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.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A response to Micheletti's Op-ed in Sunday's Wall Street Journal

It comes as no surprise that the Wall Street Journal is publishing misleading op-eds in support of the authoritarian regime in Honduras. It contributes centrally to the impression internationally of the US being behind, or at the very least, in support, of the coup d'etat in Honduras, and thus is prejudicial to US interests abroad; but that is what we have with our treasured free press, the right to receive unadulterated right-wing propaganda. And I would rather that than the situation of the Press in Honduras, which is entirely owned and controlled by the few wealthy families behind the coup, with the sole exception of El Tiempo, constantly under attack since the coup.

But that does not mean we have to accept the publication of lies. Here, for the record, is a point-by-point rebuttal, a comment posted in response to the WSJ by an associate of this blog:

Undisputed facts, Mr. Micheletti? I don't think so. Lets look at
them one by one.

- The Supreme Court Arrest Order. You say the Honduran Military
was the appropriate agency under Honduran law. The constitution of
Honduras does not list the execution of arrest warrents under the
description of functions of the Military. That duty falls, under its
founding law (on the National Congress website) to the National
Police, not the Miltary. Also it was an arrest order, not a trial.
Mr. Zelaya has been denied due process under the Honduran
constitution. I might also point out that it is illegal under the
Honduran Constitution to forcibly exile a citizen of Honduras, as you
have done with Mr. Zelaya.

- The Congress voted overwhelmingly in support of removing Mr.
Zelaya. Congress was convened in an unusual manner, where not all
representatives were notified of the meeting, and in some cases,
people unknown to the representatives substituted for them without
their permission. Representatives of the UD party were prevented by
armed guards from attending the session. Voting was done by a show
of hands, not an actual roll call vote. Also, the vote doesn't
matter since the Honduran constituion contains no method for the
National Congress to remove a sitting president. Congress cannot
remove the president. You modified the constituion to make that
impossible a few years ago.

- Constitution Article 239. There is no evidence in the form of
public statements, printed anywhere, including in the Honduran
newspapers that support you, that quotes Mr. Zelaya as ever saying
that he was seeking to extend his term of office. In fact, this is
entirely your supposition, without any supporting evidence.
Therefore article 239 does not apply, unless you can show words and
actions that show he tried to extend his term. Might I also point
out that you were a signer of a 1985 attempt to call a National
Constituent Assembly specifically to extend the term of President
Suazo Cordova, and when given a chance to withdraw your support of
the bill, you declined.

- Illegal withdrawal of money from the Banco Central of Honduras.
These are allegations that remain to be proved; Your prosecutors are
hardly impartial sources of information.

- Seizure of the ballots and their source. Mr. Zelaya led a peaceful
mob. The Airforce base commander never felt threatened and talked
both with Mr. Zelaya, his legal commander, and quite naturally turned
the ballots over to him when asked for them. The ballots were
printed in Venezuela, but were not shipped by the Venezuelan government.

- Legal succession to president. Elvin Santos, vice president under
Mr. Zelaya, was allowed to resign as Vice President. The process was
unconstituional, as you know. Your own human rights commissioner,
Mr. Custodio said so. Also, as stated above, Congress cannot remove
a President according to the Honduran Constituion, so any succession
authorized by Congress was based on the lie of the legal removal of
Mr. Zelaya. Don't take my word for it, study Honduran constitutional
scholar's Efrain Moncada Silva's opinion.

- expulsion of Mr. Zelaya from Honduras. Everyone, including
military's chief lawyer, Colonel Herberth Bayardo Inestroza, agrees
this was an illegal act, and your fear of mobs does not justify
violating the constitution you claim to be supporting. Forcing Mr.
Zelaya into exile was a violation of your constitution, an illegal
act, in which you participated.


Anonymous said...

Was there an arrest order? I thoughy Dona Xiomara's exchange with Romeo Vasquez pretty well dispelled that idea. There was an authorization, but the order to arrest seems to be a matter of speculation.

--Charles of MercuryRising

RAJ said...

The Supreme Court documents, as well as those posted by the Armed Forces in their hysterical attempt to justify themselves, both contain orders dated June 26 directed to specific officers. While many Honduran contacts of ours suggest these were post-facto creations, they remain the claimed legal basis for the actions of June 28.

What these notes actually say is somewhat ambiguous; what is clear is they are not, as sometimes characterized, rulings or sentences by the Supreme Court. I still have found no findings by the court on any of the supposed crimes.

For example, the version addressed to Romeo Vasquez Velasquez posted by the Armed Forces reads "By order of this Tribunal of Justice of the Honduran Republic...this serves to convey the authority that you may delegate to capture the Citizen President of the Republic of Honduras...who is supposed to be responsible for the crimes: against the form of government, treason against the homeland, abuse of authority and usurpation of functions, prejudicing the Public Administration of the State of Honduras, the preceding based on the legal filing presented in this Court by the Ministerio Publico."

The Supreme Court's own postings, which I continue to work on mining, translating, and hope soon to begin posting, explicitly authorize a raid by the Armed Forces, to detain the President and take a statement.

These are the documents that can be described as arrest warrants. Of course, it was only after the Congress declared President Zelaya removed from office-- despite the lack of any legal means for the Congress to do such a thing-- that the Supreme Court issued an order for arrest, based on the argument that he was no longer President and thus not subject to special treatment otherwise afforded to high government officials.

Romeo Vasquez, in the Radio Globo interview, in another with BBC that we will be posting about soon, and insofar as he is behind some of the Armed Forces press releases, is clearly trying to avoid acknowledging that there were serious legal defects in the Supreme Court orders he enacted.

Anonymous said...

I'll look forward to seeing your translations. As I say, to the best of my ability to understand the conversation, Romeo Vasquez could not give a straight answer to Xiomara Castro de Zelaya's simple question about where was the arrest warrant. Why would that be the case if there had actually been an arrest warrant?

RAJ said...

First, because the order he carried out violated the constitution. As Honduran legal scholars opposed to the regime note, legally the National Police would have that role. The Supreme Court accepted a scandalous claim that the police could not be trusted. So Romeo had no business, in his self- acclaimed role as defender of the constitution, accepting that order.

Second, he did the wrong thing even given the order. He has yet to personally admit that. The military FAQ goes to grotesque lengths to justify the deportation, and the military and others hint that there were civilians who told them to deport the President.

Third, the Supreme Court order is ambiguous: it calls for detention and taking a statement. It appears arresting a sitting President may not have been legal. (Still checking on this.)

Finally: the Supreme Court order may not have existed in writing until after the fact. The Supreme Court's weird verbiage supports colleagues' claims that the order was written after the fact, because instead of saying "this was legal" (which I would still reject) they say "Assuming there was an order by a competent judge the events would have been for the best".

My partner, who wrote the response in a rage at Micheletti, used arrest warrant for the judicial order: neither of us believe a valid order existed.