The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

July 3, 2009

County native: Honduran revolt restored order

Editor’s note: The following letter was written by Somerset County native Chester Thomas of Honduras and sent to relatives and friends to present his perspective on the coup that resulted in the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. Thomas, of the Hollsopple area, is executive director of Project Global Village, a multi-church-affiliated organization that responds to natural disasters, operates health clinics and constructs housing, among other things, in Honduras.

Our warmest greetings to you from Honduras. Many of you are well aware of what is happening in Honduras, although a lot of the information being transmitted is being twisted by some of the news networks.

CNN has covered the situation only from the standpoint of ex-President Zelaya. Unfortunately, this has been the focus of most of the news services until now. But the real information that is beginning to come out is different from what the world has been fed until now.

What has happened is a new paradigm for the world as an army has disposed a constitutionally elected president in order to restore a democratic system of government but not to break a democratic system, which was characteristic of military actions in the past.

This case cannot be catalogued as a “coup de etat” as it does not represent two important elements of such an action: One is the taking of power by the military and the other is the breaking of a democratic form of government.

The action taken by the armed forces was based on a judicial order given to them to follow and the purpose was to re-establish the Rule of Law, which was being consistently violated by the president of the country, who did not respect the decisions and orders of the two other powers in the government – the Supreme Court and the Congress (the checks and balances).

After the intervention of the armed forces in removing Zelaya, the Constitutional Order was followed as the succession to power has been fully respected as described in the Constitution with the naming of a new constitutional president who has been sworn in and confirmed.

(Looking at) this action from a political science point of view: Honduras has set a precedent, which will be studied by universities, diplomats and politicians around the world.

For the first time in Latin America, a country has rebelled – without shedding any blood and without violence

– against a constitutional and democratically elected president who has violated the constitution and legal orders from the Supreme Court, the Congress and the attorney general of the country.

The international press had not understood this, nor have they taken the time to study what has been happening in Honduras over the past year. They have simply taken a position saying that this has been a military overthrow of the government of Honduras – as something coming out of the cold war of 23 years ago.

However, the lesson coming out of this is that a president who has been democratically elected by the people of this country does not have the right to disobey the constitution and the laws of this country.

The message of Honduras is simple: If a president has received the popular vote of the country, this does not give him or her the license to break the laws, as all the effort going into governing a country for the common good should be done within the framework of the law. The general public of democratic countries will be seeing these actions and will see that they no longer need to tolerate the abuses of power by constitutionally elected presidents who many times consider themselves untouchable because they were elected by the people.

Big mistake. Ask Mel Zelaya!

The current situation in the country is the following:

•Honduras is being isolated and the borders are being blocked by neighboring countries, stopping all economic transport between countries.

•Venezuela is stopping all shipments of refined gasoline and diesel to Honduras, which will starve the country until other sources are found.

•Power is being shut off periodically in certain sectors of the country, and a curfew is in place from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

•Nicaragua and Venezuela have troops at the Nicaragua-Honduran border.

•Communication channels (TV and radio) are being restricted.

•More than a thousand Cuban and Venezuelan ”civilians” who have been trained in subversion have crossed the borders and have entered Honduras with Honduran passports.

•The Honduran general public is very supportive of the change in the country and the new government, especially the Catholic and the Evangelical church members who have joined in massive concentrations to show support for the government since the change happened this past Sunday.

Honduras is a small country, very poor and with 30 years of a democratically elected government after years of a military dictatorships.

Honduras has been the U.S. government’s strongest ally in the Cold War that existed for 10 years here in Central America.

Knowing that the cards are stacked against this country, the members of the government, the Congress and Supreme Court and the newly named president are facing incredible challenges right now to survive, and critical international support is needed to respect the government of Honduras’ self-determination.

Honduras is the only country that has the guts to stand up to the socialist/communist threat posed by (Venezulan President Hugo) Chavez, (Nicaraguan President Daniel) Ortega and the cronies of the ALBA group in South America.

Chavez cannot allow his coalition of leftist-leaning countries to begin to fall apart and is fighting desperately to keep this demonstration down as it can begin to happen in his country and others who may follow this same example.

Prayer is needed for this country and letters and e-mails of support for Honduras need to be sent to our State Department (Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and members of Congress).