July 5, 2009

THEIR SMALL SINS AND OUR BIG ONES:

A Coup for Democracy? (Edward Schumacher-Matos, July 3, 2009, Washington Post)

Honduras is guilty of two sins: impatience and size. The rest of the world is committing two more: hubris and hypocrisy.

It is now clear that if the Honduran Supreme Court or Congress had used legal means such as impeachment before asking the army to remove President Manuel Zelaya, we would be calling events there a constitutional crisis rather than a coup d'etat.

This would be especially true if Honduras were a larger country such as Brazil or Pakistan and its court, Congress, attorney general, human rights ombudsman and electoral commission were all saying afterward, as they do in Tegucigalpa, that the army moved legally in alliance with them. The Honduran army never took political control.

Perhaps the Honduran leaders were constitutionally "lazy," as Chilean political scientist Patricio Navia mused. Certainly, they were being forced to act quickly by a president pushing to carry out an illegal referendum this Sunday in defiance of those constitutional institutions and his own party.

But small countries are easy to punish in order to send messages, as Peter Hakim of the Inter-American Dialogue notes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 5, 2009 6:08 AM
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