The Honduran Coup, an opening. (Part 1 I guess)

Fridays are Latin America days. So I thought it’d be nice to start off with a recent event that is still having effects today. Which is why we’re going to visit Honduras for today’s Friday post. This is the first post and is ONLY meant to go up to June 28th, 2009. It is meant to try and describe some of the vital background information. Other posts like this will talk about how presidential reelection got constitutional approval (which it did last year), despite this occurring, and how the Indigenous people were affected by the coup.

Do you know about the coup in 2009 in Honduras? If not this post is meant to serve as an introduction to it. First we’ll meet the man behind LIBRE (Honduras’s “far left” political party, led by Zelaya and composed of both his supporters in the aftermath of the coup and members of Honduras who are further to the left than the Liberal Party felt comfortable with), Manuel Zelaya.

Manuel Zelaya himself
Manuel Zelaya himself

 

Background:

Manuel Zelaya was Honduras’s president from 2006-2009. I’m not going to try and describe his presidency because I wasn’t in Honduras at the time he was president. I arrived in late 2010. But some of his policy decisions angered very important people. One of the big ones was that he rose the minimum wage. I’m not going to say he was a “hero” or anything because I don’t think he was, but he did support a minimum wage increase by somewhere between 60-80% according to a range of sources such as The Huffington Post, CounterPunch, and the New States Man (the article was written by his daughter Hortensia Xiomara so take it with a grain of salt). Another thing he did was refuse to throw his support behind a controversial ban on emergency contraception that had passed in March of 2009.

In April of 2009 Zelaya was able to veto a ban on emergency contraception which did criminalize the Morning After Pill (thus legalizing it again). This decision wasn’t pleasing to many leaders in the area, and more than likely motivated Catholic leader Oscar Rodriguez to support the coup once it had happened, despite once considering himself and Zelaya to be friends. Especially because the Honduran Cardinal is a known and immensely vocal opponent of abortion, and has made statements like “”It is canon law that everyone who works for abortion is excommunicated. It’s not something the Pope invented. If you favor abortion, you are outside the communion of the Church. And it was necessary to say that. There are people in Mexico saying I am Catholic and I support abortion rights. This is a contradiction in its very essence. As a teacher of the Church, the Pope has a responsibility of teaching when something happening is wrong.”. More about that can be found here, and here.

These are not the only factors to consider in this context, but these are two of the bigger ones. If you know of others to suggest, both good and bad, comment them down below!

An excuse to kick out Zelaya appeared in the form of a referendum. The 4th ballot box referendum is the name given to the referendum which would have taken the public “temperature” on the possibility of a constitutional assembly, most likely to rewrite the constitution or to at least enact serious reforms to it. This was declared illegal by the Supreme Court, and suddenly a method to take down Zelaya appeared, brought on by his own actions.

Constitution: 

Article 239, translation by Parliament.am; A citizen who has held the title of the Executive Power may not be President or a Designate. He that violates this provision or advocates its amendment, as well as those that directly or indirectly support him, shall immediately cease to hold their respective offices and shall be disqualified for ten years from exercising any public function. (Anti-reelection article)

Article 373 & 374 The amendment of this Constitution may be decreed by the National Congress, in ordinary sessions, with two-thirds of the votes of all its members. The Decree shall specify for that purpose the article or articles that are to be amended, which must be ratified by the subsequent ordinary legislature, by the same number of votes, in order to take effect. Article 374 The foregoing article, this article, the articles of the Constitution relating to the form of government, national territory, the presidential term, the prohibition from reelection to President of the Republic, the citizen who has served as President under any title, and to persons who may not be President of the Republic for the subsequent period may not be amended. (Ways to amend the constitution, & what cannot be amended/modified)

These are the biggest articles of the constitution you’ll repeatedly see in this context.

The Coup:

Now onto the coup itself. In June 28th of 2009, Zelaya was awoken in the wee hours of the morning by military people. He was taken to a plane, and promptly flown to Costa Rica. This was… it was gigantic. He was reportedly told that the men who had taken him had a judicial order.

If you want to read about Honduras right after the coup, check out here, and here. I’ll be more posts on this, like on many other topics so don’t worry. But this provides a bit of background into the Honduran coup. If you enjoyed it, let me know! If you have any questions, feel free to ask them and I’ll do my best to give you an answer!

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