the head of the Organization of American States. Cristina Fernandez, president of Argentina, said from Argentina that she would accompany him back to Honduras. Zelaya also said that he’d bring along Miguel Insulza who heads the Organization of American States, and the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa. I guess Hugo Chavez is still too busy to join them. […]

  26. Bloodstar » Honduran Referendum was Non Binding? Says:

    […] Fausta continues to rock on explaining the entire Honduran Situation and explains not only why the referendum was illegal, but that also how Zelaya planned to take the ‘non binding’ referendum and turn it into a way of forcing the issue: Honduran daily La Prensa reports the referendum question: “¿Está de acuerdo que en las elecciones generales de 2009 se instale una cuarta urna en la cual el pueblo decida la convocatoria a una asamblea nacional constituyente? = Sí…….ó………..No.” (my translation: If you quote it, please credit me and link to this post) Do you agree that a fourth ballot box be installed through which the people will decide to convene a constitutional assembly? Yes…….or………..No. […]

  27. Bill Says:

    Do you agree that a fourth ballot box be installed through which the people will decide to convene a constitutional assembly? Yes…….or………..No. (emphasis mine)

    So it’s official then. This was NO “informal state run opinion poll. The language clearly states that this is a primary election by which “the people” not their elected representatives as per the constitution will call for the assembly.

    Let him back in the country.. and impeach his sorry behind. Let Z and his apologists whine about how he and his ballot measure was misquoted — verbatim!

  28. Cat Says:

    Shocking, neocon mouthpieces advocating coups when the democratically elected leaders are too commie for them. Democracy is great until they start voting for people we don’t like. It’s like the 80’s all over again.

    Also note that these arguments hold a lot more weight when the military acts AFTER the president makes his play for power. A “preemptive” coup is always suspicious, unless they were worried his non-existent military support would somehow increase after he tried to subvert their constitution?

  29. Fausta’s Blog » Blog Archive » The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean Says:

    […] big news this week is Honduras, of course. You can read my posts here, here, here and ; however, if you can read Spanish you should read Informe especial I: Decreto PCM-020 […]

  30. oprea Says:

    What is wrong with a referendum?
    It looks to me to be the most democratic way to govern, or ordinary people are considered to be so stupid and idiots that they can not make a good decision. Certainly some higher class persons believe that only they can take the right decision. Yes, than is very much true if we consider only their interest.

  31. Dirty Democrats » Who decides what is legal in Honduras? Says:

    […] Fausta has more on the constitutional issue: … […]

  32. Dana Says:

    While your translation gets the gist of the question right, it’s really a rather poor word-for-word translation. “Do you agree (or: Are you in agreement) that the general elections in 2009 should install a fourth urn (ballot box) in which the people decide the convocation of a National Constituent Assembly?” would be a far more accurate translation. Since even a non-Spanish speaker can see that “2009” is clearly in the Spanish text, the lack of such reference in your English translation makes it obvious to even the casual reader that you don’t have it right.

    You need to fix that.

  33. Dana Says:

    The Tree Hugging Sister wrote:

    I’m curious how many of the American ex-pats in pricey Honduran beach houses voted for Obama.

    One of my (electronic) friends and her husband are retirees who split their time between their native Oklahoma and their Honduras beach house. Believe me, they voted for John McCain!

  34. Gamoe Says:

    Great article. It is amazing how quickly the forces of communism come to support their brethren.

    My own article:

    http://gamoedotnet.blogspot.com/2009/07/when-is-coup-not-coup.html

  35. Proletariat Blog » Blog Archive » A new leftist era? - the musings of worker7219-12 Says:

    […] this with the fact that Obama has erroneously backed a leftist ally of Chavez who attempted to overthrow the constitution of Honduras and what you have is an apparent preference for 21st century […]