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Justifying the unjustifiable

Written By: - Date published: 8:03 pm, June 30th, 2009 - 20 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, International, uncategorized - Tags:

Spending time with DC neo-cons must be going to Farrar’s head. I thought better of him than supporting the Honduran military’s overthrow of President Manuel Zelaya.

Farrar offers a legalistic justification for the military/rightwing coup (yes, it is actually the right behind the coup with the support of the military, read up):

Zelaya has been elected to a four year term that ended at the end of 2009. The Constitution of Honduras makes it very clear you can not stand for a second term – ever. Article 239 says once you have been President you can never be President (or VP) again.

The constitution is so adamant about the one term limit, it says that if you promote a change to that clause, you lose your public office immediately and can not hold office again for ten years.

And Article 42 goes further and says anyone promoting the President staying in office beyond on term loses their Honduras citizenship.

One might have hoped that the white knight who fought so hard against the EFA last year would condemn such draconian laws. Talk about your curtailments of free speech – even suggesting the constitution needs changing can see you stripped of citizenship. Funny how such things don’t matter when it’s an elected leftwing government being disposed by the right.

The reality is that what has happened in Honduras is what has happened countless times in Latin America’s history. A socialist leader rises to power with popular support and becomes even more popular by making reforms once in power. The corrupt old ruling class (traditionally American-backed) don’t like a fairer deal and the prospect of a more prosperous future for the people – they’re happy controlling most of the wealth while most of the country’s population lives in abject poverty. The ruling class, which usually includes the Generals, launches a coup. The post hoc justifications are rolled out. A fascistic military regime is installed, which ‘cleanses’ the body politic with much blood-letting. Eventually, free elections are held, a socialist is elected. Rinse and repeat.

Zelaya is the Honduran people’s freely elected leader. The EU, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and even the US (thank God for Obama) have condemned his overthrow. Supporting a coup just because the rightful President is leftwing is shameful.

20 comments on “Justifying the unjustifiable ”

  1. Quoth the Raven 1

    I would once again recommend Richard Seymour’s blog one of the best with this sort of issue.

    Zelaya, elected in November 2005 on the platform of Honduras’ Liberal Party, had proposed the opinion poll be conducted to determine if a majority of citizens agreed that constitutional reform was necessary. He was backed by a majority of labor unions and social movements in the country. If the poll had occured, depending on the results, a referendum would have been conducted during the upcoming elections in November to vote on convening a constitutional assembly. Nevertheless, today’s scheduled poll was not binding by law. In fact, several days before the poll was to occur, Honduras’ Supreme Court ruled it illegal, upon request by the Congress, both of which are led by anti-Zelaya majorities and members of the ultra-conservative party, National Party of Honduras (PNH).
    Zelaya has been irritating the country’s ruling class for some time with his support for Chavez and the ‘Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas’, and his calls for drug legalisation, but the attempt to maybe, pending a possible future referendum, democratise the system a little was a step too far. The Miami Herald, naturally enough, vocalised the propaganda of the would-be putschists a couple of days ago, namely their speculation that the aim might secretly be to try to remove the cap on presidential re-elections and thus have some sort of elected dictatorship just like that Chavez monster. So, to forestall the possibility, the military has installed an unelected dictatorship. The White House is denying any involvement in the coup. Is it a plausible denial?

  2. Sounds like he has been having a great time in DC accepting hospitality from the desk murderers.

  3. So Bored 3

    What a surprise from Farrar, its very hard to be too critical of somebody consistently a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Removal by men in white coats come to mind.
    So so drear, so tedious. Im sure his parents must have smacked his little bot a bit too much, maybe a long spell of basket weaving might cure him, hope springs eternal. Such a bore.

  4. Bill 4

    As Eva Gollinger says

    The current constitution, written in 1982 during the height of the Reagan Administration’s dirty war in Central America, was designed to ensure those in power, both economic and political, would retain it with little interference from the people. Zelaya, elected in November 2005 on the platform of Honduras’ Liberal Party,

    I’m not sure that the Liberal Party was in any way socialist Eddie. My understanding is that Zelaya surprised his own party by tacking left and identifying with the Bolivarian revolution.

  5. So Bored 5


    You may well be right about the left versus right positions of the politicos, but thats only the superficial. The reality of the Honduran situation has been the same since the first Spaniard set foot on the beach, it is Mayan versus Conquistador. After 500 years the issue is still the same and still undecided. I suspect if the great central Conquistador power of the Americas loses its strength so willl the militaristas, left or right.

    • Bill 5.1


      I just find it telling that the old traditional parties of the tweedle dee tweedle dum variety are now capable of producing leaders who embrace the Bolivarian Revolution.

      If what I suspect is the correct take on Zelaya ( I’ve scoured unsuccessfully trying to find where I got that info from), then in my mind, it marks a massive step forward for the prospects of the Bolivarian Revolution in Latin America.

  6. Fiji, Honduras… scratch a tory, find a dictator?

  7. Nick 7

    This post is extremely superficial and if you’ll excuse my French, it’s a load of shit.

    President Zelaya led a march to take charge of a referendum that was deemed illegal by the Supreme Court, the attorney general, the top electoral body and which also was opposed by the Zelaya-backed Congress (his party has the majority).

    Prior to this, President Zelaya asked the military to conduct the illegal and unconstitutional referendum. What did Zelaya do when the military refused? He sacked the General.

    When Zaleya tried to take his unwanted, illegal and unconstitutional referendum to the streets the military deposed him from office on orders of the Supreme Court and Congress (which if you remember is controlled by Zelaya’s own party). Congress, (Zelaya’s own party) then voted to remove him from office.

    Zelaya was acting like the dictator, just like his left wing mates in Cuba & Venezuela.

    DPF is right – Zelaya all but forced them to act in this manner.

    • Pascal's bookie 7.1

      It’s certainly interesting. It’s late and I need to do much more reading on this but some initial thoughts.

      Constitutions should really have a mechanism for amendments. Those that don’t have such a mechanism seek to bind the future population to a structure that may not be useful, needed or desired anymore, which is stupid as well as immoral.

      The US constitution for example, has a difficult, but doable process. They included it, ultimately, for the reasons they describe in the Declaration of Independence. If you don’t have a method for changing the architecture, and the people need to change it, then they have only one option.

      Both sides in Honduras are acting as if the referendum would have gone in Zaleya’s favour. If that is the case, then the legal arguments, for all they may well be correct, are going to run up against the thinking about government legitimacy, (which is quite correct in my view), found in the US Declaration of Independence.

      I hope that the people of Honduras get the form of government that they deserve and feel best fits their current needs. If that is a leftist government, that is their call. Likewise, if the people of Honduras feel that the current constitution no longer suits their needs, I hope it gets changed. If people try to prevent that, I hope they do not succeed.

      It’s not difficult so far.

      • Bill 7.1.1

        Here’s a fairly comprehensive piece on Honduras. Well worth the read and including an obvious but pertinent observation that..

        “Nations across Latin America, including Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, have recently re-written their constitutions. In many aspects the changes to these documents enshrined new rights for marginalized people and protected the nations’ economies from the destabilizing effects of free trade and corporate looting.”

        Can’t see why any person with an even nominally functioning centre of intelligence or morality would have any problems with pre coup Hondurian aspirations. But maybe that’s the nub of the matter; intellectual and moral bankruptcy on ‘the right’…again.

        • Pascal's bookie

          Thanks Bill.

          I saw somewhere too that Columbia chnaged it’s constitution in ’90, after an informal referendum to see if the people wanted change. It had to be informal because the old constitution had the same silly crap in it that the Honduran one has.

          This, in Peru, is also interesting:

          National ombudswoman Beatriz Merino reported June 7 that at least 24 police and 10 civilians had been killed, along with 89 indigenous people wounded and 79 arrested. But the figures continue to grow.

          “We have killed each other, Peruvians against Peruvians,’ said indigenous leader Shapion Noningo, the new spokesman for the Peruvian Rainforest Inter-Ethnic Development Association (AIDESEP)—whose groups represent 28 federations of indigenous peoples.

          AIDESEP led the protests that began two months ago, which have included blockades of traffic along roads and rivers and occupations of oil industry installations in various provinces.

          A few hours earlier, President Alan Garcìa had said there was “a conspiracy afoot to try to keep us from making use of our natural wealth.’ He was referring to the native peoples’ fierce opposition to 10 decrees issued by his government that opened up indigenous land to private investment by oil, mining and logging companies and to agribusiness, including biofuel plantations.

          The decrees, which were passed by the government under special powers received from Congress to facilitate implementation of Peru’s free trade agreement with the United States, are considered unconstitutional by the indigenous protesters. A legislative committee also recommended last December that they be overturned.


          • Bill

            And then something extraordinary happened. The indigenous peoples won. The Peruvian Congress repealed the laws that allowed oil company drilling, by a margin of 82 votes to 12. Garcia was forced to apologise for his “serious errors and exaggerations”. The protesters have celebrated and returned to their homes deep in the Amazon.

            A battle won. A war to win.

            • Bill

              And all because of a rogue ‘ the link I tried to make about Honduras this morning went awry. So here it is again without the ‘

              Otherwise you get a piece on El Presidenti Fox’s road project.

    • So Bored 7.2

      Superficiality? It never ceases to amaze me that the adherents of a European inspired concept of a left right dichotomy hold this as their entire world view and dismiss alternate views as “shit”.

      Has it occured to you that there are longer term and much broader historic narrratives at play. Try reading some authorities about the invasion of the Americas and you might find out that the conquest was never complete, as evidenced by the ongoing revolts in Mexico (Zapatista etc), Peru (Shining Path),, Morales and Chavez winning based upon Indian majority rule, Guatamalas ongoing ethnic warfare, and Honduras where the Mayans have been fighting since the first Spaniard arrived.

      Some other narratives aswell, how about the long term influence of imperial rule from Spain and Portugal, now from the US? That the Bolivarian revolutions are still in play,etc etc.

      To reduce this to legalistic left right nonsense is absurd.

      • But those narratives are played out in the current conjuncture, in which the actors take on current identities and nomenclature (just as, for example, the contemporary Catholic Church still encompasses pre-colombian practices, but in a 21st Century guise). Thus, like it or not, Peruvian politics, for example, is played out in Left-Right terms, even in the selva and sierra. This is not to say, as Mariategui argued, that such categories will be the whole story, but, living in NZ, we should understand that better than anywhere

  8. a) Zelaya is elected with a small majority with the support of a traditional party, the Liberals. He is a rich member of the traditional oligarchy and is expected to toe the rightist line;
    b) Surprisingly, but in a mode seen before in Latin America (eg Velasco in Peru in 1968), he moves leftwards and introduces social reforms and, to some extent, allies with the Chavez, Morales tradition;
    c) Consequently, he gains a level of popular support in Honduras, which calls for changes to the constitution, allowing him to stand for a further presidential term. Even David Farrar cannot argue, surely, that one cannot campaign for constitutional change. That was Zelaya’s crime against the oligarchy – to campaign for constitutional change, and to a constitution designed by and for the oligarchy in the first place;
    d) the Right is furious about this – not only is he a traitor to his class but he also stands to shift the balance of power in Honduran society, which favours the right-wing oligarrchy;
    d) that oligarchy, including the leadership of the Liberal Party, the army leadership and the Supreme Court, conspire to dislodge Zelaya, using what is de facto a manufactured constitutional argument.

    This is a complex story, but democrats should support Zelaya’s return to power.

  9. I don’t see this quite in the same terms some of you do. Central American politics is complex, and often there aren’t too many good guys.

    Clearly this is just a plain old dirty power struggle between one man who’s desperate to cling to power, and the forces opposing him.

    I don’t often agree with Farrar, but there’s nothing in his post I fundamentally disagree with. He acknowledged the involvement of the army may not in the long run be a good thing.

  10. roger nome 11

    Farrar was all for justifying the Bushites’ conning of the public over saddam’s fantasy WMDs as well. The man has no morals – you have to take everything he has to say as an exercise in PR spin, and that’s being generous. At times he can look creepily like Karl Rove as well …. hmmm

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