PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts

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  1. option “b” begs the question whether there were no better means of law enforcement than the army. as far as its symbolic value, it sends a terrible message to use the army to do a job the police could have done better and with much more efficiency, or am i missing some details? i mean, the honduran president isn’t a forty-foot monster armed with lasers, so why the overkill?
    as regards your original question: if you read around conservative blogs, you’d get the impression that this wasn’t a hypothetical question; yet, i don’t think that for those exponents of the public debate answer a or be would be the option to choose. they would probably pick c) #get your torches and pitchforks and lets meet in front of the white house’

    Comment by nevrdull — Tuesday, June 30, 2009 @ 2:52 am

  2. Steven, Your question is a reasonable one. The problem with your prospective answers is that you’re assuming that all American conditions pertinent to due process and proceedings would hold true in Honduras.

    As recent events have shown down there, they don’t.

    The Honduran President ignored all legal and lawful orders given him to cease and desist his unconsititutional (literally; by now, I’m sure you’ve reviewed the Honduran Constitution, so you’re aware of Article 42 of that doc)activities. My sense is that when Zelaya fired the military commander trying to carry out lawful orders (against Zelaya’s initiative), led his followers into military bases to seize balloting materials, and then began to distribute them, it occurred to the leaders of the other branches of government that that was there last chance to do something before the situation went completely to pieces.

    It was clear to the other branches of government (me too) that the President was not willing to play by the Constitutional rules and I just can’t see the guy waiting around for the Congress to organize impeachment hearings/proceedings to take him out. He was already going to his “street” with the clear intention of circumventing due process. What he might have done beyond that is unknown, but again, I believe that the other branches acted correctly, albeit in an extra-Constitutional (not, not unconsitutional) manner. Extraordinary, aberrant acts on the part of the Executive require extraordinary responses, and that’s what happened…

    Comment by Tambopaxi — Wednesday, July 1, 2009 @ 10:19 am

  3. Oh, btw, I appreciated your thoughtful and measured remarks the other day at Fausta’s blog. I went through the Honduran Constitution myself, and my reading of relevant Articles is that Zelaya violated the Constitution at least once and possibly, more times. I just went through it quickly, so I may have missed it, but I didn’t see any articles dealing with the removal of the President in the event of inappropriate or unconstitutional acts. That subject may be treated in separate laws/regs that you’re aware of….

    Comment by Tambopaxi — Wednesday, July 1, 2009 @ 10:24 am

  4. I absolutely agree that Zelaya was behaving in a legally problematic fashion.

    My point remains, however, is that there is clearly some middle ground between letting him do whatever he wanted and arresting and exiling him. Further, that if such an extraordinary measure is going to be undertaken, there ought to be some sort of due process.

    The defenders of this action seem to think that there was no other alternative, and I find that difficult to accept. If the court could order his exile and removal from office, surely it could have ordered the vote halted, not counted, null and void, etc. Or any number of other possibilities.

    It just seems odd to argue that exile and extralegal removal from office was the only option.

    Comment by Steven L. Taylor — Wednesday, July 1, 2009 @ 10:32 am

  5. I object to the scenario because of the supposed exclusivity of your two options. First clearly the Honduran govt did use legal means to block the unconstitutional behaviour by trying to withhold the ballots that Zelaya encouraged his supporters to seize. Additionally it appears for a reading of the Honduran constitution and the amendments to it that one can argue that the constitutionally mandated procedure was followed as it was a relatively vague provision which ascribed power to the military to remove officials who tried to violate the reelection clause. Furthermore, the new president who was sworn was done so at the behest of the democratically elected congress which also voted unanimously to remove Zelaya. So I think the dichotomy you set up really isn’t a fair one with respect to the terms you used.

    If you want to say that from an image perspective considering the history of military action in the Americas and with respect to how the expulsion was done that the form of their removal was poor than I’m sure that is an understandably more arguable proposition. However, from all we’ve seen so far the legality and procedure that occurred in Honduras doesn’t really fit your narrative. It is very hard to argue that removal was particularly ‘extralegal’ (though the timeline may not have moved in the best manner form a pr perspective).

    I also think you are being naive with respect to the other suggestions such as ordering the vote halted, not counted or null and void. First, any of these actions would have be enforced though the military—there was clearly a Jacksonian dispute between Zulaya and their supreme court—and as a result we’d still have rumblings of a coup or military interference. Second, the military did already try to pursue other action by withholding the referendum ballots. The reason why this conflict came to a head was because of the fact that Zelaya had his supporters seize the ballots despite that. There was a very strong and justifiable fear here (for both domestic and regional reasons) that Zelaya was going to try to use the strength of his office to override the decisions of the other branches that were meant to keep him in check. I’d also guess that the other policies/scenarios would also have issues with them though there clearly may have been a better alternative from an image perspective.

    The fascinating issue here is really what the return of Zelaya as demanded by a seemingly hasty international community would actually do. Zelaya is essentially a sitting duck president and I imagine any return would be greeted with more domestic strife (possibly more violent ones considering his control of his supporters) along with another attempted impeachment. The ‘form’ or ‘imagery’ of his current removal should mean the international community should meddle in a way that will potentially encourage more violence in Honduras and not really offer anything to proliferate democracy in Honduras.

    Comment by Mike D — Wednesday, July 1, 2009 @ 8:05 pm

  6. I would argue that the Honduran government didn’t tr” hard enough to solve the problem via legal, legitimate means.

    Is this is “naive” because?

    Comment by Steven L. Taylor — Wednesday, July 1, 2009 @ 8:13 pm

  7. Woops, that should be:

    The ‘form’ or ‘imagery’ of his current removal shouldn’t mean the international community should meddle in a way that will potentially encourage more violence in Honduras and not really offer anything to proliferate democracy in Honduras.

    Comment by Mike D — Wednesday, July 1, 2009 @ 8:20 pm

  8. I simply don’t understand the argument that it is to democracy’s benefit to extra-legally remove an elected official.

    Comment by Steven L. Taylor — Wednesday, July 1, 2009 @ 9:14 pm

  9. At this point, do you really think that bringing this man back to power is going to do any good for the institutions of the country? Zeyala doesn´t have support to be President anymore. Who is supporting him? Congress, no. Supreme court, no. AG, no. Military, no. Church, no. Press, no. People in the street, no. There is only support from outside and his own party (including some people who are not very fond of democratic values or the rule of law). Is it really a good idea to push this man back to power?

    And what if he becomes a dictator after that? Because, it is obvious that, if it was a coup, it can´t be left unpunished, right? The Supreme Court, the Congress and the military are all criminals then. And if he becomes a dictator himself, who is going to take him out of power? Or are all countries going back to the traditional position of not interfering in internal issues?

    I think it is a terrible idea, which may lead even to civil war. The best course at this point is not to isolate the country, but to press for individual rights and a fair election in November (or maybe even sooner).

    Comment by Vladimir — Wednesday, July 1, 2009 @ 9:41 pm

  10. correction, he doesn´t have the support of his own party.

    But I´m willing to bet that Sudan is supporting him!

    Comment by Vladimir — Wednesday, July 1, 2009 @ 9:47 pm

  11. Ahmadinejad kills his own people in the street.

    The international community: let´s wait and see.

    A Chavez wannabe is ousted.

    The international community: the poor fellow was still wearing his pajamas, how outrageous!!!

    Comment by Vladimir — Wednesday, July 1, 2009 @ 10:02 pm

  12. “If the Supreme Court ordered option “b” would that make it a legal act?”

    Well that´s look like a scenario that would make all the way up to…The Supreme Court. Any other would be “extra-legal” and would certainly cause long term damage to the US institutions, right?

    Comment by Vladimir — Wednesday, July 1, 2009 @ 10:12 pm

  13. I’d be very hesitant to say this was ‘extra-legal’ or illegitimate. It is clear that he violated clauses of the constitution, chose to ignore a supreme court ruling and then attempted to use force to hold the referendum.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/news/breaking-news/v-fullstory/story/1121821.html

    The question then comes of how he was removed. The provision and amendment to the constitution appear to give the supreme court power over this and they are the ones who issued the order to the army.
    http://noelmaurer.typepad.com/aab/2009/06/more-on-the-honduran-constitution.html
    http://pdba.georgetown.edu/Constitutions/Honduras/hond05.html

    So I think it takes leap to say that it was extra-legal or illegitimate. Did it lead to painful imagery that was reminiscent of past military takeovers in the Americas? Yes. That however is a different question and I haven’t seen any other scenario that would have definitely ended better than this in light of the way Zelaya was acting and what had already gone on.

    The international community unfortunately also seems to be getting caught up in the imagery as opposed to the substance. At this point your questions shouldn’t be ‘couldn’t Zelaya have been removed in a more publicly friend way?’ and should go to ‘why exactly should the international community be encouraging Zelaya’s reinstatement considering its potentially tragic consequences and the fact he’s an outgoing president who will inevitably be impeached again?’.

    Comment by Mike D — Wednesday, July 1, 2009 @ 10:22 pm

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