Michael Gaynor
Honduras supports rule of law, infuriating the Obama administration
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By Michael Gaynor
September 8, 2009


Judge Obama by his actions, not by his rhetoric, and beware!


Don't be misled on what happened in Honduras: the Honduran military did NOT arbitrarily take power. Unlike former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, it followed the rule of law and obeyed the highest court of Honduras.

The Honduran congress and supreme court rejected Zelaya's proposed referendum as illegal.

Then Zelaya confiscated the referendum ballots and tried to proceed with the vote.

Upon receiving an order from the highest court of Honduras, the Honduran army arrested Zelaya before the referendum could take place.

Yet the Obama administration was outraged that the Honduran army followed Honduran law and is backing the power-hungry Zelaya.

There's an important lesson in for Americans that the Obama administration has been supporting Zelaya.

The Obama administration is supporting a radical who craves power and sneers at term limits, his country's constitution and highest court and the rule of law.

So how long does Obama plan to live in the White House?

Obama's support for Zelaya suggest he favors unchecked executive power but perhaps not a two-term limit for presidents.

In "Stop Bullying Honduras," dated September 3, 2009, the Editors of National Review reported: "Roughly a week after it suspended 'non-emergency, non-immigrant' visa services at the U.S. embassy in Tegucigalpa, the State Department has formally suspended non-humanitarian U.S. aid to Honduras. Furthermore, Foggy Bottom has made clear that it will not support the outcome of the upcoming Honduran elections (scheduled for November) unless the country's recently deposed and exiled leader, Manuel Zelaya, is first reinstalled as president."

National Review smartly summarized the Obama administration's position as follows: "In order to be considered 'legitimate,' the Honduran elections must be overseen by a Hugo Chávez disciple who was ousted from the presidency for (as Honduran supreme court chairman José Tomás Arita wrote in the arrest order) 'acting against the established form of government, treason against the country, abuse of authority, and usurpation of power.'"

What is ominous as well as outrageous, in the words of National Review, is that "[t]he Obama administration has effectively turned Zelaya into a symbol of democracy" while Zelaya "is exactly the opposite."

Don't expect the liberal media establishment to explain what National Review did in these straightforward terms: "To understand why Zelaya was sacked — and why his removal from office was perfectly legal — one must be familiar with the Honduran constitution. Shortly after Zelaya's ouster, in an article the State Department must have ignored, former Honduran culture minister Octavio Sánchez observed that Zelaya had 'triggered a constitutional provision that automatically removed him from office' (emphasis added). More specifically, when Zelaya tried to stage a national referendum aimed at launching a 'constituent assembly' that would write a new constitution, his clear intent was to change the laws pertaining to presidential terms limits and succession, which cannot be amended under the current constitution. (Honduran presidents can serve for only a single four-year term, and Zelaya's term was due to expire in January.) Through his actions and intentions, Zelaya violated the constitution and, according to its text, 'immediately' forfeited his office."

The Obama administration does not believe that the highest court of Honduras is entitled to order that the constitution of Honduras be enforced.

So how confident should Americans be that Obama will respect the United States Constitution?

The constitution of Honduras is clear on the subject.

National Review: "Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Washington lawyer Miguel Estrada (a native Honduran) explained that 'Article 239 specifically states that any president who so much as proposes the permissibility of reelection "shall cease forthwith" in his duties, and Article 4 provides that any "infraction" of the succession rules constitutes treason.'"

"'Under Article 272,' Estrada noted, the army 'must enforce compliance with the constitution, particularly with respect to presidential succession.'"

So it was Zelaya, not the Honduran military, that was out of control.

National Review: "Zelaya's constitutionally mandated successor was congressional leader Roberto Micheletti, who has been serving as the temporary Honduran president since late June. Micheletti recently declared his willingness to resign and support Zelaya's return to the country — provided Zelaya does not seek to resume the presidency. Honduran authorities consider Zelaya unfit to be chief executive — federal lawmakers voted nearly unanimously to approve his ouster — and with good reason. Zelaya will be lucky if he avoids jail time. He has no legitimate claim to the presidency."

But it doesn't seem to matter to Obama whether a claim to the presidency is legitimate or not.

National Review: "As for the Obama administration, its mistreatment of the interim Honduran government is an ongoing travesty. In removing Zelaya from office, Honduran officials took a legal, constitutionally authorized stand against Chávez-style authoritarianism. They deserve praise, not punishment."

Judge Obama by his actions, not by his rhetoric, and beware!

© Michael Gaynor

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)

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