Monday, June 29, 2009

Tales From A Republic Gone (Once Again) Bananas

In any political crisis the first victim is truth. There are few exceptions. The case of my native country of Honduras is not one them. To briefly summarize what has happened, the President of Honduras, Mel Zelaya, was removed in a coup and forced to leave the country to Costa Rica. Subsequently, the Congress voted to officially oust Mr. Zelaya and affirmed the new presidency to Roberto Micheletti, formerly President of the Congress.

Here are the facts. First, Mel Zelaya wanted to amend the Constitution to abolish the one-term limits of Presidents. To that end, Mr. Zelaya called a referendum, which was to have taken place on Sunday (6/28). The Supreme Court had determined that such referendum was unconstitutional and therefore illegal. In Honduras the National Army hold the responsibility to distribute all ballots in elections. The head of the Army, Romeo Vasquez refused to follow orders. Consequently, Mr. Zelaya ordered the removal of Mr. Vasquez and place one of his allies in charge. As a result, the ballots were ultimately distributed.

Second, irrespective of what anyone calls it, the presidency of Mel Zelaya experienced a coup d’├ętat. This action was unconstitutional and therefore illegal. Zelaya’s opposition (in the Congress) could have begun a process of impeaching the President, but they refused to follow an orderly process. Instead, the powers-that-be resorted to illegitimate activities to depose Mr. Zelaya.

In between these facts, there are suppositions, presuppositions, surmise, guesswork, and speculation. None of which is credible at the moment. Everyone has the right to personal opinions, but they are just that, opinions. I don’t agree with Mel Zelaya. In fact, if he is reinstated as President and wins reelection, it would be disastrous for my native country. He wants to follow the footsteps of Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega, among other like-minded socialist proponents. Socialism causes poverty. I know this is not in vogue these days, but it is the truth. If socialism would work, the USSR would be in existence and have eminence today. This is not the case. Moreover, China’s economic growth, which has been spectacular over the last several decades, is largely the result of market reforms (i.e. abandoning socialist economic policies going back to the silly adventure call “The Great Leap Forward”) started under Deng Xiaoping in 1979.

Having said that, what is irrefutable in Honduras today is that the now-deposed President Zelaya broke the law. The administration that has replaced Mr. Zelaya equally broke the law. Both sides erred. As I just shared, I have a strong opinion against Mr. Zelaya; however, my opinion and feelings are not worth much outside the framework of constitutional law. Such framework tells me both Mr. Zelaya and current President Roberto Micheletti violated the law. Therefore their administrations, after appropriate impeachment proceeding, must be removed.

Against this backdrop, what we need to ask is the following: why did the Congress not follow constitutional process of impeaching Mr. Zelaya? My opinion is that such process would have shown how the majority of present and former politicians are thieves, liars, and usurpers of the very Constitutions they have claimed to protect. This is why I believe it never happened in the first place.

As unfortunate as the consequences are in my native country, none is unexpected for those of us who value the rule of law, liberty, and free markets—something which has never taken root not only in Honduras but in Latin America in general.

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