One day after the country’s president, Manuel Zelaya, was abruptly awakened, ousted and deported by the army here, hundreds of protesters massed at the presidential offices in an increasingly tense face-off with hundreds of camouflage-clad soldiers carrying riot shields and automatic weapons.As you may have noticed in comments about the Honduran coup at Cogitamus, a number of opposition party supporters have deluged my post, as well as writings at other US blogs and newspapers, with bold assertions about the Honduran army having "protected democracy" and "upheld the rule of law". Numerous allegations about President Zelaya's various transgressions are scattered throughout the thread, but not a single one is supported with linked documentation; I have not been able to verify them independently, outside of what the international media are reporting, and what they are reporting--namely, that the Organization of American States (OAS), the United Nations, and the European Union, unanimously and unequivocally, condemn the illegal arrest and kidnapping of President Zelaya--flies in the face of that which our new Honduran rightwing friends are saying, and saying with gusto, sometimes in ALL CAPS, and often in Spanish, with a few insults aimed at CNN for good measure.
The protesters, many wearing masks and carrying wooden or metal sticks, yelled taunts at the soldiers across the fences ringing the compound and braced for the army to try to dispel them. “We’re defending our president,” said one protester, Umberto Guebara, who appeared to be in his 30s. “I’m not afraid. I’d give my life for my country.”
Leaders across the hemisphere joined in condemning the coup. Mr. Zelaya, who touched down Sunday in Costa Rica, still in his pajamas, insisted, “I am the president of Honduras.”
Having only read portions of the Honduran constitution (and arrgh, if you think legalese in English makes for tricky reading...), I cannot say for certain that it does not have a special amendment tucked into it somewhere that legally authorizes the congress to order soldiers to invade the president's bedroom, kidnap him at gunpoint, fly him out of the country in darkness, falsify a letter of resignation from him and forge his signature on same, and install a brand-new president within hours. But I'm reasonably sure there are no provisions of that nature. If, however, there is such an article, subsection, or amendment that I may have missed, Estimados Lectores con abilidad de leer en Español e interpretar la ley Hondureña para nosotros Gringos, favor de avisarme.*
[*Dear Readers with the ability to read in Spanish and interpret Honduran law for us Gringos, please let me know.]
Mr. Zelaya, 56, a rancher who often appears in cowboy boots and a western hat, has the support of labor unions and the poor. But he is a leftist aligned with President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, and the middle class and the wealthy business community fear he wants to introduce Mr. Chávez’s brand of socialist populism into the country, one of Latin America’s poorest. His term was to end in January. [...]
The military also appeared to be moving against Mr. Zelaya’s allies. Local news outlets reported Sunday that Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas and the mayor of San Pedro Sula, the country’s second-largest city, had been detained at military bases.
The government television station and another station that supports the president were taken off the air. Television and radio stations broadcast no news. Electricity was cut off for much of the day in Tegucigalpa on Sunday, in what local reports suggested was on military orders. Only wealthy Hondurans with access to the Internet and cable television were able to follow the day’s events.
The Congress met in an emergency session on Sunday afternoon and voted to accept what was said to be a letter of resignation from the president. Mr. Zelaya later assured reporters that he had written no such letter.
Interesting, don't you think? Grassroots movements cannot possibly spread when they're trampled by combat boots day in and day out; contrarily, Astroturf will grow like a bloody weed when its opponents can't access any means of electronic communication. And as you'd imagine, the poorest citizens of the Americas' poorest nation are not exactly weighed down with Apple products and satellite dishes.
Also at Cogitamus.