By: Jessica LoConte, Pace International Law Review, Articles Editor
During a pre-dawn raid, armed soldiers in Honduras took President Manuel Zelaya captive, exiling him to Costa Rica. The military led coup came as a direct order from the Supreme Court of Honduras. The order named congressional leader Roberto Micheletti as the replacement President, serving the remainder of Zelaya’s term, which was due to end in January. The coup comes at a time when President Zelaya was laying out plans for a referendum to rewrite the constitution, which currently prohibits re-election.
As a result of the coup, Honduras has been suspended from the Organization of American States (OAS), but Professor Pastor of American University, commented: “[T]his was no classic Latin American military coup, but [rather] a much more complicated struggle among legitimate branches of government.”
The coup shocked countries across the world, as political leaders condemned the actions taken in Honduras during the last few weeks, remembering a period of great political unrest in Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s. President Barack Obama said that he was “deeply concerned” about these events and said that people should respect “democratic norms.” Former Cuban President Fidel Castro has also described the coup as a “suicidal error.”
Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton has set up a period of mediation between Zelaya and Micheletti. Costa Rican President Oscar Arias will be the mediator. Mr. Arias was the winner of the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the end of the Latin American civil wars.