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.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"The Military Coup and the Rupture of Constitutional Continuity" by Efrain Moncada Silva

In an editorial today in the Honduran newspaper La Tribuna, not noted for any support of President Zelaya, Efrain Moncada Silva, Minister of Government in the Zelaya administration, a constitutional lawyer and Professor of Law in the national university, provides the precise legal citation for the point that the National Police, not the army, has the legal role of arresting those indicted in Honduras.

(Perhaps not coincidentally, an article in Tiempo today quotes a spokesman for the Armed Forces saying "That is a decision on the part of the legal justice [system]" when asked whether they would accept the emerging suggestion that the decision to expatriate President Zelaya was the military's responsibility.)

While some may question his analysis due to his position in the Zelaya government, independent media sources confirm that Moncada offered Zelaya legal opinion that went against his goal of conducting the poll. That evidence of independence and his unquestioned credentials as an expert on Honduran Constitutional law should make even apologists for the coup d'etat stop and think. Here is my translation:

Whatever might be the qualification that some sectors try to give to the events of Sunday June 28, the international community, both regional and world-wide, as well as the light of our Constitution, treats it simply and categorically as a coup d'etat, that has produced a rupture in constitutional continuity of one of the powers of government of Honduras, the Executive Power, no matter that it was by means of an order of the Supreme Court of Justice directed to the Armed Forces and that the National Congress has named a substitute for the President of the Republic in undue application of constitutional Article 242.

Let's examine the facts with scientific objectivity, without prejudices or assumptions, and without subordination to personal or sectorial interests, nor to passions of political or other ilk.

In agreement with Article 306 of the Constitution the judicial organs shall require in necessary cases the aid of the police force for the completion of their legal rulings. Always supposing, without it being proved, that there had intervened the commission of some misdeed, it appertained to to the National Police to execute the legal rulings of the Judicial Power and not to the Armed Forces which, in agreement with Article 274 of the same Constitution, does not have any expertise related with the execution of legal rulings, laws, legal mandates, and legal decisions of the public officials and authorities, especially the Judicial Power, because its powers are expressly determined in the said Article 274. So in the violent apprehension of the President of the Republic, undoubtedly, various crimes were consummated, that sooner or later will have to be determined.

In addition, to expatriate the incumbent of the Executive violated his rights consigned in constitutional Article 102 that orders that no Honduran can be expatriated nor turned over to the authorities of a foreign State.

Moreover, the National Congress on naming the president of the same power as substitute for the incumbent of the Executive incorrectly interpreted and applied, twisting the letter and spirit of the cited Article 242 of the Constitution that requires the absolute lack of the President of the Republic, that is to say, when he should die or be totally incapacitated to exercise his office, situations that were not given in the case of President Zelaya. Thence the so-called "constitutional succession" of Sr. Micheletti has no constitutional validity.

In reality what there has been in Honduras is a military coup and a rupture of constitutional continuity, understanding that as the flow of the political-social dynamic in the form foreseen by the constitutional norms. On deposing the President of the Republic by force without having constitutional mechanisms that authorized that deed, and on naming a substitute without the standard assumptions of the cited Article 242, a political crisis was produced, regardless that the military has or has not occupied positions in one of the three branches of government.

In this moment of the crisis the important and urgent thing is to find a solution to restore constitutional order.

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