Honduran President Arrested (Updated)

I know it is hard to believe but there are other things going on in the world than Iran (have we forgotten about that already?) and Michael Jackson (I’ll keep my mouth shut about that).

The President of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, was arrested shortly before a vote on a referendum was set to take place that would decide whether he would be able to seek a second term.  According to the Honduran constitution, the President is allowed only one term, and his was set to expire in January of 2010.  So Zelaya decided that he would hold a referendum to try to win another term.  Unfortunately for him, many others in government (even within his own party) did not like the idea.  So someone (most likely in the military) had him arrested.

But the part that is most interesting to me is this from the BBC:

In an interview with Spain’s El Pais newspaper published on Sunday, Mr Zelaya – an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez – said a planned coup attempt against him had been thwarted after the US refused to back it.

“Everything was in place for the coup and if the US embassy had approved it, it would have happened. But they did not,” Mr Zeleya said.

“I’m only still here in office thanks to the United States.”

I have no way of knowing if this is true or not, but it is interesting.  And considering the way that Latin America has been dealt with in the past, I would not be surprised at all.

UPDATE: Well, I knew as soon as I first saw an article on this that it would be a big story.  But it seems that this story is even more complicated than I first realized.

First, I do not believe that the US had anything to do with Zelaya’s ouster.

In addition, I do not believe that Zelaya was even ousted in a coup.  At least not in the traditional sense.  He was trying essentially to subvert the Congress by taking his referendum directly to the people.  But his referendum would have changed the Constitution, but in Honduras any change in the Constitution must first come from Congress and then to the people.  But since Congress would not go along with Zelaya’s plan, he decided to just hold a referendum on his own.

The Supreme Court then ruled the referendum illegal and told the military not to go through the normal processes that would take place during an election.  I find it curious that the military runs the elections in Honduras, but who am I to criticize.  After Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, the top military commander, told Zelaya that he wouldn’t run the election, Zelaya fired him.

So just before the election was to be held, the Congress told the military to arrest the President.  They did so.  And then took him to Costa Rica.  I don’t really know how constitutional it is to arrest the President and take him to another country, but it does seem that Zelaya was doing things that were technically illegal, and the Congress dealt with them in the best way they knew how.  Fortunately, I have not read that anyone was hurt when he was arrested.

Of course, some in the country have been protesting Zelaya’s ouster, and there is fighting in the streets.  Hopefully order can be restored with a minimal amount of bloodshed.  I would hate to see a situation like the one in Iran.

Something else that I find curious is the people that are supporting Zelaya.  Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega, Hillary Clinton and even Barack Obama are calling for his return to power.  Perhaps that is because of how he was taken or perhaps there is more to the story than we are being told.

This is certainly a complicated situation and it is hard to know what is going on without being there, but the way that this is being labeled a military coup seems disingenuous.  Especially since the military was not in power after Zelaya was taken and is not in power now.  In fact, the person who would be in charge should something happen to the sitting President is the one who is now in power, as the Honduran Constitution dictates.

(Yes, I am so nerdy/wonky, that I am in the process of reading the entire Honduran Constitution with the help of Google Translate.)

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2 Responses to “Honduran President Arrested (Updated)”

  1. Mort the Sport Says:

    I don’t know much about Latin American politics, but it’s interesting that elected officials are so outspoken about how much power the U.S. has in these kinds of matters. If it is true, I wonder why the coup attempt was thwarted.

  2. Mort the Sport Says:

    I think the fact that you’re planning to read the entire Honduran constitution tells me that you really need to go back to school. Any poli-sci professor at VVC would cream his pants to have you as a student.

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