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, September 29, 2009

Rescind Delay

There is a struggle in Honduras about how to rescind the de facto government's decree removing constitutional guarantees for 45 days. The struggle is not based on any legal issue, but rather on political considerations.

As Greg Weeks notes in his blog today, the consitution allows congress to reject, ammend/modify, or approve of such decrees, and notes that they simply go out of effect should the conditions that caused them to be issued (which must be specified in the decree) cease to exist. So, Congress could have dealt with it yesterday.

Micheletti himself, via a new decree from his council of Ministers, could nullify it. Manuel Zelaya used this technique to comply with the lower court order regarding the Cuarta Urna original decree. Its completely legal and simple.

However, yesterday Congress refused to deal with rejecting the decree even though they told Micheletti it would not pass and Micheletti said he would talk to the Supreme Court and the Presidential candidates about rescinding it. Why?

First, there's the simple need of Micheletti to delay things. He delayed the OAS ministers visit by more than a week; its now scheduled for October 7. He wants this election to take place under his administration, so any delay is a good delay. I think this is his only motivation for asking the Supreme Court how to rescind it. There's no legal impediment to him doing it today, if he wants to do it. The cost, however, politically is enormous. As El Pais notes "the mask is off." In their lead, they see Congress as having "corrected" Micheletti.

Why doesn't Congress rescind it, since they told Micheletti yesterday that it would not pass if it came up for a vote. The reasons here are political. Both Porfirio Lobo (Nationalist Party presidential candidate) and Jose Angel Saavedra (President of Congress) have indicated there is near universal agreement that the limitations on speech and personal liberty are improper and unsupportable. Neither contributes to transparent elections, and both said this yesterday.

Elvin Santos (Liberal Party presidential candidate) noted that in talking with Micheletti, they provided him with several alternative decrees that still accomplished his goal of restricting opposition access to the media.

Congress itself could reject, or ammend the decree right now. However, Saavedra noted that there were divisions within Congress regarding the other consitutional restrictictions in the decree, and the political cost of bringing those divisions to light could damage the coalition that supports the coup.

So expect delay from everyone about rescinding the decree, which is not law, but is being enforced because it has successfully stopped the over the air broadcasts of Channel 36 and Radio Globo.

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