As many of you may know (or remember) Latin America was not exactly the poster child of politcal stability for a long time. In the midst of bloody coups and violent revolutions, Honduras managed to keep its nose clean. For the past twenty years, they were the most politically stable country in Central America. In the 1980s, Honduras became a democratic nation (again, I think). The constitution passed approval in 1982, and is the same constitution in effect today. Article 4 of the Honduran constitution states "The alternation in office of the President of the Republic is required. Violation of this rule constitutes the crime of treason." Article 237 states that a Honduran president is allowed to serve one four-year term.
Fast forward to November 2005. Mel Zelaya is elected president. He was a pretty popular guy, but not overwhelmingly so...he won the vote by 4%, which was the smallest margin in the country's history. He was a member of the Liberal Party of Honduras, and he took office in January of 2006. His popularity began to drop shortly after taking office. Earlier this year, Mel proposed some amendments to the constitution. There were several changes he wanted to make, but the one that has received the most attention is one that would allow a president to be re-elected for an indefinite number of terms. If you look back to Article 4 of the constitution, you will see that this constitutes treason. So Congress, the Supreme Court, and the military all told Zelaya they would not back him if he continued with the vote.
Mel continued with his plan for the proposition. Since Congress would not hold a vote for it, he decided to hold a Constituents Assembly on June 28th. A couple days before the vote, the ballots were flown in to the capitol where the military siezed them and destroyed most of them. Mel managed to snuggle some out and was planning on moving forward with the vote. The Honduran constitution is very long, and I was unable to find a copy in English, so I haven't read all of it yet. According to many of the people here that I have spoken to, this is the part where Mel ceased to be the president of Honduras. Apparently the Honduran Constitution does not allow for an impeachment process. Congress and the Supreme Court held emergency sessions, determined that according to Constitution Mel Zelaya was no longer the president, voted Micheleti in as interim president, and decided the safest course of action would be to fly Mel out of the country.
This is what you read about in the papers as the wild and crazy military coup. Although in real life, the military was only following orders from what they believe to be their true authority. I don't remember what the article number is, but the Constitution does state that no Honduran citizen can be exiled or something along those lines. arg, I wish I could find it. So forcing Mel out of the country was an unconstitutional act as well.
After a couple months of shenanigans, Mel is back. This past Monday, Mel somehow made it back in the country and took refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa. The country has pretty much been on lockdown, and I don't know anything more recent than that, really.
The current government is not recognized as legitimate by many (or really any?) other world leaders. As a result of their refusal to reinstate Mel, Honduras has been removed from the OAS and has been denied aid from the US and Europe. This year is an election year (Mel's term would have been over January 6, 2010), and apparently the newly appointed official is not going to be considered legitimate either, as a result of this craziness. Now, I am clearly not an expert on politics in general, much less Honduran politics. But in my opinion, Mel Zelaya was removed from power according to the Honduran constitution. And although he was removed from the country, which I think was an unconstitutional act, I don't think that means he should be reinstated. I also think it's quite a load of crap for foreign governments, namely the US, to say that Mel Zelaya needs to be reinstated in order for democracy to be upheld, but then say that they will not recognize any new president elected after the new regime. Sadly, I don't think this is about democracy anymore. But I will say that even if it means I am labeled as a golpista, I support Honduras. My two cents.