Presenting the founding members of the coup caucus, and push back from House Democrats

Representative Connie Mack’s (left) resolution supportive of the Honduras coup was officially submitted for congressional review.  It has nine original co-sponsors, including Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), Thaddeus McCotter (MI-11), Zach Wamp (TN-03), Ted Poe (TX-02), Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01), Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46), Chris Smith (NJ-04) and Dan Burton (IN-05)

These members of congress (all Republicans) can be considered the founding members of a congressional “coup caucus.”  The resolution that they sponsored is firmly supportive of a military-backed coup in America’s backyard.  Nowhere does the resolution express concern for the fact that the coup undermined a key tenet of democracy: the seperation of the military from civil affairs.  Rather, the resolution plays up Zelaya’s ties with Hugo Chavez and the Castros as evidence of his nefarious nature–and as reason why other members of congress should support his ouster. 

Chances are the bill will go nowhere. This type of legislation requires 25 cosponsors, including 10 on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. And even if the bill reaches that milestone, the Committee will almost assuredly not take it up.  Also, there is no bill upcoming in the Committee to which it could be attached as an amendment.

However, UN Dispatch just obtained a copy of a resolution that may see the light of the day from Democratic Congressman Bill Delahunt (right).  In a so-called “Dear Colleague” letter obtained by UN Dispatch, Reps James McGovern, Elliot Engel and Bill Delahunt  gives a sense of what that resolution is all about. 

Clearly, a path must be found that allows the restoration of democracy and rule of law, a path that can only be discovered through multilateral negotiations that recognize the illegal interruption of President Zelaya’s tenure in office and address the deep political fissures confronting Honduras at this time, including allegations that the non-binding referendum process initiated by President Zelaya was in violation of what is allowable under the Honduran constitution.

The entire Organization of American States, from left wing Hugo Chavez to Columbia’s right wing President Alvaro Uribe, have condemned the coup. And there is good reason for such unanimity.  It is not long ago that military backed overthrows of duly elected  national leaders was a run of the mill occurance in Latin America.  We thought those bad old days were gone. The coup in Honduras shows they are not. 

No matter what you think of Zelaya (and he is clearly a flawed character)  his ouster was a subversion of a 30 year old democracy by the military.  That should be a problem no matter what side of the aisle you are on. 

[Full copies of the competing Honduras resolutions are below the fold]


The Coup Caucus (Connie Mack) Resolution, condeming Zelaya

“Whereas in November of 2005, Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales was elected as president of Honduras;

“Whereas shortly after being inaugurated as president of Honduras, President Zelaya forged close ties with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and Cuban rulers Fidel and Raul Castro;

“Whereas on October 9, 2008, Honduras joined the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas (ALBA), an initiative launched by Mr. Chávez which includes Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela;

“Whereas in March of 2009, President Zelaya issued a decree calling on the National Statistics Institute to hold a popular referendum to determine if the country should include a fourth ballot box during the general elections scheduled to be held on November 29, 2009;

“Whereas the fourth ballot box would consult Hondurans about whether the country should convene a national constituent assembly to amend the constitution;

“Whereas the Honduras Constitution forbids a president from seeking re-election;

“Whereas on May 21, 2009, the Attorney General of Honduras recommended that the Honduran courts hold that President Zelaya’s proposed referendum was illegal and unconstitutional;

“Whereas on May 27, 2009, a Honduran lower court judge declared President Zelaya’s proposed referendum illegal;

“Whereas on June 17, 2009, a Honduran Appeals Court upheld the lower court ruling declaring President Zelaya’s proposed referendum illegal;

“Whereas on June 19, 2009, the Honduran Supreme Court ordered the Honduran security forces not to provide any support for the proposed referendum;

“Whereas on June 23, 2009, the Honduran Congress passed a plebiscite and referendum law that prevents referendums from occurring within 180 days of a general election;

“Whereas on June 24, 2009, President Zelaya dismissed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Defense Minister for refusing to provide support for the proposed unconstitutional referendum;

“Whereas on June 25, 2009, the Honduran Supreme Court ruled that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Defense Minister were to be reinstated;

“Whereas on June 25, 2009, the Honduran National Congress began debate on whether to censure President Zelaya for pushing ahead with his proposed illegal referendum;

“Whereas on June 27, President Zelaya led a violent mob that stormed a military base to seize and distribute ballots for the illegal referendum;

“Whereas several sectors of Honduras were opposed to this referendum, including the legislature, the judiciary, the Attorney General, the Human Rights Commission, the Catholic Church, evangelical groups, business associations, and four of the five political parties represented in the National Congress—including President Zelaya’s own party;

“Whereas on June 28, 2009, just hours before the polls were to open for the illegal referendum, the Honduran military arrested President Zelaya pursuant to a court order, and later exiled him from the country;

“Whereas the Honduran Supreme Court has stated that the military acted on its orders, and the Honduran Congress passed a decree removing President Zelaya from office and replacing him with the President of Congress, Roberto Micheletti;

“Whereas since his removal, Mr. Zelaya has been flown around the hemisphere by Hugo Chavez’s private jets;

“Whereas since Mr. Zelaya’s inaugural, Honduras has been plagued by lowered living standards as poverty, violence, unemployment, and inflation have remained high;

“Now, therefore be it:

Resolved, that the House of Representatives –

(1) expresses its strong support for the people of Honduras;

(2) condemns Mr. Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales for his unconstitutional and illegal attempts to alter the Constitution of Honduras; and

(3) calls on all parties to seek a peaceful resolution that is both legal and constitutional.”

And the Bill Delahunt resolution, condeming the coup.

Condemning the June 28, 2009 coup d’état in Honduras, calling for the reinstatement of President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales, and for other purposes.

Whereas Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales was elected President of Honduras in November 2005 in elections that were deemed free and fair by international observers;

Whereas President Zelaya and other political actors in Honduras became embroiled in a political dispute over whether to hold a non-binding referendum asking Honduran voters whether they wanted a constituent assembly to be established to amend the Constitution;

Whereas on June 28, 2009, the day that the non-binding referendum was to take place, Honduran military forces stormed President Zelaya’s residence, apprehended him, sent him out of the country, and seized the materials for the referendum;

Whereas the Honduran Congress named Roberto Micheletti, the head of the Congress, as President and subsequently suspended a number of constitutional rights, including the freedom of association and of movement;

Whereas the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has expressed its concerns regarding human rights abuses by the de facto Micheletti government, including the arbitrary detention of Zelaya supporters;

Whereas the Organization of American States, the United Nations, and the European Union – representing governments from across the political spectrum – have condemned the coup d’état, refused to recognize the de facto Micheletti government, and demanded the unconditional return of President Zelaya to office;

Whereas on July 1, 2009, the Organization of American States voted unanimously to suspend Honduras from participation in the OAS unless President Zelaya was returned to office within three days;

Whereas, on July 4, 2009, the OAS unanimously voted to suspend Honduras;

Whereas the Administration of President Barack Obama has condemned President Zelaya’s removal, supported the OAS resolutions regarding Honduras, and demanded that he be returned to office;

Whereas the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank have suspended aid and loans to Honduras;

Whereas national elections are scheduled in Honduras for November 29, 2009;

Whereas President Zelaya has said that he will only serve until his term ends in January 2010;

Whereas it is critical for the stability of Honduras that the November 2009 elections be free, fair, and transparent; and

Whereas U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced on July 7, 2009, that Costa Rican President Oscar Arias would seek to negotiate a solution to the crisis, and President Zelaya and the de facto Micheletti government have agreed to the mediation of President Arias.

Therefore, the House of Representatives:

1) Condemns the June 28, 2009 coup d’état in Honduras and refuses to recognize the de facto Micheletti government installed by that coup d’état;

2) Calls on the Obama Administration to continue to refuse to recognize the de facto Micheletti government;

3) Calls for the reinstatement of President Zelaya as President of Honduras;

4) Urges the Obama Administration to suspend non-humanitarian assistance to the de facto Micheletti government as required by U.S. law and as it deems necessary to compel the return of President Zelaya to office;

5) Calls for extensive international observation of the November 2009 elections once President Zelaya is returned to office to ensure that his successor is elected freely, fairly, and transparently; and

6) Welcomes the mediation of Costa Rican President Oscar Arias and encourages the Obama Administration to provide any assistance President Arias requests in his efforts.