FREE SPEECH ZONE | Honduras’ Constitutional crisis: A proper resolution


by Richard Dechert | August 29, 2009 • As a longtime activist in Latin American affairs, I’ve reviewed over 500 reports and opinion pieces on the crisis from a wide range of sources and perspectives. In my judgment Honduras’ Supreme Court–supported by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, Attorney General and democratically elected National Congress–had strong “probable cause” to arrest and detain President Manuel Zelaya for abuses of office and other crimes.

As prescribed by Honduras’ Constitution, President of Congress Roberto Micheletti (the leader of Zelaya’s Liberal Party members) was selected to replace him (by a nearly unanimous 122 to 6 vote) as the interim President only until the November 2009 national elections are held and his term ends in January 2010.

However, Zelaya’s right to defend himself in a due-process proceeding was abruptly circumvented when military officers responsible for executing the Supreme Court’s order to arrest and detain him violated the order (and the statute that prohibits extradition of Honduran citizens) by forcibly expelling him to Costa Rica. Since then the Supreme Court has ruled that Zelaya’s interim replacement by Micheletti was Constitutional and its order to arrest and detain him must be enforced.

Unfortunately if not tragically, the officers’ illegal expulsion has been erroneously conflated with the Court’s legal order, and both have been branded and treated by the US and other parties as a “military coup,” even though the US Department of State has not decreed that.

Therefore, instead of circumventing the Court’s order by arbitrarily restoring him to the Presidency as the US-supported OAS Resolution demands and Oscar Arias’ San José Accord proposes, Zelaya should agree to return to Honduras and be duly adjudicated for his alleged treason, abuses of office and other crimes. Only then can his guilt or innocence be legally established and Honduras’ Constitutional crisis be properly resolved. Yet he rejects that.

The officers who expelled him should also be duly adjudicated along with the pro- Micheletti and pro-Zelaya forces who have violated the civil and human rights of Honduran citizens and foreign nationals. If Micheletti’s interim government does not curtail violations by army, police and other pro-Micheletti forces, even stronger economic and diplomatic sanctions should be applied by the US, OAS, UN and other international actors. Pro-Zelaya forces must also curtail their violations.

Moreover, Venezuela (supported by Cuba, Nicaragua and other cohorts) must end the blatant intervention in Honduras’ internal affairs that has exacerbated the crisis and violated the OAS and UN Charters.

In short, ALL parties to the crisis must resolve it by honoring the rule of law, not just the ones we may ideologically or politically favor.