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Coup? Not So Fast

CNN tells us that Honduras president detained, sent to Costa Rica, official says

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (CNN) — Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya arrived in Costa Rica on Sunday after a military-led coup, a Honduran government official told CNN.

The Honduran military arrested Zelaya early Sunday morning, the same day he vowed to follow through with a referendum that Honduras’ Supreme Court had ruled illegal.

“They detained the president and sent him out of the country,” the government official said.

A military team entered the president’s residence and met resistance from Zelaya’s guards, the official said.

The official at first said Zelaya was injured, but later said it appeared he had not been.

Military guards were seen walking around the capital, but there appeared to be no unrest, according to Radio America.

Zelaya, a leftist elected in 2005, has found himself pitted against the other branches of government and military leaders over the issue of Sunday’s planned referendum. It would ask voters to place a measure on November’s ballot allowing the formation of a constitutional assembly that could modify the nation’s charter to allow the president to run for another term.

His four-year term ends in January 2010, and he cannot run for re-election under current law.

Except the military took Zelaya to Costa Rica on orders from the Honduran Supreme Court after he ignored its ruling that his referendum was unconstitutional. The Court also ruled that he couldn’t replace the head of the Honduran armed forces for refusing to carry out an order to assist in the referendum.

Also omitted was the fact that the Honduran legislature was beginning their impeachment process against Zelaya for his actions.

From the outside it seems rather obvious that Zelaya is the one violating all the laws of Honduras and that CNN was talking to one of Zelaya’s supporters in the government.

7 comments

1 jams O'Donnell { 06.28.09 at 3:18 pm }

I’m still very, very uneasy at the idea of the ilitary removing any elected leader. Zelaya sounds like an ass but he was out the door in a few months
.-= ´s last blog ..Simin Behbahani on NPR =-.

2 Bryan { 06.28.09 at 4:36 pm }

It is a problem, Jams. The US Supreme Court is dependent on the President to enforce its rulings, and they have no other way of doing it. I would assume that the Honduran Supreme Court was in the same bind and asked the military for help.

If their system is set up like the US there are three separate branches that are nominally equal, but only the Executive has the power to enforce a ruling.

In Britain the Parliament is the center of power and a Prime Minister is subject to instant removal when s/he oversteps their authority.

There is no good way of handling a situation like this, but there don’t seem to be riots in the street yet.

If Zelaya had a program he should have been pursuing it, not pursuing a way to extend his hold on power. If he couldn’t get his program through in the first four years, why would he think he could pass it in another four?

It is the experience of “president for life” that leads American republics to have restrictions on the terms of president. Presidents are term-limited in the US. There are ways of amending the Honduran constitution, but his way was apparently not one of them.

3 news writer { 06.28.09 at 5:10 pm }

actually it looks kinda like a left hand-right hand thing. CNN reported the stuff you mentioned yesterday or the day before … my mind blurs … but whoever wrote this didn’t know that and didn’t go check it out.
.-= ´s last blog ..Enough with Nancy Pelosi =-.

4 news writer { 06.28.09 at 5:10 pm }

whoops. included link with old blog. new blog in this one.
.-= ´s last blog ..Exhausting the possibilities =-.

5 Bryan { 06.28.09 at 7:46 pm }

It was probably the lack of a Michael Jackson tie-in that confused the author.

The Honduran Congress has replaced Zelaya with the president of Congress as stated in the Constitution. Roberto Micheletti is from Zelaya’s party, so it wasn’t political. Zelaya just couldn’t convince anyone to support his plan, even though his party controlled Congress.

You can’t amend the US Constitution via a referendum, so I don’t see why people should complain that you can’t use that route to change the Honduran constitution.

OT: It would be nice if CNN included maps, like the BBC, so Americans could figure out where these countries are.

6 Steve Bates { 06.29.09 at 8:29 pm }

“It would be nice if CNN included maps, like the BBC…”

No kidding! It’s not as if Central American countries are “exotic.” My housemate has been to more than one. All my coworkers at the branch of U.T. for which I wrote s/w in the 1980’s had been to several; my particular project was about Mexico and corresponding border towns in the U.S., but Guatemala, Honduras, etc. were most certainly on the list of countries in which these people… basically public health researchers… had lived, worked and done research. These places are simply not “odd,” and U.S. citizens ought to know at least a minimal amount about them. Good grief; how provincial we all are.
===
I suspect most Americans are as hesitant about changing the U.S. Constitution as I am. If only those same Americans weren’t such American exceptionalists…

7 Bryan { 06.29.09 at 8:59 pm }

We spent enough time mucking about down there under Reagan, and they take a pounding from hurricanes, so people should know where they are. I just believe that the media has a duty to educate as well as inform.

When I was in high school our foreign exchange student was from Guatemala and my older brother had a lot of friends from South America in college. He was in the Peace Corps in Colombia, after college, so I have always been aware of the area.

Most Americans eat their bananas and drink their coffee without even being aware of their existence.

I’m not comfortable with changing constitutions without good cause, and I didn’t hear any good cause coming from Zelaya.