Honduras President Manuel Zelaya Ousted in Coup

Oh great. Is it me, or are presidents having a tough time these days? The Iranians are still pissed about their presidential election, and now the President of Honduras has been ousted in a dawn coup, after he angered the Congress, the army and the judiciary by trying to change the Honduras constitution. President Zelaya wanted to hold a referendum that could have led to an extension of his non-renewable four-year term. A simple version of the story is:

Zelaya, in office since 2006, was overthrown in a dawn coup on Sunday after he angered the judiciary, Congress and the army by seeking constitutional changes that would allow presidents to seek re-election beyond a four-year term.

The Honduran Congress named an interim president, Roberto Micheletti, and the country’s Supreme Court said it had ordered the army to remove Zelaya. (Reuters)

As the removal of President Zelaya was not done through the democratic process (ie. democractic elections), President Obama has proclaimed the coup illegal,  basically requesting a reversal of today’s coup. And it’s not just the United States asking for President Zelaya’s return to office. Venezuelan President Hugo gathered today with a group of Latin American leaders to draft a response to Roberto Micheletti and the Honduras coup. Chavez said he would “overthrow” Micheletti. Micheletti responded with “nobody scares us.” (Breitbart)

Personally, I would take the words of Hugo Chavez seriously. Chavez means business. He has already put his troops on high alert for a military response if his ambassador to Venezuela is killed en route to the Central American country:

Chavez said on state television if his ambassador to Venezuela was killed, or if troops entered the Venezuelan Embassy, “that military junta would be entering a de facto state of war. We would have to act militarily … I have put the armed forces of Venezuela on alert.” (Reuters)

Furthermore, the president of the United Nations General Assembly invited President Zelaya to address the world gathering, and the Organization of American States also weighed in:

The Organization of American States (OAS), a group of 34 countries, of which the United States is a member, late yesterday passed a strongly worded resolution in which it condemned vehemently the coup d’état of Honduras President Zelaya. It demanded his immediate and unconditional return to power. It declared that no government arising from this coup would be recognized. It further instructed the Secretary General of the OAS to transmit this resolution to the Secretary General of the United Nations. (Examiner)

As if that wasn’t enough, the European Union is also weighing in on the coup d’état of Honduras President Zelaya:

“I regret the recent events which have taken place in Honduras,” E.U. External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said after the Honduran army ousted elected President Manuel Zelaya and sent him into exile. “The European Commission attaches the greatest importance to the respect for the rule of law, democracy and the democratically elected institutions,” she stressed. “Therefore, we urge all parties involved to resolve their differences peacefully, in full respect of the country’s legal framework, and to promptly engage in a dialogue,” Ferrero-Waldner added. (Nasdaq)

And don’t look now, but it turns out that Cuba is also condemning the coup in Honduras:

Acting in the style of the most violent and ruthless Latin American dictatorships of the past, the military troops attacked the President Manuel Zelaya´s residence taking advantage of the night darkness and under the violence of weapons, said the ambassador. “Such action was aimed at choking the popular expression and preventing the carring out of an important democratic referendum to be held in Honduras on Sunday,” he added. Moreno believed that the coup in Honduras “is also a blow against us all. It is against the sacred values that the United Nations Organization defends. ” (Radio Guantanamo)

Meanwhile, back in Honduras the new interim president Micheletti has ordered a 48-hour curfew (BBC News). Micheletti claims that he became the new president “as the result of an absolutely legal transition process,” and he will only be serving the remainder of Zelaya’s current term, which ends of January 27, 2010.

President Obama has condemned the coup, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has not formally designated it a military coup. A military coup would force a cut-off of most United States aid to Honduras. It’s interesting to note here that President Zelaya was removed from his house by Army troops and then forced onto a plane that flew him out of the country. I’m not sure about the exact definition of ‘military coup’, but that scenario sounds a to be a little on the military side. Regardless, I sincerely hope that this event doesn’t harm our relations with Honduras.

With major events in North Korea, Iran and now Honduras, I’m not feeling too good about the rest of 2009. Let’s all pray that things settle down a little bit.

Civil War in Iran? Let’s Hope It Doesn’t Go That Far.

Iranian supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi protest in Tehran, Iran
Iranian supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi protest in Tehran, Iran

The American media is doing a pretty crappy job at covering one of the biggest news stories of the past couple of weeks. Iran’s 2009 Presidential Election was held on June 12, 2009, and since then, all hell has broken loose in a country that has had its fair share of unrest over the past 50 years. In the past few days, tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Tehran, Iran’s capital. What set them off? I’m glad you asked. [Disclaimer: I am not a historian or researcher, and I know very little about Iranian politics. However, I’m going to give this my best shot.]

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mohsen Rezaee, Mehdi Karroubi
2009 Iran Presidential Election Candidates: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mohsen Rezaee, Mehdi Karroubi

For just a little background context, the Presidential Election featured 4 nominees:

  • Incumbant: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Abadgaran Party)
  • Mir-Hossein Mousavi (Independent Reformist Party)
  • Mohsen Rezaee (Independent Conservative Party)
  • Mehdi Karroubi (Etemad-e-Melli Party)

On the night of June 12th, Iran’s official news agency, the Islamic Republic News Agency, announced that the incumbant, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had won by a count of 66% to 33% of the votes cast. The problem was that at the time, only 2/3 of the votes had been counted. To make matters even worse, the president of Iran’s election monitoring commission declared the results invalid. Then he called for a do-over (source).  Today, Time Magazine published an article with 5 reason’s to suspect Iran’s election results (link). Furthermore, many are asking the simple question: How do you count almost 40 million handwritten paper ballots in a matter of hours and declare a winner? More on that here.

Obviously, something is up. The Whitehouse is remaining relatively neutral about the whole thing, though President Obama has issued a short statement about the Iran Election and the violent protesting in Tehran (link, video):

Obama said of the Iranian demonstrators that “the world is watching and inspired by their participation, regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election was. We do believe the Iranian people and their voices should be heard.”

There is a ton of information out there, and I could go on with more and more coverage – because this thing is being broadcast on every major social network on the internet. Here are some of the links with fascinating, often troubling, updates of the events regarding the Presidential Election in Iran:

  • Boston.com’s photo gallery of the protests in Tehran (link)
  • AP News/MyWay update: Iranian protester killed after opposition rally (link)
  • Flickr.com has the AP picture of the protester who was kill. NSFW & Disturbing (link)
  • Twitter streams break Iran news dam (link)
  • Andrew Sullivan’s Blog on the Atlantic (link)

Well, I hope to have more updates in the next few days. I hope the Iranian people can work this out without more deaths. Things like this do not typically end well for many people. The country seems to be split in half, and maybe it’s worse than that. If anything is certain, it’s that the people of Iran have a voice, and it will be heard. By the whole world.