Golpe de Estado in Honduras: Upholding the "Constitution"

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It reads: This is the home of the people who do not want the military coup

UPDATE: 1:00pm (June 30)

Protesters are still out in the streets as the social movements that is defying the military coup is calling for the return of Zelaya and an end to the military rule.

According to sources, the protests that began as vigils have turned violent. In signs of desperation, the Honduran military is repressing its own population. Thus far, dozens have been injured by tear gas, rubber bullets and billy clubs, and two killed – including hit-and-run death of a man by an military vehicle. From Laura Carlsen:

The scoreboard in the battle for Honduras shows the coup losing badly. It has not gained a single point in the international diplomatic arena, it has no serious legal points, and the Honduran people are mobilizing against it. As the military and coup leaders resort to brute force, they rack up even more points against them in human rights and common decency.

Only one factor brought the coup to power and only one factor has enabled it to hold on for these few days–control of the armed forces. Now even that seems to be eroding.

The 4th Battalion (Atlántida Department) and the 10th Battalion have declared that it will not respect orders from the Micheletti government. As with Venezuela in 2002, the coup seems to be faltering and military personnel are moving aside in hopes of securing employment when Zelaya returns (as early as Thursday, accompanied with Argentine President Cristina Fernández).

The US does not call this a coup to preserve aid and trade routes. With the US in firm control – in terms of remittances, free trade agreements, military support – it is becoming increasingly duplicitous in it having such a strong hand, yet paying mere lip service to democracy in Honduras.

Speaking of paying lip service, Mex Files highlights the string of “progressive” voices, especially within government circles, that actually have to weigh the “good coup, bad coup” dichotomy.

It’s not surprising (as I commented on that site) that U.S. policy experts get Latin American political events so wrong (I’m not alone in posting on the factual errors in Aravosis’ post… which he based solely on the International Herald-Tribune.

When even the Latin American Herald-Tribune managed to get the facts straight, it’s pretty obvious that Aravosis, like other U.S. experts, just doesn’t look at data from Latin America. Geeze, he could have read the Latin American Herald-Tribune or Inca Kola News (hardly a lefty site, being a business publication), or any almost any newspaper in Latin America and saved himself from looking like a shill for the very people he supposedly opposes.

Which brings us to the Latin American Herald Tribune – and their editorial this morning, “Who Violated the Constitution in Honduras?” For those who do not know, each issue comes with a piece by “VenEconomy,” “a leading provider of consultancy on financial, political and economic data in Venezuela since 1982.” Thus, it is not surprising that it was Zelaya, not the military, that violated the Constitution in Honduras.

A conglomeration like VenEconomy, which opposed the speed of Chavez’s referendum last February, is (not surprisingly) in league with the golpistas in Honduras. This is also not surprising due the historic stability of military dictatorships during the Cold War – to say nothing of the civilian debt and chaos that came out of this time. Zelaya violated the Constitution – he is a cuadillo seeking dictatorship; he defied the Supreme Court, the most corrupt in Latin America, by not reinstating General Vásquez Velásquez; he is in league with Hugo Chavez – and now the OAS will “once again, succumb to the demagogic temptation to defend certain fledgling dictators disguised as democrats.”

Of course, when reading the coverage today, remember two things. One, the Constitution, as it was written in 1983, was violated by Zelaya. It forbids referendums, repeals or amendments to election laws, etc. to be filed within six months of national election. As Peter Hakim wrote, and it is hard to disagree with:

“Zelaya was part of the problem,” said Peter Hakim, president of the Inter-American Dialogue policy institute. “He’s partly responsible for what happened. He was pushing too hard on a very fragile political institution. He was just plowing ahead against the wishes of every political institution, including his own political party.”

Second, there are powerful forces at play supporting this coup that come from the right and the wealthy (the same mask, it turns out). Zelaya, in pursuing policies that actually gave voice to the majority voiceless in Honduras (for the purposes of changing the Constitution or otherwise…) harmed his standing with traditional power vacuums in the country.

Yet both obscures the point. The eccentricities of Chavez, Carrera, Zelaya are fun and interesting – they beguile “revolutionaries” on the left, inflame oligarchs to the right, and prove to clear eyed observers that power, left or right, is often not as important nor intriguing as the news on the street. Zelaya, a wealthy landowner in a land with few owners, still went out of his way, to move his politics leftward and sought, with his little time left in office, to give voice to the indigenous and women minorities in the country – neither of whom have voice in this violated Constitution that we must uphold.

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~ by Daniel on June 30, 2009.

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