Monday, June 29, 2009

A timeline for Honduras

It's hard these days to get good information about what leads to what when it comes to actions that suddenly make the news. That holds true for the ouster of the Honduran president by the military over the weekend.

In case you're wondering just what happened that led to that ouster, the Wall Street Journal (subscription may be required) has a good article that explains the timeline and why the military took the action they did:

"That Mr. Zelaya acted as if he were above the law, there is no doubt. While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite, the power to open that door does not lie with the president. A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress.

But Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. 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.

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.

It remains to be seen what Mr. Zelaya's next move will be. It's not surprising that chavistas throughout the region are claiming that he was victim of a military coup. They want to hide the fact that the military was acting on a court order to defend the rule of law and the constitution, and that the Congress asserted itself for that purpose, too."

As a side note, we are living in interesting times. We have North Korea threatening nuclear attack on the U.S., extreme unrest and instability in the South American region, a president who is gaining a reputation for being nice to enemies while snubbing our friends and allies, and our own government which doesn't seem to care about what our Constitution says when it places limits on what they can do.

It's times like these when I wonder if one day we'll look back and say 'all the pieces were there and we should have seen it coming' ...

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