After Oscar Arias, new strategy required for Honduras

After Honduras president Manuel Zelaya was deposed on June 28th, and replaced by Roberto Micheletti, the Costarican president and Nobel Peace laureate Oscar Arias was entrusted with the task of facilitating talks between the two Honduran sides in search for a head of state that the world would recognize. After two months the tico president has not achieved the goal. Honduras remains diplomatically isolated and under increasing sanctions.

The problem seems obvious: Arias has been determined to achieve a preconceived outcome. He has acted as an arbitrator – and a judgmental one at that – rather than as an unbiased mediator. His stated goal has been the reinstatement of Manuel Zelaya as president, and he totally ignores the fact that the democratic institutions of Honduras, including the supreme court, affirms that it would be unconstitutional.

In other words, Oscar Arias ignores the legal reality in search for an entirely political solution.

A Solution

Logically, there is only one way to defuse the situation and that is to go the legal path; to seek what is right, and not what is politically expedient. The question is only how to do it, given that there is no court that can determine if it was a coup or not.

Or is there?

There may actually be a court case before the Honduran courts that can, coincidentally, settle the question. The attorney general of the country is investigating, I’ve been told, the expelling of citizen Manuel Zelaya from the country by the military on June 28. It was a patently unconstitutional act, and the chief lawyer of the military has stated that the military took the decision since they did not have adequate facilities in which to imprison the deposed president.

This court case will hopefully enable all Hondurans to find out what actually happened, and what considerations were made.

Personally I have much more faith in that this court case will bring peace back to Honduras, than any talks involving Manuel Zelaya. Ultimately what matters is what the people of Honduras thinks, not what the world thinks. If there is a legal consensus forming in the country about what happened, tensions will defuse.

How could anyone possibly be against this? Except those who do not want peace, democracy, and the rule of law, of course.

2 Comments

  • Richard Lee Dechert wrote:

    Ulf, I recommend a similar resolution in my message to Secretary of State Clinton:

    “Zelaya should agree to return to Honduras and be duly adjudicated for his alleged crimes. Only then can his guilt or innocence be legally established and Honduras’ Constitutional crisis be properly resolved. Zelaya continues to reject that.”

    Dear Secretary of State Clinton,

    The above quote is the essence of my enclosed “RESOLUTION.” In 1953 and 1954 I served on Air Force bases that supported the CIA’s “Operation PBSuccess” that overthrew the democratically elected Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman and created the worst torture-terror regime in the modern history of the Western Hemisphere. Since then restoring the “rule of law” to U.S. foreign affairs in general and Latin American affairs in particular has been a primary goal of my “peace and justice” activism.

    Therefore, as you and your department determine whether or not President Zelaya was deposed by a “military coup,” please carefully consider my “RESOLUTION.”

    Respectfully,

    Richard Lee Dechert
    1855 Furness St. N., #310
    Maplewood, MN 55109
    USAF 1952-1960

    ======

    HONDURAS’ CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS: A PROPER RESOLUTION

    [Please note that the text preceded by an *asterisk was added after I sent this to Secretary of State Clinton on 9/1/09. It is now based on over 850 reports and comments.]

    As a longtime activist in Latin American affairs, I’ve reviewed over 700 reports and comments on Honduras’ Constitutional crisis from a wide range of perspectives. In my judgment the Supreme Court–supported by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, Attorney General and democratically elected National Congress–had strong “probable cause” to arrest and detain President Manuel Zelaya for treason, abuses of office and other crimes.

    As prescribed by the Constitution, President of Congress Roberto Micheletti (a leader of Zelaya’s Liberal Party) was appointed to replace him as interim President (by a 122-6 vote) until the November 29, 2009 national elections are held and his term ends in January 2010.

    Zelaya’s right to defend himself in a due-process proceeding was abruptly circumvented when military officers responsible for executing the Supreme Court’s order to arrest and detain him violated the order (and a Constitution that prohibits expatriation of Honduran citizens) by forcibly expelling him to Costa Rica. However, the Court recently ruled that its 15-0 order must still be enforced and Micheletti’s interim appointment was Constitutional.

    Unfortunately if not tragically, the officers’ illegal expulsion has been erroneously conflated with the Court’s legal order, and both have been treated by the U.S., OAS, UN and other parties as a “military coup,” even though the U.S. Department of State has correctly not decreed that.

    Therefore, instead of circumventing the Court’s order by being arbitrarily restored to the Presidency as the U.S.-supported OAS Resolution demands and Oscar Arias’ San José Accord proposes, Zelaya should agree to return to Honduras and be duly adjudicated for his alleged crimes. Only then can his guilt or innocence be legally established and Honduras’ Constitutional crisis be properly resolved. Zelaya continues to reject that.

    The officers who expelled him should also be duly adjudicated along with the pro-Micheletti and pro-Zelaya forces who have violated the civil and human rights of Honduran citizens and foreign nationals. If Micheletti’s interim government does not curtail violations by army, police and other pro-Micheletti forces, even stronger economic and diplomatic sanctions should be applied by the U.S., OAS, UN and other international actors. Pro-Zelaya forces must also curtail their violations.

    Moreover, Venezuela (supported by Cuba, Nicaragua and other cohorts) must end the blatant intervention in Honduras’ internal affairs that has exacerbated the crisis and violated the OAS and UN Charters. *Zelaya’s encampment at Ocotal in northern Nicaragua triggered political conflict and physical violence between Nicaraguans who support or oppose Zelaya, with the latter claiming his calls for insurrection in Honduras have violated Nicaragua’s constitutional neutrality.

    As for the national elections, they will not be “free and fair” unless all candidates and their supporters can freely access the media, hold meetings and rallies, and otherwise conduct their campaigns without coercion or disruption. *Since Zelaya was illegally expelled, those conditions have often not prevailed.

    In short, ALL parties to the crisis must resolve it by honoring the rule of law, not just the ones we may politically or ideologically favor.

  • Ulf Erlingsson wrote:

    Thank you Richard. If all countries who genuinely want democracy, peace, and freedom (which presupposes the rule of law) could come together around a legal strategy, this crisis would be resolved in weeks, not months or years.

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