The coup and ensuing political upheaval in Honduras has been very interesting. I had thought the the loutish behavior of the military in toppling President Zelaya was a throwback to the old days in Latin America and was ready to condemn it.
With two top military leaders having received training at The School of the Americas in Fort Benning, it looked like the old right wing Central American war machine was groaning back into action.
But after really looking into the issue, and in lieu of my standard reflexive response, in my opinion it appears that the coup was justified and maybe even required under Honduran law. I think that the Obama Administration and the OAS are both on the wrong side of this issue. Not because they appear to be courting another populist Chavezista, but because the Honduran constitution clearly states that only the congress can initiate a referendum on an extended candidacy, not the President himself. Evidently both the Congress and the Supreme Court had been very clear with Zelaya on the illegality of his actions.
Furthermore Article 239 of the Honduran Constitution reads:
Article 239 — No citizen that has already served as head of the Executive Branch can be President or Vice-President.
Whoever violates this law or proposes its reform, as well as those that support such violation directly or indirectly, will immediately cease in their functions and will be unable to hold any public office for a period of 10 years.
Article 272. - The Armed Forces of Honduras, are a National Institution of permanent, professional, non-political, obedient and essentially nondeliberative character. They are constituted to defend territorial integrity and the sovereignty of the Republic, to maintain La Paz, the public order and the empire of the Constitution, the principles of free suffrage and alternation in the exercise of the Presidency of the Republic. They will cooperate with the National Police in the Conservation of the public order.
The Honduran constitution may not be changed to abolish the presidential term limit.
Article 374. - They will not be able to reform, in any case, the previous article, the present article, the constitutional articles that talk about the form of government, to the national territory, the presidential period, the prohibition to be again President of the Republic, the citizen has carried out who it under any title and the referring one to those who cannot be Presidents of the Republic by the subsequent period.
Obviously the people of Honduras feared a Castro style dictatorship and were explicit in their drafting of the Constitution of their desire to limit the power and term of the Chief Executive. I actually agree with U.S. Senator DeMint that the Honduran people should be applauded for safeguarding their country and deposing another potential President for life like Hugo Chavez or Robert Mugabe.