As I have previously blogged about, Zelaya’s plan is allegedly to take a seat in the Central American Parliament, Parlacen, and thereby get immunity, which would shield him from the prosecution that is awaiting him in his native Honduras. What chances can such a plan have for succeeding?
1. Will Zelaya get immunity as a Parlacen delegate?
The internal rules of Parlacen say in §9 that the delegates will, in their home countries, have the same immunity as the delegates to their national legislative bodies. Some 8 years ago Micheletti spearheaded the removal of immunity for members of the Honduran Congress. Thus, even if Zelaya does get a seat, he will still not enjoy any immunity in Honduras.
In the other member states of Parlacen, he will have the same immunity that the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations gives to diplomats. But not in his home country. However, let’s see if he at all can become a delegate.
2. Can Zelaya get a seat in Parlacen?
The treaty of Parlacen states in §2b that presidents of the member states become delegates of the parliament when they finish their term (al concluir su mandato). Here is a possible stumbling block for Zelaya, because he never finished his term; Micheletti did. Now what?
In the internal rules of Parlacen, §12 says that the president will become a delegate to Parlacen immediately when the term for which he was “constitutionally elected” terminates (Los Presidentes, Vicepresidentes o Designados a la Presidencia de los Estados Parte, una vez terminado el período para el que fueron electos constitucionalmente, asumirán, de forma inmediata, como Diputadas o Diputados Centroamericanos. Estos diputados y diputadas cesarán en sus funciones cuando sus sucesores concluyan su mandato constitucional.). This is more to Zelaya’s favor than the treaty, but of course the treaty takes precedence.
In the case of Zelaya, the term for which he was constitutionally elected will terminate 2010-01-27, but Zelaya will not finish his term, since he was deposed on 2009-06-28 by the Honduran Congress. If Parlacen, however, considers his deposing null and void, in its judgment he will finish his term 2010-01-27, and then become a delegate.
Unless, of course, he is incapacitated.
3. What if Zelaya is incapacitated to serve?
In §5 the treaty speaks of “Incapacidades de los diputados“, and the key phrase reads, “Las demás incompatibilidades serán las que establezcan las respectivas legislaciones nacionales para el cargo de diputado o representante.” I take this clause to mean, that since Zelaya has outstanding arrest orders in Honduras, and therefore is ineligible to serve in the Honduran Congress, he is equally ineligible to serve in Parlacen.
It is obvious that if Parlacen acknowledges the government of Pepe Lobo, they also have to acknowledge the arrest orders against Zelaya, and thus that he is incapacitated to serve as a delegate. The alternative would be that they don’t acknowledge neither Lobo nor the arrest orders, but that they do acknowledge Zelaya as an ex-president with right to be a delegate. It seems extremely unlikely that they would refuse to accept Pepe Lobo.
This leaves Zelaya as an eternal refugee, a Flying Dutchman, who can only go to countries that don’t recognize Honduras. As they get fewer and fewer, the world of Zelaya will shrink around him. He will probably end up spending his old age in Havana, Cuba, unless the Castro brothers turn out to be mortal after all.
The best solution for Zelaya, his family, and his country is if someone can persuade him to grow up, walk out, and face his accusers like a man. Tell him from me that “if he doesn’t trust the justice system of the country, then x k p..a did he want to be president over it?“