Monday, November 30, 2009

Hooray for Honduras!

On Sunday, the small impoverished country of Honduras showed Hugo Chavez, his socialist lackeys, and the world how a true democratic constitutional republic responds to an attack on its constitution.  The Wall Street Journal reports:
Unless something monumental happens in the Western Hemisphere in the next 31 days, the big regional story for 2009 will be how tiny Honduras managed to beat back the colonial aspirations of its most powerful neighbors and preserve its constitution.

Yesterday's elections for president and Congress, held as scheduled and without incident, were the crowning achievement of that struggle.

National Party candidate Porfirio Lobo was the favorite to win in pre-election polls. Yet the name of the victor is almost beside the point. The completion of these elections is a national triumph in itself and a win for all people who yearn for liberty.

The fact that the U.S. has said it will recognize their legitimacy shows that this reality eventually made its way to the White House. If not Hugo Chávez's Waterloo, Honduras's stand at least marks a major setback for the Venezuelan strongman's expansionist agenda.

The losers in this drama also include Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Spain, which all did their level best to block the election. Egged on by their zeal, militants inside Honduras took to exploding small bombs around the country in the weeks leading to the vote. They hoped that terror might damp turnout and delegitimize the process. They failed. Yesterday's civic participation appeared to be at least as good as it was in the last presidential election. Some polling stations reportedly even ran short, for a time, of the indelible ink used to mark voter pinkies.
Embarassingly, it took the Obama administration five months to get on the right side of this story.  Rick Richman at Commentary Magazine explains:
Throughout the Honduran “crisis” — the removal of the Honduran president by order of a unanimous Honduran Supreme Court, supported by the virtually unanimous approval of the Honduran Congress — many noted there was an easy remedy for the alleged “coup”: hold the already scheduled election between the already selected candidates and install an undeniably democratic government.

Instead, President Obama labeled what had happened a “military coup,” cut off aid to one of the poorest states in the hemisphere, revoked the visas of the entire Honduran Supreme Court, and resisted for months the obvious solution to the “crisis.”

On Friday, the State Department finally endorsed the election, describing it in terms that would have made Simon Bolivar blush:

The electoral process — launched well before June 28 and involving legitimate candidates representing parties with longstanding democratic traditions from a broad ideological spectrum — is conducted under the stewardship of the multi-party and autonomous Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which was also selected before the coup. The electoral renewal of presidential, congressional and mayoral mandates, enshrined in the Honduran constitution, is an inalienable expression of the sovereign will of the citizens of Honduras.
The "coup d'etat", as the U.S. State Department describes it, was the result of a unanimous decision by the Honduran Supreme Court, and supported by the virually unanimous approval of the Honduran Congress. Despite the reference to the Honduran "military coup", that is ubiquitous in the media, the Honduran military never took over the government.

The removal of Zelaya is a stark reminder of the foresight of our founding fathers, as they placed careful checks and balances in our constitution to ensure that one branch of government would not become too powerful over the others.  It is regrettable that our constitutional law scholar President did not see it that way.

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