Things should be called by their right names. It is not just a tremendous injustice, and injury, to the people of Honduras to call the constitutional deposing of a president – who was violating the constitution and the other branches of government – a “coup”, but it is also a dangerous precedent.
This precedent has already been put to use in anti-democratic propaganda. In an article yesterday, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) is reported as accusing “radical sectors of the opposition of planning an institutional coup to depose of president Hugo Chávez.” They accuse them specifically of attempting the “Honduran plan, which is nothing else than an institutional coup,” according to vice president of the party in the eastern region, Aristóbulo Istúriz.
Note that they are no longer claiming that it was a military coup in Honduras; not even in this Cuban news outlet. If neither Cuba nor Venezuela calls it a military coup, then at least that argument is won for Honduras.
From the ashes to the fire
This, however, just brings us from the ashes to the fire from the perspective of risk to democracy. Consider the PSUV argument closely:
“According to [PSUV], the enemies of the government are waging a campaign to win the legislative elections of September 26, which would enable them to carry out their plan.” The plan is described as follows: “They want the Attorney General to press charges against Chávez, and the Supreme Court to convict him…”
In other words, the alleged plan that they are warning for is simply to impose the rule of law through democratic means. The ruling party in Venezuela thus labels this constitutional procedure in a democracy a “coup.”
It is Orwellian newspeak; democracy and the rule of law is called a coup, and the auto-coup that it would be for Chávez or Zelaya to prevent this, is called democracy.
If the elected congress and the judicial system depose the president in agreement with the constitution, they call it a coup.
Does it sound lunatic? Does it violate your sense of justice? Does it make you think that if there is no democratic and legal way to depose of the president no matter what he does, it sooner or later leads to tyranny?
Well, ladies and gentlemen, citizens of the world, this is what your own leaders opted for when they, in the United Nation’s General Assembly, condemned the legal removal of Zelaya from office as a coup.
The international community has set this precedent itself, by condemning Honduras in the UNGA.
One should not use strong language unnecessarily, because it undermines the power of the words. This is one of those occasions when that power is needed: A grave mistake was made in the United Nation’s General Assembly when they condemned Honduras. They took a hasty decision without access to relevant facts; through manipulation and newspeak they were deceived into legitimizing tyranny.
Every leader of every country in the world is guilty of permitting this mistake. Most through intellectual laziness, by voting as the group. Some have been actively involved, including Insulza of OAS, and some, like Obama, have unknowingly facilitated it through naiveté and lack of diplomatic experience.
Going forward, though, every leader that does not re-evaluate his or her position is doubly guilty, but no blame shall fall on the one who admits a mistake and tries to mitigate the harm caused by it. They need, however, to be made aware of the situation, since this is no longer in the news.
If democracy and the rule of law is dear to you, now would be a good time to take action to defend it. How? By speaking up, simply. Increase the awareness of this threat. When a critical mass is reached you will be successful, provided that you (still) live in a democracy.
Originally published 09:51, last edited 12:42.
English version of the PSUV statements in Brunei.