Sunday, July 05, 2009
Coup d'Etat in Honduras
Nothing like that has happpened in Honduras, as near as I can determine. The ousted president was a socialist and a follower of President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. The successor is the former vice-president, not a general. The new president is also a socialist and a member of the same party as the ousted president. The other institutions of government - the legislature, the courts - are still functioning as before.
The Hondurans have offered this explanation for ousting the president: He was planning to hold a national referendum to change the nation's constitution so that he could run for reelection next year. The constitution limits the president to one term in office, just like the constitution of Mexico. The Hondurans have also stated that holding a referendum is not a legal way of changing the nation's constitution. In simple terms, the president was breaking the law, or proposing to break the law. The country's supreme court and an overwhelming majority of the members of the legislature urged his arrest. The Army undertook to arrest him. However, rather than put him in jail, the Army allowed him to leave the country. He faces arrest and incarceration if he comes back.
Our administration has criticized Honduras for not following the procedure of impeachment. Let the president be tried and convicted, then arrest him and remove him from office. Well, we should talk. We have that process in our own constitution and it's been tried three times to remove an unpopular or law-breaking president. It worked only once in two hundred years. We've had plenty of incompetent, venal, and lying presidents and we've never used the impeachment process to get rid of them. I think we should take a lesson from the Hondurans instead of criticizing them. If the president appears to be committing crimes against the people, let him be arrested and tried, and either convicted or acquitted. Let's not monkey around with the lengthy and archaic process of impeachment.