Responses to the Coup d'etat in Honduras on Sunday June 28, with special emphasis on producing English-language versions of commentaries by Honduran scholars and editorial writers and addressing the confusion encouraged by lack of basic knowledge about Honduras.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Micheletti: Zelaya faces "18 charges of violating the constitution"

Roberto Micheletti's latest reiteration of his intransigence that would seem to disqualify him from any further coaxing as it rejects the basis of the San Jose Accord contains an interesting slip-up.

As reported yesterday by McClatchy, Micheletti is quoted as saying
Zelaya would be jailed and tried on 18 charges of violating the constitution if he returned.
Not a direct quote, and could easily be bad reporting, but if accurate, Micheletti appears not to understand that under current Honduran legal procedure, those charged with crimes are not automatically thrown in jail; there is the whole business of hearings and trials.

Judges can even ignore requests for imprisonment, as justice Maritza Arita did in the case of three protesters charged in the aftermath of the UNAH invasion.

(Justice Arita, despite also jailing some protestors, is now the focus of retaliation in Honduras by the de facto government, working through its wholly-controlled Supreme Court, due to the pique her refusal to accept government over-charging has aroused.)

But equally interesting is Micheletti's assertion that President Zelaya has been charged with 18 counts of violating the constitution. According to an article published July 2 in the pro-coup newspaper, La Prensa, the 18 charges trumped up after the coup include a variety of criminal complaints. The road was opened to this wider gamut of charges by the Supreme Court's cynical ruling on June 29 that since President Zelaya was no longer carrying out the office of President, he was subject to prosecution through the ordinary courts.

Let's be clear: the reason I have not translated these 18 charges yet is that they are spurious, politically motivated, and entirely suspect, based on manufactured "evidence" of the flimsiest kind and in many cases, of dubious legal basis.

But nonetheless, I would expect Micheletti to know the difference between constitutional violations and other kinds of crimes. As the ultimate sponsor of this bill of lies, he should know that many of the "crimes" represent administrative disputes that would at best be heard by the Court of Contentious Administration; ordering the construction of a civilian airport at Palmerola (which Zelaya discussed after the deadly crash in Tegucigalpa in 2008) seems unlikely to be a crime at all; and others of the so-called constitutional "crimes" were actions that congress supported.

My favorites, though, which I find most difficult to imagine a way to misrepresent as supposed constitutional crimes:

11. Label as political the decisions of the Public Prosecutor and Judicial Power.

12. State that the National Congress did not have the right to approve the Law of Plebiscite and Referendum

13. Accuse the regulation of plebiscite and referendum approved by Congress of being a "lying law"

[The Honduran Constitution explicitly guarantees the right of freedom of opinion and speech, or at least it did until the de facto regime began suspending civil rights]

AND--the one that really mystifies me--

17. Publicly exhibit a child contaminated with the H1N1 flu virus.

Which deserved billing before the afterthought of the litter:

18. Firing General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez.

Good to know they have their priorities straight. And I will let you know if I figure out how presenting a poster-child for an anti-flu campaign violated the constitution.


Nell said...

Good to know they have their priorities straight.


Maybe the bottom-of-the-list ranking of Gen. Vasquez' firing is yet another hint that he might be the one looking in vain for a place to sit when the music stops...

TITO said...


As you state, most of the charges are political and administrative!

#17 is the more representative to me, as to the type of people that kidnapped our democracy. The display of the girl implies a moral issue, giving the impression that these simians act upon morality rather than rationality.

On that time, conservatives pushed the parents to press charges on Zelaya, they ignored them. So, a prosecutor from the child court said that they would evaluate the events to see if the public prosecutor could act all by himself. Thing they never did!


Before the coup, Martha Lorena Casco, golpista vice minister of foreign relations, drove congress to sign a bill outlawing Plan B, an FDA-approved emergency contraception drug, that Zelaya days later vetoed it upon landing on his desktop....ON NATIONAL TELEVISION! (Cadena Nacional)í

You can now draw a picture of the alignments after the polarization peak(right v. left).

RAJ said...

TITO points out that there were a wide range of substantive policy differences that have been ignored in the post-coup reporting.

I think it is especially appropriate to highlight the H1N1 virus "charge", since in the early post-coup days, one of the supposed charges under discussion was to have been accusing Zelaya of inaction in the face of the flu threat. Having been questioned and even had my temperature monitored with some sort of high-tech heat gun multiple times on entry to San Pedro Sula this summer, that one struck me as a stretch: it was more than the UK, Spain, Costa Rica or for that matter the US did when I flew in to each of those countries during the epidemic fears.

But then by the time it comes out, the best they can do is charge Zelaya with this dubious count.

TITO said...

Today, the "Sala de lo Constitucional" on the Supreme Court of Justice admitted "un recurso de amparo" declaring the decree signed in congress removing the president unconstitutional. The Court gave Congress three days to submit all data they used to reach such resolution.

Maybe you can get the actual files with your local contacts...

RAJ said...

We will try; but I expect we will find the regime government less likely to share these documents than others. But the resistance should circulate the filing... and if so, we will post a translation.