Immediately after Zelaya’s removal, the United States, the United Nations and the OAS denounced the ouster as illegitimate and demanded Zelaya’s restoration, which triggered restrictions on foreign aid and trade. So this situation has had real-world effects on ordinary Hondurans.
Since then, the Obama administration has subtly backed away from its initial stance of absolute condemnation. Several months after Zelaya’s ouster, the State Department noted that it “recognized the complicated nature” of events leading to Zelaya’s removal. The following year, the U.S. resumed aid to Honduras, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged the OAS to readmit Honduras into the organization, citing its “free and fair” election of President Porfirio Lobo in November 2009 and its establishment of a truth commission. This year, Clinton upped the ante by voicing “strong support” for Lobo and emphasizing the U.S. “commitment” to having Honduras readmitted to the OAS.
The truth commission asked us — a team of U.S. specialists in comparative constitutional law — to evaluate what had happened from a legal perspective and to propose fixes. What we found was a good deal more complex than the simple story of a coup or a justified removal. In our judgment, both Zelaya and those who removed him acted unconstitutionally.
To begin with, Zelaya violated Honduran law when he tried to hold a referendum asking voters whether they wanted to call a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution. His foes claimed the goal was to extend his stay in office. The constitution, aiming to avoid dictatorship, restricts the president to a single term. Zelaya threatened the integrity of the constitutional order by ignoring numerous court orders that he desist from holding the vote, and by ordering the military rather than the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to supervise the process.
Continue LA Times article on Fixing Honduras here.