Friday, August 28, 2009

the three choices we had

I came across a slightly dated (July 1) editorial in a Salvadoran paper in which the author discusses the situation Honduran institutions faced in the days running up to June 28. It's a reminder of the unenviable position Manuel Zelaya put Honduras in.
The Honduran institutions had only three options. The first was to sit back and let things run their course until they resulted in the irreversible introduction of a Chavista regime managed in perpetuity by Zelaya. The second was to try to get rid of the president nicely (that is arrest and hold him), which would have granted Zelaya enough time to ask the Venezuelans for military backing, making Honduras the scene of a bloody war. They chose the third, a surprise and bloodless military coup to prevent the consummation of Zelaya's plan to remain in power.

- Joaquín Samayoa, La Prensa Grafica [Google translation]

Semantics are important here. A coup definitely occurred, and the military played a critical role in it, but I'm not convinced military coup is the correct label to put on it. The military acted on a court order, carried out their mission, and returned to the barracks. A civilian, Roberto Micheletti, was elevated by the Honduran Congress to replace Zelaya in a constitutional succession procedure. All democratic institutions that existed prior to June 28 have remained intact, functioning, and headed by civilians. Unless they are needed for security operations, the military is nowhere to be seen. Seems to me a judicial coup is a much more accurate and appropriate label. The judiciary acted to neutralize a President gone rogue who was an extreme danger to the state.

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