Distorting Honduran History at the New York Times
posted at 4:53 pm on November 28, 2009 by Jimmie Bise, Jr
I’m having a hard time deciding whether this article in the New York Times is dishonest or just biased toward the Obama Administration’s point of view. The author purports to be critical of the administrations vacillations toward the situation in Honduras, but clearly she’s in the tank on the administration’s approved explanation about what happened there. Here is the offensive paragraph.
Mr. Zelaya, once a darling of the Honduran upper classes, fell from favor when he began increasing the minimum wage, reducing the price of fuel and allying himself with President Chávez. His critics say he crossed a line when he defied the Supreme Court and pushed a referendum to change the Constitution so that he could run for another term. The court called in the military
That poor Zelaya, hero of the working class and foe of the rich, huh? Except you and I both know that’s now what really happened. In this case, “his critics” included the entire government of Honduras. Zelaya did not merely defy the Supreme Court; he openly violated the Honduran constitution which is crystal clear on the matter of Presidents serving more than one term and on the penalty for anyone who even attempts to change that provision. Both the Supreme Court (which unanimous decision included members of Zelaya’s own party) and the Honduran legislature decided to remove Zelaya, even though they did not need to do so. Their actions were found appropriate by the Law Library of Congress. I suppose you could call all those people “his critics” but that does cover them under an umbrella of understatement that’s so obscure as to be misleading.
Which does seem to be the point.
It’s also worth noting that “his critics” also included every printing business in Honduras (none of which would print his illegal ballot, which is why he had them printed in Venezuela) and the head of the armed forces, General Romeo Vasquez, who refused to comply with his illegal order.
In other words, “his critics” include the whole of the Honduran government, the head of the Honduran armed forces, all the printers in Honduras, and the Law Library of the Congress of the United States. Biased or dishonest; you tell me.
There is a truth in that paragraph, though, but it is also understated to the point of deception as well. The court did indeed call in the military to enact its will, bit it did so because the military was the appropriate authority to use in that situation according to the constitution. If the court has used any other law enforcement authority, it would have been guilty of violating the constitution just as surely as Zelaya is. The way that little fact reads, though, you’d think that the court brought in the military just like the military came in on every other coup in Central America.
Honduras has worked very hard over the years to pull itself out of decades of being an unstable banana republic where various “Presidents for Life” were toppled by any general with enough soldiers. The country has a constitution that works and a government that is respectful of the rule of law and good order. The Obama administration has discredited itself badly and shown a staggering amount of ignorance by treating Honduras like it was just another banana republic when it clearly is not. I’m sorry the New York Times had to resort to rhetorical chicanery to help prop up the administration’s ignorant and callous treatment of a would-be ally.
The only consolation is that the author has billed her piece as “news analysis”. Hopefully she never gets the chance to flex her puny analytical muscles again.
(cross-posted at The Sundries Shack)