Release from 5 U.S. groups on President Uribe’s visit to Washington When your aid recipients stop taking your calls
Jun 282009

Troops have arrested President Manuel Zelaya this morning, the day that Hondurans were to vote in a referendum to change the constitution to allow him to run for another term. The apparent coup comes four days after Zelaya fired the chief of the armed forces for refusing to assist in carrying out the referendum. Zelaya was reportedly put on a plane to Costa Rica, where he may be now.

[Added 12:15PM: Zelaya, now in Costa Rica, told CNN that he was "kidnapped," and that "at the moment of his detention, they aimed guns at his chest and head."]

The military claims it was carrying out an order from “judicial tribunals” to arrest Zelaya because of an apparent presence of Nicaraguan and Venezuelan political operatives in the referendum. Nonetheless, this appears to be the first military coup attempt since the April 2002 uprising that came close to unseating Hugo Chávez (unless one counts the forced resignation of Lucio Gutiérrez in Ecuador in 2005, in which members of the armed forces played a supporting role).

Regardless of one’s position on President Zelaya’s pursuit of a second term or his ties to President Chávez, the actions taken in Tegucigalpa this morning deserve universal condemnation, as they are an illegal disruption of the democratic institutional process. If the coup is allowed to stand and an unelected leader takes power, Honduras should be considered in violation of the 2001 Democratic Charter and the United States should support its suspension from the Organization of American States.

The European Union has already issued a statement condemning the coup. The OAS has condemned it and will hold an urgent meeting of the Permanent Council at 12:00PM EDT.

On Friday, the State Department called on Hondurans “to seek a consensual democratic resolution in the current political impasse that adheres to the Honduran constitution and to Honduran laws consistent with the principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter,” and to involve the OAS. As of 11:45AM EDT, there is nothing new on either the State Department’s website or the U.S. Embassy in Honduras website. The U.S. government must leave no doubt about its position and raise its voice as well.

[Update 5:00 PM: Secretary of State Clinton released this statement, which sounds the right notes: "The action taken against Honduran President Mel Zelaya violates the precepts of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and thus should be condemned by all. We call on all parties in Honduras to respect the constitutional order and the rule of law, to reaffirm their democratic vocation, and to commit themselves to resolve political disputes peacefully and through dialogue. Honduras must embrace the very principles of democracy we reaffirmed at the OAS meeting it hosted less than one month ago."]

The Honduran military has been a heavy recipient of U.S. assistance for decades. A U.S. military unit, Joint Task Force Bravo, has been based at the Palmerola airbase in Honduras since the early 1980s. If the Honduran military persists in violating the country’s democratic order, U.S. military aid must halt and JTF-Bravo must leave.

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11 Responses to “Military coup underway in Honduras”

  1. boz Says:

    And just for some self-promotion, I’m following it on Twitter:

  2. Lucas Says:

    great pic with the Burger King sign in the background.

  3. Golpe de Estado democrático (?) « Lugares Comunes Says:

    [...] Hay links en Plan Colombia and Beyond [...]

  4. Marcos Says:

    This happened because Zelaya was trying to violate his country’s Constitution. Read up on that.

    Not that I like illegal military coups, but the guy was asking for it with his own illegal actions.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right, but it was clear, in retrospect, that both sides were heading towards a collision course.

    Condemn the coup but let’s not paint Zelaya as a martyred saint here. He shot his own foot.

    It’s also good to remember that Chávez still officially celebrates HIS 1992 coup attempt, btw.

    It’s just hilarious to see him glorify those coups he likes (his own) and condemn those he doesn’t. Let’s see some consistency around here for once in a while.



  5. Adam Isacson Says:


    Until this morning Zelaya was an opportunist who was taking his country in a direction that it didn’t appear to want to go – a direction that bore no resemblance to the platform he campaigned upon four years ago.

    But once the armed forces woke him in his pajamas, held him at gunpoint and removed him through indisputably illegal and democratic means, they ceded the moral high ground completely to Zelaya.

    Either you’re with the law or you aren’t. If Zelaya is violating the Constitution of Honduras, then let the courts decide that and impeach him. What happened today cannot be defended by anybody who claims to support democracy.

  6. Marcos Says:

    I don’t think either of them has the moral high ground, but yes, he should have been impeached or something to that effect instead of ousted via a coup. That’s clear enough and that’s why I think the coup should still be condemned. I just don’t find it that surprising, given past events.

    There’s already almost full international condemnation against this move, but it’s the situation on the ground, inside Honduras, that will determine what actually happens next.



  7. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Marcos and what do you think about your hero in the colombian jungle, that he should be impeched too ? given he has violeated the constitution several times, is an illegal president as he bought his last ellection (read last Semana mag main topic) , not to mention the first one he won with the help of illegal paramilitaries and mafia gangsters? Would be good to know what your answer to this question would be.

  8. Marcos Says:

    If he was my hero then I wouldn’t be wasting time here with you people.

    If the courts agree with you on all those counts and reach that conclusion, then yes, he should be.

    Good enough for you?



  9. Military Coup Underway in Honduras | Center for International Policy’s Plan Colombia and Beyond « RACISM & NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS | NEWS/COMMENTARY Says:

    [...] Source: The Center for International Policy’s Plan Colombia and Beyond [...]

  10. Jaime Bustos Says:

    That I know Zelaya was not prosecuted in court either. Anyway good enough for me thx.

  11. Nell Says:

    “the day that Hondurans were to vote in a referendum to change the constitution to allow him to run for another term”

    Even you, Adam. Sad.

    As you probably know full well, the encuesta was not to be a “referendum to change the constitution”. It’s a nonbinding poll on whether to hold a vote in November’s elections on convening a constitutional assembly.

    Zelaya isn’t going to run for another term; he’s not a candidate this November, and will leave office in 2010, long before any changes in the constitution under the most optimistic scenario.

    More fundamentally, the pretense on the part of virtually all “respectable” commentators that Honduran constitutional reform is all or only about presidential terms is ridiculous. It’s an understandable smokescreen coming from people hostile to increased democracy, but what’s your excuse?

    Honduras is one of the most unequal countries in the hemisphere, and the institutional barriers to popular participation in the decisions that keep the population poor are a major reason for that.

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