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In Honduras, An Untruthful Truth Commission

Author: Joel D. Hirst, International Affairs Fellow in Residence, 2010-2011
July 12, 2011
Latin American Herald Tribune


On the 28th of June, 2009, then-President of Honduras Manuel “Mel” Zelaya was awakened from his slumber and unceremoniously sent into exile in San Jose, Costa Rica. His crime: attempting to change the country's constitution to allow for a Presidential re-election. Come to find out – for those with the discipline to read the actual Honduran constitution of 1982 – this is indeed an offense, in fact a wrongdoing that is tantamount to treason.

This simple, clear fact has – for the last two years – been resolutely overlooked. In the immediate aftermath of the Honduran situation, the State Department, the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA) all joined forces to condemn what they considered a “coup d'état” in Honduras. Even the much respected Oscar Arias – then President of Costa Rica – joined in the international symphony. Seldom have Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro and an American President taken their cues from the same song-sheet.

President Arias, opposed to all things military, denounced the role of the Honduran military in their attempt to restore constitutional order. United States President Barack Obama – probably remembering the terrible trouble of the Bush Administration during the Venezuelan coup of 2002 – rapidly embraced the increasingly accepted (if legally dubious) description of this action as a “coup d'état”. Presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Fidel Castro of Cuba found themselves, for once, on the side of American foreign policy, their attempts to bolster their anti-American alliance and subvert democracy in this hemisphere given important support. Probably bewildered by the response of the U.S. President, they nevertheless reveled in the international support afforded to their minion, Manuel “Mel” Zelaya.

The facts in this complicated problem are few and far between. For example, it is a fact that the Honduran constitution forbids any discussion of the founding articles of the constitution by a sitting incumbent, especially the extension of term limits. It is a fact that the Honduran Military, in their disposing of the errant President “Mel” Zelaya, were acting on the orders of the Supreme Court. It is a fact that, upon removing a president in a process tantamount to impeachment, the constitutional order was respected in the installation of Roberto Micheletti as President. And it is a fact that only six months after the legal process which removed President Zelaya from power the Honduran people voted for a new President in freedom and peace.

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