21 September 2009

Keep Dictators out of Office in Honduras!

Why the West keeps insisting that Honduras is currently being ruled by a ultra-rightwing dictatorship is beyond me. And yet the entire supposedly civilized world (the Obama administration, the UN, the EU) is united behind impeached former president Manuel Zelaya and is now crying hurrah as Zelaya has sneaked back into the country. Germany's liberal newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung coos about Zelaya's feat ("Heimkehr nach Honduras") and is tantalized by the expectation of a response by the "Putsch-Regime" (rebel regime). The French newspaper Le Monde ("Le président Zelaya de retour au Honduras") similarly describes Zelaya as the rightful president of the country who had been "ousted since late June by a coup d'état". Roberto Micheletti is described decidedly depracatingly as the man "who rules the country" since the coup.

The situation is certainly not neat and clean. Experts on the Honduran Constitution differ about the question whether the impeachment of Zelaya was legal. The Constitution is frustratingly vague on some key matters. The country continues in an uncertain state of semi-unrest. That Zelaya is a thug seems clear to me, however. Taking his cue from his crony Hugo Chavez, Zelaya was in the process of maneuvring himself into the role of president for life. His duplicitous proposal to organize a referendum on holding a referendum (sic) to change the Constitution was a blatant attempt to have his cake and eat it too. Since the Constitution explicitly forbids proposals to meddle with a number of core articles and rules any such attempt an automatically impeachable offense, Zelaya organized the referendum on a referendum approach so as to insulate himself from prosecution.

The so-called coup was the culmination of several legal steps during which Zelaya was repeatedly informed that his referendum was illegal. Zelaya went on, got arrested and kicked out of his country. The latter step was probably not wise but certainly does not invalidate his legitimate impeachment.

That the Obama administration keeps calling for Zelaya's return is disheartening. As Mary O'Grady describes in the Wall Street Journal ("Hillary's Honduras Obsession"), the President and his Secretary of State are ignoring the facts. Dictators like Zelaya should be kept out of office. The world should stop calling for his return to power and wait, like everyone else, for the results of the elections to be held in November.

The German magazine Der Spiegel ("Gestürzter Präsident Zelaya kehrt zurück") is refreshingly objective, referring to Zelaya as "former president" and to Michelletti as "interim president".

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