#Honduras: Zelaya postpones his trip back “for the weekend”
Please scroll down for the afternoon updates.
If you can read Spanish, please read this:
Informe especial I: Decreto PCM-020 era una celada de Zelaya contra la democracia, also at a discussion board.
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 the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa. I guess Hugo Chavez is still too busy to join them.
Be that as it may, following Zelaya’s speech at the UN, Zelaya headed to the OAS, after which the OAS gave Honduras an ultimatum,
The Organization of American States gave Honduras three days Wednesday to restore the deposed president, Manuel Zelaya, or face suspension, as the interim leader of the country defied international condemnation of the coup that led to his appointment and said only force could unseat him.
In a sharply worded resolution, concluded after marathon talks that ended at 2 a.m. Wednesday, the organization called the coup an “unconstitutional alteration of the democratic order.” The envoys demanded Mr. Zelaya’s immediate and safe return to power, and issued an ultimatum to Honduras, saying that it will expel it from the organization if Mr. Zelaya is not returned to power.
As you can read in the OAS resolution, they invoke
the importance of the importance of strict adherence and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms
the principles established in the Charter of the Organization of American States and the Inter-American Democratic Charter on the strengthening and preservation of the democratic institutional system in member states
The OAS, which recently voted to let Cuba back in, is talking about principles, and “the importance of strict adherence and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms”? Where the hell is the OAS when it comes to the Ladies in White, their husbands and relatives, and the Cuban political prisoners that Marc Masferrer blogs about, week after week? When has there ever been democracy in Cuba in the past decades?
For weeks, Zelaya — an erratic leftist who styles himself after his good pal Hugo Chávez of Venezuela — has been engaged in a naked and illegal power grab, trying to rewrite the Honduran constitution to allow him to run for reelection in November.
First Zelaya scheduled a national vote on a constitutional convention. After the Honduran supreme court ruled that only the country’s congress could call such an election, Zelaya ordered the army to help him stage it anyway. (It would be ”non-binding,” he said.) When the head of the armed forces, acting on orders from the supreme court, refused, Zelaya fired him, then led a mob to break into a military base where the ballots were stored.
His actions have been repudiated by the country’s supreme court, its congress, its attorney-general, its chief human-rights advocate, all its major churches, its main business association, his own political party (which recently began debating an inquiry into Zelaya’s sanity) and most Hondurans: Recent polls have shown his approval rating down below 30 percent.
After the OAS ultimatum, Zelaya postponed the date of his return to “the weekend,” in order to “give the diplomatic process a chance.” He didn’t specify a date but says Insulza, Correa and Fernandez are tagging along all the same. Reportedly Zelaya slept at the OAS.
Today Zelaya’s heading to the inauguration of the president of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli.
For his part, Insulza didn’t specify when he’d be heading to Honduras or whether he would just telephone in (I’m translating from Noticias 24), but insists that his job is not to negotiate with the new administration, but “to exert pressure” towards Zelaya’s reinstatement.
Yesterday the Honduran government (which AP refers to as “the regime that ousted Manuel Zelaya”, ignoring the fact that a. it was members of his own party and b. the Congress, Courts and institutions remain the same as when he was in power) accused Zelaya of drug ties
“Every night, three or four Venezuelan-registered planes land without the permission of appropriate authorities and bring thousands of pounds … and packages of money that are the fruit of drug trafficking,” its foreign minister, Enrique Ortez, told CNN en Espanol.
“We have proof of all of this. Neighboring governments have it. The DEA has it,” he added.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Rusty Payne in Washington said he could neither confirm nor deny a DEA investigation.
That clouds the issue at hand: Zelaya, as I have posted over the past three days conspired over a lengthy period of time to act unlawfully, and indeed acted unlawfully against the Constitution, in spite of repeated warnings by the electoral authorities, the Congress, the Supreme Court and his own party.
Honduras News, in a post from last May, also explains that Zelaya had been working at this since at least November 2008:
Zelaya first broached the topic on November 11, 2008. That day, the San Pedro daily La Prensa reported that the president had proposed that a fourth ballot box be installed at polling places on November 29, 2009. Honduran voting booths presently contain three ballot boxes: one to vote for the president, one for the congressional, and one for local mayoral candidates. Zelaya suggested installing a fourth box to vote on whether or not the electorate wanted to choose a National Constituent Assembly. According to Zelaya, this proposed body would draft a new Honduran constitution. Zelaya seeks a changed constitution which would allow him to run for reelection. On March 24, Zelaya upped the ante by announcing, via executive decree PCM-05-2009, that this national referendum would take place no later than June 28, and that it would be administered by the National Statistical Institute (INE)
The Honduran constitution, which contains 375 articles, can be amended by a two-thirds majority vote in congress. However, there are eight “firm articles” which cannot be amended. These include presidential term limits, system of government that is permitted and process of presidential succession. Since the president has the ability to amend the remaining 368 provisions by means of a congressional majority, some have called into question what the president’s true intentions may be.
Critics immediately labeled Zelaya’s action as a blatant and cynical attempt to extend his term limits. Some, such as Honduran political analyst Juan Ramon Martinez, argue that we are witnessing a concerted effort on Zelaya’s part to discredit some of the country’s key democratic institutions in order to possibly extend his rule. “There appears to be a set of tactics aimed at discrediting institutions…he has repeated on several occasions that democratic institutions are worthless and that democracy has not helped at all,” said Martinez.
The president’s comments on a number of occasions have buttressed the grounds for this type of interpretation. He has stated several times that the constitution has been repeatedly violated by politicians and that it needs to be adapted to the new “national reality.” Zelaya has not precisely spelled out what changes would be necessary to make in order to adapt the country’s social contract to that new national reality. Zelaya announced on May 22 that the new constitution would include direct democracy initiatives such as popular referendums and recall elections. However, the current constitution already contains provisions for popular referendums and does not expressly prohibit recall elections.
I’ll be talking about this in today’s podcast at 11AM Eastern, and will update you as news develops.
And by the way, thank you to the blogger who referred to my posts on this subject as “Fausta’s hysteria.” Coming from the ideology of the person saying that, and in view of the inherent sexism in the remark, it is a compliment indeed.
A brief roundup of posts
White House backing of Zelaya starts to draw criticism
Honduras under the bus
In Honduras Mr. Chávez funneled Veneuzelan oil money to help Mr. Zelaya win in 2005, and Mr. Zelaya has veered increasingly left in his four-year term. The Honduran constitution limits presidents to a single term, which is scheduled to end in January. Mr. Zelaya was using the extralegal referendum as an act of political intimidation to force the Congress to allow a rewrite of the constitution so he could retain power. The opposition had pledged to boycott the vote, which meant that Mr. Zelaya would have won by a landslide.
Such populist intimidation has worked elsewhere in the region, and Hondurans are understandably afraid that, backed by Chávez agents and money, it could lead to similar antidemocratic subversion there. In Tegucigalpa yesterday, thousands demonstrated against Mr. Zelaya, and new deputy foreign minister Marta Lorena Casco told the crowd that “Chávez consumed Venezuela, then Bolivia, after that Ecuador and Nicaragua, but in Honduras that didn’t happen.”
It’s no accident that Mr. Chávez is now leading the charge to have Mr. Zelaya reinstated, and on Monday the Honduran traveled to a leftwing summit in Managua in one of Mr. Chávez’s planes. The U.N. and Organization of American States are also threatening the tiny nation with ostracism and other punishment if it doesn’t readmit him. Meanwhile, the new Honduran government is saying it will arrest Mr. Zelaya if he returns. This may be the best legal outcome, but it also runs the risk of destabilizing the country. We recall when the Clinton Administration restored Bertrand Aristide to Haiti, only to have the country descend into anarchy.
What happened in Honduras was not a standard coup. The Supreme Court ordered the army to remove Zelaya from office. The Congress, albeit after his detention and exile, voted unanimously for his removal and confirmed his constitutionally mandated successor to fill the remainder of his term in office.
Prior to his exile, Zelaya had insisted on a referendum to allow for his reelection in direct violation of the Honduran constitution. In other words, he set out to perpetuate himself in office. Roger Noriega, a former Bush administration official and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, puts it clearly: “Zelaya brushed aside every other institution of the state in insisting on a referendum that would benefit his selfish interests.”
Shredding constitutional prohibitions to presidential reelection has become a popular political ploy in several Latin American countries in recent years. To date, leftist regimes in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela have scrapped constitutional presidential term limits, each time using extralegal ploys to do so. Most recently, Washington’s best friend in the region, Álvaro Uribe of Colombia, has sought a constitutional change to extend his presidency for a third term, but so far he is working within the law.
Supporters call such moves vital for their nation’s peace and well-being; opponents say they reflect presidential hubris and greed. Call the penchant to scrap presidential term limits what you will: The efforts have clearly negated each and every country’s constitution.
In the case of Honduras, President Zelaya stood alone among political, legal, economic, media, and military leaders. Backed by a noisy rabble and funded by Venezuela’s ever-meddling autocrat, Hugo Chávez, Zelaya’s campaign was seen as a way to reverse the defeat of the pro-Chávez candidate in Panama’s recent presidential election.
The ballots for Sunday’s suspended referendum were actually prepared in Venezuela. On Saturday, Zelaya made an abortive effort to storm and steal the ballots from the Honduran military base where they were stored.
Gateway Pundit has a photo that says a thousand words:
Indispensable reading (in Spanish):
Informe especial I: Decreto PCM-020 era una celada de Zelaya contra la democracia, also at a discussion board.
¿Resistirá Honduras? Si cede a la presión exterior, el chavismo comenzará a roer las instituciones hondureñas, que caerán en la órbita de Venezuela y que se deslizarán hacia una dictadura.
Two from Noticias 24:
Guatemalan president Alvaro Colom rejected Hugo Chávez request that the UN invade Honduras if Zelaya’s not reinstated.
Micheletti asks Cristina Fernandez and Rafael Correa to not interfere in Honduras
And another link, at Heritage Honduras Fires Its Runaway President: Constitutional Order Is Preserved, via Babalu
Honduras’ interim leader warned that the only way his predecessor will return to office is through a foreign invasion, even as the hemisphere’s leaders gave him 72 hours to hand over the presidency.
Video via Adam
Very interesting interview of former Venezuelan ambassador to the U.N. Diego Arria (h/t Venezuela News and Views: