Saturday, July 18, 2009

Honduras: The Article 239 Deception

Photos from the MiMundo blog.

With last ditch talks underway at this moment in Costa Rica, actions may soon outpace legal questions. But one of the most common and insidious claims being made the coup-plotters needs to be addressed head on.

Readers paying attention have likely heard the notion that President Zelaya brought his removal on himself. That he violated a sacred clause of the Constitution and therefore had to be removed. Sophisticated readers will know that this nonsense is usually based on a reading of Article 239.

Article 239 does indeed talk about the removal of any official that even proposes the removal or alteration of to Presidential (one) term limits. While quite draconian, the Article is said to be justified in response to the history of dictators in Central America.

The only problem is that Article 239 has not even been mentioned by the Honduran Courts ion this case, let alone officially invoked against Zelaya. There are 81 pages of Supreme Court mumbo-jumbo mentioning every other possible Article violation, but Article 239 is not one of them.

What the Court documents intended to do is justify the detention and trial of President Zelaya, under the provisions of a special tribunal (the only way a sitting President can be judged). To be clear, none of supposed violations cited in the documents include the automatic removal provision. A trial and sentence would have to be rendered in any case.

Instead, we know what happened. The military high command decided to kidnap the President and ferry him out of the country, rather than detain him. The military's own lawyers have admitted this was an illegal act. Therefore the Congress had to make up a way to pass the Presidency from Zelaya to Micheletti. Someone manufactured a fake resignation letter from Zelaya, which was voted on and that was that.

With universal international condemnation, the coup plotters knew they were in trouble. They had to convince the US to play along, so they hired American PR gurus with close ties to Sec of State Hillary Clinton (Larry Davis and Benncliff). And these folks get sympathetic (blatantly false) editorials like this and this printed in the US press. Article 239 forms the basis of their arguments. They condescendingly tell us to "google it" when it is clear they have not even read the Court documents they claim to be lecturing us about. Nice


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