What Happens Next in Honduras?
As most already know, the Honduran Supreme Court was in the midst of a ongoing clash with President Manuel Zelaya on June 28 when an order was issued for President Zelaya's arrest. The order was executed by the Honduran military, which, it appears, exceeded its authority and not only arrested him but took him to Costa Rica. It did so to prevent internal violence.
The crisis was due to a number of things, including Zelaya's efforts to amend the Honduran constitution in ways both procedurally and substantively prohibited by that document. The congress then followed the Honduran laws of presidential succession and appointed the (civilian) president of the Congress, Roberto Micheletti, to be the interim president until elections could be held, as scheduled, in November.
While claimed by many to have been a coup by a military junta, it was not. The civilian government remains in power, and the military remains subordinate to it. (A more detailed account is provided in an article I wrote on June 30. A certification by Honduras of its bases for removing Mr. Zelaya from the presidency is provided here.)
Since the departure of Mr. Zelaya, Honduras has been a focus of much unwanted international attention. President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela has been adamant in demanding that Mr. Zelaya be reinstated as president; the United States Government, while less acerbic, has demanded the same. The Organization of American States (OAS) and the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean (ALBA), largely under the leadership of President Chávez, have demanded Zelaya's return, and so has the UN.
Publicly, at least, Honduras stands alone with the sole exception of the government of Panamá, which, on July 6, asked the various governments to keep their noses out of Honduras' internal affairs. President Ricardo Martinelli, who recently won the presidential election in Panamá by an unprecedented sixty plus percent with very high voter turnout, stated:
Panamá has to be a leader of freedom and justice, not only here in our home, but in our region and our continent. As president, I will do everything within my power to advance the ideals of a free economy, defying the ideological pendulum in Latin America.
News coverage in Panamá of the Honduran mess has been less biased than most coverage in the United States and elsewhere, and the return of Mr. Zelaya is favored by very few here.
The United States government expressed concern that Mr. Zelaya's return might "fuel instability." In fact, Mr. Zelaya attempted a return to Honduras on Sunday and it did indeed fuel violence -- which was observed by the large flock of reporters accompanying him on a Venezualen aircraft and by Venezuelan TeleSur cameras at the airport, broadcasting to the world.