Hondurans Pull Off a 'Coup' Against Chavez

When the Honduran National Congress voted 111 to 14 against the reinstatement of ex-President Manuel Zelaya, the Obama administration expressed disappointment.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Arturo Valenzuela, said the U.S. was "disappointed" as it had hoped Honduran lawmakers would reinstate Mr Zelaya.

However, he acknowledged that the decision had been reached in a transparent manner through Congress.

This may not be the place to suggest an analogy, but the nationally (and via the internet) internationally televised process at the Honduran National Congress seems, to me, to have been a hell of a lot more transparent than what is currently happening in the Congress of the United States -- cap and trade, "stimulus," Obamacare and the rest of the sorry mess, where the Congresscritters can't even find the resolve to read what they are voting on.

To express disappointment at the decision of the Honduran National Congress is rather like expressing disappointment over the lack of snow in Washington, D.C., on July 4. Of course the National Congress voted against Zelaya's reinstatement. It was consistent with its vote in June and with the October 30 Honduras accord -- something Zelaya apparently recognized soon after agreeing to the accord, which he then declared void.

Whatever fantasies may have been entertained by Zelaya and others, the action was also consistent with the results of the November 29 national elections, with a popular turnout of approximately sixty-one percent -- substantially greater than the turnout for the 2005 Honduran elections. Nor does Honduras' 2009 election compare unfavorably with the 2008 U.S. elections, where "61.6% of the nation’s eligible voters turned out to cast their ballots. That’s the highest turnout rate since 1968."

In Honduras, no threats of boycotts or violence against those exercising the franchise were seen. As in the United States, the runner-up conceded gracefully. U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens, who until recently had supported Zelaya against the "coup," praised the "normalcy and calm with which elections are being developed" and "lauded the housekeeping of the electoral process."

The usual suspects continue to complain that the election was unfair and that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal was grossly wrong in stating that sixty-one percent of the eligible voters voted. However, the "resistance" has thrown in the towel, stating that it now intends to focus on the elections which are to take place in 2014. President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica has asked President-elect Porfirio Lobo "to consider granting Zelaya amnesty. Arias did not disclose Lobo’s response." In the meantime, the resistance will probably continue to try to get the Honduran constitution amended, but it is far from clear what exactly they want from that process.

Interim President Roberto Micheletti wrote a letter to the people of Honduras immediately following the elections. A translation into English is available here. It is very much worth reading. The only point of very minor disagreement which occurs to me is this:

And of course, no one more than Hondurans will savor tonight the exquisite flavor of dignity, of liberty, of the right to defend their national honor at the ballot box.

I suspect that many around the world in free countries, and those who wish they lived in free countries, share my vicarious savoring and are as proud of Honduras as I am.

In these circumstances, the Obama administration should be joyful rather than disappointed. The rule of law and the constitutional processes of Honduras won. A free people decided their course independently of the desires of highly repressive regimes such as Venezuela and sanity prevailed.

After throwing major monkey wrenches into the Honduran process from shortly after the ouster of Zelaya in June until finally coming to its senses in late October, it is now high time for the Obama administration to get off its fake Styrofoam pedestal of misguided self-righteousness and make a real effort to undo the mess it helped to create. Although an apology would also be in order, that won't happen; there is no way to claim that it was Bush's fault.