Friday, July 3, 2009

Top Honduran Military Lawyer: Coup Was Illegal

Today's Miami Herald, published an interview with Honduran army attorney Col. Herberth Bayardo Inestroza who is the first top military officer in Honduras to admit that last Sunday's coup was illegal. While he goes on and on about how he can't stomach leftists here, and leftists there, he also admits, kind of in a Col. Nathan R. Jessep fashion, that the Honduran military made the decision to remove President Manuel Zelaya from office and then tried to create the appearance of legality (which also indicates some kind of collusion from the other constitutional powers in Honduras). From the Miami Herald:

"In an interview with The Miami Herald and El Salvador's, army attorney Col. Herberth Bayardo Inestroza acknowledged that top military brass made the call to forcibly remove Zelaya -- and they circumvented laws when they did it.

It was the first time any participant in Sunday's overthrow admitted committing an offense and the first time a Honduran authority revealed who made the decision that has been denounced worldwide.

''We know there was a crime there,'' said Inestroza, the top legal advisor for the Honduran armed forces. ``In the moment that we took him out of the country, in the way that he was taken out, there is a crime. Because of the circumstances of the moment this crime occurred, there is going to be a justification and cause for acquittal that will protect us.''

Now that the jig is up, it's time to address the abysmal performance of the U.S. mainstream media which, while condemning the coup for the most part, has also been promoting the falsehood that President Manuel Zelaya was abusing his constitutional powers in a manner aptly exposed by John Nichols in The Nation:

"Outside of an Orwellian novel, or the mid-day slot on talk radio stations, some basic principles still apply:

Getting elected. Organizing referendums. Proposing constitutional amendments. These are the sorts of things that happen in a country that is experiencing democracy.

Kidnapping the president. Installing an unelected strongman. Suspending civil liberties. These are the sorts of things that happen in a country that is experiencing a coup."

Apparently, the U.S. mainstream media was caught in a bind on this. On one hand, they could not openly side with the coup given the immediate worldwide condemnation of the event (kudos to Obama on this for standing up for democracy). On the other hand, their visceral disgust for anything that is remotely on the side of the poor in America's backyard shows how old habits and allegiances are hard to break.

In today's edition of Counterpunch, George Ciccariello-Maher describes how the mainstream media paved the way for the coup, much like it did with the failed coup of 2002 in Venezuela, by distorting reality to fit Zelaya into their autocratic leftist strongman narrative:

"The faithful media sows the seeds: in both Venezuela 2002 and Honduras 2009, the national and international media prepared the ground for an eventual coup by distorting the truth and calling into question the democratic credentials of the president. In Honduras, this has taken the form of misrepresenting Zelaya’s constitutional proposal as a re-election bid, a line which was and continues to be shamelessly pushed in the media, when the referendum question had nothing to do with re-election at all, but was instead a completely legal mandate to transforming the existing constitution (itself a holdover from the far-right governments of the 1980s). Some nominally of the left repeated this tasty morsel of misinformation, while Fox News’ Shep Smith argued today that not only had Zelaya sought to extend his term, but to do so would have been “treasonous” (an interesting perspective on constitutional amendments, to say the least)."

(picture source)

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