July 6, 2009
The Pre-Coup Coup Attempt
It all seems so cut-and-dried. The United Nations, the Organization of American States, Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega, and Barack Obama — all as one demand that be reinstated as president of Honduras. And they call his ouster illegal.
But there’s a history here. Like many heads of state, Zelaya hates presidential term limits, provided for in the Honduran constitution. To escape them, he sought a referendum to ask voters whether a constitutional convention should be called to replace the existing constitution. But he bypassed the country’s congress, which by law must approve any such referendum.
The Honduran high court ruled that the referendum would be illegal. Zelaya tried to proceed anyway. He even fired the chief of the armed forces for refusing to help carry out this illegal referendum. Impeachment of Zelaya was briefly considered before the court, in cooperation with the congress, ordered his ouster.
Now, I don’t assert Zelaya should have been deposed as he was. If the same procedures for dealing with power-grabbing rascals were prevalent in the U.S., the Watergate crisis would have been briefer, with Nixon quickly carted off to Canada.
But I do say that Zelaya’s own drastic coup attempt against his country’s constitution precipiatated the response to it. Discussions of what happened to Zelaya should not omit or downplay the circumstances that led to his job loss.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.