No coup in Honduras says Congress legal expert

A legal expert at the US Congressional library, Norma C. Gutiérrez, has studied the legalities around the deposing of president Zelaya in Honduras on June 28, and found that it was done legally (although exiling him was not). It was thus not a coup. Here is the report.

The crucial conclusion is formulated thus: “Available sources indicate that the judicial and legislative branches applied constitutional and statutory law in the case against President Zelaya in a manner that was judged by the Honduran authorities from both branches of the government to be in accordance with the Honduran legal system.” Thus, it was not a coup d’état, in plain English.

A detail: The decree PCM-19-2009 that is mentioned on page 3 is dated June 25, not May 26. See original.

The anti-Honduran slant of New York Times is obvious in their coverage of this report. The article ends: “Her bottom line: the case against Mr. Zelaya was rooted in constitutional and statutory law. His removal from the country was not.” They are leaving their readers with the wrong impression. The distinction is that the removal of president Zelaya from office was legal, but the removal of citizen Zelaya from Honduras was not.

Related in DN.

6 Comments

  • Staffan D. wrote:

    That the crisis in Honduras had relations to Chávez I learnt directly, in June, by reading e.g. the National Review blog. On June 26, Blas Pedrino gave further information in the Orlando Republican Examner:

    “Under President Obama, Latin American policy has consisted of forfeiting all leadership in the region. … Obama’s policy has been one of turning over the leadership mantle to Venezuela’s strongman Hugo Chavez and sheepishly concurring with Chavez’s attempts to create a Socialist regime throughout the continent. In fact, the Obama Administration has abandoned all steps to defend democracy in our hemisphere.”

    “After Obama’s recent humiliation by Chavez and Nicaragua’s Sandinista ruler Daniel Ortega at the Summit of the Americas held in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and a second embarrassment in early June at the OAS meeting in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, where Cuba’s suspension from membership in the regional organization was lifted, today Obama embraced the role of Hugo Chavez’s cheerleader once again. This time, his support for Chavez centers on the events that led to the removal of Manuel Zelaya as President of Honduras.”

    “…instead of defending the right of all Honduran institutions to protect the country’s democracy from a rogue would-be-tyrant, the State Department’s interpretation of that statement is to press for the return of Mr. Zelaya to power, as demanded by Chavez. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned Zelaya’s removal, while Administration officials said they were working to twist the arms of the Hondurans to put Zelaya back in office.”

    The strange thing is that diplomats all over the world now have bought the pro-Zelaya, pro-Chavez explanation of the Honduras events. But then, what did they know of Honduras before? From what I know of Swedish diplomats, they get their general information of the world from the newspapers. From the New York Times International, especially…

  • Staffan D. wrote:

    “No haremos caso a la Corte Suprema, que nunca ha resuelto los grandes juicios que afectan al país. Esa Corte no hace justicia y es una vergüenza para los hondureños”, dijo Zelaya en un discurso en la plaza Libertad. (El Universal, Caracas, 26/6)

  • Hej Ulf. Nu har flera personer kritiserat rapporten, ex http://hondurascoup2009.blogspot.com/ och http://quotha.net/node/384.

    De menar att högsta domstolen i maj 2003 fastslog att kongressen inte hade rätt att tolka konstitutionen.

    På min blogg om Honduras skriver jag varför det ser ut som de har fel och att kongressen faktiskt har rätt att tolka konstitutionen: http://hondurasafterjune28.blogspot.com/

    Har tidigare skrivit på Brännpunkt om händelserna i Honduras, vilket du länkade till.

    Gabriel

  • Ulf Erlingsson wrote:

    For English-speakers, follow Gabriels link to http://hondurasafterjune28.blogspot.com/ and you can see why those who have criticized the Library of Congress report are mistaken (they forgot about the constitutional amendment of 2004!).

  • Staffan D. wrote:

    Has there been any serious argument in the media, quoting Honduran constitution, that Congress had no right to remove Sr Zelaya? All that I have seen has been a simple “he has been elected by the people — and now they are removing him — that’s illegal !”

    Some journalists, however, now appear to have realized that the Constitution was indeed involved. The AP report Sep 26, linked to in another blog post, says:
    “Zelaya was removed by the military at gunpoint on the morning of June 28 after the Supreme Court ordered his arrest on charges of treason and abuse of authority for repeatedly ignoring court orders to drop plans for a referendum on rewriting the constitution.” AP Sep 26.

  • Ulf Erlingsson wrote:

    I am only aware of one attempt at such an argument, made by known chavistas. The legal case they made totally ignored the referendum and the events before June 28, so to say that it was serious is a stretch. I think it was mentioned here about 1 to 2 months ago.
    [Uppdatering: Tedstam har nu återpostat samma text av Julia Espinosa här: http://blog.erlingsson.com/?p=1308#comments
    Even the Swedish foreign department, when I asked them, did not have such an analysis, although at first they bluffed and said they had two (when I wanted references they backed down and admitted they had none). Admittedly, it was a vacation replacement who said that, not the person who normally handles the matter, and who has always acted very professionally.

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