Epilogue over the crisis in Honduras

This is a modest attempt at summing up the events that turned Honduras into Chávez’s el Alamein: the place where the advance of the Bolivarian revolution was halted.

Yesterday, mainstream international media declared the Honduran crisis dead after Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo, elected in the general and regular elections November 29, had been sworn in as new president. Most nations are expected to resume normal diplomatic relations in short order. The exceptions are some Latin American leftist countries, but due to the right wind blowing in the hemisphere now, several of those may very soon change color, and one already has: Chile. History will show that Honduras election result started the pendulum swinging the other direction, and that the misdeeds of Zelaya – and the undiplomatic support he got from Chávez and OAS – was the triggering cause.

What made Honduras the place where Chávez, with his leftist revolution, was to meet his Stalingrad?

Zelaya was elected in 2005 and took office in 2006. He passed a law for popular referenda, to increase popular participation in politics. Later, he took a strong turn to the left, joined ALBA (with Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, etc), and started arguing that to get more people involved one has to create “institutions for direct democracy.”

This is Chávez’s thing; move power from the traditional democratic institutions to local committees. A problem with this approach is that the legal protection for the individual risks getting undermined. For that reason the idea is opposed by defenders of the rule of law, which includes virtually the entire private sector. They started organizing against Zelaya.

Zelaya also met constitutional problems. He concluded that Congress didn’t have the authority to change the constitution in the intended way, and that a Constitutional Assembly therefore would be required. He tried to stay within the law by creating a poll on a referendum on creating a Constitutional Assembly. However, also this was challenged in court. Zelaya lost, and was ordered not to in any way, shape, or form continue with the idea of a Constituting Assembly, because only Congress can change the constitution.

It might seem self-evident that Zelaya would obey the Supreme Court, wouldn’t it? To understand why he didn’t, but instead said something like “What are they going to do? Arrest me? Let them come and arrest me!”, we have to look at what else went on.

In 2008 the candidates were getting ready to run for the presidential primaries. Two strong candidates from Zelaya’s Liberal party wanted to run, the president of congress, Roberto Micheletti, and the vice president of the republic, Elvin Santos. However, each tried to prevent the other from running by referring to the constitution, saying that he couldn’t run while holding that seat. It went to the Supreme Court, and it declared that a recent constitutional change that prevented Micheletti from running was unconstitutional, and revoked it. Thus the field was clear for him. Santos was less lucky. He ended up resigning as vice president in order to run (he later won the primary, but lost in the general elections to Lobo).

These maneuvers, this high pitched rhetoric, must reasonably have undermined the respect for the Supreme Court, as well as for the constitution itself. When Zelaya defied the Supreme Court and its interpretation of the constitution, he and his followers may not have realized that he had reached the shore of the Rubicon (if an army passed that river in Italy it was taken to mean that they aimed to overthrow the emperor).

The Honduran constitution does not have an impeachment clause, since there is no immunity. It is therefore up to the Attorney General to request an arrest order from the Supreme Court for the president. So Zelaya was right, the correct way to proceed would be for them to arrest him. He just believed they would never dare to do that.

Why did he believe they wouldn’t dare? This is where the U.S. comes in. On about 5 occasions leading personalities in Honduras approached Zelaya and tried to talk him into giving up the project instead of defying the Supreme Court. Obama’s ambassador, Hugo Llorens, appointed by Bush, participated in a number of those reunions. When talking proved futile, they considered using force. That would mean to have him arrested according to the constitution and the laws. Of course, he could not continue to be the acting president while sitting in jail, so someone else would have to take the helm. Since Santos had resigned, and the other two deputies were also out of the picture, the next person in the succession order was, by chance, Micheletti.

Llorens stayed in contact with Washington, and the Obama administration obviously kept the chairmen of the respective committees in Congress informed (CYA being an important principle). This is when Senator Kerry said “no,” he would not put up with it. He has been pointed out, unequivocally, as the one who put down the foot.

At this point, Llorens informs the Hondurans that if they carry out this arrest, the U.S. will call it a coup and not recognize the interim leader. (The legal research center at the U.S. Congress later reported that it indeed was legal, and thus no coup; Kerry objected loudly and demanded that they retract or change the report, but after re-assessing it, they instead confirmed their original conclusion.)

Here comes the really, really important part: Someone told Zelaya.

Whereupon he, of course, concludes that “nothing can stop this project except the Holy Virgin.” That’s what he told his staff, euphorically.

By now the Supreme Court had impounded the ballots for the poll and left them in the custody of the military. However, with the reassurance that he could not be stopped no matter what, Zelaya gathered a mob and went in person to take the ballots by force from the military base.

This is where he miscalculated. Until that moment, the balance weighed in favor of letting him remain in power. However, after using force to impose his will over the other independent branches of power, the Attorney General and the Supreme Court of Justice no longer had a choice. They had to arrest him, or they would have been derelict of duty.

Zelaya left the judicial and legislative branches no choice. They had a constitutional obligation to do what they did in response to his crossing the Rubicon, which was the storming of the air force base.

What has to be pointed out again is that if it hadn’t been for the U.S. effectively giving Zelaya a carte blanche, he would most likely never have crossed that line.

When the events played out – with the inevitability of something predicted by a seer in a Greek drama – and Micheletti was sworn in as the new president, he already knew that no country would recognize him as president. If the U.S. didn’t do it, no country would.

But he also knew that he had an obligation under the constitution – which he had sworn to uphold – to do it regardless. When he asked colleagues to work in his cabinet, he told them straight out that there is no chance that any country will recognize them, but in spite of that nobody turned him down. When he left office yesterday he did it as a national hero for the majority, and the final message was simple: Mission accomplished.

The politicians in Honduras have learned a lesson – hopefully – and that is to keep the rhetoric down, and that a “nuclear option” cannot actually be used since it hurts everyone. Hopefully some leftist US politicians will take away from this that one must never, ever, take a position that can be taken as a blank check for someone to violate laws. Next time, just listen politely but keep your mouth shut, will you? If you absolutely must say something, then tell all parties to just do what they know to be right, because in the end that is the best strategy.

6 thoughts on “Epilogue over the crisis in Honduras”

  1. Since the US (as well as many other politically compromised entities) never recognized Roberto Micheletti’s government, how about he runs for President next time?!!!! He’s got my vote.

    1. This is true. Micheletti is LEGALLY eligible as a candidate in the eys of the world but not according to the Honduran constitution. Unfortunate, as we know this is no WOLF in sheeps clothing but a man whose loyalty to his country, courage and firm democratic principles are proven.

  2. Lobo has already violated the law and the Constitution. Memory is very short.

  3. Yankee Interventionism Redux
    On June 28th, 2009, Honduras’ destiny took a sharp turn timely provoked by the thinking and concerned Democratic institutions that support the government of this nation. Many of my compatriots put forth a myriad of quite thoughtful dissertations about the issue at hand as it evolved in what has probably been the most closely watched, criticized and intervened ousting of a political leader. And here I’d like to quote Cesar Indiano, a local playwright and poet, “ That day, in unanimous consent, the political class, accompanied by the most prominent representatives of professional, military, academic and intellectual groups…took the bitter determination of deposing a governor who three years before had been legitimized via democratic election process. The question every one is asking themselves and will continue to ask for some time is, what is the degree of irresponsibility and outrageous behavior a presidential leader must reach to make him deserving of being overthrown? I believe the response is very simple. A president deserves being deposed the instant in which he uses tricks and subterfuges to mount a self-centered tyranny. This is to say, when a leader legitimately elected by the sovereign will of a democratic covenant, renounces to the obligations that by law correspond to his office and simultaneously dishonor the commitments contracted by the social pact, then, the conditions for a rebellion are created”. It also happened that Zelaya violated Art. 239 of the Honduran Constitution.
    Honduras did not go into an internal rebellion per se, since the will of the Honduran people seemed to be monolithically behind the institutions that outlined the rationale for the ousting, executed the judicial requirements to fulfill it and mandated militarily the proper channels thru which to finalize it. It went into a rebellion against international opinion and condemnation led by Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Cuba (all members of Hugo Chavez’s infamously and undeniably leftist Alba Group) and of all Democratic industrial nations, by the United States of America! So many of my friends wrote via Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube desperate pleas, inquisitive pleas revealing complete dismay at the political posture of the American Department of State, at the recriminations of President Obama. For a period of five months, Hondurans bravely faced the international criticism and attempts of interventionism from the international community who fiercely advocated the return of the tyrant to his lair. They were all deaf to the silent screams of the peace marches. Obtusely they denied this little giant nested in the heart of Central America its right to defend its position. Furthermore they assaulted its sovereignty with impunity.
    On November 29th, elections were held and a new president was elected with a sweeping mandate (55% to 34%). On January 27th this man, Porfirio Lobo Sosa was sworn in. But Honduras troubles are far from over. By the end of 2009, the United States, rather than admit their mistake decided to find a rationale to their support of a dictator wannabe and decided to, sovereignty be damned, to push forward with the fulfillment of the failed San Jose Accord and restore in whatever way possible the deposed villain of the picture. Down went Kelly, Shanon, Valenzuela to join forces with the dubious Hugo Llorens, who to everyone’s dismay, continues as the Ambassador of USA in Honduras. (Llorens’ nexus with Zelaya is food for fodder in the circles of the political elite in Honduras. He’s despised yet treated with deference simply as a mean of survival.) Somehow, someway, the United State’s interventionism achieved the implausible, clearly repudiated by the Honduran people and most absolutely undeserved.
    The envoys of President Obama’s DOS managed to coerce President Lobo to sign an accord with Dominican Republic via which he would grant Zelaya, (who mind you has on his record crimes as serious as sending his minions to “remove” approximately Lps. 40 million which were squandered in horse care, art, jewelry and travel) the safe passage to travel out of the Brazilian Embassy where he remained holed up like the disgusting insect he is for the past six months, with the distinction of “honored” guest. This seduction came in the form of the promise of recognition as a republic with Democratic government and access to desperately needed international aid money. This coercion came in the form of suspension of visas of anyone who did not support Zelaya in Washington or participated in the legal ousting of a seditious traitor who threatened the very core of the Honduran republic, the heart of its socio-economic platform.
    If anyone wishes to throw in the so called “opposition to the coup” people into the mix, let me inform you, these groups are essentially unions and people from the rural areas who have been lured by Chavez’s bribe money which pays them to protest. These people form at best 5% of the population. They have managed to make a lot of noise in spite of their truly small proportion thanks to the backing of the Venezuelan dictator who went as far as paying salaries of Zelayista people in the Honduran Embassy in Washington and their ability to fabricate human suffering to gain in the court of public opinion. They have also been granted unfettered access and support by Hugo Chavez’s minions within the corrupt Organization of American States.

    Writing this comment is trifold. The first one is to alert the American people to the real Foreign Policy of Mr. Obama’s DOS which in the case of Honduras has involved a quite questionable and censurable intervention which threatens not only to divide the population but to also foster civil protests and unrest. The open letters to the freshly minted new president have started to show up, the bitter taste of humiliation at the tip of the pen, the ink laden with resentment. The man that threw this poor nation into a turmoil for a period of six months with his misguided turn to leftist Marxism advocated by Hugo Chavez and ALBA, and planned to sell the soul of his nation to this devil, walked out free, without facing justice by the Honduran Nation. I intend to overtly point the finger at these envoys that so blatantly violated the sovereignty of my native country, abusing United States’ power as provider of international aid and transgressing their role as supporters of a truly democratic process. Sadly, Honduras’ newly elected governing elite has launched itself in pursuit of a total mirage, deviously presented by these envoys of Mr. Obama, a mirage of international recognition and promised aid.
    The second purpose, is to call on the American Nation who support democracy and the pursuit of liberty of other peoples of the world, this most generous of nations which never hesitates to be there in the face of disaster providing aid and comfort to the affected, to support the re-instatement of visas of any and everyone who has seen it suspended in the course of the last six months for their involvement in one way or another in the removal of Zelaya, given the purely political nature of such an anti-sovereignty, anti-democracy move coming from the beacon of liberty in the world, the United States of America.
    Last but not least, Interim President Micheletti’s job as governing head of the Honduran nation during this dark period of undeserved turmoil and international scorn is truly deserving of praise and recognition. He stood proudly defending the Honduran sovereignty and demanding rightly so, that his nation be given the opportunity to be heard. He persistently exposed the rationale behind the legitimate ousting of a corrupt and treasonous leader. He pursued arduously to demonstrate the legality and foundation within Honduras’ Constitution Art. 239 for the actions taken. He sought convincingly the restoration of the Honduran republic as a democracy-loving and respecting nation. It is the contention of many in Honduras that he also deserves to be nominated to a leadership position in the Organization of American States which stands today, stained by corruption, heavily influenced and secretly supported by Hugo Chavez. I support this idea and you can support it on Facebook: Micheletti for OAS President.
    Please write, call or fax the following people and express your dissatisfaction, your discontent and your opposition to this kind of interventionism and insist that the sovereignty of Honduras be respected, their honor restored, the visas re-instated. Even Ahmadinejad has been granted his say in the forum of the United Nations. And we all know where this guy stands in the respect for human life of his own people!
    Secretary Hillary Clinton 7th Floor 202-647-5291
    Assistant Secretary of State Philip J. Crowley, (202) 647-6607
    Western Hemisphere Assistant Secretary Arturo Valenzuela (202) 647-4000
    Western Hemisphere Assistant Secretary Thomas Shannon (202)-647-5780
    Western Hemisphere Principal Deputy Craig Allen Kelly, (202) 647-6755

    (Author is Honduran native, naturalized American, living in Clifton, Virginia)

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