I had the chance to read a piece by James Kirchick in the New Republic earlier tonight that argues for the legality of ex-President Manuel Zelaya’s dismissal. According to the Honduran constitution, the National Congress has the power to formally disapprove of the President’s actions. When Zelaya tried to call for a new constituent assembly to rewrite the current constitution in order to extend his term, the Congress interpreted dismissing him as within the reaches of its power. The full report explaining the legality of their actions, published by the U.S. Library of Congress, can be found here.
Even though there may be a substantial legal argument for Zelaya’s ousting, the idea of the military pushing out an elected public figure does raise serious questions, given the prevalence of such coups in Latin American history. It’s important to point out that as a Honduran citizen, it was illegal for Zelaya to be forcefully sent to a different country. The opposition’s cracking down on Zelaya’s supporters in the country, as well as the military’s siege of Zelaya in the Brazilian embassy, also promotes a very negative picture of how this situation has been handled so far.