A reader writes:
Al's capable of defending himself, but he wasn't comparing the political situation in Honduras to that of Iran -- he was comparing the reactions of the people on the street in both countries to having their democratic rights stolen away by authoritarian power. The YouTube clip in particular, with a woman swiping in frustration at a line of soldiers as they go by (and the soldiers not reacting with anything like lethal violence) has direct echoes in footage we've seen from Tehran over the last two weeks.
As for the argument that Zelaya was the one engaging in the 'coup' (however 'soft') and that the military was just upholding the Constitution, it's pure nonsense -- unless you think there's something un-Constitutional about a non-binding referendum asking the people whether they wanted to hold a Constitutional Assembly down the road.Trying to argue that what Zelaya was doing was un-Constitutional is like temperance defenders arguing that Congress passing a bill in 1933 calling for state conventions to ratify a new amendment abolishing the 18th was un-Constitutional. Zelaya was explicitly working within the system to change the Constitution; the Supreme Court just didn't like the changes he wanted to make, and tried to shut down the process before it even started.If the military are just acting in the best interest of the people of Honduras, why were they so unwilling to see what the people of Honduras had to say about Zelaya's proposal... ?
Mr. Zelaya’s ouster capped a showdown with other branches of government over his efforts to lift presidential term limits in a referendum that was to have taken place Sunday. Critics said the vote was part of an illegal attempt by Mr. Zelaya to defy the Constitution’s limit of a single four-year term for the president. Early this month, the Supreme Court declared the referendum unconstitutional, and Congress followed suit last week. In the last few weeks, supporters and opponents of the president have held competing demonstrations. The prosecutor’s office and the electoral tribunal issued orders for the referendum ballots to be confiscated, but on Thursday, Mr. Zelaya led a group of protesters to an air force base and seized the ballots. When the army refused to help organize the vote, he fired the armed forces commander, Gen. Romeo Vásquez. The Supreme Court ruled the firing illegal and reinstated General Vásquez.
And here is Brookings, which argues both actions were illegal:
[A]n illegal referendum has met an illegal military intervention, with the avowed intention of protecting the constitution. Moreover, as has been so often the case, this intervention has been called for and celebrated by Zelaya’s civilian opponents. For the past week, the Honduran Congress has waxed lyrical about the armed forces as the guarantors of the constitution, a disturbing notion in Latin America. When we hear that, we can expect the worst. And the worst has happened. At the very least, we are witnessing in Honduras the return of the sad role of the military as the ultimate referee in the political conflicts amongst the civilian leadership, a huge step back in the consolidation of democracy.
Obama, for his part, has called the coup illegal.