Honduran Presidency for Dummies

On the occasion of president Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo’s statement yesterday that they are planning a coup d’état against him, I have decided that it may be useful to write a little manual for Honduran presidents. This is a temporary manual awaiting the report from the Truth Commission, due in January 2011, since that report should give instructions on how to avoid another epic fail: getting de-recognized by the whole world after the democratic institutions deposed the president. So hear goes.

Rule 1: You know that piece of paper they call the constitution? Read it! I know it is long, but it is actually important. The courts base their decisions on it, you know. And the prosecutor bases his prosecutions on it, too.

Rule 2: Don’t ever tell the courts, or the prosecutor, what they should or should not do. Whatever they do, just say “it is a separate branch of government and as president I cannot comment on their actions.” Don’t even ask them for information about ongoing cases. That violates the separation of powers.

Rule 3: If the court tells you to do something, do it. If they tell you not to do something, do not do it. It’s rather simple, actually.

Rule 4: If you are told that someone is planning a coup d’état against you, then shut up; do not say a word in public about it. Let the investigative arm of government investigate, and if they find foul play, let the prosecutor prosecute, and let the courts rule. But as president you should stay out of it, and not comment on it while things are ongoing. After the verdict has been passed and the sentence is firm, then you can comment, but not before.

Rule 5: If rule 4 does not apply since it is the prosecutor and courts that are planning a coup d’état against you, apply rule 4 and shut up. You see, there is one legal way to depose of you, and that is if the prosecutor prosecutes you and the court separates you from the office of the presidency. So if they are planning a coup d’état against you, it is no coup d’état. Suck it up, and repeat rule 1.

Rule 6: You can not get around the constitution by overthrowing the constitution. Holding a constituting constitutional assembly to write a new constitution from scratch is not a working strategy, since it violates the existing constitution. Only Congress can change the constitution, and nobody can overthrow it. In fact, if someone was to hold a constituting constitutional assembly and declare the old constitution no longer in force, then the last article of the existing constitution permits every institution and person in Honduras to use basically whatever force is necessary to assure that the existing constitution remains in force. That includes arresting the president. So if the president tries to overthrow the constitution, he is essentially an “outlaw” in the original sense of the word: Totally outside of, and unprotected by, the law.

Rule 7: You were elected to run the country and to improve conditions for the people of Honduras. If you stick to that mission, and refrain from violating the laws in the process, you have a good chance of finishing your term and be allowed to continue living in your country as a free man (or woman, as the case one day may be).

Rule 8: The most important thing for prosperity is investments. The most important thing for investors is risk reduction. Keep this in mind, and try to always act such that you instill confidence in your country among investors, foreign and domestic. This is the most important rule after rule 1.

Rule 9: Honduras can be among the 40 richest countries within 40 years, and if you don’t believe that, then you probably shouldn’t be president.

2 thoughts on “Honduran Presidency for Dummies”

  1. Some thoughts of your delusional illusions:
    I dont know if you are honduran. I would go as far as say you arent because of thought-form that is very institutional.. and well, innocent.

    On your rules:

    1 – I agree. The constitution is what makes a country and what enables prosecution to whoever may be breaking the law. Of course, the actual Honduran Constitution is ambiguous and doesnt explain anything in how to process someone “who will break the law”

    2 – Although I do agree with the professionalism of your words, the president needs to express concern when a decision made by the CSJ affects the whole country and all the efforts made by the Executive Power. For example, you just said the most important thing for prosperity is investors and investors need risk reduction. Well then, how are you supposed to have risk reduction if the CSJ is hiding all the human right violations that happened and keep happening in Honduras? At the same times how are you supposed to show a period of “normality” and “democratic security” when they are firing judges and justices for political reasons? – Well then. The president needs to say something, because someone has to say something, even if they are separated. NOW, if the president is actually trying physically to change the decision made by the CSJ then yes. That would be illegal.

    3 – In theory, perfect. But on real life, the CSJ is corrupt. They are the law enforcers and yet they choose what laws to apply and what laws shouldnt. For example, with Manuel Zelaya’s cuarta urna, even though the poll was based on a law, the CSJ declared it illegal because it was “sedition”. – You later on find out that “sedition” can pretty much mean anything the judge likes.
    So what do you do when it is well known of public knowledge that the CSJ is as corrupt as every other institution in this government? – ALSO, the CSJ Justices are implemented by CONGRESS. Thats right. Even though, it is a separated power, the court justice is placed by congress, just like the General Attorney and other legal institutions. Which lead me to the next institution: Congress.

    4 – In Honduras, sometimes, the best way to keep the enemy in line is to make public knowledge of what they are about to do. It is quite stupid, and I agree with you, the president should keep its mouth shut. Yet, when a president has so little power and can do pretty much nothing against the powers that be, then, this, will be a cry for help. In this case is either that, or a smoke wall. (because the president is in hes way to southafrica to watch the world cup, i am not kidding)
    Also, the president knowing who is going to coup him, the attorney general should act right away and investigate who is doing all this. Of course, not the president nor the attorney general has moved a finger, because 1- the president knows very very well they are powerful people and cant do anything to them. 2 – the attorney general (rubi) its one of the persons who wants to coup him out.

    5 – Theres no legal way to depose a president, unless hes either dead or “unable to be on charge, which then has to sign a resignation letter” – If the president breaks the law, hes supposed, by law, to be prosecuted with lawyers and a judge in which then finds a verdict. In the case the president is guilty and has to go to jail, then, yes, he would be forced to sign a letter. In the case the president is innocent, then nothing happens.
    Of course, the Honduran Military has absolutely nothing to do with this and far far worse, is to kidnap a president, throw him to Costa Rica and 3 hours later, come up with a fake resignation letter (that was more of a suicide letter) while shooting people up on the streets. On the 28/06/09 – Congress, CSJ, Military and even the Catolic Church, broke the law. They broke their own constitution to pieces, ruining the credibility of all their institutions and by default, disgracing the country. The only way to fix this, is not by blank elections, its by re-founding a broken country, with new constitution, formed by Hondurans who has nothing to do with this shameful episode.
    The actual constitution has been broken, by those who swore to protect it.

    6 – Like I said, the actual constitution has been broken and now it only serves to those who want to keep their interests and contracts intact. So much that if someone gets even close to listen to The People (president lobo), will be threatened with a coup. The actual constitution is a broken piece of paper that works only for those who want to control other people. Because it doenst work with them. For example a couple weeks ago, the son of dictator roberto micheletti, whose name is aldo micheletti, killed an 80 year old man on a car accident were witnesses saw him passing red lights and stops like a maniac. The police ignores the calls of the witnesses, the one to blame was hes security guard, which came out free with “substitutive measures”. So hey, wheres the law?

    But, ok. Lets say the actual constitution is in place, like you say. Well here are article #2 and #3:

    ARTICLE 2.- The sovereignty belongs to the people of which emanate all the powers of the State to be exercised through representation.

    The sovereignty of the People may also exercised directly, through the plebiscite and the Referendum.

    The impersonation of Popular Sovereignty and the usurpation of the authorities constituted designated as offenses of treason . The responsibility in these cases is imprescriptible and may be deducted ex officio or at the request of any citizen.
    * Amended by Decree 295/1993.

    ARTICLE 3.- Nobody should obedience to a usurper government nor to those who assume functions or public jobs by the force of arms or using media or procedures that violate or unaware that this Constitution and the laws. The acts verified by such authorities are zero. people have the right to appeal to the insurrection in defense of the constitutional order.

    Thats is exactly what the resistance is doing. They are allowed by law to march the streets. This is insurrection against the people who broke the country.

    #7 – That is exactly what a president is supposed to do, but after the criminal act of 28/06/09, the society is so divided that a president, who needs to “reunite the honduran family” needs to come to terms with each parts of the society. Thats makes it impossible when the resistance calls him a “golpista” and the real golpistas call him “chavista” – Its hard to have a mandate where theres no world recognition and theres absolutely no loans (usa is just sending cookies) to the development of Honduras. Where the moment he reaches to the people, the golpistas are telling him hes breaking the law one way or the other.

    unfornately I ran out of time. Ill be back to finish my points.
    Cheers

    1. Here are my reflections on your points:

      1. Constitutions should be general, not precise. The laws give the details, and the regulations give the instruction for how the government shall implement the laws. It’s a hierarchy. The Honduran constitution is already extremely detailed compared to most other.

      2. You are judging the Supreme Court. DON’T DO IT. I understand that you, and those in the rebel movement, argue that the CSJ is not legitimate because they don’t rule the way you want. However, legitimacy does not come from them ruling the way the people wants. Legitimacy comes from the people accepting a ruling from the CSJ even when the people does not agree with it. You have it backwards. Until the vast majority accepts the rulings of the CSJ and abides by it, investors will not trust that Honduras is a land of laws. It is the rebels that are undermining the economy of Honduras more than anyone else.

      This is why: The problem in Honduras today is not lack of money for investments. The problem is that nobody dares to invest in this uncertain business climate. The banks are full but nobody is borrowing. So the lack of foreign aid is not the problem; the problem is that the rebels keep insisting on overthrowing the form of government (plus that the country is heading to bankruptcy very soon unless the government salaries can be cut, including to the teachers).

      I agree with the need for reforms in Honduras, but the political strategy chosen by the rebels is totally counter-productive and only hurts the people of Honduras, especially the poor.

      3. See point 2. If you don’t follow the CSJ rulings, you are an outlaw, an outcast, and have no place in civilized society. Go live in the jungle (actually, that is how it was in Viking society; those who would not abide by the law were declared outlaws and had to live in the outland, such as wild forests or mountains, and they were unprotected by the law).

      4. Your argument is already countered by my Rule 5 (Mr. Rubi is the attorney general, i.e., prosecutor, in Honduras).

      5. You are wrong, the president can be removed from his duties by the CSJ even while he is being tried, on a temporary basis. The report from Javier El-Hage at Human Rights Foundation went through that in detail. He concluded that the CSJ had every right to remove Zelaya from office based on his past acts, but that they did not act procedurally correct. The point is, though, that YES, the president can be removed legally from office (and next time I trust that it will be also procedurally correct, because they learned the lesson in the epic fail of June 28 last year).

      6. Even if the constitution has been violated it does not imply that it has been “broken,” as in “it no longer works.” That is pure demagoguery. The constitution can not be put out of play without violating the constitution (it is violated anew every time it is ignored). If someone holds a “Constituyente” and declares the resulting document the new constitution, then it is legal to use whatever force is necessary to make sure the old constitution remains in force – cf. the last article in the constitution. If the rebels and or the president goes that path, and perhaps declares the CSJ replaced, then the real CSJ can order them all arrested for treason, and if they are prevented from holding that meeting, then the military can legally lock the president and all the rebels up even without any court order. They should watch their steps, they are playing with fire.

      Your example with Aldo Micheletti is completely irrelevant. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the constitution. And even if it did, the constitution can be changed by Congress, so there is no need to hold a “Constituyente” (disregarding the fact that it is impossible). Nobody so far has given me any argument as to WHY a “Constituyente” is necessary, but if someone would do that, I would much appreciate it. What you wrote is a total red herring, entirely irrelevant, pure demagoguery.

      The constitution is and remains in force. The democratic institutions remain in place intact. The CSJ has declared it so. Those you call “resistance” are therefore in fact “rebels”. You have it backwards. To improve Honduras you have to start by establishing the rule of law. You don’t do that by breaking the constitution. Your whole argument is based on an erroneous legal theory, the appealing to which seriously hurts Honduras. You have the right to make that argument (unless there is a law against sedition that covers it, there might be, I don’t know), but it hurts the country. However, for sure nobody has the right to act along those lines, since that would be insurrection against the Republic of Honduras. They can get arrested and jailed for that. It would be wrong to call such just incarcerations violations of their human rights. It is increasingly obvious that the rebels are accusing the government of human rights violations just because the government is implementing the laws of the nation. Whatever credibility Zelaya initially had is gradually eroded to the point that the rebels become irrelevant. It is a pity that those who sought to improve conditions for the poor did not cease the opportunity they had when Micheletti reached out to them, but instead chose to be stubborn and thus lose everything.

      7. Honduras is recognized by virtually the whole world, it is only a few communist-affiliated countries in Latin America that refuse to recognize the country. As I wrote above, the recognition and loan thing is not the real problem for progress. The real problem is the insecurity that the rebels create by calling for a “Constituyente”. As long as they get attention and people defend them, Honduras will not get investments, and will rapidly fall towards bankruptcy. It’s up to you what you do, I just tell it like it is, I just hold up a mirror.

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