Every state has two classes of potential enemies: External, and Internal. The defense against external enemies is allowed in the UN charter, as every country has the right to defend itself if attacked militarily.
The defense against internal enemies is an internal matter, though. A revolution in a country is not a matter for the international community.
For this reason, if one state wished to take control of another state, the only method that they can get away with is to disguise an overthrow of the constitution as an internal matter. Such an act would not violate any international law, only the national laws in the country under attack.
An attempt to overthrow the constitution or government is in Honduras called “delito contra el forma de gobierno,” meaning ‘crime against the form of government.’ In Swedish law that is called “högmålsbrott,” which is subdivided into “uppror,” i.e., revolution, if it is a domestic affair, and “högförräderi,” ‘high treason,’ if it is done with foreign assistance. This is the most severe crime that Zelaya is formally accused of.
The institutions in charge of defending law and order in Honduras acted according to their purpose in defending the country from an internal threat, when Zelaya was removed from office. A new president was installed, a new government set up, and the constitutional continuity was preserved.
If this had been an internal Honduran affair it would have ended there, but it wasn’t. The attack against the form of government was directed from Caracas, Venezuela. Using media, Zelaya’s co-conspirer Chávez managed to dupe the world into believing that there had been a military coup d’état. As a result, he managed to get all international institutions on his side, against the constitutional democracy of Honduras.
Chávez also relied on paid demonstrators and rioters within the country, amplified by people with limited understanding of the laws who genuinely believed that a coup had taken place, and who were strengthened in their belief by the whole world saying so.
However, Honduras is and remains a democracy, defending itself against an assault on its very fabric.
The assailants have used peaceful demonstrations, violent demonstrations, riots, propaganda lies, staged clashes for media effects, and more, all to portray the democratic government as a repressive military regime. While most serious media have managed to filter out most of the propaganda lies, they have still swallowed the basic lie that it was a coup, and many bloggers and online media have spread even the hysterical lies.
Well-intended but ignorant and naïve “help workers” from richer countries have become propaganda mouthpieces for the anti-democratic forces in this upside-down world, where the real coupsters accuse the democratic institutions of being coupsters.
It took many weeks but slowly the conditions in the country returned towards normalcy. Until Zelaya returned and sought asylum at the Brazilian embassy, and from there tried to rally a mob to overthrow the government. This created a new situation of internal threat to the form of government, since both Zelaya and the mob leaders professed to wishing to overthrow the constitution.
At this point, about 3 months after exiling Zelaya from the country, the democratic government saw itself compelled to declare a state of emergency (called “estado de sitio,” literally ‘state of siege’). In agreement with the constitution, certain civil liberties were suspended for a limited time in order to control the internal threat that the country was facing.
The order contained strict requirements for the security forces to follow protocols to assure that the government can demonstrate that nobody is tortured, since accusations have been made in the past. Honduras has an independent ombudsman for human rights, but the strategy of the real coupsters is to allege that he is biased, and then present fake reports from organizations that lack an institutional foundation, such as NGOs that are nothing but a front for Chávez. [See also this article on Human Rights.]
This attack against Honduras is very real, it is very well orchestrated, and it came within hours of succeeding. If it wasn’t for the determination of key persons at the democratic institutions in Honduras, the democracy would have fallen. Among Latinos in Miami, Honduras is looked up to. Their perseverance in the face of the whole world just adds to the admiration.
A lesson that they have learned the hard way is that having a very large social gap in the country is a security risk. Even if there is no domestic revolution, as in Russia and Cuba, it opens the door for foreign-supported coups as the one Zelaya attempted in Honduras. Hopefully the ability for all citizens to participate in the democratic process will be addressed in Honduras as a result. It is also quite likely that the constitution will be amended as a result, but legally, and not in the way that Chávez wanted. A proposal that has been suggested is some form of parliamentarian system, whereby the executive is elected by the congress so that the head of government cannot so easily be bought as today (Zelaya is allegedly in debt to Chávez to the tune of $400 million).
PS, added 2009-10-18: On 2009-10-10, New York Times ran an opinion piece that clearly outlined how the real coupster of June 28th was Manuel Zelaya, and that his ousting actually prevented the coup, rather than being the coup, as the world has come to believe based on Chavez’ propaganda.