Things always get ugly when the military and politics mixes. So what do you do when the military is your line of defence against those who would usurp your nation’s constitutional law? Is it a coup or is it a lawful removal? What about when a coup is ordered by one branch against another? These are some of the questions now arisen with the ongoing events in Honduras.
The military forces in Honduras have expelled the President of that country apparently at the order of the Honduran Supreme Court. As I understand the reports, the Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya, ignored a ruling by that court that the nonbinding referendum to change the constitution there was illegal and that the normally scheduled November elections would proceed as normal. Things are suspicious given the alleged letter of resignation and the alleged beatings of the Venezuelan and Cuban ambassadors.
More troubling, and perhaps the real impetus for the expulsion, is teh fact Zelaya was opposed by just about everyone in his country save the socialists. This includes the country’s Supreme Court, the military, and even his own party. Add to this Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s out of line statement threatening military action against Venezuela on behalf of his political ally makes me wonder just what really is going on behind the scenes: a military coup d’etat or a backlash against a socialist insurgency from Venezuela. Chavez himself is facing greater backlash from his citizens over his own socialist and statist activities such as atetmpting to extinguish the free press in Venezuela.
President Obama and others expressed concern over the expulsion and calling on all to follow the rule of law. I find it curious how quyck the administration was to respond to this event but was conversely slow to respond to the events in Iran. Perhaps because Zelaya is a leftist and Moussavi is a rightist. But I’m not that cynical about Obama yet to honestly think he would stoop to such a low.
The question then is: whose law? Or more properly: whose interpretation of the law? According to the Honduran Supreme court what happened in Honduras was in fact legally ordered and sanctioned. If this is all true, then the Obama administration can’t decry the military following orders to defend the Constitution and from one who was defying that same Constitution and court ruling. Zelaya, of course, states otherwise but one has to question his claims given his apparent willingness to flout the laws of his own country.
The U.S. and other nations, especially given their machinations in the region in recent history, should carefully consider its stance and not simply assume the expulsion was a military coup. So too should rights groups that like to automatically assume anything involving the military is automatically a rights violation. In essence, everyone needs to stay out of it and let the Hondurans settle this for themselves. Any action otherwise would in the minds of the opposing forces, justify their positions and actions.
Update: I recommend Fausta for a good round up of events. There are some particularly interesting bits there that back the ousting of Zelaya as being legitimate under Honduran law.