The Organization of American States and most governments in the world
have condemned the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya by the
military last Sunday as a coup d'etat. But the people who currently
hold power in Honduras say they followed legal procedures outlined in
their nation's constitution and their position is backed by many
conservatives in the United States.
The crisis in Honduras has become
a hot topic for conservative pundits in the past several days.
President Obama, along with other world leaders, the Organization of
American States and some human rights groups, have condemned the
military's removal of President Zelaya in Honduras last Sunday.
many conservatives say the officials who carried out the ouster of the
president did the right thing. They argue that Zelaya violated the
Honduran constitution by planning to hold an illegal referendum that
was aimed at continuing his time in office indefinitely. Commentators
like the Wall Street Journal's Mary Anastasia O'Grady say Hondurans
were defending their democracy by throwing out a president who was
aligned with Cuba's communist regime and Venezuela's leftist leader
Even critics of President Zelaya, however, say
legal means should have been used against him rather than a nighttime
raid on his home by heavily armed soldiers. But Hans Bader, a legal
expert with the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, says the
Honduran Supreme Court and Congress believed Zelaya had put their
country in immediate peril.
"I don't think they needed to wait
until he actually made himself into a dictator," he said. "I think they
were entitled to take action against a budding dictator. But even if
they weren't, it seems to me that it is not so clear that he is in the
right that the United States should be meddling in Honduras' affairs."
view is challenged by Georgia State University professor Jennifer
McCoy, who also serves as director of the Americas Program at the
Carter Center in Atlanta. She says Honduran concerns about possible
illegal actions by their president may be valid, but they do not
justify the way Zelaya's removal was carried out.
"Even if the
military was acting to carry out a police action, I think the questions
coming from the international community are why would the military act
instead of the police? And why would they take him out of the country
instead of following a procedure inside the country?," she said.
says she believes it may be possible to broker a solution to what she
regards as a constitutional crisis in Honduras, but she says both pro-
and anti-Zelaya factions will need to recognize what brought it about.
is the conflict between the powers in Honduras and the defiance of the
president of rulings by the Supreme Court and rulings by the Congress
and those do need to be dealt with," said McCoy. "But, the point of the
international community is that those are not to be dealt with at the
end of the barrel of a gun, but, instead, through legal proceedings."
Bader and other conservative commentators accuse President Obama of
siding with the anti-democratic forces in the region against people in
Honduras who were trying to protect their republic and its
constitution. He is concerned that President Obama might join the
European Union and many Latin American nations in suspending aid and
trade with Honduras.
"It is a very poor country," said Bader.
"If we were to essentially close our markets to their products we could
cause a great deal of hardship in the country and cause thousands of
Hondurans to lose their jobs. That would only compound the suffering of
the Honduran people."
But the Obama administration has not taken
any action so far against Honduras other than suspending some joint
military programs. Many other nations have pulled their ambassadors
from Tegucigalpa, but the U.S. ambassador remains in place.
between the United States and Honduras amounts to over $7 billion a year. In addition, Hondurans living in the United States send
home around $2.5 billion in remittances, which represent around one
fifth of the Central American nation's total Gross National Product.
Most observers think it is unlikely that the United States will impose
harsh penalties on Honduras, but much will depend on what happens in
the days ahead.
Even some conservatives are concerned about
what the people currently in power in Honduras are doing in the face of
protests by Zelaya supporters. The CATO Institute's Juan Carlos
Hidalgo, who supported the removal of Zelaya, has called on authorities
in Tegucigalpa to respect human rights and avoid repression of
legitimate, peaceful dissent.