The Blog

Honduran Coup Decree Shows Coup "Justification" Was After the Fact

The claim that President Zelaya was "trying to extend his term" is not only false, but logically impossible.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Supporters in the U.S. of the coup in Honduras have frequently made two claims to justify it which are demonstrably false, which have nonetheless been widely accepted in the U.S., because they have been largely unchallenged in the U.S. media: the Honduran Congress authorized Zelaya's removal, and the basis for that removal was Article 239 of the Honduran Constitution, which forbids someone from being president if he has already been president, and says that anyone who advocates changing this provision will cease to be President.

The actual decree of the Honduran Congress is attached. Note the following.

1) the document never mentions Article 239.

2) the document is dated "MIERCOLES 1 DE JULIO DEL 2009," i.e. Wednesday, July 1, 2009, three days after the coup on Sunday, June 28.

So: 1) the decree of the Honduran Congress, which is being cited as justification for it, was produced when the coup was already three days old, and 2) this decree never mentioned Article 239.

Note that President Zelaya didn't advocate the extension of his term, contrary to the claim that is often made in the U.S. He proposed a nonbinding referendum on whether there should be a constitutional convention, a longstanding demand of social movements in Honduras. Even had the nonbinding referendum been successful, there is no plausible scenario in which it would have led to a change in this provision of the constitution prior to the scheduled November election in which Zelaya was to be replaced and in which he was not a candidate. At most it could have resulted in a binding referendum for a constitutional referendum on the same November ballot on which Zelaya would have been replaced. So the claim that President Zelaya was "trying to extend his term" is not only false, but logically impossible.