After reading The Washington Post's article on today's quasi-coup in Honduras, one wonders what side the Obama administration is on.
The coup was condemned throughout the Americas. President Obama joined other regional leaders in calling for a peaceful return of Zelaya to office.
But the Honduran National Congress defiantly announced that Zelaya was out, and its members named congressional leader Roberto Micheletti as the new president on Sunday afternoon.
The Honduran Supreme Court also supported the removal of Zelaya, saying that the military was acting in defense of democracy.
It's really not a traditional coup when you've got the entire congress and the supreme court in support of it.
Read further, and it appears as though this was a small-d democratic takeover of a country that was teetering on the verge of Hugo Chavez-style fascism.
Zelaya was removed from office as Hondurans prepared to vote Sunday in a nonbinding referendum asking them if they would support a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution. Zelaya's critics said he wanted to use the referendum to open the door to reelection after his term ends in January 2010, an assertion that Zelaya denied.
The referendum -- which U.S. officials described as more of a "survey" than a true vote -- was condemned by broad swaths of Honduran society as an obvious power grab. The Honduran Supreme Court called the referendum unconstitutional and leaders of Zelaya's own party denounced the measure.
Imagine a similar situation occurring here: Obama calls for a "nonbinding referendum" on repealing the 22nd Amendment. The Supreme Court rules that this vote is unconstitutional and Democrats oppose the move (unlikely, I know), but Obama vows to go ahead with it. Who's in the right in this situation? Hint: not the president.
But a senior Honduran official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he didn't see the new government backing down. He said the country's Congress had appointed a commission Thursday evening to investigate whether the president's referendum was in line with the Honduran constitution. The commission reported back Sunday afternoon that the president had violated the constitution, and the Congress voted to remove him. That procedure is "within the constitution," said the senior official -- although the coup that occurred hours earlier was not, he acknowledged.
"The decision was adopted by unanimity in the Congress. That means all of the political parties. It has been endorsed by sectors that represent a wide array of Hondurans -- the Episcopal church, the Catholic Church. And well, of course, the armed forces," he said.
"The difficult part will be for the international community to see things as the Honduran people see them," the official said.
This sounds like President Zelaya was impeached -- after he was ousted by the military. There seems to be wide unanimity in the country that Zelaya was out of line and his removal was the right thing to do.
So, why is the Obama administration so keen on putting a Chavez acolyte back in in power?
In Washington, Obama said he was "deeply concerned by reports coming out of Honduras regarding the detention and expulsion of President Mel Zelaya."
A senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the United States would work alongside the Organization of American States to restore Zelaya, and the official predicted that the organizers of the coup would find themselves isolated and facing stiff pressure to allow Zelaya's return.
This statement seems incompatible with the closing statement in the Post article.
A senior administration official would not confirm that account, but said, "We were very clear with the different sectors of Honduran political life and Honduras's different political institutions that any resolution of the political conflict in Honduras had to be democratic and constitutional."
It appears that this has happened -- ex post facto. Unless these reports are inaccurate, respect for democracy demands that Zelaya stay in exile.
Now if only democratic forces could do the same in Venezuela, Cuba and Iran.
This site hasn't been updated in the past few hours, but it does have some background on what's been going on in Honduras.
Fausta's blog has much more on the goings-on in Honduras. Let's just say that there's questions as to whether the military's removal of Zelaya was approved by the before or after it was actually executed.
Mary Anastasia O'Grady of the Wall Street Journal confirms my take on the story. Again, the question becomes why is the Obama administration siding with the likes of Chavez and Castro on this issue. Also, Chavez has threatened to invade Honduras to return Zelaya to the presidency. Why isn't the Obama administration making it clear that any such action would be unacceptable. And by unacceptable, I mean we would destroy Venezuela's military and probably send a stray cruise missile to wherever Chavez happens to be speaking from.