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"CRS Report" on Honduras "Coup":

Thanks to a helpful reader, I've now located a copy of the CRS report on recent events in Honduras I mentioned here. The report, which was actually prepared by a different part of the Library of Congress and not CRS, the Law Library of Congress, the division of the Library of Congress responsible for reports on foreign law, is available here.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. "CRS Report" on Honduras "Coup":
  2. CRS on the Honduras "Coup":
Hans Bader:
The Obama Administration is extremely hostile to non-communist Honduras and its democratically-elected legislature, demanding that they allow the return to power of Honduras's bullying ex-president and would-be dictator. The ex-president's removal was perfectly constitutional, say many experts, such as attorneys Octavio Sanchez, Miguel Estrada, and Dan Miller, former Assistant Secretary of State Kim Holmes, Stanford's William Ratliff, and "even left-liberal analysts."

The Obama Administration cites the UN's support for the bullying ex-president to justify demanding that Honduras allow him to return. But the UN is openly biased in favor of left-wing dictators.

The UN has just declared Fidel Castro, the longtime Communist dictator of Cuba, the "World Hero of Solidarity." Castro killed thousands and thousands of people during his rule, torturing some to death (including a few American citizens), and Cuba remains an oppressive dictatorship even today.

So it's not surprising that the UN backs Honduras's bullying ex-president Manuel Zelaya, given his fondness for left-wing rhetoric. (Two months ago, soldiers acting on orders of Honduras's Supreme Court arrested Zelaya after he systematically abused his powers. After the Court quite legally declared that Zelaya was no longer president, he was duly replaced by Honduras's Congress with a civilian, the Congressional Speaker).

The Obama Administration recently decided to impose sanctions on Honduras, and indicated it will not recognize future democratic elections in Honduras unless Honduras first lets ex-president Zelaya return to power.
9.25.2009 5:01pm
SandyW:
"The Directorate for Legal Research"

How's that for a snazzy name.
9.25.2009 5:08pm
frankcross (mail):
Plenty make the case that the removal was legal. The problem is that the military blatantly violated the Constitution by exiling him (as noted in the report). And then shutting down media in the wake of the removal. Had they carried out the removal constitutionally, I don't think it would be such a big deal. But they made it "smell" like a coup, even if it was not.
9.25.2009 5:33pm
RPT (mail):
HB, do you get permission to reproduce your article here? This sounds like Randy Schueneman (sp) talking about Georgia for the McCain campaign.
9.25.2009 5:37pm
troll_dc2 (mail):
Why was Zelaya sent to another country? The military acted with the approval of the authorities that removed him from office. Did they not trust him not to try to overturn their decisions?
9.25.2009 5:39pm
drunkdriver:
I hope now, since Zelaya's apparently legal removal and involvement with drug lords was not enough, his insane delusions of toxic gas and torture at the hands of Israeli assassins will finally convince the US government to stop going to the mat for him to the extent of supporting sanctions.

Of course, with the Chavezes and other members of the "international community," I have no such hope. These people really seem to believe the world is run from a salt dome by "international bankers," the Federal Reserve, and the hierarchy of the Catholic church.
9.25.2009 5:44pm
one of many:
troll_dc2,

there is some dispute about how the arrest happened. Zelaya either asked or was asked if he w/could go into exile instead of being put in jail and possibly causing civil disorder.
9.25.2009 5:44pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
The Obama Administration is extremely hostile to non-communist Honduras and its democratically-elected legislature, demanding that they allow the return to power of Honduras's bullying ex-president and would-be dictator.

Hans, the cold war is over. Whether a government is "non-communist" is, or should be, irrelevant to American foreign policy.

And while I understand that there is a debate over the LEGALITY of the action, dragging the President out of bed in pajamas using the military in the middle of the night and kicking him out of the country is, in fact, a coup.
9.25.2009 5:45pm
Malvolio:
Can somebody explain WTF is going on here? There seems to be constitutional dispute in another country, and a (with all respect to our many Honduran friends) not-very-important country at that. While the total issue is fairly complex, one side has 90+% support inside the country.

I can see why the US administration would be supporting the popular side. I can see why the administration might be uncomfortable with judicial/military removal of an elected official, however popular or apparently lawful the action might be, and decide to remain neutral.

But what on Earth is Obama getting from siding with Zelaya? I can think of a lot of bad things to say about Obama, starting with his probably-not-capable-of-sustaining-flight ears and working in, but he isn't stupid. Why is he pissing off a bunch of Hondurans? Just to cozy up to a bunch of Venezuelans and Cubans who hate any American president regardless? Why is there an American dog in this fight?
9.25.2009 5:46pm
therut (mail):
Are you sure the cold war is over? I am not. It has just changed it stripes. And as usual the leftists in this country support the new new new new left. Sick.
9.25.2009 5:49pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
But what on Earth is Obama getting from siding with Zelaya?

Well, one thing is that the era was not long past where golpes de estado were a rather common occurrence in Latin America, and there's plenty of support among elected leaders of the hemisphere for not going back to the bad old days where America supported governments installed by the military purely because they were right wing (hence the OAS condemnation of the coup).
9.25.2009 5:49pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
What I don't understand is why Zalaya didn't put to referendum whether the restriction on changing the Constitution should be revised first. The referendums offered were blatantly Unconstitutional. Why didn't he ask for permission to seek the reform first?
9.25.2009 5:50pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Are you sure the cold war is over? I am not. It has just changed it stripes. And as usual the leftists in this country support the new new new new left. Sick.

Well, without a hostile, expansionist power pointing nuclear weapons at us, there's no particular reason to get exercised just because a particular government is somewhat left-wing.

So yeah, the cold war is over.
9.25.2009 5:51pm
troll_dc2 (mail):

And while I understand that there is a debate over the LEGALITY of the action, dragging the President out of bed in pajamas using the military in the middle of the night and kicking him out of the country is, in fact, a coup.


But at that point he no longer was the president. He already had been removed from office.
9.25.2009 5:54pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
But at that point he no longer was the president. He already had been removed from office.

That's overly-formalistic reasoning.

If it looks like a coup, smells like a coup, and quacks like a coup, it's a coup.
9.25.2009 5:56pm
troll_dc2 (mail):

But at that point he no longer was the president. He already had been removed from office.
-----
That's overly-formalistic reasoning.

I think that you just don't like what happened.
9.25.2009 5:59pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I think that you just don't like what happened.

Well, I don't really have an opinion on Honduran law, as that is not my expertise. (Nor is it yours-- and I might as well add, it isn't Miguel Estrada's either.)

But what I do have an opinion on is the military dragging the President out of the palace in his pajamas and putting him on a plane in the middle of the night. And anyone who knows the first thing about Latin American history can see that for what it is.

Coups can be legal, or legally justified, but they are still coups.
9.25.2009 6:06pm
troll_dc2 (mail):
This is a power struggle among the different elements of Honduras' government. Why is it a proper concern of any other country?
9.25.2009 6:35pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan Esper:

If it looks like a coup, smells like a coup, and quacks like a coup, it's a coup.


Sure, but at least it's a civilian coup enacted using executive force of the military only (but still responding to civilian government).
9.25.2009 6:42pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
It occurs to me that when most folks think of a "military coup" particularly in Latin America, we think of the military coming in and taking over leadership roles in the government.

In fact, this is what happened in Ecuador in 1999.

However in this case, the civilian government was never commandeered by the military. So it may look walk like a duck, but it looks and honks like a goose.
9.25.2009 6:49pm
Dan Simon (mail) (www):
But what on Earth is Obama getting from siding with Zelaya? I can think of a lot of bad things to say about Obama, starting with his probably-not-capable-of-sustaining-flight ears and working in, but he isn't stupid. Why is he pissing off a bunch of Hondurans? Just to cozy up to a bunch of Venezuelans and Cubans who hate any American president regardless? Why is there an American dog in this fight?

Back in 1993, at the beginning of the Clinton administration, there was a great deal of discussion among liberals regarding the proper role of American power in a unipolar, post-Cold War world. The two main schools of thought, as I recall, were isolationism--that the US should withdraw and allow Fukuyama's "end of history" to unfold unimpeded--and humanitarian internationalism--that the US should use its power for humanitarian ends. The latter suffered a severe setback in Somalia, but Rwanda and Bosnia gave the former a black eye, and the apparent success of the Kosovo intervention ultimately rejuvenated support for humanitarian internationalism.

However, both schools of thought shared one ironclad principle: that American power should never, ever be used to advance America's national interests. On the contrary, foreign involvement could only be legitimate if completely untainted by the tiniest shred of the appearance of America defending itself, its interests or its influence. Somalia passed that test, for example, but Serbia's alliance with Russia made intervention in Bosnia too reminiscent of Cold-War power politics. The horrors of Bosnia, on the other hand--coupled with the plausibly non-Western orientation of Albanian Kosovar Muslims--legitimized the Kosovo intervention in the eyes of the left, as a purely humanitarian act, rather than a geopolitical one.

It's rarely made explicit these days, in the aftermath of 9/11, but left-of-center thinking about international affairs continues to this day in the same vein: American exercises of power are only justified if they are at best neutral towards--and preferably in opposition to--American interests. Whether euphemized as "smart power", "multilateralism", or some other warm, fuzzy term, the fundamental tenet of liberal foreign policy today is the complete, vigorous rejection of the idea that protecting or advancing American interests might be a legitimate goal of American foreign policy.

The result is what we've seen: a foreign policy that actively assists America's sworn enemies, and assiduously undermines its friends and allies. One can argue ad nauseam about the actual "humanitarianism" of this or that policy--for the most part, they've all been bad for most everyone--but that would miss the point: they're formulated, first and foremost, with the goal of avoiding even the appearance of actually promoting American interests abroad.
9.25.2009 7:12pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
However in this case, the civilian government was never commandeered by the military.

There have been many instances where the military was used to secure the government for a civilian. Fujimori's auto-golpe is an example of that.

This sort of thing has a sorry history in Latin America as well.

It's rarely made explicit these days, in the aftermath of 9/11, but left-of-center thinking about international affairs continues to this day in the same vein: American exercises of power are only justified if they are at best neutral towards--and preferably in opposition to--American interests.

It is very much in America's interest that the Honduran coup be opposed, because it secures OAS cooperation on a number of issues.

Your comment is all wrong-- the real change here is that since the cold war is over, realist considerations now favor the left and not the right.
9.25.2009 7:16pm
Hans Bader:
What happened in Honduras couldn't be a coup, precisely because it was legal.

A coup is defined as an "unconstitutional deposition of a legitimate government by a small group."

As I explained above, Honduras's removal of its president was legal under articles 239 and 272 of its Constitution.

Many legal scholars have made this clear.

Honduras' legitimate government wasn't removed, only its illegitimate, constitution-shredding president.

Its legitimate government -- its democratically-elected legislature and new civilian president and Supreme Court -- remain in power.

The president's removal was backed not by a small group, but by virtually the entire government, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Human Rights Ombudsman, etc., and much of the population, including the middle class and most of the rural poor.

His return is opposed by the Honduran Church and the Archbishop.
9.25.2009 7:18pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):
As several commentators have already pointed out, this might have gone over better had the Honduran government not a) exiled Zelaya b) shut down opposition media and c) knocked some protesters around. It's really hard to understand how opponents of Zelaya make a case that the coup was "legal" (since we enjoy quotation marks here) when what happened after his removal most certainly was not. Also, it's silly to argue merely about legality; everyone knows this is a political issue. Were it plainly legal, we wouldn't have various op-eds arguing about whether or not it was legal, nor would the entirety of South American governments be opposed to it.
9.25.2009 7:21pm
Hans Bader:
I don't understand the argument that while Honduras acted legally in removing its ex-president (and it was indeed legal under Articles 239 &272 of the Honduras Constitution), it somehow became a coup when he was subsequently deported by the military.

If Nixon had been illegally deported after he was forced to resign, would that have made his deportation a coup? Of course not! He would have been entitled to return to the country, but not to become president again -- as Obama demands Honduras do for its ex-president Zelaya.

In any event, it's not the military that stands in the way of Zelaya's return -- it has said that it will respect whatever decision the government makes regarding Zelaya's return.

Rather, it is the Honduras Supreme Court, which Obama has retaliated against by taking away its visas, and later blocking travel by Hondurans to the U.S. in retaliation for the court's ruling against Zelaya.

Both actions are foolish responses to a recent ruling by the supreme court of Honduras refusing to approve the return to power of the country's bullying ex-president and would-be dictator, Mel Zelaya.

Zelaya was earlier arrested by soldiers acting on orders of the Honduras Supreme Court, which had ruled that he was no longer president. He was then replaced by his country's Congress with a civilian successor, and forced into exile.

Zelaya's removal came after he systematically abused his powers: he sought to circumvent constitutional term limits, used mobs to intimidate his critics, threatened public employees with termination if they refused to help him violate the Constitution, engaged in massive corruption, illegally cut off public funds to local governments whose leaders refused to back his quest for more power, denied basic government services to his critics, refused to enforce dozens of laws passed by Congress, and spent the country into virtual bankruptcy, refusing to submit a budget so that he could illegally spend public funds on his cronies.

I don't understand Dilan's argument that backing Zelaya helps the U.S. with the OAS. The U.S. has gotten nothing in Latin America in exchange for backing Zelaya.

Allying with Castro and Chavez to force the return of Honduras’s would-be dictator has not even improved U.S. relations with their countries. The dictators Castro and Chavez continue to attack and oppose the United States at every turn, and oppose all of its Latin American initiatives, like its plans for bases in Colombia to fight drug trafficking. Obama has received nothing in exchange for his appeasement of Latin America’s left.
9.25.2009 7:29pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:

How do YOU think this should be resolved?

After all, according to the text of the Constitution and the opinion of the court, Zalaya is not eligible to serve as president. Do we just suggest those documents and institutions get thrown out?

Really I am curious what you think a resolution ought to look like.
9.25.2009 7:40pm
Dan Simon (mail) (www):
It is very much in America's interest that the Honduran coup be opposed, because it secures OAS cooperation on a number of issues.

Oh, really? Name five. Also, explain why OAS cooperation on those issues depends on American support for Zelaya, and is worth the price of supporting an unpopular, avowedly anti-American lame duck Honduran president against the entire rest of the Honduran government and public.

This same type of argument, by the way, has been advanced in support of a whole series of recent enemy-coddling, friend-shafting policies, from the conciliatory messages to Iran to the reversal on missile defense installations in Eastern Europe to the hard line on Israeli settlements and courtship of Syria. They've all come up completely empty, accomplishing nothing except to embolden the enemies in question and dishearten and disillusion America's friends.

Not that they were intended to reap benefits for America, mind you--their purpose, on the contrary, was precisely to demonstrate that America no longer selfishly pursues its own interests abroad. And at that, the new policies have succeeded spectacularly.
9.25.2009 7:41pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
A coup is defined as an "unconstitutional deposition of a legitimate government by a small group."

Well under that definition, Fujimori's auto-golpe wasn't a coup either. But everyone treated it as one.

As I explained above, Honduras's removal of its president was legal under articles 239 and 272 of its Constitution. Many legal scholars have made this clear.

There are many Honduran legal scholars who dispute this. I am not saying it is wrong (again, I don't know and neither do you), but it is clearly disputed.

Note, also, that American right wing Hispanics like Miguel Estrada have exactly zero experience studying Honduran constitutional law and don't count as experts.

The president's removal was backed not by a small group, but by virtually the entire government, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Human Rights Ombudsman, etc., and much of the population, including the middle class and most of the rural poor.

This is way overstated. Zelaya has plenty of supporters, and even some Zelaya opponents nonetheless think the coup was outrageous.

If Nixon had been illegally deported after he was forced to resign, would that have made his deportation a coup?

If Nixon were forcibly removed from the White House in his pajamas by the army, taken to Andrews AFB, and put on a plane for some third world country for exile, I suspect that many would declare that a coup even if the US Supreme Court blessed it.

Both actions are foolish responses to a recent ruling by the supreme court of Honduras refusing to approve the return to power of the country's bullying ex-president and would-be dictator, Mel Zelaya.

Now lets be clear here. I don't like trying to extend one's term limits, but Zelaya was proposing STANDING FOR ELECTION AGAIN. That's not the act of a dictator. Meanwhile, Michaletti shut down the press, which IS the act of one.

I don't understand Dilan's argument that backing Zelaya helps the U.S. with the OAS. The U.S. has gotten nothing in Latin America in exchange for backing Zelaya.

We need OAS cooperation on everything from the war on drugs to anti-terrorism and immigration policies. What we "get" is continued cooperation rather than anti-Americanism in the hemisphere.

Allying with Castro and Chavez to force the return of Honduras’s would-be dictator has not even improved U.S. relations with their countries. The dictators Castro and Chavez continue to attack and oppose the United States at every turn, and oppose all of its Latin American initiatives, like its plans for bases in Colombia to fight drug trafficking. Obama has received nothing in exchange for his appeasement of Latin America’s left.

Hans, get the memo. The Cold War is over. Venezuela and Cuba are not existential threats to the US. They are pipsqueaks, and there's no reason in the world why we should antagonize them.

You need to grow up. There are going to be governments in the hemisphere that you don't approve of. But with no Soviet threat, there's no reason to start stewing conflict with them, just because left-right conflict gives Hans Bader an erection.
9.25.2009 7:42pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
How do YOU think this should be resolved?

Broker a deal where Zelaya gets to return to Honduras, serve out his term in some symbolic fashion, and be replaced by the legitimate victor of the next election.
9.25.2009 7:43pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Oh, really? Name five. Also, explain why OAS cooperation on those issues depends on American support for Zelaya, and is worth the price of supporting an unpopular, avowedly anti-American lame duck Honduran president against the entire rest of the Honduran government and public.

Who gives a crap that Zelaya is anti-American? What can he do to us?

You conservatives are a bunch of pussies. Seriously. This is the United fricking States of America. Some guy in Honduras can't do crap to us.

On the other hand, having the whole region against us could screw up our trade, screw up the drug war, screw up our immigration policy, etc.

Grow a pair and learn that there are more important things than which tinpot is in charge of which country in Latin America.
9.25.2009 7:45pm
ChrisTS (mail):

It's rarely made explicit these days, in the aftermath of 9/11, but left-of-center thinking about international affairs continues to this day in the same vein: American exercises of power are only justified if they are at best neutral towards--and preferably in opposition to--American interests. Whether euphemized as "smart power", "multilateralism", or some other warm, fuzzy term, the fundamental tenet of liberal foreign policy today is the complete, vigorous rejection of the idea that protecting or advancing American interests might be a legitimate goal of American foreign policy.



I did not think I had a dog in this fight, but that is pretty silly.

It is true, I think, that many left-of center, and center, and right-of-center citizens want to see something more than U.S. business interests by way of rationale for 'American exsercises of power' - particularly as that phrase includes the use of military power. So, war simply for oil is not a big winner with many U.S. citizens.

We like to think of ourselves as having both nobler interests and as being not entirely self-serving. Not that unusual among peoples and nations.
9.25.2009 8:01pm
Dan Simon (mail) (www):
Who gives a crap that Zelaya is anti-American? What can he do to us?

You conservatives are a bunch of pussies. Seriously. This is the United fricking States of America. Some guy in Honduras can't do crap to us.

On the other hand, having the whole region against us could screw up our trade, screw up the drug war, screw up our immigration policy, etc
.

If I understand you correctly, you're advocating that American conservatives stop being such sissies and show their faith in America's overwhelming power by...kowtowing to the whims of Latin American anti-Americans, attempting to curry favor with them by joining them in vigorous support of a bombastically anti-American Honduran politician. Have I got that right?

(A side note: I'm neither American nor conservative, so I can view the above ad hominems with the necessary detachment.)
9.25.2009 8:07pm
Steve2:
Dilan, have you actually read the provisions of the Honduran constitution in question? The text is pretty unambiguous: a Honduran President who is "proposing STANDING FOR ELECTION AGAIN" is at the same time vacating the Honduran Presidency. Specifically, Article 239:
"El ciudadano que haya desempeñado la titularidad del Poder Ejecutivo no podrá ser Presidente o Vicepresidente de la República.

El que quebrante esta disposición o proponga su reforma, así como aquellos que lo apoyen directa o indirectamente, cesarán de inmediato en el desempeño de sus respectivos cargos y quedarán inhabilitados por diez (10) años para el ejercicio de toda función pública."

That second sentence is the kicker: "Whoever breaks this provision or proposes its reform, whether directly or indirectly, will immediately cease to hold their position and remain ineligible for ten years to hold public office." So the minute Zelaya proposed standing for reelection, the rules defining the very office he wanted to be reelected to said he no longer held that office, and couldn't hold any public office for another 10 years. There's nothing analogous in American Constitutional Law, but... you can't coup an ex-president, and the moment he did what he did he instantly by definition ceased being Honduras's President in the same way George W. Bush instantly by definition ceased being America's President at noon on January 20.
9.25.2009 8:09pm
Bama 1L:
"Whoever breaks this provision or proposes its reform, whether directly or indirectly, will immediately cease to hold their position and remain ineligible for ten years to hold public office."

That is one tough law!
9.25.2009 8:31pm
Brett Bellmore:

Well, without a hostile, expansionist power pointing nuclear weapons at us, there's no particular reason to get exercised just because a particular government is somewhat left-wing.


I'm unclear about this: Is the claim that neither China nor Russia have nuclear weapons pointed at us? Or that neither China nor Russia are expansionist?

Russia is trying to recapture Eastern Europe, and China only escapes being expansionist if you credit their claim that whoever they feel like invading on any given day is a "rebel province". And they do both have nukes pointed at us, at this very moment.
9.25.2009 8:32pm
frankcross (mail):
The trouble, Hans Bader, is that the current government argued it was defending the Constitution by removing Zelaya, but then blatantly violated the Constitution with the exile and, I think, shutting down the media. Without apparent concern. That makes it look like it's not really the Constitution they are enforcing, just their will.

I've seen arguments on both sides that he did or didn't violate the Constitution, but there are surely plausible reasons to think he did. And the Supreme Court said he did. But he surely should have been tried for the violations they allege, in Honduras. When the government failed to do that, they lost some of the high ground.
9.25.2009 8:41pm
Dan Simon (mail) (www):
We like to think of ourselves as having both nobler interests and as being not entirely self-serving. Not that unusual among peoples and nations.

I agree completely. So-called "neoconservatives", for example, claim that their passion for democratization is wholly altruistic. But when asked, most neoconservatives can give an at-least-plausible argument for why their position is also in America's best interests. They will cite the strong correlation between serious threats to American interests and non-democratic governance, and the between democratic government and reasonably cordial relations with the US. One may not agree with these arguments, but one can certainly believe that neoconservatives believe them.

Now consider, for instance, Dilan's argument above for why pulling out all the stops to ensure that Honduras' government is led by an anti-American ally of some of America's staunchest enemies, is actually in America's interest. It amounts to the claim that the way to counter endemic anti-American sentiment in Latin America is to add to the roster of vehement anti-Americans among Latin American national leaders. Does this sound like the kind of argument that a wholehearted, albeit partisan, defender of America's interests would make? Or like a lame cover for, at the very least, a distinct lack of enthusiasm for advancing America's national interests in the first place?
9.25.2009 8:52pm
subpatre (mail):
frankcross writes: "... That makes it look like it's not really the Constitution they are enforcing, just their will."

The issue is not how it looks to 'Frankcross'; the issue is whether the action was legal or not. In the face of clear, cited Honduran law, 'looks like' is an excuse for partisan squawking.


[Maybe the 'birthers' need to start claiming it "looks like" Obama's election was fraudulent, thereby getting the appearance-concious leftists on their side. My bet is that "looks like" will suddenly become unimportant.]
9.25.2009 8:53pm
Officious Intermeddler:
You conservatives are a bunch of pussies. Seriously. This is the United fricking States of America. Some guy in Honduras can't do crap to us.


It will never, ever occur to liberals that their preferred foreign policy of lovingly tongue-bathing the squeakhole of every anti-American douchebag in the world might actually embolden said douchebags rather than mollifying them. Oxygen thieves like Dilan will be calling conservatives pussies right up to the moment that some guy in Honduras murders a bunch of Americans, at which point they'll demand that we all search our navels for the root causes of anti-Americanism rather than do anything about it.
9.25.2009 8:56pm
pmorem (mail):
You conservatives are a bunch of pussies. Seriously. This is the United fricking States of America. Some guy in Honduras can't do crap to us.


I seem to recall hearing that some guy in a cave couldn't do crap to us. Further back, there was an arguement that some Austrian Corporal wasn't a danger.

On the other hand, having the whole region against us could screw up our trade, screw up the drug war, screw up our immigration policy, etc.


Indeed. That seems to be an objective by some parties, particularly the most vocal supporter of Zelaya.

Grow a pair and learn that there are more important things than which tinpot is in charge of which country in Latin America.


..."which tinpot"... I think that right there says it all. Some of us oppose all tinpots. Maybe you are okay with them, as long as they're doing "the right thing". I'm not.

For most of the last 20 years, we had a worldwide trend of the collapse of authoritarian regimes. I fear that trend may be reversing. I believe that reversal must be opposed at every possible opportunity.
9.25.2009 8:58pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Russia is trying to recapture Eastern Europe, and China only escapes being expansionist if you credit their claim that whoever they feel like invading on any given day is a "rebel province". And they do both have nukes pointed at us, at this very moment.

And even if this is taken as true, it has nothing whatsoever to do with anything happening in Latin America right now. (Unlike during the Cold War.)
9.25.2009 9:00pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
It amounts to the claim that the way to counter endemic anti-American sentiment in Latin America is to add to the roster of vehement anti-Americans among Latin American national leaders. Does this sound like the kind of argument that a wholehearted, albeit partisan, defender of America's interests would make?

It only sounds simplistic to simplistic people.

Meanwhile, what ACTUALLY is happening is that America is cultivating better relationships with Latin American countries that MATTER to us by not worrying about the alleged anti-American tendencies of a deposed leader in an UNIMPORTANT country that the region wants reinstalled.

Meanwhile, it's the conservatives who are acting like idiots-- arguing that we should ignore all our vital interests in the region to take a stand against LEFTISM IN HONDURAS???!?!??!??!?!?
9.25.2009 9:03pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Oxygen thieves like Dilan will be calling conservatives pussies right up to the moment that some guy in Honduras murders a bunch of Americans, at which point they'll demand that we all search our navels for the root causes of anti-Americanism rather than do anything about it.

You heard it here first, folks! The next terrorist attack is coming from Honduras!

Now excuse me while I get my tinfoil hat. The mothership is calling.
9.25.2009 9:04pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
..."which tinpot"... I think that right there says it all. Some of us oppose all tinpots.

Really? Really? Pinochet? Batista?

This is complete BS. The right supports lots of tinpots. Jeane Kirkpatrick was celebrated on the right for defending Latin American tinpots.

The fact of the matter is that the only relevance of the Presidency of Honduras to US policy is that the rest of the region supports Zelaya. The fact that he's anti-American is meaningless. (And as noted above, the new government is repressive, perhaps even more so than Zalaya was.)

The only reason this is a discussion at all is because conservatives think foreign policy is a penis swinging contest rather than an intelligent attempt to cooperate in mutually beneficial way. And Zelaya, to conservatives, is out there saying he's got a bigger package than we do, and that's unacceptable.

Really, all this is is ego. Waaaaaah! He's anti-American! He's a commie! You guys are a bunch of two year olds who didn't get your toy.
9.25.2009 9:08pm
Officious Intermeddler:
You heard it here first, folks! The next terrorist attack is coming from Honduras!


Never said that. Just pointed out the simple reality that braying idiots like you will be mocking your betters' reluctance to embrace anti-Americans up until the moment said anti-Americanism produces a body count -- at which point the game will change to trying to make excuses for the culprits' anti-Americanism. The capacity of liberals to kiss the asses of people who hate us is limitless.
9.25.2009 9:15pm
nicehonesty:
As I explained above, Honduras's removal of its president was legal under articles 239 and 272 of its Constitution. Many legal scholars have made this clear.

There are many Honduran legal scholars who dispute this. I am not saying it is wrong (again, I don't know and neither do you), but it is clearly disputed.

Note, also, that American right wing Hispanics like Miguel Estrada have exactly zero experience studying Honduran constitutional law and don't count as experts.


If only there were some legal body in Honduras — some sort of court, perhaps — made up of legal scholars that had some experience studying and ruling on Honduran constitutional law that we could turn to for an informed set of opinions on this situation.

Ideally, it would be a group of judges whose ruling were considered to supersede those made by other judges or courts in Honduras — some sort of "Supreme" court, one might call it — so that if there is a dispute among legal opinions on a matter we would know that theirs is the one that controls.

Wait, that sounds sort of familiar.

Ah, yes, there is such a body - the Honduran Supreme Court. And they've been making rulings for the past several months that have aligned pretty much with the legal theories put forth by "American right wing Hispanics like Miguel Estrada [who] have exactly zero experience studying Honduran constitutional law and don't count as experts."

Funny how you failed to mention that.

The only reason this is a discussion at all is because conservatives think foreign policy is a penis swinging contest rather than an intelligent attempt to cooperate in mutually beneficial way. And Zelaya, to conservatives, is out there saying he's got a bigger package than we do, and that's unacceptable.


Actually, Zelaya is out there saying that the Jooooooooooos! are torturing him in the Brazilian Embassy with high-frequency radiation and toxic gases while plotting to assassinate him. You [and Obama] aren't backing a strong horse or a weak horse in Honduras — you're backing a paranoid delusional horse.
9.25.2009 9:35pm
frankcross (mail):
subpatre, that would have been a better post if you had responded to actual content of my post (e.g., the unconstitutional exile). I don't claim any special privilege of "looks", but I based my conclusion (to which you responded), on specific reasoning (to which you said nothing).
9.25.2009 9:37pm
pmorem (mail):
Dilan Esper wrote:

Really? Really? Pinochet? Batista?


I thought you said the cold war was over.

It seems pretty clear to me that you missed my point. Perhaps that's deliberate.

It seems that this evening you prefer insult over intelligent conversation. I had thought better of you.
9.25.2009 9:47pm
Angus:
Russia is trying to recapture Eastern Europe, and China only escapes being expansionist if you credit their claim that whoever they feel like invading on any given day is a "rebel province".
When you are ready to fast forward out of the 1980s, let the rest of us know.

Here's a hint. Russia does not want Eastern Europe. I know many Russians, and none of them like the other peoples in Eastern Europe. The last thing they want is to be part of the same empire since they'll all move to Moscow and take jobs from Russians.
9.25.2009 9:57pm
Dan L (mail):
I think from the report that it's clear that the case for lawful removal turns entirely on the meaning of the word "disapprove" (improbar), and whether it could possibly include removing the president. From my reasonably advanced understanding of Spanish, "improbar" could not be reasonably so interpreted, though I am not a native speaker and cannot so say definitively. While the authority to interpret the constitution rests exclusively with the National Congress, its employing this authority in this manner strikes me as extremely dubious.

What I cannot figure out, however, is why the Honduran constitution has no clear provision for the manner in which the president can be lawfully removed. The only provision that seemed to provide for one was repealed in 2003. The legislative history behind this repeal might illuminate this matter to some degree. In any case, I find it unconscionable that the country had no such constitutional provision on its books. The constitutional crisis that Honduras faced before Zelaya stepped down was very real. Zelaya had become unresponsive to the normal procedures for inter-branch dispute resolution and intent on pursuing a course of action declared unconstitutional. The question is, does Zelaya's unconstitutional behavior and defiance of the other two branches justify the dubious constitutional measures employed on their part to remove him from office? That one is difficult to answer, although the unity of the other two branches--along apparently with that of Zelaya's own attorney general--strikes me as more than a little unusual for a typical coup d'etat situation.

More than anything else, however, this situation makes one thing clear: the need for completely unambiguous provisions providing for removal of the chief executive.

Some interesting material from the pro-Zelaya perspective, including some pushback against this staff report, I found here: http://hondurascoup2009.blogspot.com/
9.25.2009 10:24pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Dilan Esper writes "American right wing Hispanics like Miguel Estrada have exactly zero experience studying Honduran constitutional law and don't count as experts". Is he aware that Miguel Estrada was born in Honduras and lived there for the first 17 years of his life? If Honduran high schools have Civics classes, I imagine his "experience studying Honduran constitutional law" is at least a little more then zero. In any case, a professionally-trained lawyer and experienced judge who is intimately familiar with the country and its language would surely be better positioned than (e.g.) Dilan Esper to opine on the ins and outs of Honduran constitutional law. Of course, there are others even more qualified, people who have devoted their lives to studying the subject, like (e.g.) the members of the Honduran Supreme Court, as 'nicehonesty' has already pointed out.
9.25.2009 10:25pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Angus:
You may know many Russian, but I doubt that you know Putin or Medvedev. Whether Russia has ambitions to retake some or all of Eastern Europe has far more to do with what they think than with what your friends think. Their gas-pipeline manipulations and last year's invasion of Georgia do not inspire confidence.
9.25.2009 10:28pm
ArthurKirkland:

Well, one thing is that the era was not long past where golpes de estado were a rather common occurrence in Latin America, and there's plenty of support among elected leaders of the hemisphere for not going back to the bad old days where America supported governments installed by the military purely because they were right wing (hence the OAS condemnation of the coup).


Ding!! Ding!! Ding!!

As Oscar said to Mayer: 'I think we have a weiner.'
9.25.2009 10:53pm
Angus:
Their gas-pipeline manipulations and last year's invasion of Georgia do not inspire confidence.
Yes, those nasty Russians just annexed all of Georgia, didn't they? They certainly could have if they had wanted to--their counterattack and strike into Georgia had basically destroyed the Georgian military's ability to resist. Yet, Georgia is still there and all Russian troops are back within Ossetia and Abkhazia, right where they were before the flare up last year.
9.25.2009 11:15pm
Psalm91 (mail):
"pmorem:

I seem to recall hearing that some guy in a cave couldn't do crap to us."

Yes, that was the position of the GOP during the Clinton presidency and of the Bush Adminstration pre-9/11. "Guy in cave determined to strike in United States." No problem.

Glad to see a reference to the "invasion of Georgia" per Randy Schueneman.
9.25.2009 11:25pm
benji:
Well, one thing is that the era was not long past where golpes de estado were a rather common occurrence in Latin America, and there's plenty of support among elected leaders of the hemisphere for not going back to the bad old days where America supported governments installed by the military purely because they were right wing (hence the OAS condemnation of the coup).

But, Micheletti is of the same party as Zelaya and was "installed" by the constitutional line of succession?
9.25.2009 11:33pm
Hugh:

You conservatives are a bunch of pussies. Seriously. This is the United fricking States of America. Some guy in Honduras can't do crap to us.


I guess the well being of the Honduran people means little to you. I suspect that a demogogue like Zelaya would be much worse for the Honduran people in the long run as he takes over various government powers, restricts the press (far more than the current government has), destroys the economy, and drives the industrious people way. He will turn it into another "people's paradise" where the people with no resources have no chance to get out.
9.25.2009 11:47pm
Sarcastro (www):
Whoa, Hugh knows alternate history!
9.25.2009 11:51pm
Psalm91 (mail):
Hugh:

Classic reasoning. Support the coup because "you suspect". There is no basis for your suspicion.
9.25.2009 11:56pm
Hugh:
Oh, and Castro and Chavez have been so charming and nice to their peoples? I guess that a dictator can be as abusive as they want as long as they say things that make liberals swoon. "Power to the people" and all that stuff.
9.25.2009 11:57pm
Dan Simon (mail) (www):
It only sounds simplistic to simplistic people.

Well, no, berating opponents of America's pro-Zelaya policy as "pussies" who need to "grow a pair", while advocating kowtowing to the will of other Latin American countries for fear of their terrifying retaliation, doesn't sound "simplistic". It just sounds self-contradictory and needlessly rude.

Meanwhile, what ACTUALLY is happening is that America is cultivating better relationships with Latin American countries that MATTER to us by not worrying about the alleged anti-American tendencies of a deposed leader in an UNIMPORTANT country that the region wants reinstalled.

Yes, you've already asserted that. And I've already asked you if you could explain to me the manifold ways in which this "cultivating better relationships" amounts to much, much more than simply bending over for anti-American leaders in Latin America by actively promoting yet another vehemently anti-American leader. And you've yet to describe a single shred of evidence--even of the most evanescent, subjective variety--that might suggest that all this "cultivating" is accomplishing anything positive for the US. That's not surprising, because the "cultivating" of Iran, Syria, Russia, China and numerous other mildly-to-murderously anti-American regimes around the globe has been equally stunningly feckless.

I'm not asking for much--a single, concrete threat not carried out, or incentive paid off, in return for America's aggressive promotion of Honduras' loudly anti-American ex-president, will do. Heck--I'll settle for a concrete threat uttered, or incentive offered. Have you got anything? Anything at all?

Or is this "cultivating" business all, as I continue to claim, just lame cover for blanket opposition to any and all American actions that might conceivably result in the advancement or protection of American interests abroad?
9.26.2009 1:09am
John Moore (www):
Dilan seems to live in a dream world...


Well, without a hostile, expansionist power pointing nuclear weapons at us, there's no particular reason to get exercised just because a particular government is somewhat left-wing.

So yeah, the cold war is over.

Err, Dilan, Russia is STILL pointing nukes at us, still has a doomsday system in operation, aids countries hostile to us (especially Iran and Venezuela), invades a country friendly to us (Georgia), meddles violently in the internal affairs of other friends of ours (such as the Ukraine) and threatens our allies.

And you think the cold war is over? What is it about modern threats, nukes, aiding our enemies, etc. that is different from the cold war days? Is it that the Russians are merely ruled by the KGB mafia than pretending to be communist while ruled by the nomenklatura mafia?

.............



Hans, get the memo. The Cold War is over. Venezuela and Cuba are not existential threats to the US. They are pipsqueaks, and there's no reason in the world why we should antagonize them.


Apparently Dilan has decided that the only foreign policy issues of concern are "existential threats" - an odd view perhaps a result of having been overly fixated on the low-level threat of nuclear war during the cold war (that still exists, at the same level). Dilan, foreign policy folks for thousands of years have recognized that issues outside of "existential threats" are significant.


Who gives a crap that Zelaya is anti-American? What can he do to us?


Errr, right. Yeah, perhaps, say, like Castro, another tin pot of a small country in our hemisphere who caused us all sorts of grief.

Dilan, grow up.
9.26.2009 1:55am
subpatre (mail):
frankcross claims: “subpatre, that would have been a better post if you had responded to actual content of my post (e.g., the unconstitutional exile). I don't claim any special privilege of "looks", but I based my conclusion (to which you responded), on specific reasoning (to which you said nothing).

OK, I’ll bite. What makes you think anything is unconstitutional in Honduras? To date, you’ve made no citations. So yes, when you say something “looks like” something bad, readers will —and should— tend to believe you are making personal judgments on looks.

Unlike the USA, most constitutions in the world do not limit government. But here’s Frankcross acting as if the Honduran Constitution is US law directly writ into Spanish:
the military blatantly violated the Constitution by exiling himor latercurrent government ... blatantly violated the Constitution with the exile and, I think, shutting down the media.
Unless you can cite a Honduran constitutional provision prohibiting the army from deporting an individual, claims the Honduran army acted unconstitutionally are simply made up out of thin air.

To us in the USA it “looks like” the deportation should be unconstitutional, but without a cite it isn’t. The army claims Zelaya was given a choice of jail or deportation. In the US, that would be illegal too, but explain how this is unconstitutional under Honduran law.

The US Constitution guarantees freedom of the press, but few other nations do. Does Honduran law follow US law or the rest of the world? Similar objections to police functions performed by their army —prohibited in the US— but common in the rest of the world.

Posting what you want the world Honduras to be like should be prefaced with “frankcross's imaginings”; not claims of “blatant violations” as if it was real.
9.26.2009 2:02am
GaryC (mail):
Dilan Esper:

Now lets be clear here. I don't like trying to extend one's term limits, but Zelaya was proposing STANDING FOR ELECTION AGAIN. That's not the act of a dictator. Meanwhile, Michaletti shut down the press, which IS the act of one.

Do you believe that the election would have been free and fair? I suspect that Zelaya's uncanny ability to provide detailed election results for a referendum that never occurred would have extended to his reelection as well.

Zelaya might have decided to keep the result close, or he might instead have exceeded Saddam's 100% tally from Iraq's final election before his regime was overthrown.
9.26.2009 3:09am
earth to mothership:
Dilan reduced to hysterics and random capslocking. Time to cease commenting imo. If you can't answer Dan Simon's quite reasonable question, hysterics aren't gonna cut it.
9.26.2009 3:39am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Dilan Esper writes "American right wing Hispanics like Miguel Estrada have exactly zero experience studying Honduran constitutional law and don't count as experts". Is he aware that Miguel Estrada was born in Honduras and lived there for the first 17 years of his life? If Honduran high schools have Civics classes, I imagine his "experience studying Honduran constitutional law" is at least a little more then zero. In any case, a professionally-trained lawyer and experienced judge who is intimately familiar with the country and its language would surely be better positioned than (e.g.) Dilan Esper to opine on the ins and outs of Honduran constitutional law.

By this theory, any Jewish American can tell you whether the Israeli Supreme Court decisions concerning the settlements conformed with Israeli law.

Miguel Estrada is a hack who knows nothing about Honduran Constitutional law. But since he's a card carrying member of the conservative movement with the right ethnicity, he was drafted to opine about it.
9.26.2009 3:42am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I guess the well being of the Honduran people means little to you. I suspect that a demogogue like Zelaya would be much worse for the Honduran people in the long run as he takes over various government powers, restricts the press (far more than the current government has), destroys the economy, and drives the industrious people way.

He was in power for a significant amount of time and did none of this. His successor has done some of it.

Just be honest. You don't like this guy because he's a leftie. Not because he was ACTUALLY harming the people of Honduras. But because he's a red. A commie. A Chavez-lover. A Castro ally.

Since when are right wingers at all concerned about human rights in Latin America? Seriously, that's laughable.
9.26.2009 3:45am
pmorem (mail):
Dilan Esper wrote:
Seriously, that's laughable.


Try looking beyond your prejudice, caricature and hatred.

You might find something you actually like, and even agree with.
9.26.2009 5:11am
mattski:

Or is this "cultivating" business all, as I continue to claim, just lame cover for blanket opposition to any and all American actions that might conceivably result in the advancement or protection of American interests abroad?


Did it occur to you that it might be in our interests to uphold the rule of law as a matter of principle? Chaos is what ensues when people and nations are motivated only by narrow self interest.

Some on the right have a greater faith in violence than in law. The sorry history of US intervention in Latin America testifies to that. "We're all for democracy unless you elect someone we don't like."
9.26.2009 7:39am
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Dilan Esper writes: "By this theory, any Jewish American can tell you whether the Israeli Supreme Court decisions concerning the settlements conformed with Israeli law."
Anyone who read my comment knows that this is blatantly false. In fact, by my theory any Israeli-American who lived in Israel for the first 17 years of his life, is (unlike most Jewish-Americans) fluent in Hebrew, and is trained as a lawyer and an experienced judge would have a knowledge of Israeli constitutional law "at least a little more then zero", and almost certainly far more than Dilan Esper's own knowledge. I trust anyone who reads this comment can tell that those are very different statements. Whether Dilan Esper can bring himself to admit it is another question.
9.26.2009 8:18am
BGates:
Did it occur to you that it might be in our interests to uphold the rule of law as a matter of principle?

Is this an argument in favor of pressuring all three branches of government in Honduras to give themselves up to a man who violated the Constitution of that country?
9.26.2009 9:11am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dilan:


Broker a deal where Zelaya gets to return to Honduras, serve out his term in some symbolic fashion, and be replaced by the legitimate victor of the next election.


The problem here is that the Constitution doesn't seem to allow this.

Consider the following alternate universe where Nixon didn't resign, was impeached, and was removed from the whitehouse by the secret service in the middle of the night and given a choice as to whether to go into exile in Canada or go to jail.

Would you be calling for a return to power of Nixon even though he was Constitutionally barred from serving?
9.26.2009 11:41am
tickknob (mail):
dragging the President out of bed in pajamas using the military in the middle of the night

I have followed this since the beginning and have seen many comments like this. Can somebody explain how this situation would have been different if the military had come during the day while he was fully dressed?
9.26.2009 11:45am
frankcross (mail):
subpatre, I think its section 102 of the Constitution. And if you had read Jonathan's original link, the CRS Report references it. So I assumed no additional link was required. And I'm kind of missing the links you've posted to support your position
9.26.2009 12:03pm
ChrisTS (mail):
It seems to me that there are at least four distinct issues in all this:
1) Whether the removal from office was constitutional (the answers would include 'in fact, required');
2) Whether the literal, physical removal was legal or well-handled;
3) Whether the interim government has behaved lawfully;
4) What U.S. interests in all this might be.
My take is:
1) Probably, although disputable;
2) Legally dubious; not well-handled;
3) Not entirely, and the speech restrictions are especially disturbing;
4) We want to align with the OAS; we do not want to be seen as supporting dubious, sudden changes in leadership in a region that has an unhappy history of such changes [some of which involved the U.S.].

But, one could take a variety of positions on each of these issues; they need not be treated as a package deal. Perhaps if we keep the distinctiveness of the issues in mind, we could progress beyond calling people names and imputing global political perspectives to everyone who responds to one issue in the same way.
9.26.2009 12:35pm
ChrisTS (mail):
Somewhat OT, and definitely sticking my neck out, I would like to raise some concerns about language.
I know most of the people who comment here are male and that men and women have different sensitivities about language. That said, I find some of the language and the imagery on this thread, in particular, pretty ugly, and I do not see how it advances the conversation. The sexual metaphors are distracting at best and offensive at worst. I wonder if anyone reflects on how a woman might respond to the use of ‘pussies’ as a derogatory term or to metaphors about anal licking, etc.
I want to note that it is not only this thread that is at issue for me. I am still thinking about being challenged to ‘admit’ that a male commenter had ‘nailed’ me on another thread.
I don’t think of myself as unusually prudish, by any means. Perhaps it is the anger surrounding this language which bothers me. One thing I really value about VC is that there is relatively little vulgarity and nastiness as compared with many other blogs. I know we all get angry at times and over certain issues. I just wish we could exercise a bit of restraint.
9.26.2009 12:47pm
SG:
Consider the following alternate universe where Nixon didn't resign, was impeached, and was removed from the whitehouse by the secret service in the middle of the night and given a choice as to whether to go into exile in Canada or go to jail.

Would you be calling for a return to power of Nixon even though he was Constitutionally barred from serving?


It depends. In this alternate universe is Nixon on the left?
9.26.2009 12:50pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
SG:

It depends. In this alternate universe is Nixon on the left?


Why should it matter?

I am more concerned about Mr Uribe's attempts to remove term limits bit by bit in Colombia than I am about Zalaya-- moreso since Uribe is still in office. Uribe is on the right though so a lot of folks here don't care.

Term limits and rule of law shouldn't be a partisan issue. Making it a partisan issue is always a mistake.
9.26.2009 1:05pm
Spanky von Spankowitz:
Miguel Estrada is a hack who knows nothing about Honduran Constitutional law.

Coming from a guy who thinks the US should override the entirety of the Honduran government simply because his President thinks it's a good idea- this is good stuff. We get it, you support Obama's Dictator Rehabilitation Program- bully for you. However, when you develop the intellectual maturity of someone who isn't promised chocolate milk on Fridays- you'll note that personal attacks on people whose arguments you are incapable of addressing aren't very impressive.

Like others, I also note a paucity of legal citations in Mr. Esper's "work." I wonder why that might be?
9.26.2009 1:27pm
Careless:

Did it occur to you that it might be in our interests to uphold the rule of law as a matter of principle? Chaos is what ensues when people and nations are motivated only by narrow self interest.

Some on the right have a greater faith in violence than in law. The sorry history of US intervention in Latin America testifies to that. "We're all for democracy unless you elect someone we don't like."

Mattski, did you miss the part where keeping Zelaya out of the presidency is upholding the rule of law? The people who want to shred the Honduran Constitution here are all on the Left.

I don't get it. What is it about this situation that has made two generally level-headed posters go somewhat nuts (martinned then Esper) trying to defend America's actions in this? This seems so clean cut: yes, it was not done perfectly and there are legal arguments to be made, but the presidential succession was maintained, the Courts and Legislature were unaffected, and the Supreme Court has made rulings that make it impossible for Zelaya to legally be president in the next 10 years. It's not perfect, but it has to be better than forcing him back to power
9.26.2009 2:05pm
Steve2:

Similar objections to police functions performed by their army —prohibited in the US— but common in the rest of the world.


subpatre, isn't the US prohibition on police functions performed by the army just a statutory provision even, not a Constitutional one? And only at the Federal level, for that matter - don't State Governors get to direct their National Guards to perform police functions?
9.26.2009 2:11pm
geokstr (mail):

Dilan Esper:
Just be honest. You don't like this guy because he's a leftie. Not because he was ACTUALLY harming the people of Honduras. But because he's a red. A commie. A Chavez-lover. A Castro ally.

OK, I'll be honest. Having lived through and followed most of the "cold war" that Dilan maintains has disappeared, I think that "commies" should still be opposed whenever their despicable, deadly and destructive philosophy rears its ugly face, including in our own academia.

I don't think it's just a coincidence that "commie" regimes always seem to lead to mass extinctions of political opposition, the total suppression of civil liberties, the disastrous takeover of the economy resulting in "spreading the poverty" to everyone except the nomenklatura who live in relative luxury above it all, and a media and education system that are nothing more than indoctrination and re-education tools.

Maybe Zelaya hadn't had the chance to consolidate enough power yet. But Chavez has slowly strangled almost all opposition media, and begun the nationalization of business interests, particularly in the all critical oil industry. And his educational system has been advised and praised by none other than the master indoctinator himself, and self-described "commie", Bill Ayers.
9.26.2009 3:04pm
geokstr (mail):
Oh, and, Dilan, now that I've been honest, how about you do the same? How about admitting that you love Zelaya just because he's a leftie?

On the previous post on the this subject, I asked three separate times, with not one response from any Zelaya supporter:

What would your reaction be to this exact same fact situation if in fact Zelaya had been a right winger.

Be honest and admit it, you'd be arguing that his removal and exile was quite justified.
9.26.2009 3:09pm
Avatar (mail):
Is it really so hard to understand? The Hondurans noted that, well, gee, there seem to be a lot of examples where El Presidente suddenly became El Presidente For Life around here; maybe there's a way to stop it?

And what's the first thing that El Presidente For Life has to do? Well, of course, he's got to get rid of that darned term limit. So how does he do it? He uses the resources of the state to reward his supporters and punish his opponents. His supporters are "encouraged" to form paramilitaries, which can then engage in violence against El Presidente's enemies without fear of punishment by the government (by contrast, the targets of that violence are ruthlessly prosecuted and disarmed should they attempt the same.) Media organizations not under El Presidente's thumb are closed down one by one.

As the term limit approaches, it's time for El Presidente to test his power. He calls for revision of the constitutional provision limiting his term. His brownshirts are out in force, and local politicians strong-armed into support, cowed into silence, or just beaten until they can't talk. Of course, the election is rigged anyway. What's the point of trying to be El Presidente For Life if you're gonna hold honest elections, huh? Victory is declared, and suddenly you don't really have a democracy anymore; you've got a Reich, hopefully with less hatred of Jews.

Honduras armor-plated their term limit to prevent this. Oh, you want to change the term limits? Great, you can advocate for it, but you cannot, cannot, cannot do it from the halls of power. Frankly, this is a good idea! Major props to the foresight of the authors of this provision.
9.26.2009 4:29pm
Esteban:
"And while I understand that there is a debate over the LEGALITY of the action, dragging the President out of bed in pajamas using the military in the middle of the night and kicking him out of the country is, in fact, a coup."

A coup, by definition, is the unconstitutional replacement of the current governing body. So, Dilan, you fucking retard, the question of legality is in fact the issue, not the press release about the former president being dragged out in pajamas, that was propagandized by a murdering dictatorship-supporting US and UN government.

Are any of you people from Honduras? Are any of you actually familiar with Honduran law? Or are you just repeating what you heard on CNN last night? If you're going to discuss an issue such as this one, that should have nothing to do with your country in the first place, then at least educate yourselves before agreeing with your government-fed media.
9.26.2009 5:13pm
yankee (mail):
A coup, by definition, is the unconstitutional replacement of the current governing body.

The adoption of the U.S. Constitution was a "coup"?
9.26.2009 5:42pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Avatar:

In reality though the Honduran Constitution only slows down this process. The first step has to be to amend the Constitution to allow people to propose term limit changes. After that....
9.26.2009 6:08pm
geokstr (mail):

einhverfr:
In reality though the Honduran Constitution only slows down this process. The first step has to be to amend the Constitution to allow people to propose term limit changes. After that....

How about instead they just make the consequences of such proposals more clear, like, hey, you propose changes to term limits, and the military, under arrest warrant from the Supreme Court, will forcibly remove you in the middle of the night in your pajamas to another country?

And this whole "pajamas" thing is highly suspect. I've seen reports that said he was allowed to get dressed and then changed into his pj's on the plane for dramatic effect...
9.26.2009 6:41pm
frankcross (mail):
Nice try, ChrisTS but it's a losing battle from the comment seat. Indeed, Esteban upped the ante on vulgarity and nastiness quite a lot. I'd like the conspirators to control this stuff, except I wouldn't blame them for not wanting to read the comments.
9.26.2009 8:27pm
mattski:

Mattski, did you miss the part where keeping Zelaya out of the presidency is upholding the rule of law? The people who want to shred the Honduran Constitution here are all on the Left.

Actually, there seems to be some difference of opinion about what Honduran law requires in this case.
9.26.2009 10:21pm
BubaRooni:
'but then blatantly violated the Constitution with the exile '

my command of spanish is non-existent so help me out Dilan. are you saying that is explicitly spelled out in the constitution? or perhaps there is a 'jammie clause' in there you might be so kind as to point me to.

i hope my rough language doesn't offend, but i'm calling bullsh*t on this moronic line of reasoning.

come up with something better...
9.26.2009 10:35pm
ArthurKirkland:
Boy, do right-wingers get cranky if the United States (or a shadow group) doesn't oust a left-leaning government, invade a small country or arrange a death squad and/or right-wing tyrant somewhere south of the border every few years. I think most of the Honduras flap is just an outlet for eagerness to reprise Grenada.

Does Eliott Abrams use a blast e-mail list to let everyone know when it's time to get agitated?
9.26.2009 11:09pm
SG:
Boy, do left-wingers get cranky if left-leaning leaders don't get to subvert their country's constitutions to install themselves as president-for-life.
9.26.2009 11:23pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Arthur Kirkland:
You seem to be implying ("shadow group") that American right-wingers somehow overthrew Zelaya. Care to back up that imputation with evidence or withdraw it?
9.27.2009 12:15am
José María Rodríguez González (mail) (www):

This a draft, beta version, being edited for publication:



SERIOUS ERRORS ON
REPORT FOR CONGRESS
August 2009

HONDURAS:
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW ISSUES


The Law library of Congress
Directorate of Legal Research for
Foreign, Comparative,
and International Law
LL File No. 2009-002965




Summary

The Supreme Court failed to address original and exclusively the Executive Orders of President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales and allowed the lower Court of Letters and the Contentious Administrative to deal with constitutional matter that is not the competence of this Court. The Supreme Court played a passive and facilitator roll on such a high and serious case. The National Congress, directed by Mr. Roberto Micheletti Bain, elected the 15 members of the current Supreme Court on January of this year, 2009, from a list of attorneys presented by Mr. Micheletti to Congress. The National Congress interpreted disapproval of president Zelaya as removal of president Zelaya, and elected Mr. Micheleetti, its president, as the president of Honduras based on a subjective absolute absence of President Zelaya, while President Zelaya absence was not absolute instead forced and temporary as he was violently taken out of office and expatriated by the Army. National Congress also had in consideration a letter of resignation by President Zelaya signed four day earlier that consequently would drop charges and close President Zelaya case as those charges were looking his resignation. All these National Congress actions were taken on a Congressional Decree dated Monday 29, 2009, at 12:45 AM a day after President Zelaya was already remove from his office and expatriated by the Army on Sunday June 28th at 5:30 AM.



I. What are the provisions, if any, in the Honduran Constitution for their Judicial Branch and the Legislative Branch (National Congress) to remove an elected President?

If President Zelaya’s case was being built in the lower Court of Letters of the Contentious Administrative it was an unequivocally fact that his case has nothing to do to with unconstitutionality or any violation of the Constitution that are original and exclusive Supreme court matters. (Honduras Constitution Art. 184 , also here below)

Art. 323, section 2 stays that the Supreme Court has the power to “hear cases against the highest officers of the State and the Deputies” is an obligation, is a specific duty given to the Supreme Court, never a function of a lower court. The provision was in the Constitution, but does not seem demanded by the Honduran Supreme Court.

In addition to this Supreme Court overlooking of its duties, President Zelaya’s Decrees (Executive Orders), PCM-005-2009, PCM-019-2009, PCM-020-2009 y PCM-027-2009, would be a matter of unconstitutionality revision due to the fact that such decrees represented a challenge to Art. 51 of the Constitution, which stays “Regarding elections acts and procedures will be a Supreme Electoral Tribunal, autonomous and independent, with jurisdictional entity, with jurisdiction and competence in all the Republic, whose organization and function will be established by this Constitution and the law, which will stay equally related matters of other electoral organisms.”

Further on, Art. 184 stays “Laws can be declared unconstitutional by reason of form or content. It competes original and exclusively to the Supreme Court of Justice the knowledge and resolution of the matter, and must pronounce it with the requisites of definite sentences.”

If President Zelaya’s decrees touched in any way the Constitution, because of his highest authority and the law quality of his decrees, the matter was of the original and exclusive competence of the Honduran Supreme Court of Justice, not any other Court and definite not a lower Court.

The U.S. Report for Congress, LL File No. 2009-002965, implies that by Honduran Constitution Art. 313, section 2 the Supreme Court has the provision, but in the case of President Manuel Zelaya, precisely, the Supreme Court was not complying with its obligations and its negligently allowed the lower Court of Letters of the Contentious Administrative to build a case without hearings , with subjective and a-priori sentences and with improper filing of documents, as it was the case of the presidential decree PCM-005-2009, not even published in the Official Journal The Gazette, as required.

According really to the Constitution of the Republic of Honduras the Supreme Court violated its provision, its obligations and did not proceeded according to the Constitution in a matter of its original and exclusive competence.



II. Did the Honduran Supreme Court have the authority under the Honduran Constitution to request that the military remove the President because the National Congress, the Supreme Court, the Human Rights Ombudsman, and the Attorney General found an action of the President unconstitutional?

No, it did not. Because, the definition of military is defined only by Army and Arm Forces in the Constitution of Honduras. Title V, Chapter X, Arts. 272 through 293 clearly state it.

The term Public Force, as it is in many other countries, is reserve for the Police.

The Police have a training that makes them familiar with criminal law while the military training is focus on war expertise. The law enforcement has been naturally and traditionally the police, not the military. As a matter of fact the police attend all Court enforcement needs. There is not a Honduran constitutional exception on this clear cut point.

More conclusive, there was no other army that the military had the need to confront. The bottom line for the Supreme Court was that no military coup can be done without the military, because precisely that overwhelming war force is what makes a military coup successful.

The responsibility of the Supreme Court in the military coup extends to the incriminating negligence to not punish the violations to the Constitution, the Criminal Code and the peace of the country inflicted by the military and many others:

a. Violation of Constitution Art. 278. - The orders given by the President of the Republic to the Arm Forces, through their Chief, must be followed and executed. [The Army is under the Executive as the Police is under the Judicial branches of power].
b. Penal Code Title XII, Chapter I, Art. 323 . - Whoever offends the President of the Republic in his physical integrity or in his freedom will be punished to eight to twelve years in prison.
c. Penal Code Chapter II, Art. 328.- Who delinquents against the form of government will be sanctioned with prison from six to twelve years, and who executes actions directly aim to obtain by force, or outside of the legal venues, some of the following objectives:
1) To replace the republican, democratic and representative Govern by any other form of govern. [An elected President was replaced, after violent action and obscure Congress dealings, by a non-elected President].
d. Penal Code Chapter VI, Art. 336. – Criminals of rebellion are who use arms to topple a govern established legally or to change or to stop in all or in part the constitutional regiment in existence in which refers to formation, functioning or renovation of public powers.
e. Penal Code Art. 333. – It applies the punishment of reclusion from three (3) to five (5) years and fine from fifty thousand (L. 50,000.00) to hundred thousand (L. 100,000.00) to the official or public employee that:
3) Makes victim of humiliation or illegal pressures to the people trusted in their custody;
4) Does not process or resolve within legal terms an Habeas Corpus petition or protection or any other means to obstaculizing its processing; and
5) Order, execute or allow the expatriation of a Honduran citizen.




III. Did the Honduran National Congress properly approve Articles of Impeachment of the President as provided for by the Honduran Constitution?

No, it didn’t. Because, only until June 26, 2009, Congress called for an extraordinary session with the single agenda issue of electing the only Congressional Commission ever to investigate President Zelaya’s conduct. This commission reported a day after the military Coup (Monday June 29 at 12:20 AM. Military Coup happened on Sunday June 28th, 2009, at 5:30 AM). The Commission’s report did not presented any article of impeachment only consideration points.

It is not feasible that in less than three days, mostly a weekend, a Congressional Commission could gather information about President Zelaya from different government offices, own Congress members and the Executive, classify all that data, evaluate it, analyze it, reach conclusions and write a report. This is not the time frame for an “extensive” investigation, but for rushed notes instead. And without any extensive investigation on such a serious issue the Congress cannot argue any proper approval of anything.

Congress claimed at 12:37 AM to be in possession of a letter of resignation signed by the President four days ago and, coincidentally, in the same lines of the conclusions of the Congressional Commission. Why the President will sign a letter of resignation and does not present it to the Supreme Court before an order of arrest was issue against him? What President who does not want the presidency anymore wouldn’t show its resignation even to avoid expatriation? A President who signs a letter of resignation is not a president who wants to be re-elected; charges should be dropped then and his case close.

The consequent Congressional Decree has no articles of impeachment, only six general and subjective considerations, then it jumps to an article disapproving the President and then to the next removing him from office, on the thesis that Congress can interpret disapproval as removal.

The improvisation of the Commission and the mystery of the President’s resignation letter are the only events the National Congress has to show for the designation of its president as president of the Country. This designation would never take place if President Zelaya was not remove from his office and forced into expatriation absence by a military coup a day before.



IV. Did the Supreme Court follow up by holding a proper, constitutionally mandated trial of the President?

No. The Supreme Court could not follow up by holding a proper, constitutionally mandate trial of the President, because President Manuel Zelaya was removed from office by a military coup that forced him absent with expatriation on June 28th, 2009, not by the Congress Decree of June 29, a day after, when the President already was ousted, and because the Supreme Court did not order the return of President Manuel Zelaya to start any constitutional mandated trial of the President. Without the presence of the President it is impossible to follow up such trial, therefore if the Supreme Court did not order the return of President Manuel Zelaya, then the Supreme Court did not follow up by holding a proper, constitutionally mandated trial of the President.




V. Was the removal of Honduran President Zelaya legal, in accordance with Honduran constitutional and statutory law?

No, it wasn’t. The previous four answers to the questions of the Report illustrate that the available sources used in the Report were insufficient to the task, they missed the correlation of the facts, ignored Honduran law issues that are relevant to the case and did not show any awareness that the judicial and legislative branches of power were seeking a criminalization of President Zelaya instead of opening bridges of understanding for the good of the nation.

It is important to note that the purpose of the military coup is to take out of government for good the constitutional president of the Republic of Honduras, elected by the people Mr. José Manuel Zelaya Rosales. The November 29th, 2009, elections seals, perpetuates, fulfill and completes fully the goal of the military coup. Therefore, elections within the frame of a military coup that uses the law as a shield makes mandatory that the elections in Honduras be declared null immediately and without any effect. Otherwise, democracies themselves would be legitimizing and legally accepting the aim and completion of the military coup.

The Honduran Congress and Supreme Court can blame President Zelaya of being the provocator and divisive one, but why to multiply that attitude? Why to fall in a destructive spray to show who is must stubborn? This only brings Honduras to its knees, and everyone to loose. It is time to stop, to let President Zelaya finishing his legal term. Amnesty most be given to both sides. It was a mistake to use force instead of trusting fully the rule of law. If the President would cheat the Yes and No poll then the world will be with Honduras for a just cause, but Army violence and dirty judicial play only damage Honduras. As demonstrated here, the removal of President Zelaya was not legal, it was not in accordance with Honduran constitutional and statutory law.

Let’s fully respect and trust the rule of law, and let’s all win.
9.27.2009 12:25am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
There isn't too much more to say here. To recapitulate:

1. Honduras having a left-wing government is no threat to the US. That makes this different than the cold war, when there was an expansionist Soviet Union funding anti-
American governments in the hemisphere. Unless Putin/Medvedyev starts funding such activities, there's no realist case for upsetting the rest of the hemisphere by going against the OAS position on the coup.

2. Whether or not the removal of Zelaya was legal is an issue that should be left to Honduran lawyers and experts on Honduran law. (Miguel Estrada never studied Honduran law. Just because he is ethnically Honduran doesn't mean he knows diddly about Honduran law.) They disagree. I will-- unlike some on the left-- concede some legitimacy to the Supreme Court's ruling. But there is still a disagreement among scholars down there.

3. The key problem with the removal of Zelaya was optics-- by the military, in the middle of the night, followed by a forced exile, and a free speech crackdown.

4. The claim that left wing governments are always dictatorial is preposterous. Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez both run democratically elected governments which respect the results of elections. And there are plenty of right wing governments in Latin American history that have tended towards dictatorship. Indeed, there have been right wing military dicatorships that have resulted from coups against left wing democratic governments, in Chile and Haiti.

5. Left wing governments are not always bad for the people either. Hugo Chavez is actually a great president if you are a poor Venezuelan. Previous government shared little oil revenue with the people and the poor areas of Caracas suffered without electricity or running water despite Venezuela being an ostensibly rich country.

On the other hand, right wing governments are better at attracting foreign investment and stewarding the economy, and not wasting resources. Chavez is headed for a big fall because he isn't stewarding oil resources properly, for instance.

Ideal is someone like Lula Da Silva or the second term of Alan Garcia, who both combine some left wing social policies with careful stewardship and listening to economists and other experts.

6. I think the right wing is simply pathological on these issues. Zelaya was anti-American (which he was), therefore that's the ball game, without regard to what the OAS thinks, or how little importance Honduras has, or how things have changed now that the Soviet Union is no longer sponsoring expansionism in Latin America.

But bear in mind-- this stuff does have consequences. How much money have we lost by not lifting the embargo on Cuba after the Cold War ended? How miserable can Mexico or Colombia make our lives by not cooperating in the war on drugs or with our immigration policies?

The point is, America can actually benefit from having an anti-American in power in Honduras. And for some reason, this is an impossible thought for conservatives to process.
9.27.2009 2:09am
Dan Simon (mail) (www):
there's no realist case for upsetting the rest of the hemisphere by going against the OAS position on the coup.

There was no need to go "against" it. Mere passive neutrality would have sufficed to serve American interests, without offending anyone--least of all Latin Americans skittish about the exercise of American power in the region.

The point is, America can actually benefit from having an anti-American in power in Honduras.

I've repeatedly asked for the tiniest shred of concrete justification for this self-evidently ludicrous position, and you've repeatedly failed to supply any. More than ever, it's clear that you--like at least some factions within the Obama administration--are simply using this absurd claim as a fig leaf for an ideological worldview that considers advancing or protecting America's global interests to be objectionable in and of itself, and hence treats undermining US interests as an inherently desirable goal.
9.27.2009 2:31am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I've repeatedly asked for the tiniest shred of concrete justification for this self-evidently ludicrous position, and you've repeatedly failed to supply any.

Dan, the way diplomacy works is a lot of what goes on happens behind closed doors, in terms of whether formal cooperation is given or substantive cooperation is given.

Therefore, it is you who have the burden of proof here-- to establish that upsetting our friends in Latin America has no cost.

This, by the way, is a real inconsistency on the right-- weren't you guys just arguing that our pulling missile defense out of Poland and the Czech Republic, even if it made strategic sense, would be seen as a betrayal of our friends and would lead to less cooperation with America?

This is exactly the same thing.
9.27.2009 3:38am
Esteban:
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, 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."
9.27.2009 3:52am
rrr:
I'm constantly amazed at the capacity of people to pontificate on subjects of which they're completely ignorant. It's clear from this thread, for instance, that most of the commenters haven't bothered to actually look at the report that Adler helpfully links to (or most other actually relevant information). From that report, 2 conclusions stand out to me:

1) The main conclusion of the report is that the legislative and judicial branches of the Honduran government (the 2 branches responsible for Zelaya's removal) certified that their actions were legal.

2) Zelaya was not removed for seeking a second term in office (or for proposing such a constitutional change), because he never proposed such a change.

An elaboration on the second point, since there's so much confusion on it. Zelaya proposed a June 2009 referendum on whether to have an additional November ballot. That November ballot would be whether to have a constitutional convention. First of all, there were several articles talked for which there was proposed change in the referendum material, but the term limit on the presidency was not one of these. (Changing this article had been talked about by some groups over the past few years, but Zelaya never proposed a change.) Second, even if the constitutional convention had addressed the article on term limits, this couldn't have happened until after the November election -- the same election where a new president to replace Zelaya would have been elected. So there's simply no way in which Zelaya could have taken advantage of this referendum or constitutional convention to extend his term.
9.27.2009 6:12am
rrr:
geokstr,

A question: What is the evidence that Zelaya is in fact a communist? I have yet to see it. Zelaya did institute some fairly small scale leftist measures, but I'd hardly call raising the minimum wage to $9.60 a day to be communist. Forget about the nationalization you chide Chavez for, a move towards communism would involve much more radical changes -- where is the abolition of businesses and private property? the communization of the economy? I don't see it. Thus I have to say that Dilan is absolutely correct, that the many on the right reflexively oppose Zelaya because he is a
"commie" -- that is, it's actually irrelevant whether he's a communist (and most of the right wingers up in arms wouldn't know enough about Zelaya or about communism to judge properly), he's just a "commie" bogeyman.



I don't think it's just a coincidence that "commie" regimes always seem to lead to mass extinctions of political opposition, the total suppression of civil liberties, the disastrous takeover of the economy resulting in "spreading the poverty" to everyone except the nomenklatura who live in relative luxury above it all, and a media and education system that are nothing more than indoctrination and re-education tools.


If this is an honest assessment, then I find it encouraging that you and I (and many on the left) can agree on the serious problems of poverty and oppression in various third world countries. In Honduras, roughly 60% of the country lives below the povertly line. So I'm encouraged to know you must be outraged by this situation, just as you must be outraged by the stifling of freedoms since Zelaya was ousted.
9.27.2009 6:35am
geokstr (mail):

rrr:
A question: What is the evidence that Zelaya is in fact a communist? I have yet to see it. Zelaya did institute some fairly small scale leftist measures, but I'd hardly call raising the minimum wage to $9.60 a day to be communist. Forget about the nationalization you chide Chavez for, a move towards communism would involve much more radical changes -- where is the abolition of businesses and private property? the communization of the economy? I don't see it. Thus I have to say that Dilan is absolutely correct, that the many on the right reflexively oppose Zelaya because he is a
"commie" -- that is, it's actually irrelevant whether he's a communist (and most of the right wingers up in arms wouldn't know enough about Zelaya or about communism to judge properly), he's just a "commie" bogeyman.

Please point me to where I said Zelaya was a "commie". I may have implied it, but my comment was in response to Dilan, who called him a "commie", and I still oppose "commies" in general. He is an understudy of Chavez, whom I believe has called himself a "communist", as has an ally of both, Fidel. To paraphrase the Zelaya supporters here, if it quacks like a duck...

I lived through the cold war, have followed politics my entire life, and studied it probably more than most. But since I am a right winger, I understand you must feel I am simply too ignorant to understand anything about communism, and therefore unable to call anyone a commie even if he himself calls himself one.


I don't think it's just a coincidence that "commie" regimes always seem to lead to mass extinctions of political opposition, the total suppression of civil liberties, the disastrous takeover of the economy resulting in "spreading the poverty" to everyone except the nomenklatura who live in relative luxury above it all, and a media and education system that are nothing more than indoctrination and re-education tools.



If this is an honest assessment, then I find it encouraging that you and I (and many on the left) can agree on the serious problems of poverty and oppression in various third world countries. In Honduras, roughly 60% of the country lives below the povertly line. So I'm encouraged to know you must be outraged by this situation, just as you must be outraged by the stifling of freedoms since Zelaya was ousted.

I think that anyone of any political stripe (yes, even us evil right wingers) is unhappy that so many anywhere are poverty-stricken. However, we evil ones don't agree that the way to change that is to impose left-wing totalitarianism. Under communism, that roughly 60% of the population might be slightly elevated economically (but not necessarily), at the cost of every one of their civil liberties, while the rest of the population is then dragged down to that same level (except for the leaders, who will continue to live in luxury).

I am in fact outraged and saddened that any country would have 60% of the population living under poverty. Somehow I don't get the connection that swinging wildly to the left and dumping capitalism would necessarily lead to any change for the better. Are you saying that the only way to improve the lot of the masses is to turn the society totalitarian?

And please address who is doing "the stifling of freedoms" and why. Is it the military? The courts? And is it to prevent the inciting of violence by Zelaya's supporters, perhaps? I note that you did not react to the actions cited by others that Zelaya has taken over the past years to stifle opposition either. All governments, even right wing ones, have the responsibility to maintain order and prevent violence, no?

And since Dilan won't answer this question, perhaps you will, so I'll ask it for the fifth time:

What would your reaction be to this exact same fact situation if in fact Zelaya had been a right winger?
9.27.2009 9:16am

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