by Maggie at Maggie’s Notebook
While ousted Honduras president, Manuel Zelaya cools his heels somewhere in Nicaragua and newly installed Honduras president, Roberto Micheletti, tries to keep Zelaya from re-entering the county, while also running the business of government, the conversation continues around the world: Does the Honduras constitution support Zelaya’s removal; was the Zelaya removal constitutional? And if Zelaya remained in office, or if the government is handed back to him, what is the fear? See an excellent video below.
Let’s take the “fear factor” first. Mr. Zelaya was outsted for trying to rewrite the presidential term limits clause, and you’ll see below that even considering that option can be considered treasonous in Honduras. Zelaya has a lot in common with Chavez and his buddies: Bolivia’s Evo Morales won a referendum allowing him to overturn a ban on re-election; Ecuador’s Rafael Correa unconstitutionally changed the constitution and overrode the term limit stipulations; and Chavez, under tremendous protests from the people of Venezuela changed the country’s constitution and says he will stay in office until “2019, 2021 or 2030.” We know the story in Cuba. And in Nicaragua, the American-hating Sandinista Marxist thug Daniel Ortega told Sir David Frost in a March 2009 interview that he would like to change the constitution to allow him to run again for president.
Central and South American dictators have a long history, and since the people of any country do not want to be “ruled,” rather than governed, “dictators” are not popular. You can’t run for office as a dictator and get elected. So it’s all about deceiving the people. In the case of Manuel Zelaya, he was elected as a “centrist” four years ago, and has moved rapidly to the Left. Zelaya took an out-sized stetson hat and cowboy boots as his signature apparel, and grinned and waved his way to the Left and a fast friendship with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. In an attempt to appease the poor, of which Honduras has plenty, Zelaya cut a deal with Chavez for cheap oil. Unless oil is cheap around the world, oil is not cheap, and of course there had to be a pay-back to Chavez for his generosity. Zelaya joined-in with Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua to participate in Chavez’ “regional trade and political pact.”
Outside of the Chavez pact members:
San Salvador just elected Maurico Funes of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN)- named for Farabundo Marti, the Communist leader and social activist. His election ended nearly 50-years of conservative control that fought against the FMLN movement seeking a Communist revolution. Funes wants good relations with the U.S., he vowed to restore relations with Cuba and is opening an embassy there. Standby to see how far Left San Salvador leans.
Uruguay’s ruling coalition party proposed reforming the Uruguayan constitution to allow an immediate reelection of the president, Tabare Vazquez. It didn’t happen and sources say it is not likely to happen as the constitution forbids it. Vazquez is considered a conservative.
South of the equator, history demonstrates that it hard to hold on to the very constitutional ideals designed to keep executive branches from becoming absolutists.
So back to Honduras, while I have maintained that from my research the Honduran Supreme Court and the Congress had the authority to remove Zelaya from office, I found an “opinion” from someone said to be “a well noted Honduran Attorney.” I cannot vouch for this information but it is interesting, and it uses Honduran constitutional articles to make the point:
On January 11th of the year 1982, a constituent assembly gave birth to a beautiful Constitution that was vaccinated against the diseases that historically have affected the region. The Honduran Constitution does not allow the reform of articles related to the form of government, the territory, the presidential term, the prohibition on presidential reelection and who can’t become President in the subsequent term. It goes further and states that the alternation of the Presidency is mandatory and its violators incur in high treason.
Our constitution clearly lays out an impeachment process that must be followed to trial and convict a President that has violated the Law. But our Constitution also includes a single exception to this rule in article 239, which states that the President that violates the principle of alternation of the Presidency or simply proposes its reform, will immediately cease in the exercise of office. In other words, the simple act of proposing the reform removes ispo jure (by operation of law) a President from office. This may sound radical to many, but the truth is it’s coherent with the geopolitical reality of Honduras; and on June 28 of 2009 it proved why.
Zerosheep.com offers the translated Honduran constitution and specifically Article 239 mentioned above, along with excellent and extended commentary:
Article 239 The citizen that has been the head of the Execute Branch cannot be President or Vice-President (again).
Whoever violates this law or proposes its reform, 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.
You can read the constitution in the original Spanish here, or a full translation of it here. Article 239 clearly makes it illegal for a public official– such as Zelaya here — to even attempt to amend the constitution to allow multiple terms. And it is not just illegal:
ARTICLE 4 .- The form of government is republican, democratic and representative. Is exercised by three branches: legislative, executive and judicial, and independent and complementary relationship of subordination.
Alternation in the presidency of the Republic is required.
Violation of this rule constitutes the crime of treason.
So was the Supreme Court correct that Zelaya ran afoul of the Honduran constitution? Seems so. Still yet, the Obama administration refuses to address the facts - one being that Micheletti’s government could have charged Zelaya with treason on the spot. The fact that the U.S. suspended military aid to Honduras on July 8th demonstrates a high level of support for the power-grabbing Zelaya. What is going on in Washington, D.C. which boasts the “healthiest brains” in the U.S. The photo above is of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras.
Zelaya Removal Constitutional (video)