Zelaya, without legal authority, sought a national referendum on whether the Constitution should be amended to remove provisions that would bar hm from seeking another term as President. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, Honduran law allows constitutional amendments, but a constituent assembly to effect them can only be called through a national referendum approved by the Honduran Congress, not the president. The article describes what happened next:
. . . Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chávez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.Predictably, the law-enforcement measures of Honduras' legitimate governmental institutions prompted screams of outrage from all the tinhorn leftist dictators in Latin America, from the Castros in Cuba and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez to Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega and Bolivia's Evo Morales. Chávez mobilzed his country's armed forces under a threat to invade Honduras and overthrow its new government. The Organization of American States (OAS) has condemned Zelaya's removal and is now considering Honduras' expulsion. Naturally, the United Nations--dominated by dictators, socialists, and their craven, fellow-traveling governments in the West and elsewhere--has expressed its outrage and has called upon all its members to refuse to recognize the new Honduran government.
The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused.
Calculating that some critical mass of Hondurans would take his side, the president decided he would run the referendum himself. So on Thursday he led a mob that broke into the military installation where the ballots from Venezuela were being stored and then had his supporters distribute them in defiance of the Supreme Court's order.
The attorney general had already made clear that the referendum was illegal, and he further announced that he would prosecute anyone involved in carrying it out. Yesterday, Mr. Zelaya was arrested by the military and is now in exile in Costa Rica.
As WSJ notes, "Honduras is fighting back by strictly following the constitution. The Honduran Congress met in emergency session yesterday and designated its president [Roberto Micheletti] as the interim executive as stipulated in Honduran law. It also said that presidential elections set for November will go forward. The Supreme Court later said that the military acted on its orders."
Sickeningly, and in complete disregard of the legal steps the new Honduran government has taken to preserve democracy and the rule of law, the Obama administration has joined the dictators' chorus of repression. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week accused Honduras of violating "the precepts of the Interamerican Democratic Charter" and said it "should be condemned by all." This past Monday, she said that "having expelled the president, we have a lot of work to do to try to help the Hondurans get back on the democratic path that they've been on for a number of years now." She also noted that the United States is reviewing its aid program for Honduras and "considering the implications of the forced removal of Zelaya for continued American assistance." Also on Monday, President Obama himself declared that "the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the president of Honduras, the democratically elected president there." White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that the administration had worked in recent days to try to prevent the coup from happening, and "our goal now is on restoring democratic order in Honduras."
On Tuesday, Micheletti told the Washington Post that he did not see any way to negotiate with the Obama administration and international diplomats seeking a return of Zelaya to power because, Micheletti insisted, Zelaya was guilty of crimes against the country. Meanwhile, thousands of Hondurans rallied Tuesday in the central plaza of the capital, Tegucigalpa, to support the forced removal of Zelaya and to shout their support for the armed forces. "No, no compromise, because if he tries to come back or anyone tries to bring him back, he will be arrested," Micheletti said. "Our army also consists of 7.5 million people prepared to defend freedom and liberty." Micheletti further said: "I want to make a call to our allies in the United States, that they should stick with us at this very important moment in the life of the country . . . The economy of our country is completely destroyed -- because of the acts of the former government. If aid [from the United States and Europe] keeps coming, we will show that every little penny that we borrowed will be spent for the people of this country." Micheletti, who is a leader of Zelaya's own Liberal Party, vowed that he would not run for president in the upcoming November elections.
Reuters reports that on Wednesday, the Organization of American States issued a weekend deadline for the interim government to reinstate Zelaya. Micheletti replied: "We have established a democratic government and we will not cede to pressure from anyone. We are a sovereign country."
The basis for the specious outrage of the Obama administration and its leftist allies is the fact that Zelaya was democratically elected to the presidency several years ago. They seem to believe that, having once won a national plebiscite, everything Zelaya says and does thereafter is blessed by the democratic process--he can do no political wrong. They all know better than that. The model was established by Adolf Hitler, whose National Socialist (Nazi) Party came to power through "democratic" elections--aided, of course, by intrigue, mob violence, intimidation, and propaganda--and then used "legal" legislative and executive processes to force changes in the German constitution and laws that endowed Hitler with dictatorial powers. Proceeding in this way gives the aspiring tyrant and his actions the color of legitimacy, and thereby disarms his opponents. Hugo Chavez has used the same tactics of populist intimidation to gain near-absolute control over Venezuela, and has been eagerly exporting the brand all over Latin America, succeeding to varying degrees in Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina and Nicaragua. He was actively supporting Manuel Zelaya's naked power grab in Honduras when that country's legal institutions acted to snatch the prize away before he could get a death grip on it. Clearly, democracy can be subverted just as effectively--more so, perhaps--from within as from without, and by power-hungry elected presidents as well as by street-level revolutionaries.
That the Obama administration would condemn the Honduran patriots and people and seek to undermine their democratic efforts, rather than support them, is a shocking revelation of what its true priorities and agenda are. Certainly the shoe would be on the other foot had Zelaya been a right-wing usurper. Obviously, faithfulness to socialism is more important than liberty, democracy, or the rule of law. Solidarity with the likes of Chavez, Ortega, Morales, and the Castro brothers is more important than the integrity of our own government and the values that the United States has traditionally represented, and sought to gain for others. Right now, American representatives are working--and twisting arms, no doubt--to re-foist a would-be dictator on the Honduran people. Is the administration tryiing to spread socialist orthodoxy throughout the Western Hemisphere, even where it's not wanted, and regardless of our national interests? Or is Mr. Obama fearful that at some point, brave souls in this country might emulate the Hondurans' example and try to prevent him from cementing his own socialist dictatorship over all of us?
At the very least, it seems obvious that had Mr. Obama been the U.S. President in the years leading up to World War II, and anti-Nazi elements in Germany had been able to remove him from office (as many wanted, and a few planned), he would have spared no effort to reverse such an action and restore Der Fuhrer to power. We know he'd prefer that the Iraqi people still be suffering under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Isn't it strange how "Democrats" are so attached to tyrants?
UPDATE--July 3, 2009: Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) has issued a strong statement denouncing the Obama administration's treacherous, bullying treatment of the legitimate Honduran government and its efforts to ensure true democracy and freedom in that country. You'll want to read the statement in its entirety:
July 2, 2009 - Greenville, SC - Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, made the following statement about the ongoing situation in Honduras.Hats off to Sen. DeMint!
"The people of Honduras have struggled too long to have their hard-won democracy stolen from them by a Chavez-style dictator. The Honduran Congress, the Honduran Supreme Court, and the Honduran military have acted in accordance to the Honduran constitution and the rule of law.
“For weeks leading to his arrest, Zelaya flouted the constitutional authority of the Honduran Congress and Supreme Court, and claimed for himself extra-constitutional control of his nation’s military and political institutions. Every institution from the Electoral Tribunal to the Supreme Court ruled that his actions were unjustified and illegal. Zelaya’s open defiance of democratic norms has set Honduras on a path toward violence, instability, and tyranny.
“I am hopeful that as President Obama grows in office, he will eventually turn away from despots like Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Castro, and Zelaya, and give the United States’ full-throated support to the people of any country who are fighting for the same values we cherish and defend in America. The people fighting for freedom around the world, in Iran and Honduras, should never have to wonder which side America will choose between freedom and tyranny.
“President Obama’s call for the reinstatement of Zelaya is a slap in the face to the people of Honduras. And the resolution written by the Organization of American States tramples over the hopes and dreams of a free and democratic people.
“The rule of law is working in Honduras. President Obama should not undermine the democratic institutions that guarantee freedom by forcing an illegitimate President back into power.
“This is not an ideal transition, but Hondurans are adhering to their constitution. The United States should support the Honduran people and their legitimate leaders in their brave and heroic stand for freedom and the rule of law.”