2009 Honduran Constitutional Crisis And Coup D’etat

1426 words - 6 pages


On the morning of June 28th, 2009, Honduras, the Central American countries, and the rest of the world, were stunned into silence as President Manuel ‘Mel’ Zelaya was exiled by the Honduran army. What had begun in 2008 as a minor problem in Congress when the Supreme Court denied Mel a referendum to change the Honduran constitution, turned into an all out brawl between the three branches of government when he ignored their decision and went forward with his plan by installing a fourth ballot. After many months of speculation, it became clear that his intent was concrete and so, two days after the national Congress had put forth a secret arrest warrant, the Honduran army crashed into the presidential palace in the late hours of June 27th and forced Mel and his family to board a plane to Costa Rica. Soon thereafter, it was announced that the speaker of Congress, Roberto Micheletti, would replace him in a de facto presidency. This act, which many considered a violation of human rights, put to the test the integrity of the Honduran government, the will of the population, and put the eyes of the entire world upon a small, poverty stricken country that had decided to take matters into their own hands.

There were many misunderstandings, pressures, and defiant acts that led to this constitutional crisis. The most prominent reasoning for the crisis and eventual coup d’état was the threat of a fourth ballot. This fourth ballot would inquire public opinion on the formation of an assembly later in the year to change the constitution. “The Supreme Court, the Congress, and the National Electoral Tribunal all declared such a survey or popular consultation illegal, since it was not approved by Congress. The president ordered the military to support the consultation anyway (the military traditionally provides logistical assistance for elections). When eventually the military refused to go against the Supreme Court, the president dismissed the chief of the Armed Forces and the Supreme Court reinstated him and ordered him to confiscate the ballot materials (allegedly provided by Venezuela). The president went with a crowd to military barracks to reclaim the ballots and vowed to continue with the June 28 "survey." (McCoy). Many speculate that Mel was also influenced by Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela. It is said that at his insistence and due to their ‘close’ friendship before the introduction of the fourth ballot, Chavez encouraged Mel to implement a socialist style government that would eliminate presidential term limits, which was why he wanted to conduct the assembly if the referendum were to be approved by Congress. During his presidential term, Mel shifted to a leftist political campaign after making an alliance with ALBA, an organization that aims to bring together Latin American and Caribbean countries in an attempt to eliminate poverty in these countries and provide social and economic welfare (Arreaza). This alliance caused a great deal...

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