Tuesday, July 07, 2009

What the hell just happened in Honduras?

Here's something you no longer see everyday- a military removing a president in Central America. It used to be a regular occurrence- I believe there was even a 'Coup Season' each year. Now, they're relatively rare. Perhaps this was a coup for nostalgia's sake.

It's also been a somewhat popular coup within Honduras. The Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya, had organized a non-binding future referendum on convening a constituent assembly, a relatively naked, if weak, power grab, and in violation of the Constitution, Congress, and the will of the people. However, it also would not have likely worked out for him because he's fairly unpopular at this point. Nevertheless, the legislature had the military arrest him and remove him from the country. They then installed his opponent as a successor, basically fighting an illegal power grab with an illegal power grab. As the Economist put it: ''Lousy president, terrible precedent''.

Every country in the Americas has condemned the coup, as well they should. It was unnecessary and stupid. But, the punchline is that Hondurans aren't so keen on getting the elected president back to replace the unelected one anyway. What happens now? One of two things:
1. Zelaya returns to power for the next five months, until his term is up, and then there are elections in January,
2. The unelected president, Roberto Micheletti, stays until there are elections in January.
And, since the proposed referendum was pretty much doomed to fail, there would have been elections anyway, most likely without Zelaya taking part. So, it's all a case of moderately annoying times calling for desperate measures. But, alas, if democracy is to work, people have to be satisfied with voting the bastards out, because these coups can get to be a bad habit.

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