Honduras turned defiant today, reacting to an ultimatum from the Organization of American States to reinstate deposed president Manuel Zelaya. Roberto Micheletti, appointed acting president by the Honduran legislature, responded by telling the OAS that Zelaya would be arrested immediately upon entering Honduras. The only way in which Zelaya would return to the presidency, Micheletti promised, would be at the head of a foreign army:
Honduras’ interim leader warned that the only way his predecessor will return to office is through a foreign invasion, setting up a dramatic showdown with the ousted president who is preparing to come home accompanied by world leaders.
A defiant Roberto Micheletti said in an interview with The Associated Press late Tuesday that “no one can make me resign,” defying the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the Obama administration and other leaders that have condemned the military coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya.
Micheletti vowed Zelaya would be arrested if he followed through with plans to return to Honduras on Thursday, even though the presidents of Argentina and Ecuador have signed on to accompany him along with the heads of the Organization of American States and the U.N. General Assembly.
Zelaya himself, though, gave some indication that he recognized his own lawbreaking, undermining the effort by the OAS:
Zelaya, who is an ally of leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, backed down from the referendum Tuesday, saying at the United Nations that he would no longer push for the constitutional changes he wanted.
One of several clauses that cannot be legally altered in the Honduran constitution limits presidents to a single, 4-year term, and Congress claims Zelaya, whose term ends in January, modified the ballot question at the last minute to help him eventually try to seek re-election. Chavez has used referendums in Venezuela to win the right to run repeatedly.
“I’m not going to hold a constitutional assembly,” Zelaya said. “And if I’m offered the chance to stay in power, I won’t. I’m going to serve my four years.”
Maybe the OAS, and especially the Obama administration, should take a look at that statement and consider it awhile. Honduras had legitimate reason to remove Zelaya from office, even if arguably they used illegitimate means to do so. Zelaya repeatedly violated the constitution of Honduras, first by attempting to hold the referendum, and second by illegally firing the chief of the Army, who reports to both the president and the legislature in Honduras.
The idea of marching Zelaya back into Honduras flanked by the heads of state of two other nations is practically begging for war. The Honduran military will have no choice but to arrest Zelaya, which will give Argentina and Ecuador an excuse to send its military if the trio have guns drawn on them at the airport. And for what? In the service of an executive who abused power and flouted the law in an attempt to make himself Presidente-for-Life?
Barack Obama has enabled this nuttiness with his meddling on behalf of a Chavez wannabe. His State Department had better make it known that any attempt to fly Zelaya back into Honduras would be met with our displeasure, and that the issue rightly belongs with the Honduran legislature and courts. Otherwise, we’ll have a war breaking out in Latin America that we can ill afford at the moment.