Following the Rule of Law in Honduras

08/01/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In accordance with the laws of Honduras as understood by the legislature and the Supreme Court, the Honduran military followed lawful civilian orders to exile President Zelaya to Costa Rica. Zelaya had aligned himself with regional leaders such as Chavez and Castro and was moving his country in the same direction as Venezuela. He started making agreements with Leftist governments without congressional approval and wouldn't listen to the judicial or legislative branches of the government who opposed such things. The government, both parties, and business tolerated his abuse of power, believing that that it would stop at the end of his elected term in November 2009. The final straw, however, came when he decided to change the constitution. One of the items he wanted to change was the provision limiting the president to a single term. In addition, he had voiced support for nationalization and wealth redistribution as in Venezuela.

He decided to hold a referendum to garner support for his changes to the constitution. Both his party and the national party were amenable to constitutional amendment, but not simply to perpetuate those in power. Zelaya took actions that were opposed by the Supreme Court and also by the Congress. He believed that he had personal control of the military, and with a supply of funds from Chavez in Venezuela could do as he wished. When he told the military that he wanted them to help in the referendum that had been deemed illegal by the Legislative and Judicial branches of government, he was in effect telling his military leaders to break the law. They had vowed to protect and defend the constitution against all enemies and felt that they were not required to comply with an illegal order in conflict with the constitution. Zelaya fired the military Chief of Staff and the Secretary of Defense after which the other senior officers resigned in support of the position of the Chief of Staff. The Supreme Court told Zelaya that there were reasons that he could fire the Chief but not for failure to obey an illegal order and told Zelaya to reinstate him. When Zelaya refused to follow legal directives of the Supreme Court and the legislature, the lawful government decided to expel Zelaya, which they did on Sunday.

The Constitution describes the order of succession that takes place when a leader is no longer able to perform his duties. This order was followed and the President of the Congress was designated to fulfill the duties of President until the regularly scheduled elections in November.

There was no military coup, the military was the tool of government and there was a peaceful transition of government. CNN and other news outlets were quick to describe the action as a grasp for power, which is a story that fits the picture that many hold when they think of Latin American governments. This was anything but that. This was a government, all parties and branches working together, trying to prevent a tyrannical ruler from running roughshod over the constitution for his own purposes -- trying to prevent a ruler from taking the country down the Venezuela road. This issue is so important to the nation of Honduras that for the first time in its history both major parties and other minor parties were galvanized in support of this necessary change. In a country of over 7 million people with 4.5 million voters, the overwhelming majority is in support of the government action. There have been only a few hundreds of Zelaya supporters seen on TV, but they are a tiny minority and not representative of the country.

In reality, what has happened in Honduras has been a triumph for the rule of law and responsible action on the parts of those from both major parties who were adamantly opposed to Zelaya's march towards becoming an old-style caudillo. The government and people of Honduras should be receiving plaudits, not condemnations from the civilized world. It is especially baffling as to why the USG would have moved so quickly to align itself with leaders who are distinctly unfriendly to it and are taking Latin America on a road that does not lead to freedom and democracy.