Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 7, 2009

A COUP CAUCUS.... Late last week, Sen. Jim DeMint (R) of South Carolina became the first U.S. senator to break with the position of the government and endorse the military-backed coup in Honduras. He issued a statement denouncing the democratically-elected president and heralding those responsible for the coup as "guarantee[ing] freedom."

He, apparently, wasn't the last. Mark Leon Goldberg reports today on the emergency of a congressional coup caucus.

Support for the coup in Honduras extends beyond the pages of right wing political magazines to the United States Congress. Tomorrow, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen will host a private meeting for her Republican colleagues with former Honduran President Ricardo Maduro and former Costa Rican Ambassador to the U.S. Jaime Daremblum. According to the invitation, obtained by UN Dispatch, "President Maduro will help to outline the sequence of events leading to the shift in power in Honduras and removal of Manuel Zelaya; provide insight into Honduran constitutional authorities; and discuss how the U.S. can now work to support the democratic institutions and rule of law in Honduras." Ambassador Daremblum will discuss his Weekly Standard piece titled "A Coup for Democracy."

In related news, Florida Republican Connie Mack is circulating a congressional resolution that effectively supports the coup. So far, the Congressional Coup Caucus includes Dan Burton (Republican from Indiana), Jeff Fortenberry (Republican from Nebraska) and Dana Rohrabacher (Republican from California) who are co-sponsoring the resolution.

Among the resolution's provisions is this gem: "Whereas since his removal, Mr. Zelaya has been flown around the hemisphere by Hugo Chavez's private jets."

It doesn't elaborate -- the association with Chavez is apparently supposed to be self-evidently scandalous, and grounds for supporting the coup.

Steve Benen 4:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (55)

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Comments

So if Obama orders the military to arrest these guys and throw them out of the country, they'll be down with it?

Posted by: JMG on July 7, 2009 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Water's edge, my ass.

Posted by: Sigh on July 7, 2009 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

It wasn't a coup.

Zelaya repeatedly broke the law, including leading a mob to steal ballots from an Army base, so finally the AG requested an arrest warrant from the SC, and it was lawfully executed by the Army, and hrs later the Congress voted to remove Zelaya from office. The Army *may* have broken the law by sending Zelaya out of the country, but even then they have a possible defense, and it is being investigated.

None of this is to excuse the subsequent crackdowns, but Zelaya's removal was not a coup.

Seriously, Steve, do a little research and stop reflexively parroting whatever the US gvmt tells you.

Posted by: Disputo on July 7, 2009 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

It was a classic coup by the RightWing wealthy class.

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 7, 2009 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

This isn't about whether the coup is right or wrong. This is about whether elected officials should be taking a public stand diametrically opposed to our President's foreign policy.

Posted by: Danp on July 7, 2009 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Democratically elected presidents do not get removed by the military. I don't give a crap if the Honduran president murdered somebody in the capitol building: you remove him legally, the way it's set up in the Constitution, because that's how the rule of law works. Anything else is well down the road to authoritarianism.

We should take note early and often here in the States: Rush Limbaugh has already spent a week talking about how we should have "something like that up here", and making other vague calls for a military coup.

Posted by: mmy on July 7, 2009 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

If Rush calls for a coup here he should immediately be arrested for seditious speech. Why does Rush hate America and democratic values?

Posted by: Patrick on July 7, 2009 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

I guess the answer to that is to loan the ousted president one of our jets and crew so that he can get from place to place until he's allowed back to his home.

It's not like he doesn't happen to own a home in Honduras that's not the Presidential Palace.

Posted by: Crissa on July 7, 2009 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

How is this not a violation of the Logan Act, which prohibits "unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments". Granted, the Logan Act has never seen a prosecution.

Posted by: anandine on July 7, 2009 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Question for the coup-supporter:

Which is more breaking the law... Refusing an order from your superior, and then ousting them from their bed and refusing them access to their home?

Or instructing civilian authorities to take something away from those refusing your orders?

Who's breaking the law, exactly?

Posted by: Crissa on July 7, 2009 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

George Bush flew around the hemisphere in Ken Lay's private jet while he was campaigning. That was OK, or was it???

Zelaya was in the process of trying to distribute referendum ballots that the Honduran Supreme Court had invalidated. The widespread fear was he was trying to become a Honduran Chavez. Zelaya could have been arrested instead of deported. The Honduran military is still getting used to this democracy thing.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on July 7, 2009 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Question for the coup-supporter:

Which is more breaking the law... Refusing an order from your superior, and then ousting them from their bed and refusing them access to their home?

Or instructing civilian authorities to take something away from those refusing your orders?

Who's breaking the law, exactly?

Posted by: Crissa on July 7, 2009 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

These corporatist congress people are shameless in trying to support a coup as opposed to a democratically elected government...only because it would increase their ability to steal the resources of these countries or increase their ability to profiteer off their citizens.

Chavez cares more for the people than these greedy corporatists are even capable of feeling...he just refuses to do business with them. Our congress reps should not be allowed to give public support in private mtgs without a public mandate. Who the hell do they think they are inviting these people into our political arena without our permission or without a public agenda. What next...Mexican drug lords who want to overthrow the Mexican gov.??.

The FBI should be called in to prevent mis guided congressmen and women from publicly supporting another nation's traitors, guilty in that nation of treason without first getting the approval of the people they are supposed to represent.

Just who do these Americans think they are supporting the overthrow of a democratically elected government while maintaining public office in our nation without a public mandate. We pay their salaries...but not for freelancing to foreign nations their advice on the public's dime.

Posted by: bjobotts on July 7, 2009 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Late last week, Sen. Jim DeMint (R) of South Carolina became the first U.S. senator to break with the position of the government and endorse the military-backed coup in Honduras.

Politics is supposed to stop at the water's edge. Of course, Republicans castigated Nancy Pelosi for freelance diplomacy even when she wasn't doing it. But Senator DeMint can undercut the President's position, and IOKIYAR.

Posted by: Gregory on July 7, 2009 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

As for Chavez, the only thing that kept Bush from going to war against Venezuela was that he had already sent his army to Iraq.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on July 7, 2009 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Disputo on July 7, 2009 at 4:40 PM

Thanks for the updated info...but even then our public reps on the public's salary have no right to get into this based on their own personal corporate profiteering whim. Giving an opinion to the press is one thing but inviting participants into private mtgs and group involvement without the public's approval is a distraction from their job and congressional duties. They have no business doing this.

Posted by: bjobotts on July 7, 2009 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

As for Chavez, the only thing that kept Bush from going to war against Venezuela was that he had already sent his army to Iraq.

That and he forgot to include Venezuela (and Cuba) amongst his 'Axis of Evil.' Kinda makes you wonder where those WMDs disappeared to, don't it??

Posted by: Monty on July 7, 2009 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Disputo, if the president is breaking the law you impeach him, not kidnap him and toss him on a plane to Costa Rica. Honduras has been a stable democracy with the Nationals and Liberals regularly exchanging power. Now this is all at risk. The US needs to do exactly what it is doing, move carefully with the support of the OAS to resolve the situation peaceably.

Why do Republicans hate democracy? They certainly have a soft spot for military governments. These clowns still support the 1950’s coups by the CIA in Guatemala and Iran. The coup in Iran eventually resulted in the present Islamic Republic we all know and love, while the coupe in Guatemala resulted in 30 years of instability and civil war with deaths of 200,000 people. Republicans always think diplomacy can be short circuited with military action, covert or otherwise. The amazing thing is that they never learn a thing from their failures.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on July 7, 2009 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

The situation in Honduras is not a straightforward military coup in the traditional sense of the word. Although I am not an expert on what happened, I at least understand that what the US constitution considers illegal may not be the same as what the Honduras constitution may consider illegal. So, it is likely that impeachment is not done in the same way in Honduras. In this case, I believe the Honduras Supreme court ordered Zelaya's removal (BBC). I do think something not quite legit happened and I agree with Danp that elected US officials shouldn't be so excited to oppose the president on the international arena. However, I am not sure that this really was a coup.

Posted by: Elisa A. on July 7, 2009 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Among the resolution's provisions is this gem: "Whereas since his removal, Mr. Zelaya has been flown around the hemisphere by Hugo Chavez's private jets."


Hugo is the new Fidel...

Posted by: kanopsis on July 7, 2009 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

If a president gets removed by the military, the obligation is for the military to dot "i"s and cross "t"s in advance.

Any imperfections render the entire action defective.

Absent a crystal-clear, irrefutable case, elections should trump the will of the military.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on July 7, 2009 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

dr sardonicus,

"As for Chavez, the only thing that kept Bush from going to war against Venezuela was that he had already sent his army to Iraq."

The Bushies had already attempted three coups against President Chavez, with one almost succeeding.

The RightWing is all in favor of elections if they can steal them, but if they can't, then they gin up bogus charges and stage a military coup.

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 7, 2009 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

The RightWing is all in favor of elections if they can steal them, but if they can't, then they gin up bogus charges and stage a military coup.

Amen.

Posted by: trex on July 7, 2009 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

The RightWing is all in favor of elections if they can steal them, but if they can't, then they gin up bogus charges and stage a military coup.

Ridiculous. These are not advanced countries. Sometimes people aren't ready for democracy, and they have to get it at the end of a gun.

Posted by: Myke K on July 7, 2009 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

The supreme court ruled that Zelaya violated the Honduran Constitution, which states that any "proposal" by a President to revise the constitution would "immediately cease duties" as President.

It was designed this way to specifically prohibit political subversion of the type employed by the military in the 60s and 70s to take and maintain power. Hugo Chavez has also used these tactics to make himself life-long president in Venezuela.

When Zelaya announced the referendum regarding modifying the constitution, he automatically relinquished the presidency. There was no coup because when he was arrested, ordered by 125-3 congressional vote including nearly all of Zelaya's party, he simply was no longer president.

The army apparently decided on its own to get him out of the country, to keep the peace.

You'd think Obama and Hillary, both lawyers, would be aware of this.

Posted by: Matt on July 7, 2009 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Costa Rica's Arias will mediate, which calms things a bit.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090707/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/lt_honduras_coup

Posted by: Matt on July 7, 2009 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

The discussion of this issue is as stupid and pointless as our Polity gets.

Any discussion should be based on what the Honduran Constitution says, and what is a good policy for the United States to take for us, who favor the Rule of Law and for the Honduran people.

Posted by: tjproudamerican on July 7, 2009 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

Matt, the constitution says only that asking to change the president's term limit is illegal. Not the referendum or asking for a referendum or constitutional change or whatever the stuff you were on about.

Also, if he was to give up the presidency, [b]why is he forbidden from entering the country[/b] instead of being send back to his farm? He wasn't arrested, he was tossed out of the country of his birth! That's not legal under the Honduran constitution. Somewhere in this el cid diary at Kos has details, but hey, tools, giving you.

*sigh*

Posted by: Crissa on July 7, 2009 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

The removal was perfectly legal under the Honduran constitution, which allows the military to remove the president for seeking to end presidential term limits (see Article 272).

Obama and Clinton don't realize that because they inexplicably failed to do their homework and read the country's constitution.

A commenter above, echoing the administration, says "democratically elected presidents do not get removed by the military. I don't give a crap if the Honduran president murdered somebody in the capitol building: you remove him legally, the way it's set up in the Constitution, because that's how the rule of law works."

Well, Honduras doesn't have a well-developed impeachment mechanism (thanks to a recent constitutional amendment). So it's not clear there is any alternative "legal" impeachment mechanism akin to ours.

By contrast, it does have a clearly set-out ban on presidents even holding office if they so much as PROPOSE to end presidential term limits (article 239), and clearly lets the military enforce it (article 272).

Yes, it sounds weird, but that's the law.

And in rare cases -- such as where people fear the president is going to mount a coup of his own (as the Honduran supreme court and congress feared) it actually may make sense.

In the U.S., court orders are unusually enforced by U.S. marshalls. But the military has gotten involved in extreme cases -- such as enforcing the court order to desegregate the Little Rock schools in 1957, when the order was opposed by a state's chief executive, the Arkansas Governor.

Maybe that's analogous to what happened here.

Moreover, at the end of the day, the Honduran president was replaced by another civilian, the Congressional leader, so it's not a "military coup."

Posted by: Hans Bader on July 7, 2009 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

the Honduran constitution, which states that any "proposal" by a President to revise the constitution would "immediately cease duties" as President.

The Honduran constitution does not state this. It states that anyone who would propose changing the term limits will "immediately case duties." Zelaya did not do that. In fact, the question on the poll that he was planning on taking before he was unlawfully abducted by the military never mentioned term limits.

Hugo Chavez has also used these tactics to make himself life-long president in Venezuela

Uh, people keep re-electing Chavez. He must be doing something right.

Speaking of tactics, the new illegitimate government has arrested journalists, arrested ambassadors to other countries, arrested members of political parties, shuttered the media, and instituted a curfew. The leader of the army has gone on record saying that we will never support a "leftist" candidate so presumably Hondurans will never be free to vote for one.

Democracy at its finest. The Honduran constitution is SAVED!

Posted by: trex on July 7, 2009 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

According to Article 239:

"No citizen who has already served as head of the Executive Branch can be President or Vice-President. Whoever violates this law or proposes its reform [emphasis added], as well as those that support such violation directly or indirectly, will immediately cease in their functions and will be unable to hold any public office for a period of 10 years."

I believe it also says that only the Congress can call for revision or revise the constitution.

As to the manner of his leaving the country or returning, I don't know. My point has simply been that the coup everyone has been crowing about never happened because Zelaya was arrested after he had already relinquished the presidency.


*sigh*

Posted by: Matt on July 7, 2009 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

In fact, the question on the poll that he was planning on taking before he was unlawfully abducted by the military never mentioned term limits.

My understanding was that the very clear implication of Zelaya's referendum was that the constituent assembly to be elected would, among other things, end the ban on presidential re-election.

The whole thing seems like a total mess to me. I have little sympathy for either pseudo-leftist thugs like Chavez and Zelaya or right wing stooges like those who overthrew him. Zelaya seems to have been acting illegally, and so do those who launched the coup. The whole thing is a mess. I hope it works out in a way that preserves Honduran democracy, but I'm not going to root for either side in this - they're both pretty miserable.

Posted by: John on July 7, 2009 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

What did Zelaya's referendum actually propose to vote on?

Wapo: President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras was to oversee a non-binding referendum Sunday on his effort to alter the nation's constitution to allow him to seek a second term in office. Instead, he was roused from bed by his own military, escorted to the airport, and put on a plane to Costa Rica.


I suppose we'll find out at some point what actually did happen.

Posted by: Matt on July 7, 2009 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

For years, liberals supported socialist and communist regimes far from the water's edge. Now that the shoe is on the other foot and Republicans are supporting democracy and the rule of law, Democrats are whining.

Posted by: Al Jr. on July 7, 2009 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

What did Zelaya's referendum actually propose to vote on?

Here is the ballot question:

"Do you agree that, during the general elections of November 2009 there should be a fourth ballot to decide whether to hold a Constituent National Assembly that will approve a new political constitution?"

Any reference to term limits?

No. So Article 239 is not invoked.

Furthermore, the poll would have been non-binding. Just an opinion poll. And people could have simply voted "no." Or they could have voted yes and the Assembly never taken up the question of term limits.

And Zelaya did not stand to benefit, at least not in the short term. Because he can only serve one term, his name was not on the ballot for November. So he was not using "Chavez-style tactics" to stay in office.

At this point you need to ask yourself: then why did he do it? You can't answer that question because you are trying to do analysis in a vacuum of the political realities there. Analyses made in vacuums are worthless, except as self-serving ideological tropes.

Posted by: trex on July 7, 2009 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

I'm really starting to wonder about what these coup-supporters are actually thinking. Do they honestly believe that misreading the Honduras Constitution, misrepresenting the ballot referendum, or even claiming that it wasn't really a coup, excuses any of this?

Or are they just being disingenuous?

Posted by: Shade Tail on July 7, 2009 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

Matt,

"The supreme court ruled that Zelaya violated the Honduran Constitution"

And the RightWing Gang of Five on our Supreme Court unconstitutionally installed Chimpy.

American RightWing, Honduran RightWing. Monkey See, Monkey Do.


"Hugo Chavez has also used these tactics to make himself life-long president in Venezuela."

That would be news to all those Venezuelan citizens that keep reelecting him by very large majorities. Gee, I wonder what they know that you don't know ?

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 7, 2009 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

Who stands to benefit from this crisis?

The crisis instigator, it seems.

What might those benefits be?

1 more power/popularity with voter segments
2 even a non-binding ref if approved is an embarrassment, weakens the govt institutions
3 possibly more powers under a modified constitution
4 possibly new term under " "
What do the other branches gain from this crisis?
Uhhhh.....Not much

(and the BONUS QUESTION for a free month's supply of GLOP denture adhesive)

Why provoke this crisis with term ending in just 6 mos

Uhhhhhhh...Uhhhhhhh...for those BENEFITS!!!! especially #4!!!!!!!!


(YOU WIN a bunch of sticky gooey GLOP!!!!)

Posted by: Matt on July 7, 2009 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

What do the other branches gain from this crisis?
Uhhhh.....Not much

You are a blithering idiot.

Uhhhhhhh...Uhhhhhhh...for those BENEFITS!!!! especially #4!!!!!!!!

Look, you ridiculous fucking moron. He CAN'T get elected in November because he's not on the fucking ballot. IF a constitutional convention ever came to pass -- and that's a big if -- it would likely take years to convene and discuss changes to the constitution which Zelaya would have nothing to do with.

HE. WOULDN'T. STAY. IN. POWER.

There, I typed it slow and shouted so you could understand it. I have pieces of furniture in my living room that grasp this issue better than you do. If you had two heads you could use them for bookends.

He "provoked the crisis" because he wants to give Hondurans a chance to democratically change their constitution so they are not so totally fucked by the oligarchy there. 70% people in poverty? That's not a problem for the 30% who aren't and who will make sure that 70% never shrinks.

It may interest you to know -- or it may not, because you're content to stand there in the street wanking away with complete abandon and a huge stupid grin on your face -- that even people who couldn't stand Zelaya are out on the streets protesting ...because they, unlike you, recognize a takeover of their government when they see one.

Posted by: trex on July 7, 2009 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

Could trex (ooo scary) be any more delusional. As soon as he gets his head out of ass, I have a bridge to sell him. Zelaya is a saint I tell you, see I TYPE IN CAPS. What an idiot.

Posted by: any on July 7, 2009 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

Easy there, O Brilliant One.

Please bless us with your breakdown of who benefits what from this before and after trainwreck.

Posted by: Matt on July 8, 2009 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

Please bless us with your breakdown of who benefits what from this before and after trainwreck.

Zelaya was elected as a center-right candidate. But once elected, he really began to govern from the left, instituting social programs that helped the poor: school lunches, aid for the elderly, roads to rural areas, cheaper public transportation, scholarships. This pissed off the people who got him elected, including his own party, and shocked the people who'd opposed his election as he was now working for their benefit.

The ruling class in Honduras thought that Zelaya was their man but he turned out to be a man of the people -- which is why hundreds of thousands of people are now out marching for him. The issue around changing the constitution was never about keeping himself in office; he's out in January, period. But he clearly wanted the people who are currently disenfranchised in Honduras to have a chance at voicing their opinion on amendments to the constitution that gave more rights to indigenous peoples and workers after the style of the recent changes to the Venezuelan constitution. And he know that none of the candidates running for president were likely to propose such a thing if they won, bringing into sharp relief whose interests they really serve.

The hard, cold reality is that this is a class struggle in Honduras, pure and simple. The reason he was deposed was not because he was trying to stay in power, but because he was trying to give a voice to the citizens who otherwise have none through a simple poll. Had the majority voted that they wanted a new constitutional convention -- and they likely would have -- that would have put political pressure on the members of the Assembly who live largely in the pockets of corporations. And were they to resist calling a convention, it would foment more unrest.

They can't ever allow that question to be answered, because the truth of it would change the history of their country. You've read what the army chief Vasquez said: he and his military "won't serve a leftist," no matter who that person is. That's because they've been trained to fight leftists in the School of the Americas, something he actually referenced in his interview.

So you have a cabal of corporate and military interests conspiring to make sure that the money and power remain in the hands of the elite, and that the poor stay poor.

The truth of it is that Zelaya was very careful to find a way to possibly effect change that didn't run afoul of the Constitution. IF the poll had been positive and IF there were then a constitutional convention and IF that convention changed term limits (without grandfathering in restrictions on past presidents) THEN Zelaya may have run again in four years, depending on his prospects.

Is that the work of some kind of dictator? No, it's quite the opposite.

If you don't give a shit about the people who are trampled on in these countries, particularly the indigenous, then you're going to think the removal of Zelaya is a fantastic thing. But if you think the poor don't deserve to be treated like animals while asshole upper managers at Dole get more gold-plated faucets for their yachts, then you'd see this as a tragic chance for some real social justice go down the drain.

Even if you hate Zelaya, and many Hondurans do, you've got to see this is a terrible precedent for the country, particularly with how the new "government" is comporting itself and the admissions of the military that they're not going to stand around and let democracy happen if it means the people electing a left-wing candidate. The Honduran constitution allows for people to express their will through protest, yet the military was shooting out the wheels of buses so protesters could not make it to the airport.

Democracy, this is not.

Posted by: trex on July 8, 2009 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

Joe Friday: That would be news to all those Venezuelan citizens that keep reelecting him [Hugo Chavez] by very large majorities.

Hugo Chavez probably stole the recall election. Independent observers and even the election commission members were prohibited from observing the counting of the ballots. The case for theft is much stronger than Florida 2000 or Ohio 2004.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on July 8, 2009 at 2:22 AM | PERMALINK

Jim Demented really needs to pay attetion to his state and his constituents. Nobody asked you (Senator Demented) what you thought or might be thinking of the situation in Honduras. Dear Jim, STFU and let the professionals (instead of another Southern republican mouthpiece) handle this one. Thanks!

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on July 8, 2009 at 4:16 AM | PERMALINK

You're a very patient man, trex.

Posted by: shortstop on July 8, 2009 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

Marler wrote: The case for theft is much stronger than Florida 2000

Bullshit. There's no smoking gun in Venezuela to match Bush v Gore.

Nice to see you once again dropping your feeble pretense as an honest commentator, Marler. Shame on you.

Posted by: Gregory on July 8, 2009 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

The hard, cold reality is that this is a class struggle in Honduras, pure and simple.

And Marler's here carrying water for the privileged class, to the point of defending a military coup. Imagine my surprise.

Posted by: Gregory on July 8, 2009 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

Thank you, Trex, for that exposition.

Leading up to the "coup", I read somewhere that Zelaya was polling in the 30s. Assuming that's correct, wouldn't a Robin Hood-like figure pulling for the oppressed majority like you've described have stronger numbers?

Posted by: Matt on July 8, 2009 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Leading up to the "coup", I read somewhere that Zelaya was polling in the 30s. Assuming that's correct, wouldn't a Robin Hood-like figure pulling for the oppressed majority like you've described have stronger numbers?

He would if he were Robin Hood, but he's not. He's sort of a dipshit; his attempts at courting the poor have been clumsy and awkward, marred by the same kind of vainglory and love of self that detracts from Hugo Chavez' otherwise high ideals. He isn't a far leftist -- there's just no such candidate or party in Honduras -- but he became left enough to piss off the elite, and because Zelaya had met with Chavez and was very taken with him it was easy to accuse him of wanting to bring "Chavez-style socialism" to Honduras and make the charges sound plausible, particularly around term limits.

One of the very groups (of wealthier citizens) dedicated to getting Zelaya out of office and making sure he never extended term limits is now fighting the coup -- because it is a coup, and that's not what they wanted either.

Posted by: trex on July 8, 2009 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

Matt, your vague reference Zelaya's popularity or lack thereof is irrelevant to the fact that he was deposed in a military coup -- no scare quotes needed, thanks -- for the reasons trex outlined.

Surely you aren't intellectually dishonest enough to assert that Zelaya was unpopular, and therefore he must not have been working for the masses in his country?

Posted by: Gregory on July 8, 2009 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Most insightful media piece I've read thus far. The evangelicals are continuously involved in missions in Honduras, so they have a pretty good handle on things down there.

http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctliveblog/archives/2009/07/honduras_coup_w.html

The comments are pretty good as well. Here's one:


I am a missionary in Honduras. When there is a flood, I get my feet wet and help the people, Chavez and Ex President Mel Zelaya do not. When there is a hurricane, I distribute food and care for the sick, Mel Zelaya is never there EXCEPT for photos.

I remember clearly when a load of foam bed matresses arrived at a flood site, all the photos were taken and then they were "taken to a warehouse to be distributed" or so said Mel's right hand congressman Eleazer Juarez. The truck drove off, the same matresses were shown at another flood sight, more photos and then the matresses were never seen again. Forget the poor, get the publicity.

Posted by: Matt on July 8, 2009 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

This is from the above article:

...Honduran president Zelaya began a full-out effort to reform the constitution in March of this year by announcing a referendum to be held Sunday, June 28—the day the coup took place—to determine whether the people wanted an assembly called to rewrite the constitution before presidential elections in November. Almost immediately, the country’s political, economic and many religious leaders began lining up against this effort. The Supreme Court ruled the referendum illegal; the Congress voted to sanction the president; the attorney general’s office began investigations into possible charges; both political parties—including the president’s own—condemned his actions; and church leaders like Evelio Reyes, pastor of one of the largest evangelical churches in Honduras, began holding high-profile prayer vigils each morning in front of government offices.

Had the president done a better job during his first three years in office, his efforts may have been more popular. However his administration has been plagued by ineffectiveness and myriad accusations of corruption. During his first year in office, his administration received over $4 billion in debt forgiveness—with the chief condition that any money not spent on debt was to be invested in reducing poverty. Many organizations, including Christian NGOs, worked for over a year to define how this money could be best invested. However, Zelaya ignored their efforts and instead tried to buy votes by spending 70 percent of the money on raises for teachers and health workers, and the rest on ineffective but politically powerful “cash coupons” for the rural poor. Zelaya has also failed to deliver on promises to build houses, promote land reform, build a new international airport and fight corruption. In the meantime, he has used public funds to finance a pro-government newspaper and TV station, flashy TV and radio ads and pro-government demonstrations. Zelaya did move beyond rhetoric early this year when he impetuously hiked the minimum wage by 60 percent. The raise was desperately needed, but its overnight implementation in an already-struggling economy led to thousands of minimum-wage job losses as many businesses found it impossible to make payroll.

In short, Zelaya’s record is dismal. And that fact has led many Hondurans, including most evangelicals, to be relieved to see his ineffective and corrupt administration come to an unexpected end. Pastor Evelio Reyes, in a speech to support the new government said, “We cannot tolérate these kinds of actions. No country in the world puts up with these types of barbarities, and Honduras won’t either because we have dignity.”


I've concluded that it indeed was a coup, that there's ample blame to spread in all directions, and that my unkind initial assessment of Obama in this was not supported by the facts.

Let's hope that Arias can help patch things up and move towards a better day for everyone in Honduras.

Posted by: Matt on July 8, 2009 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Matthew,

"Hugo Chavez probably stole the recall election."

The international observers DISAGREE with you.

What a shocker.

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 8, 2009 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

I've concluded that it indeed was a coup, that there's ample blame to spread in all directions, and that my unkind initial assessment of Obama in this was not supported by the facts.

I respect and commend you for having the guts to change your mind based on the facts, and admit that your initial assessment was incorrect. I mean it.

Posted by: trex on July 8, 2009 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

Good work, trex. I owe you a hot-fudge sundae. A big one.

Posted by: shortstop on July 8, 2009 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK
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