Sunday, July 5, 2009

More on Honduras: Salesian Cardinal asks Zelaya NOT to Return

On Friday we posted a blog entry "Honduras and the Rule of Law" which contained excerpts of an essay by Honduran lawyer, former Presidential advisor, and former Honduran Minister of Culture Hugo Sanchez.: "A 'coup' in Honduras? Nonsense. Don't believe the myth. The arrest of President Zelaya represents the triumph of the rule of law."

Senor Sanchez very lucidly described the circumstances leading to the removal of power of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. I ask that you read the blog post, and even more that you read his original essay.

Now Salesian Cardinal Rodrigues has addressed the issue. We post the article here in full:

"TEGUCIGALPA, July 4 (Xinhua) -- The Honduran cardinal and main leader of the Honduran Catholic church, Oscar Andres Rodriguez, Saturday urged ousted President Manuel Zelaya not to come back to Honduras.

In a televised speech, Rodriguez warned that the return of Zelaya could lead to a blood bath.

"I know you love and respect life, at this moment only a Honduran citizen has died, please meditate your decision, because later it could be too late," he said.

He also urged the Organization of American States (OAS) to investigate all the "illegal deeds" that happened during the rule of Zelaya.

"Our people ask themselves why (OAS) has not condemned the war threats made against us by other countries," said the religious leader, referring to recent statements of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

"We have the right to choose our own destiny without external pressure of any kind and look for solutions that promote common welfare, we reject military threats or blocks of any kind that will only make the poorest people suffer," he said.

The cardinal also called on the new government to promote national reconciliation and let aside revenge, pursuit, violence and corruption.

Rodriguez Friday had a meeting with OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza who was in the country on a mediation mission."

His Eminence is not alone among the clergy in Hinduras. Today, Catholic Online has an essay by Tom Esposito, member of the Missioners of Christ serving in Honduras. Excerpts:

"There are many critical details in the sequence of events in Honduras that are important to know, and for that I would direct you to the web-log of our lead missionary in Honduras, Carol Restaine ( Carol has lived in Honduras for eight years now, and has a good sense of the plight of the Honduran people. But for the sake of this article, a brief summary is as follows:

President Manuel Zelaya, nearing the end of his four-year term, sought to hold a public referendum which would, among other things, seek to change the Honduran Constitution to eliminate term-limits for the Presidency. As only the Congress has authority to call such a referendum, Zelaya was informed both by the Honduran Congress as well as the Supreme Court that this act would be illegal. Nonetheless, Zelaya ordered the head of the military, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez to enact the public vote. Gen. Velásquez refused, restating that it was deemed illegal, so Zelaya summarily fired him. The Honduran Supreme Court determined that Zelaya’s firing of Velásquez was illegal and ordered him reinstated, which Zelaya refused. Then Zelaya proceeded to the military base with his supporters to confiscate the voting boxes and materials.

The Congress and Supreme Court entered an emergency session on June 27 to determine their response to Zelaya’s illegal acts, as well as his clear intent to go through with the vote. They determined that, for the protection of both democracy and the Constitution, it was necessary to arrest Zelaya. Acting on orders from the Supreme Court and in conjunction with the Attorney General, Zelaya was arrested by a military contingent, and then allegedly given the choice to stay in Honduras and be prosecuted, or accept exile to Costa Rica. It is reported that he chose exile, though Zelaya denies these claims. Zelaya was voted out of office the same day, and the next in line of succession (via the Constitution), Roberto Michelleti, was sworn in as interim President.

This was not a military coup as the general media seems insistent on reporting. While acknowledging the sequence and even manner in which the events were carried out have provided “wiggle-room” for ideologues to incite the international community, this is clearly a diversion from this critical truth; the new interim government is both Constitutional and has overwhelming popular support of the Honduran people. Our people on the ground, who are anything but political, affirm this fact."

Those who are worried about an army coup are fighting the last war. The danger to democracy in Central and South (and maybe North!) America is no longer from military coups. but from an elected leader who then uses the machinary of the state to gobble up the other societal institutions. What we have in Honduras is one man who claimed a right to defy the Constitution.. He was opposed by the Supreme Court, the Congress, the Army, and now the Church. That's not a coup made, it's a coup prevented.

h/t Catholic Caveman.

No comments: