Future uncertain for Honduras
The decision of the Supreme Court of Honduras to order the military to seize President Jos’eacute; Manuel Zelaya Rosales at 5 a.m. June 28 and fly him to Costa Rica has met opposition from the international community, which refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the government, led by interim president Roberto Micheletti.
Prior to his dismissal from office, Zelaya initiated what he called a ‘simple non-binding survey,’ meant only to determine the public’s opinion concerning the addition of a fourth ballot, la cuarta urna, in November’s presidential elections.
This ballot would call for a reform of Article 239 in the Honduran Constitution, which says a president is limited to one term (four years) in office and calls for the immediate removal of someone who tries to challenge it.
Article 239 is one of the seven articles in the Honduran Constitution that cannot be reformed, according to Article 347.
Zelaya continued with his attempts to hold the voting as planned, despite warnings that his actions were illegal from both the Supreme Court and the National Congress of Honduras.
Zelaya’s actions raised public concern within Honduras that his intentions were to create a government of continuism, like his ally, Hugo Chavez, has done in Venezuela.
Until June 28, the international community had a different opinion of Zelaya, said Alvaro Vargas Llosa, an analyst of Latin American politics who writes for various newspapers including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
‘(On June 26), there was an OAS (Organization of American States) resolution very different from the one given (June 30),’ Vargas Llosa said in an interview with CNN Espa’ntilde;ol’s Alberto Padilla. ‘Furthermore, Zelaya was not given support because it could be seen that he was playing a very irresponsible game and had, in a certain way, placed himself above the law.’
The OAS has suspended Honduras from the organization and lent its full support to Zelaya’s return to power.
Zelaya’s detractors have experienced difficulty finding support for the actions of the Honduran government among leaders in the international community, including the United Nations and the OAS, which have called the removal a ‘coup d”eacute;tat’ and a threat to democracy.
Micheletti has insisted that the actions taken June 28 were done so in the name of democracy, not against it.
‘A military coup destroys all the organisms of the state. The military takes power or whoever the military is in alliance with,’ Micheletti said in an exclusive interview with Jorge Ramos in Al Punto Univision. ‘What happened here is that the military, for which we have the outmost respect and appreciation, is following a judicial order.’
The Wall Street Journal supported Micheletti’s assertions in an article titled ‘The Wages of Chavismo,’ which was published July 2.
‘As military ‘coups’ go, the one (on June 28) in Honduras was strangely, well, democratic,’ the article said. ‘Maybe it is time to sort the real from the phony Latin America democrats (referring to Chavez and Castro).’
Zelaya insists that his intention was never to run again for office, but to simply hold a survey.
‘The only crime we have committed against that elite aristocracy that manages Honduras is to say that we are going to ask the public if they want to have a fourth ballot on the day of elections,’ Zelaya said to Jorge Ramos in Al Punto.
When Ramos asked whether Zelaya would attempt to stay in power longer than his official term in office if he was reinstated, Zelaya said, ‘Not one second more, nor one second less.’
The biggest question remaining is also the one no one is willing to negotiate on: the future of Honduras.
Both presidents insist on the legitimacy of their presidency, yet Micheletti appears to have only a few friends in the international community while Zelaya appears to have only a few friends in Honduras. The overwhelming majority of the Honduran government, including the Court and Congress and Houston’s Consulate, have turned against Zelaya.
‘Honduras has the right to be heard by the world concerning the reasons for which Zelaya was removed from office, reasons we will gladly provide when solicited,’ Houston’s vice consule Suyapa Vivas said.
Though it appears that a majority of Hondurans are in favor of the exile, the polarization in public opinion cannot be denied.
Honduran citizen Esther Hirsh said she supports Micheletti, but wants to see the turmoil come to a close.
‘I wouldn’t like that happening, but I believe it is the right thing as long as he swears to give the presidency up when he has to, January 27th.’
UH alumnus and native Honduran Jose Duarte said he does not want Zelaya to return.
‘There was no military ‘coup’ as it is being said by many international networks,’ Duarte said. ‘Zelaya was ousted because he had violated the constitutional law multiple times.’