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Honduras: Was it a Coup?

Categories: Latin America, Honduras, Politics

The political crisis in Honduras reached its highest levels last Sunday with the arrest and subsequent expulsion of the now ex-president Manuel Zelaya [1], which was carried out by the Honduran Armed Forces under orders of the National Congress and the Supreme Court. These actions have accentuated the divisions within the country and has plunged the country into a historical political and social chaos.

Photo of Anti-Zelaya march taken by Roberto Brevé and used under a Creative Commons license. http://www.flickr.com/photos/breve/3684627699/ [2]

Photo of Anti-Zelaya march taken by Roberto Brevé and used under a Creative Commons license. http://www.flickr.com/photos/breve/3684627699/

The origin of the crisis was the popular consultation promoted by the Executive Branch in order to ask the country whether or not they agree that a new Constitution should be written. For some, the proposal is part of the participative democracy that the country needs, but for others, it was a smokescreen that hides the reelection aspirations of Zelaya, meaning, a clear violation of the country's Constitution.

A delegation from the Organization of American States [3], led by its Secretary-General, Jose Miguel Insulza has been in the capital city of Tegucigalpa to ask for the reinstatement of Zelaya. However, it appears that Congressional leaders are saying that the removal is “irreversible.” As a result, the country may be expelled from the OAS, and may face sanctions.

In Mirada de Halcón [es], Carlos Rivera writes [4]:

La encuesta, que no tiene ningún peso legal, porque no es un plebiscito, tampoco es un referéndum, simplemente es una consulta popular”. Si gana el “no”, pues, lógicamente, los ciudadanos habrán expresado que no desean una nueva Constitución. Si gana el “sí”, entonces, la historia será diferente a partir de ahora.

The survey does not have legal standing, because it is not a plebiscite or a referendum, it is simply a popular consultation. If the “no” wins, logically, the citizens would have expressed that they do not want a new Constitution. If the “yes” wins, then, history would be different from now on.

David Moran of El Catracho [es] writes that there was a coup [5]:

La encuesta que no es otra cosa que un referéndum, el cual pide el SI para una Constituyente. Algo ilegítimo según la actual Constitución hondureña; y por si fuera poco, un SI promocionado nada menos que por el propio Presidente de la República y su gabinete de gobierno ¿Qué significa esto? ¿Quién violó el orden Constitucional? O mejor dicho ¿Quién dio el Golpe?

The consultation, which was nothing else but a referendum, which did call for a YES for a Constituent Assembly. This was something illegitimate according to the current Honduran Constitution; and for little else, a YES promoted by the very President and his cabinet. What does this mean? Who violated the Constitutional order? Who better said, who carried out the coup?

The transitional government led by Roberto Micheletti, named president by the National Congress states that the procedure was carried out entirely legally under Honduran law . However, for part of the Honduran population and almost the entire international community, they are clearly calling this a coup that has destroyed the young democracy of the country.

In La Honduras Posible [es], Margarita Montes writes: [6]

Este caso no se puede catalogar como un “golpe de Estado”, ya que no cumple con dos rasgos fundamentales de dicho fenómeno político: toma del poder por parte del estamento militar y quebrantamiento del Estado de Derecho.

This case cannot be described as a “coup d'état,” because it does not meet two fundamental characteristics of this political event: the taking of power by part of the military and the violation of the rule of law.

Rubén Escobar of La Búsqueda [es] asks the following questions [7]:

Si no fue un golpe de estado ¿Por qué Manuel Zelaya Rosales no está en el país siendo juzgado?¿por qué detuvieron a los ministros y enviaron a la canciller Patricia Rodas a México? ¿Por qué cerraron canal 8 y no permitieron ver CNN, mientras encadenaban las radios para que no informaran? ¿Por qué se inventaron una carta que fue firmada el jueves 25 de junio?

If it was not a coup, then why is Manuel Zelaya Rosales not in the country being tried? Why did they arrest cabinet members and send the foreign minister Patricia Rodas to Mexico? Why did they close Channel 8 and not allow CNN to transmit, while they chained up radio stations so that they would not inform? Why did they invent a letter (of Zelaya's resignation) that was signed Thursday, June 25?

The blog Periodico el Inventario [es] [8] writes:

Nosotros no nos sentíamos ni representados, ni identificados con El Presidente Zelaya, pero menos aún con los militares, con Micheletti o cualquiera de ese grupo ultraconservador que hoy asaltó el poder.

We did not feel represented by or identify with President Zelaya, but even less with the military, with Micheletti or any ultra-conservative group that took over power.

Finally, the coverage of the international media during the conflict has generated discussion, especially from CNN, which according to many had not been impartial. In Desde Tegus [es], we can see some comments about this topic in this open letter to a CNN reporter [9], which asserts that they “misinformed the entire world.”

Carlos Viaux adds a comment:

La actitud de CNN en Español el domingo 28 cubriendo el golpe de Estado en Honduras es una clase magistral para estudiantes acerca del periodismo que desprestigia la profesión. Pero, ni su corresponsal en esa capital ni sus editores o conductores exigieron a ninguno de sus entrevistados actores de la asonada cívico-militar copia o tener a la vista la carta que se leyó en el Parlamento hondureño atribuida al Presidente Zelaya, en la que éste supuestamente renunciaba.

The behavior of CNN in Spanish on Sunday the 28th, which covered the coup in Honduras is a graduate-level class for journalism students on how to provide discredit to the profession. Neither their correspondent in the capital city, nor their editors or anchors asked any of their interviewees from the civic-military government for a copy or to see the letter that the Honduran parliament read that was attributed to President Zelaya, in which he supposedly resigned.