The Honduran constitutional crisis has, unfortunately, fallen out of the media spotlight. But one US Congressman – Florida’s Connie Mack – was determined to turn a spotlight on the merits of the government’s removal of former president Manuel Zelaya and the situation that caused the Honduran courts to order his expulsion from office.
Last weekend Congressman Mack took the first Republican-led congressional delegation to Honduras to see for himself. While there, he spoke not only with new President Roberto Micheletti but also to American and Honduran businessmen, members of the Honduran congress and a broad range of others.
Mack described his investigation to HUMAN EVENTS in an exclusive interview Wednesday with H.E. Editor Jed Babbin and intern Kathryn Gaines.
While in Honduras, Mack garnered the facts about the change from Zelaya to Micheletti as explained by people ranging from Micheletti himself, to others in the Honduran government.
Here’s what Mack summarized for us.
On March 23, Zelaya began to promote a “referendum” on the constitution and flew in ballots and voting materials from Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. Zelaya was told by the Public Prosecutor on May 11th that this action – trying to change the constitution – was illegal.
An article in the constitution explicitly states that an attempt to change the constitution and amend the one term limit on the president results in the president being removed from power. This amendment exists to protect against a chavismo the method through which Hugo Chavez was able to gain permanent political power in Venezuela.
Zelaya ignored the law and continued his pursuit of permanent power promoting the referendum. This was brought to the Honduran Supreme Court and they declared on June 25 that his actions were unconstitutional and ordered the military to seize the referendum materials, and place Zelaya under arrest.
Zelaya responded a day later by seizing, from the military base, the referendum materials, and issuing a national poll. This resulted with the congress voting, 124 – 4, to have him replaced by the President of the Congress, Mitchelleti. (Micheletti is, by the way, a member of Zelaya’s own political party.)
Mack observed that asking them to undue what they had just done by permitting Zelaya to return to power because we don’t approve of their constitutional method is wrong. Mack emphasized “they are defending their constitution right now.”
The Obama Administration – siding with democracy stalwarts such as Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez – has rejected the Honduran action and tried, through Costa Rican President Arias, to mediate Zelaya’s return.
Mack thinks Obama is entirely wrong. He says that no part of the Zelaya removal can be reasonably characterized as a coup. Mack said that it was “reckless and irresponsible” to label Zelaya’s removal as such.
Despite the United States’ recent decision to cancel the visas of representatives from the Honduran government the Honduran government is not budging. Mack discovered that the new president, Micheletti, is “bound and determined to fight for the rule of law.”
Support for the government’s decision is wide spread in Honduras. Mack said that “everywhere people have a copy of the constitution, and they are quick to pull out their constitution and point to the page that shows that trying to change the constitution is illegal.”
Mack asked Micheletti where he moves the country from here. The response he received was that they “have enough resources to wait out an election” Mack observed “the nation is just trying to run the government” and “manage through this crisis”.
Additionally the government of Honduras holds that it will continue to follow the law. Mack stated the Honduran expectation that “if Zelaya comes back, he has to come back in handcuffs and be tried.” In the face of adversity by other democratic nations this small country is holding to the rule of law, and remaining consistently firm on what they know.
Mack observed that the Honduran people “don’t like the influence of Chavez in their country… they feel a big presence and they don’t like it.”
Upon coming back from his work in Honduras, Mack has completed a resolution in the House of Representatives that expresses support for the people of Honduras. Mack stated “it is wrong to stand on the side of Hugo Chavez” and is now taking as much action as possible to support a different position. The resolution is Mack’s attempt to rectify the American decision to stand with Chavez and Castro over a nation following its rule of law.
America needs to change its position on this issue. Mack said “the strongest thing the US has said is when Hillary called Zelaya irresponsible for trying to re-enter Honduras.” We need to do more than that.
Mack’s resolution has three main goals. To express strong support for the people of Honduras, to condemn Zelaya for his unconstitutional and illegal attempts to alter the constitution of Honduras, and to call on all parties to seek a peaceful resolution that is both legal and constitutional.
The demand to support democracy should move beyond partisan politics. Given the facts, why is President Obama siding with Chavez and his ilk rather than Micheletti? That’s something Obama should be required to explain.