KPFA, 9:30 this morning

Tune in in a little under 1/2 hour. Rosemary Joyce and I will be talking about Honduras with Kris Welch.

Comments

Honduras is in peace, except for Chavez' terrorists.

The University professors in Honduras are doing fine. The Zelaya/Chavistas thugs are occupying the National University by FORCE. Enough misinformation.

University professors in Honduras. Doing fine.

This picture shows the reception given to Julieta Castellanos, internationally-respected scholar and rectora of the UNAH with centrist politics, who had made a point of not taking a stance on the coup so as to preserve university "neutrality" and autonomy, when she went outside to request the Cobra Squad to stop assaulting students and faculty, regardless of their ideological stance, on August 5th.

the Hondurian conundrum

On August 7th, Democracy Now's Amy Goodman interview two people regarding the "coup" in Honduras: 1) a professor from NYU, and 2) a lawyer representing business men in Honduras. Classic. The lawyer was making some good points, though he was a little aggressive. His argument was that the Supreme Court voted 15-0 to oust Zelaya and the Congress also voted him out. So all was done according to the law and there was no "coup". The professor's argument came down to stating that the entire political system in Honduras is a "captured state" run by criminal cartels. So anything the court of the Congress does is controlled by this elite group.

Which begs the question: If Zelaya was elected via this "captured state" of criminal cartels, what credibility does he have?

Once you write a constitution and people start acting on it over time, the constitution becomes a "de Facto Contratto" that is it is a binding agreement like an unwritten contact. That constitution was passed by popular acceptance and the leader was elected also by popular acceptance. No matter how crazy the constitution might be it is binding.

This does not, of course, justify any human rights abuses by the current government, nor any other group or agency. But to call this a coup and illegal is not accurate.

Get the facts straight

Lets be clear. The Supreme Court did not vote 15-0 to oust Zelaya. That is a lie. The Supreme Court can only rule on legal cases brought before it. The 15-0 decision (its not a vote, its a legal opinion, in writing, which you can read on their website) concerned the appeal of the lower court decision on the legality of the non-binding poll. In that decision, they upheld the lower court because "presumably the decision was made by a competent judge." The Supreme Court has never ruled to "oust" Zelaya.

As for Congress removing Zelaya; they don't have that authority under the Honduran Constitution. Congress modified the constitution to remove the impeachment clause, then spelled out the proper procedures for trying and removing a high official in the Penal Code, available on the Congress website. If you read it you'll find they didn't follow that procedure....they improvised and what they did violated Zelaya's constitutional rights and guarantees, and broke Honduran law.

Lanny Davis, simply put, perhaps unknowingly, gave voice to lies.

Right, and wrong

I certainly agree with the argument that any government's legitimacy, including Zelaya's (and Obama's, for that matter), must be questioned, not on its own terms, but in terms of whether it was put in place through a truly democratic process. I can't think of any that were. However, Lanny Davis's argument, as is to be expected, was deceitful. There is no question that what happened June 28th was a coup. Whether they voted on it or not, the Honduran constitution does not allow for the president to be forcibly removed, without due process, by the military from the country. As Barbara Lee said regarding Honduras, a coup is a coup is a coup.

That said, Zelaya also broke with the constitution in exactly the same way that Micheletti (in 1985) and numerous others before him have done, because under the Honduran constitution it is illegal to talk about changing the Honduran constitution. Thus, the legitimacy of this absurdly anti-democratic piece of legislation must be called into question. That is what Zelaya was doing, through the most legitimate means available to him: carrying out a non-binding poll to provide a recommendation to Congress regarding whether a binding referendum should be held asking whether or not a constituent assembly should be convened after Zelaya's presidency was over.

Don't be confused: the constitution was not passed by popular acceptance, nor has any leader been elected, truly, in that way. Zelaya was advocating, in a very mild way, for a constitution that did have a modicum of popular involvement. For the threat that that and his other pro-poor policies posed to the Honduran oligarchy, Micheletti et al carried out–yes, a military coup–and installed a fascist, torturing, assassinating, book-burning, and media-censoring military regime in his place.

Changing the Honduran Constitution is Not Unspeakable Legally

In trying to make an anti-coup point, this comment inadvertently shows the power that propaganda has: repeated enough times, the lie that talking about the constitution was illegal comes to be accepted.

Changes to the Honduran Constitution not only can be talked about; changes are made constantly. Amending the constitution, or talking about amending it, are entirely legal. Even talking about the so-called "articulos petreos" (the articles set in stone) which the constitution says can never be changed is legal. The constitution absolutely guarantees freedom of thought and freedom of expression, both-- as the Interamerican Human Rights Commission documents-- being egregiously violated today.

What the Constitution does try to make illegal is "advocating" changes to the articles set in stone. "Advocating" here does not mean having a discussion about it; it means actively promoting changes.

Hence, as the comment correctly notes, the Cuarta Urna campaign was not promoting any changes to the constitution (not advocating) but was simply asking the public if they wanted to have a question about whether to convene a public constitutional assembly. Many constitutional scholars have now weighed in on this; they unanimously argue that President Zelaya had not violated the set-in-stone articles because he had neither advocated, nor done anything. As the comment notes, by the time such a constituent assembly might have been convened, he would no longer have been president and thus no longer subject to sanction even for advocating this-- and those sanctions do not include illegal expatriation and illegal removal from office (contrary to other propaganda claims, Article 239 of the constitution does not authorize this).

As this comment notes, the convening of a new constitutional assembly would have allowed the people-- who the constitution states are the source of the power of the document, which constitutional legal scholars note means they can indeed decide to revise the constitution, noting that no document can immunize itself from their power-- to be involved in framing their society and governance.

Question of interpretation

I'm reading the same constitution you are, and like well-respected lawyer and former director of the Honduran tax agency (equivalent to the IRS) Armando Sarmiento, I understand "advocating" as including "talking about changing." This is not a lie; it is an interpretation (albeit, I agree, an unfortunate one), and one that was used to justify Zelaya's removal. Either way, it is ridiculously anti-democratic, and as you point out, hypocritical, since it has been changed at the convenience of those in power yet is called upon to justify the unjustifiable when it suits them.

Book-burning?

I didn't realise books had been burnt. Pray tell me which ones?

The coup regime's fear of books

As should have been obvious to anyone following Honduran events, the book-burning reference was a jab at de facto Secretary of culture Myrna Castro's attack on books, libraries, cultural centers, and her illegal ouster yesterday of the director of IHAH, internationally respected historian Darío Euraque. And indeed, when cartoonist Allan McDonald was illegally arrested without cause along with his 17 month-old daughter the day after the coup, all of his political art was taken outside and burned. This regime is terrified of knowledge and critical thought, and it has shown the lengths to which it will go to suppress it. See:

Book-burning?

And, of course, you have proof of this book-burning, art-burning, or whatever you want to call it?

Book-burning

Hi *anonymous*,

If a tree falls when no one is around, does it make a sound? More to the point, if no one sees the tree fall, did it actually fall???

Unfortunately, when armed State forces illegally detained well-known political cartoonist Allan McDonald and his year-and-a-half-old daughter from their home with no arrest warrant, charges, or legal justification, no one was there to video-tape the burning of his political art and cartoons.

Please see a communique (in Spanish) from SITRAIHAH - the Honduran Anthropology and History Institute Workers' Union - in late July, denouncing de facto Minister Mirna Castro's PUBLIC statements on July 20th regarding national book publisher Editorial Cultura and her intent to remove books published by the publisher from schools and public libraries around the country. Many of the books published by Editorial Cultura are in fact the historic works of some of those considered to be the "founding fathers" of Honduras and Honduran democracy: Francisco Morazan (a national hero), Jose Cecilio de Valle, Froylan Turcios, etc. Others are poetry collections, books on indigenous culture, etc.

The full communique in Spanish can be found here: http://hondurassolidarity.wordpress.com/2009/07/27/es-sindicato-de-la-ih...

A few days after making the remarks about censoring the publications of Editorial Cultura, de facto Minister Mirna Castro PUBLICLY approached IHAH and National Archive employees in the old Presidential Palace, a historic building of national significance which now houses the National Archives. Castro PUBLICLY announced that she had come on behalf of the Honduran armed forces, which had asked her about using the building (equivalent of, say, a national historic or heritage site in North America, and recognized as such in Honduras) as MILITARY BARRACKS, which would be definitively illegal under Honduran law.

Allan McDonald's work was burned during his illegal arrest shortly after the coup.

The references to book burning, as far as I know, are references to ongoing censorship, repression, and militarization of Honduras' national, cultural and historic sites and institutions.

Sandra Cuffe
in Tegucigalpa
http://HondurasSolidarity.wordpress.com

Please see above video

There is ample documentation of Allan McDonald's treatment in previous human rights reports by well-respected independent national and international organizations translated on this blog. I refer you to them, to the above video in which you can see first person the de facto Secretary's attack on literature, and to the letter sent by IHAH Director to Myrna Castro yesterday in response to his illegal firing (the director of this autonomous institution can only be changed by action of the board).