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What they didn't tell you about Honduras

I have a couple of friends in Honduras doing relief and missionary work. Here's part of an e-mail I got from one of them regarding the recent coup:

The president of Honduras was behind the election that was supposed to happen last Sunday. Basically he wanted to "revisit" the constitution and change the one term presidential limit.

Last Thursday the Supreme Court handed down the decision for the second time that the election was unconstitutional. The president fired the head of the military the same day. The entire armed forces immediately resigned in respect for their leader. Chavez, president of Venezula announced he would send his troops in. (Uh oh). Then, the president HIMSELF breaks through the army base entrance, goes to the building where the ballots are stored, breaks in HIMSELF, and he and his supporters load the ballots up in the car and drive away with them. This is all on the news. They do not arrest him as we think they are trying to keep peace.

Friday the Supreme Court restores the head of the military to his rightful position and the military is back on board. The president says publicly that his military leader looks like a gorilla. We also hear that the ballot boxes are half full, which everyone finds amusing since the election is not until Sunday! Meanwhile, schools are closed on Friday and some on Monday. Newspapers and radio are telling everyone to stay home on Sunday. Churches and businesses are closed as well.

We awoke to no electricity Sunday morning, not a good sign, then heard that the president had been arrested at his home and flown to Costa Rica. It was peaceful, no bloodshed. We were sad about this decision because he did legally have 6 more months to serve. He had totally lost the support of the Supreme Court, Congress, the military and his power was dwindling rapidly.

They did find $300,000 dollars (in Honduran lempira) on his desk in his office the day the arrested him. This was for bribes for votes. His supporters go to poor areas and ask everyone to give their personal ID card so they can vote for them. They vote, then return the card with $25 which is a huge amount of money, esp for people who cannot read and whose lives will not change regardless of the election. Not exactly the democracy one hopes for.

The Speaker of the House was sworn in as president until January 27, 2010. Elections are held in November. He immediately announced a curfew from 9 pm until 6 am. Meanwhile world opinions have been swift, that the old president needs to be restored to his rightful position. The old president is saying that he will return soon to Honduras along with some leaders of other countries and head of the OAS. The new president says if he comes he will be arrested. The Honduran Congress stated they ousted the old president because of disregard for the constitution, the law and the institutions. Right now it seems things are at a stalemate.
Wow. I'm not a news junkie, but I'm pretty sure the American news media that I do attend to (mostly NPR) haven't reported those details. It's hard to feel much sympathy for President Zelaya in light of this report. Yes, a military coup is not the preferred way to get rid of a president, but (a) it could have been worse—Zelaya should thank his lucky stars he's not Joao Bernardo Vieira; (b) this apparently is a president who had severely overstepped his authority. What do you suppose would happen to a U.S. president who ignored two Supreme Court orders and tried to buy an illegal election? Impeachment in the blink of an eye, that's what.

Unless some kind of resolution is found, the real losers will be the people of Honduras, who stand to lose hundreds of millions in aid if the country is kicked out of the OAS, as threatened.


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