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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Bloody Sunday In Honduras?

Reports are that ousted President Manuel Zelaya will return to Honduras Sunday, July 5, regardless of what Hondurans want. The Catholic Church in Honduras has asked Zelaya not to return to avoid bloodshed, and the military says that it intends on arresting him on court warrants if he returns. Per The Telegraph:

Amid rising fears of bloodshed, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez read out a message on onduran television urging Mr Zelaya to stay away to avoid violence. “We think that a return to the country at the moment could provoke a bloodbath,” he said.

Mr Zelaya outlined his plans to the Telesur TV station based in Venezuela, where his close ally Hugo Chavez is president.

“I am planning my return to Honduras... we will arrive at the international airport in Tegucigalpa, Honduras with several presidents, (and) members of international organisations,” he said. “This Sunday we will be in Tegucigalpa.” ....

The Supreme Court has issued an arrest warrant for Mr Zelaya on charges of reason, abuse of office and corruption.

The Guardian adds:
Manuel Zelaya has been warned by the interim government that it will arrest him and put him on trial if he sets foot in the country. He has called on supporters to greet him at the capital's airport, where he said he planned to arrive today in the company of a number of other Latin American leaders, reportedly including the president of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner.

UPDATE: It appears that Kirchner is not joining Zelaya, and it is not even clear if Zelaya will make an attempted return, per Fausta's Blog: Honduras: will Zelaya show up?

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  1. By all accounts from responsible reporters in Honduras, it is clear The Guardian has it wrong.

    This is no interim government. Just an "interim" President.

  2. So he's sauntering back into Honduras hoping the people will welcome him back because he has a few more dictator supporters with him? The authorities need to arrest Mel and deport the others. I wonder if they have visas?

  3. It's appearing more and more, than this was merely a coup by the rich oligarchs once again.

    Despite that fact that many individual Catholic priests champion the lower and middle classes, the Catholic hierarchy (ie. bishops, archbishops etc), have a long history in Latin America of favoring the wealthy propertied classes.

    The Guardian also notes the large protest crowds demonstrating in favor of the return of the president.

    It should be noted, that the Honduran president's "crime" was to request a plebiscite of the entire nation. This sounds wholly democratic to me. Certainly, more so, than removing the president from office by military force.

    In general, this coup appears to follow the same pattern of the wealthy, supported by the army generals, in overturning any attempt at meaningful governance reform. Something that has happened many times before in South and Central America.

  4. I frequently quote from the following which was published in the Christian Science Monitor by Octavio Sánchez, a lawyer, and a former presidential adviser (2002-05) and minister of culture (2005-06) of the Republic of Honduras:

    ..... On June 26, President Zelaya issued a decree ordering all government employees to take part in the "Public Opinion Poll to convene a National Constitutional Assembly." In doing so, Zelaya triggered a constitutional provision that automatically removed him from office ..... His actions showed intent.....

    According to Article 239 [of the Honduras Constitution]: "No citizen who has already served as head of the Executive Branch can be President or Vice-President. 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."

    Notice that the article speaks about intent and that it also says "immediately" – as in "instant," as in "no trial required," as in "no impeachment needed."

    Continuismo – the tendency of heads of state to extend their rule indefinitely – has been the lifeblood of Latin America's authoritarian tradition. The Constitution's provision of instant sanction might sound draconian, but every Latin American democrat knows how much of a threat to our fragile democracies continuismo presents. In Latin America, chiefs of state have often been above the law. The instant sanction of the supreme law has successfully prevented the possibility of a new Honduran continuismo.

    The Supreme Court and the attorney general ordered Zelaya's arrest for disobeying several court orders compelling him to obey the Constitution. He was detained and taken to Costa Rica. Why? Congress needed time to convene and remove him from office. With him inside the country that would have been impossible. This decision was taken by the 123 (of the 128) members of Congress present that day.

    Don't believe the coup myth. The Honduran military acted entirely within the bounds of the Constitution. The military gained nothing but the respect of the nation by its actions .....

    This so-called coup was constitutional - dura lex, sed lex.

  5. " . . . . He was detained and taken to Costa Rica. Why? Congress needed time to convene and remove him from office. . . . . . . With him inside the country that would have been impossible. . . . "

    Do you even understand how unbelievably shady this appears? Prevent the accused from facing his accusers. Sounds, like the same old military generals, acting in the same old style.

    A good way to prevent your opponent from defending himself is by shipping him outside the country.

    Not being an expert on the Honduran Constitution, I concede that there may be no requirement for a bill of indictment (impeachment), nor trial in the Senate for removal from office. However, having the military generals remove the president, even with the acquiesence of the some members of the Supreme court (under duress?), does not in any way pass the smell test.

  6. Same old, same old. It's a democracy, you do not use the military to remove the President. Period. You can cast it any way you like, but this is a coup - by whom and for whom we don't quite yet know. But we will see who pops up in power next.