FREE SPEECH ZONE | Honduras’ Constitutional crisis: Will the rule of law prevail?

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And if it does it should enhance civil and human rights, basic standards of living, participatory democracy, and respect for the rule of law in Honduras.

The Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases.

To stress the importance of the rule and those criteria, this is my reply to a 7/18/09 commentary, “Compromising Democracy in Honduras,” at
http://waronyou.com/topics/compromising-democracy-in-honduras/comment-page-1/#comment-4268. It is similar to many commentaries on this crisis.

“After reviewing over 250 reports from a wide range of U.S. and foreign media sources, these are my current conclusions (added text in parens):

“1. Honduras’ Attorney General and Supreme Court had strong probable cause to arrest (President Jose’ Santos) Zelaya for treason and other abuses of office. For example, per one report Zelaya’s chief of staff allegedly removed $2.2 million in cash from Honduras’ Treasury on June 24, 2009.

“2. Honduran military officers admitted violating the Court’s arrest warrant by expelling Zelaya (to Costa Rica) instead of taking him into custody for trial. However, they did not take over the government; and the National Congress–including a large majority of Zelaya’s Liberal Party members–selected Congress President (Roberto) Micheletti to replace him. Per the Constitution he was next in line after Zelaya’s Vice-President, who had resigned to run for the Presidency. And the Constitutionally mandated November national elections are still scheduled.

“3. The OAS, UN, Costa Rica’s President (Oscar) Arias and many other parties have undermined Honduras’ sovereignty and exacerbated its Constitutional crisis by demanding that Zelaya be restored to the Presidency without being tried per Honduran law.

“4. No facts have been presented to validly conclude the Obama administration aided and abetted Zelaya’s arrest and expulsion. Likewise no facts have been presented to validly conclude the administration is inappropriately influencing the Micheletti-Zelaya negotiations. And given Zelaya’s culpability and Honduras’ fragile economy, the administration appropriately decided not to follow a suspension of military aid with a suspension of economic aid that could significantly harm impoverished Hondurans. Moreover, under the UN and OAS Charters the U.S. cannot unduly intervene in Honduras’ internal affairs.

“5. Venezuela’s government and possibly others have blatantly intervened. For example, (President Hugo) Chavez aided and abetted the organizing and holding of Zelaya’s self-declared national referendum and substitute ‘poll’ (or plebiscite) after the Supreme Court ruled they were illegal. And Venezuela violated Honduran airspace by trying to land Zelaya and the UN’s Miguel d’Escoto in Tegucigalpa. In doing that it rejected appeals by Honduras’ Roman Catholic leaders that the attempt could incite violence, which it tragically did.*

“6. The defacto Honduran government has illegally suppressed Zelaya supporters, foreign nationals, and sectors of the media. Zelaya supporters have illegally suppressed government supporters and sectors of the media, and have engaged in mass road blocks and other unlawful acts. Zelaya, strongly backed by Chavez and others, has implored Hondurans to engage in what he claims is Constitutionally authorized
‘insurrection.’ That might also be construed as treason.

“7. Zelaya has further undermined the (Secretary of State) Clinton-arranged and Arias-conducted negotiations by warning he will end them unless he is soon restored to power, and by vowing he will soon return to Honduras (and form a ‘final battle’ government). Micheletti has declared that by defying the Supreme Court’s orders and violating the Constitution, Zelaya forfeited his office and cannot return until he agrees to be tried.

“8. Unless all parties to the crisis respect the rule of law, a just and peaceful resolution will be virtually impossible.

“Richard Lee Dechert
(A longtime media researcher and observer of Latin American affairs.)

“*Zelaya’s blocked landing and the ensuing violence were not ‘obscured or ignored’ by U.S. public TV and radio stations who are covering the crisis.”