Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Quo vadis hominis hondurensis?

Quo vadis? published 1897, Henry Althemus(pub).
Where are you going fellow human honduran? This is a question that we as Hondurans and those interested in the well being of the country should be making to our current President Lobo and the politicians in power and in the opposition. Are we thinking about the longer term future, or are we thinking of short-term political, and in some cases economic, gains?

Are we interested in resolving the issues raised before, during and after the events of June 2009? Or are we interested in pursuing a political agenda set by the Habana-Caracas axis, Washington, the international community, or Brussels and the European Community?

I recognize that we have severe limitations in terms of the economy and the financial independence as a nation which we also need to overcome. Yet, this is why we need to be even more intelligent and firm in establishing our will as an independent country.

A country that took a firm stance by expressing the moral imperative of respecting our Constitution and the laws of our country, and thus took the higher ground by applying the rule of the land. A first if you ask me in  a long time. Yet, I am afraid we are losing of have already lost this historical juncture that would have allowed us to build the country we dream of everyday, to what I am a bit ashamed to confess, can only be categorized as naivety, short term political and economic gain, and the struggles of political and decision making minorities who have lots of turf to protect, but very little long term strategic vision about the country.

Yes, there are several issues that need to be resolved that would alleviate the pressure from the international community and thus give us a breather enough to once again scream from the top of our lungs "En Honduras no hay dolares ni petroleo, pero tenemos huevos". This time for real.

Juan Ramon Martinez summarizes some of those needed changes in his article of today "Prevencion Democratica" to see the article click here... Issues such as changing the constitution to clearly describe an impeachment process, exploring the possibilities of establishing a Supreme Constitutional Tribunal that would regulate relations between state powers, depoliticizing the Supreme Court, expand the congress to include a chamber of senators to curtail the inffluence of the congresspersons, drastically limit the power of the executive power within the scope of law, and others.

Note that the changes proposed by Martinez would have avoided the drama of June 2009, while at the same time reducing the ability of the international community to continue intervening in our affairs. Yet, as Martinez argues, President Lobo seems to continue the application of the Zelaya agenda (or is it the one mandated by Habana-Caracas axis?) while obscuring the issues even more by not showing the long term strategy nor the long term country plans. Yes, a document was presented with great fanfare last year, detailing in very general terms what the long term plan was, but it is such a general document, that it does not say much about what the real plans are in the end.

So, fellow Hondurans, where are we going?Are we interested in resolving the acute problems Honduras is suffering such as poverty, malnutrition, insecurity, cronyism, corruption, lack or severe limitations of education and entrepreneurial capacity, vulnerability and others...

Quo Vadis Hominis Hondurensis?

* Quo Vadis? is a historical novel written by Henryk Sienkiewicz. I do remember seeing this picture during holy week at the theater "Presidente" or the "Tropicana" in San Pedro Sula when I was kid.  Hey, I can even remember seeing a double header with "Viruta y Capulina" and "Santo el enmascarado de plata" at the Presidente theater, going to "Palco" for 80 cents...another 80 cents for coke, pop corn and even some pirulines...and that was the breather for parents on Sundays...


  1. What Zelaya was doing was Ilegal and Unconstitutional. He could have been removed from power using STANDARD PROCEDURE in the Constitution of Honduras.
    The problem with the White Shirts is that they say that they defended the Constitution of Honduras. If they REALLY defended the Constitution of Honduras then they should have been AGAINST the way Zelaya was removed from office, because it was uncosntitutional.

    I am 100% in agreement, that Zelaya had commited serious crimes against the Constitution of Honduras and therefore he could have been removed from Office LEGALLY using Article 239.

    The BIG PROBLEM is that did not happen. Micheletti and Vasquez Velasquez conspired to remove him from office ILLEGALY. Two wrongs don't make a right. The "White Shirts" will never understand that what they supported was also a Violation of the Constitution, and they did not care because of their HATRED towards Zelaya.....

  2. Sorry, but article 239 of our Constitution says that a president or his functionaries automatically ceases in its functions (and not being allowed to participate in politics for 10 years) when committing the described constitutional crimes, but there is no description of the process to follow to do such action.

    Should the impeachment had been initiated by the "Procuraduria General" or the "Fiscal General" or Congress...who decides whether the impeachment process is valid and makes a decision? Supreme Court or Congress?

    Just curious why the need to bring in titles into the discussion? This has nothing to do with hatred of Zelaya or anybody else, but of our repudiation of his actions to draw the "Asamblea Nacional Constituyente" through illegal and unconstitutional procedure trying to destroy our democracy and the Constitution, to get himself (Zelaya) re-elected, possibly for life.

    The argument that the "cuarta urna" was a non-binding referendum is quite naive and shows a bias by ignoring much of the context and the actions taken by Zelaya and his supporters before his removal.

    There is no doubt in my that his forceful exile was unconstitutional, the process used for his removal is in my mind unclear how legal it was in the end.

    Jose Falck Zepeda

  3. BTW, note that reforms of article 239 (See the full text of our Constitution at ( http://www.honduras.com/honduras-constitution.html ) include those that even propose and those who support directly or indirectly the actions leading to the re-election of a President or Vice-President.

  4. Jose, I assume you've seen the LA Times article, "Fixing Honduras", http://tinyurl.com/3j7xrz4, which I consider to be reasonably balanced.

    I think the key point in this posting is the last para: how do we move on, to address the myriad of problems that confronts Honduras? You and I have discussed the idea(s) of developing strategies for at least getting started on some of these problems, but the political leadership of the country doesn't seem to have any real interest in tacking the problems. IMO, Lobo has turned out to be a dithering, ineffectual President who flirts with Chavez, does nothing about the skyrocketing violence (including the violence against reporters), and who now runs the risk of civil conflict by allowing Zelaya to return (I know, now Honduras is in the good graces of the OAS, but what good is that?).

    I don't know, perhaps the best that can be done right now, is a Constitutional Convention, which might present the possibility of a fresh start - or not. And that's the dilemma: can a new Constitution lead us to a brighter future in Honduras? Just don't know at this point...

  5. Hi Tambopaxi,
    Sure I have read the article, and although not being a constitutional scholar myself, I still find some logical inconsistencies in their findings.

    I will have to read any formal article by these three comparative constitutional scholars authors of the article and/or read the report from the Truth Commission.

    I am certain that the removal of Zelaya was in itself not squeaky clean...in part because of the big legal loophole that implies not having the impeachment procedure codified in the Constitution.

    My biggest peeve with the LA Times article is their statement that if there had been a legal procedure at the Supreme Court before Zelaya's removal, it might have been considered legal. Whereas the vote at Congress was not deemed by these authors sufficient to make Zelaya's removal legal. If there is no standard (i.e. a process described in a legal document) what is the rationale behind accepting vs. rejecting an action as legal?

    I personally saw the many danger signs in the many actions done by Zelaya. The most important ones were the hurry in trying to push for the Cuarta Urna, not approving the budget of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal and not sending the money transfers to them, the moves reported by different observers where Zelaya was ready to call the Constituyente immediately after the "results" of the Cuarta Urna were known and so on...these warning signs were that of a person who wants to be in a position of absolute control over the country without any checks and balances. The situation does not seem to be that different with Lobo, although he has expressed that he would not push for the re-election.

    So, I would recommend that we as a nation indeed go through the process of analyzing the current Constitution gaps and limitations and then propose a set of reforms.

    By the way there is no need to call for a Constituyente, as most of the Constitution itself can be changed by majority vote in Congress. The most important article of those that cannot be changed is the re-election one. That I am almost certain we are not ready either, we need to mature politically more to change that one.

  6. I AM SORRY...But just because Article 239 says that they are removed automatically, SOMEBODY HAS TO STATE THAT IT IS SO, SOME INSTITUTION HAS TO DECLARE THAT in this case Mel Zelaya has violated this article and therefore is NOT PRESIDENT ANYMORE!!

    In the session of June the 28th, no where did Congress mention this in their deliberations, it was until the NEXT DAY, that through "Comunicados" and TV Announcements, did they state Article 239.

    I believe that Congress had the AUTHORITY to remove Zelaya as President invoking article 239. And yet after invoking Article 239, Mel Zelaya had THE RIGHT to defend himself from these accusations. If after his defense, Congress believed Zelaya to be in violation of Article 239, then he could have been removed from Power.

    You do not go and get a democratically elected President by force with the Military, ship him of to Costa Rica, present a resignation letter, name a succesor and then the day after STATE that he was removed from power due to Article 239.

    I am 100% with the people that say that Congress HAD THE POWER to remove Zelaya from being President, but the way that they did it, was Ilegal and Unconstitucional, Zelaya had a right to defend himself in Congress in an Impeachemnt Trial.....

    ARTICULO 82.- El derecho de defensa es inviolable.

    Los habitantes de la República tienen libre acceso a los tribunales para ejercitar sus acciones en la forma que señalan las leyes.

    ARTICULO 85.- Ninguna persona puede ser detenida o presa sino en los lugares que determine la Ley.

    ARTICULO 89.- Toda persona es inocente mientras no se haya declarado su responsabilidad por autoridad competente.

    ARTICULO 94.- A nadie se impondrá pena alguna sin haber sido oído y vencido en juicio, y sin que le haya sido impuesta por resolución ejecutoriada de Juez o autoridad competente.

    En los casos de apremio y otras medidas de igual naturaleza en materia civil o laboral, así como en los de multa o arresto en materia de policía, siempre deberá ser oído el afectado.

    ARTICULO 102.- Ningún hondureño podrá ser expatriado ni entregado por las autoridades a un Estado extranjero.

  7. Exactly Anonymous, your response answers my argumentation in my posting.

    Somebody has to initiate the process, somebody has to judge whether it proceeds, somebody has to oversee the proceedings and in most cases render a ruling, and finally somebody has to ensure that the ruling is enforced. NONE of these "somebodies", or better yet the process as whole, is codified in the Constitution, and thus the gap that indeed needs to be resolved as the authors of the article published in the LA Times have recognized.

    I presume that the argument for scholars will discuss for a long time will be what exactly "automatic" means in terms of a constitutional offense. Does it mean, as the Supreme Court of Honduras indeed interpreted as so in their ruling after the San Jose accord, that automatic means, once Zelaya indicated that the "Cuarta Urna" was going to be used to change the constitution and that he even further announced his intentions to re-elect himself, that he was out of office without any ruling needed as Zelaya had met the standard of violating article 239, which he did.

    Obviously, this action enters into the right of a trial and presumption of innocence under Articles 89 and 94. Of course, I do agree with you that the forced expulsion of Zelaya outside the country was unconstitutional.

    In fact, the military lawyer and the commander of the armed forces acknowledge this fact, but they did go themselves personally to courts and got a reprieve under the argument of necessity and then of course where covered by the political amnesty given by Lobo. I do not agree with the ruling, but I am not a lawyer. At least they did present themselves to courts, something that Zelaya will probably not do at all and thus impunity continues.

  8. THe article at the LA Times I am referring to is http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-landau-honduras-20110607,0,312881.story

  9. Ok Mr. Falck, you so smart.........To my information the Supreme Court has NEVER given a ruling on the events of June the 28th. From what I know they just gave an opinion that Mel Zelaya had several issues to resolve with the Honduran Justice System.

    Like I said, I think you are smart and not a hot head like most people that write about such issues. Peace my brother....

  10. Anon June 7 - You may want to consult a bit more about what really happen before,during and after the events of June 9 2009. Yes, there are several rulings and resolutions out there.

    There are resolution documents by

    - Tribunal de lo Contencioso Administrativo rejecting the constitutionality of the multiple decrees submitted by Zelaya for the proposed referendum (the infamous "Cuarta Urna")while prohibiting Zelaya from continuing pursuance of the referendum/Cuarta Urna, which of course were ignored by Zelaya who insisting on pursuing that illegal venture.

    - The Supreme Court resolution leading to the annulment of Zelaya's firing of General Romeo Vasquez,

    - The Supreme Court 26 June resolution -by unanimous voting- accusing/condemning Zelaya of treason, abuse of power, and usurpation of powers and authorizing his arrest and the right to enter his house to detain him.

    Once again, I agree that the process is not squeaky clean. My point is that in the end, this lack of clarity of what the process should have been is a direct consequence of a major gap in our Constitution that does not describe an impeachment process. There is no STANDARD procedure in the Constitution for these matters.

  11. By the way, I have scaneed copies of these resolutions/rulings. I do not want to post them here but are available upon request. I would suggest that you visit the Supreme Court of Honduras web site, there is an interesting powerpoint presentation on the case against Zelaya. Address is http://www.poderjudicial.gob.hn/

  12. I went back and checked the power point again, and as a matter of fact that power point presentation has all the resolutions, opinions, and other legal documents that I have.