‘Splain, Please?

I don’t claim to be a expert in international politics.  Or domestic politics.  Or even breakfast cereals.  But I like to think I have some level of common sense that can be applied to each of these situations, albeit at a less informed level than someone who makes them their life work.

So as I understand it, Honduras had a president.  He was acknowledged both at home and abroad to be doing things illegally, attempting to circumvent the Constitutional workings of his own government in order to push an agenda that would have ultimately dismantled that Constitution.  He was not upholding his oath to operate as an elected leader.  I can understand this.

After a repeated pattern of this behavior, and after refusing to change his behavior to meet Constitutional requirements, he was evicted by his country in a bloodless coup.  He was sent into exile, and an interim president was appointed to oversee the four months until a new national election would be held.  I can understand this.

The international community roundly condemned this political move by the Honduran government, and suspended international assistance.  This is reasonable.  After all, a coup can result in a lot of things that nobody anticipated.  It could have resulted in an even less scrupulous person taking control.  It could have resulted in the military declaring itself in charge.  It could have led to the unraveling of the Constitution.  It would seem reasonable to make it clear to the transitional government that it was being watched.  I can understand this. 

Based in part of international outcry, the ousted president – who, by the way, would not be eligible for re-election even if he had not been ousted from the presidency – sneaks back into his country and sleeps in the Brazilian embassy, hoping to be reinstated to power.  Over the course of several months of negotiations, he ultimately refuses to cooperate in helping to legitimize the interim government in the eyes of the international community.  I certainly don’t understand this.

The interim president does exactly what he’s supposed to do – he keeps the peace relatively well, holds the elections in November (elections that he is not eligible to run in, so it’s not as though he’s hoping to become president), and there is a victor.  The international community refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of the newly elected president, even though there isn’t much evidence of any sort of wrongdoing.  There have been limited allegations of suppression of opposition supporters, but these haven’t gotten much airplay, which makes me wonder how accurate they are.  The ousted president is finally sent into permanent exile as the newly elected president is sworn in.  I can understand this.

And now, nobody knows what to do.  The newly elected president has declared amnesty for everyone involved in the coup in June.  He has offered normalization of trade relations with all of Honduras’  neighboring countries.  But Latin American countries are uncertain about recognizing the new government.  At issue is not whether or not the election itself was conducted properly, but the fact that the ousted president refused to cooperate to provide legitimacy to the election process.  Deals were attempted to garner his support and allow his participation, but he ultimately rejected them all.   Europe and the United States have refused to resume their assistance to Honduras, despite the resolution of this situation in an almost unbelievably peaceful and legal manner.  The main problem is that an elected leader – who clearly refused to follow the Constitution he was elected to uphold, who repeatedly demonstrated after his ousting from power that he was more concerned with his own personal fortunes and situations, and was willing to threaten the country he claimed to love to try and safeguard his own interests – was ousted from office without using the ballot box. 

Our own Declaration of Independence safeguards the right of the people to protect themselves from the depredations of their own government, whether elected or not.  Our founding fathers clearly understood that this right must exist, and must not be delegitimized, if governments are to be held accountable to the people they are created to serve, and if tyranny and oppression are to be avoided.  Obviously, drastic steps such as coups are to be a last resort, when all other legal attempts at curbing excesses and offenses have failed. 

Maybe I’m missing some fundamental information here that isn’t available in mainstream media press.  If so, please ‘splain it to me so I can be better informed and sound less like a dolt for a change.  But we appear to be acting rather inconsistently as a nation.  We profess to love democracy and liberty, and yet are punishing a country for validating exactly these two things.  In a region fraught with instability and abuse of every kind, we ought to be praising the Honduran people and government for the way they have conducted themselves during this whole situation, restore normalization of relations, and put this ugly incident in the past where it belongs.  Instead, we are continuing to punish a people who appear to understand more clearly than we do that democracy and liberty at times have very real costs associated with them. 

That’s something every American ought to understand clearly.

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