December 2, 2009

Honduras Congressional session to decide Zelaya's fate

Honduras congressHonduras congress

The Honduran Congress is meeting now in a televised extraordinary session to decide whether or not Manuel Zelaya will be restored to the presidency, as required by the Tegucigalpa-San José Accord.

I'll be reporting more here as it happens, so please check back for updates. (Don't forget to refresh your screen if you are not seeing the updates.)

Update 1:30 p.m.: Diputado Gonzalo Rivera (La Ceiba) is reading the various long reports into the record. He is reading very fast and in a monotone, very hard to follow!

Update 1:45: Still reading the long reports, which we know are negative as to the restoration of Zelaya. Diputado Rivera is getting tired and is mumbling making it even more difficult to follow. Amazing how many congressmen are chewing gum. Some are on cell phones and at least one is covering her mouth − in case of lip readers, I suppose.

Update 2:15: Still reading. Reports have mentioned various crimes of Zelaya, the lack of legal basis for the congress to reinstate Zelaya, and the sovereignty of Honduras. Zelaya needs to submit himself to the justice system to answer for his charges. The attempt to restore the executive power to office is unsustainable under the law. The act of the congress to substitute Zelaya was constitutional. These reports will probably be available online later.

Update: 2:25: Attorney General report concludes: An act to reinstate the deposed president is unsustainable. Reading of the reports is concluded. Now showing a video with a chronology of events, including bits of Zelaya videos showing his contempt for the legal rulings.

Update 2:55: Rodolfo Arias (also La Ceiba) is reading a strong statement
basically that it makes no sense to restore Zelaya because of his lack of respect for the law. The Honduran people have suffered terribly since June 28 .... should not submit to outside interests .... decision should be strictly within the law .... before the community international .... Zelaya has clearly and publicly rejected the Guaymuras Accord .... We are proud to be Hondurans .... we are defending our motherland.

Update 3:05: César Ham, speaking for UD (zelayista) party, demanding reversal of the "golpe de estado militar".... jeering from the audience was stopped by Saavedra, president of the congress .... formula by which fuel price was decided only benefited multinationals and power groups .... banks won't lend money, only with incredible interest rates .... many things are barbaric .... land deeds for 43 families have not been resolved in 40+ years .... power groups are responsible for the coup d'etat to maintain their privileges .... etc. etc. .... for this reason .... need constitutional assembly .... profound changes .... new structure .... 10% of the people cannot hold 90% of the assets of this country ....

Update 3:15: César Ham continues: how can a president be removed with force .... the Attorney General is a disgrace .... He (Zelaya) was assaulted, kidnapped .... the Congress has committed an abuse of authority .... the resignation was false .... it's absurd, ridiculous .... the congress has no authority to remove a president in the constitution .... peaceful protests .... repression, brutalities, media repression .... dictator protects some and not others .... this is not democracy .... when I read the opinion of the HR commissioner, I was shocked .... he can never be the protector of human rights .... There have been 28 murders by the dictator which was met by loud objections from the audience .... Saavedra asks him with all respect to get back to the motion ...

Update 3:25: César Ham, UD (Zelayista) continues: UD will not cooperate with the president elect Lobo's efforts for national reconciliation unless Zelaya is restored. We want justice .... we condemn the coup d'etat .... we are against this motion .... history will judge us.

Update 3:30: PINU representative, Toribio Aguilera: Democracy exists! [applause] We have the opportunity for everyone to express themselves. Honduras has pronounced on the elections. [applause] We want democracy. Millions and millions of Hondurans have been suffering since June 28. I'm worried about the president elect's statement that he will include corruptos in his cabinet. Now we need to work hard .... democracy is not only the elections ... Democracy and liberty without social justice is not democracy .... France called us a narcotraffic state .... we cannot continue dividing this country ....

Update 3:35:
Toribio Aguilera, PINU continues: We must address poverty, crime, and corruption.

Update: 3:40: Edmund Orellano (Zelaya supporter and former minister of security who resigned when Zelaya tried to fire General Romeo Vasquez Velasquez): I didn't come to defend Manuel Zelaya, I'm here to defend our principles and laws. We need a constitution more modern .... The coup destroyed democracy .... Zelaya lost more than half a year .... Lobo must reestablish relations in January .... much time will be lost .... need to restore democracy now .... we can only do that by reversing what was done on June 28 .... doesn't necessarily mean that Zelaya is restored .... media is saying that Zelaya doesn't want to come back ... that is his problem .... I resigned when Zelaya committed an illegal act ....

Update: 4:00: Orellana continues: It's a dictator .... President Zelaya issued many favors .... many Liberales are here because of Zelaya [loud complaining jeers] .... My principles will not let me .... Finally, I want to make an observation .... here you are at the point of making an error .... you are going to have the same problems as the government de facto .... it's illegal to abrogate guarantees .... today is the history ... it isn't foreseen [in the law] to ratify an act of congress with a motion ....

Update: 4:07: Orellana continues: congratulates Saavedra and recognizes his knowledge and honor ....

Update: 4:20: Ramón Velasquez Naser, DC party: Each of us are demonstrating our values .... I learned to make analysis based on realism .... in the past months, disinformation was used to change the reality .... I want to say that all the coups in the past .... what happened here has nothing to do with the past .... use of the armed forces was the choice of the court and caused some to think it was a coup .... an example of disinformation: fuel prices ..... the only one who benefited from the public bid for fuel was the consultant Meyerling (hired by Zelaya without a public bid) .... the disinformation has confused the Honduran public .... "terrorizing a airplane" who said this? Radio Globo .... Radio Globo disinforms everyone .... what was done on June 28 was the Honduran solution .... they say it wasn't a good one .... it is our decision .... "go home Yanqui" (I missed the context of this!) .... We aren't making decisions for Zelaya, we are making decisions for Honduras! .... We are going confront the dialogue .... We are going to construct this country .... We are going to ensure judicial security .... People want the law followed .... [quoting others] "We are speaking for the poor, we are fighting for the poor" that's not true. They aren't speaking for the poor. We (DC) will vote for the motion.

Update: 4:25: Vote is taking place, by name and verbally. So far, 10 in favor of the motion (to NOT restore Zelaya), 1 against.

Update: 4:30: Vote is taking place. Two diputadas' microphone were turned off. (on purpose or not?) So far, still only two votes against the motion. Comments:
"No one is above the law"
"For Honduras, for my family"
"In the name of democracy, in the name of the constitution, I vote in favor...."
"Zelaya has done nothing against anyone...." (Can anyone give me the name of the woman who is going on and on and on about the "coup"?)

Update: 4:40: Vote is still taking place. Has stalled with a long pro-Zelaya speech by ???. She claims there was 60+ abstentionism on Sunday and is basically repeating the same things we've heard Zelaya say a thousand times. She is quoting several sections of the constitution. Says that Zelaya never submitted a change of the constitution, the court was wrong,

Update: 4:50: Vote is still taking place. Not to be outdone, another congressmen is giving a speech. He began with, "In 1982...." .... we acted within the constitution on June 28 .... all attorney's interpret the law in their own way .... we analyzed the situation and what happened on June 28 was not a coup d'etat ... a coup d'etat destroys all the institutions of government .... the cuarta urna was to destroy the constitution and put a dictator in charge ... sincerely, I hurt very much to see some friends .... Therefore, need to analyze the facts in depth .... the majority of us are supporting this motion ....

Update: 4:53: Speaker continues: denigrating international community and especially the OAS, to the applause of the audience. The polls are the only ones who talk and tell the truth. In January we will have a new government. My vote is in favor of the motion.

Update: 4:56: Voting continues. "On June 28, we voted in favor of the constitution and for this reason .... we will vote against restitution. The Honduran pueblo is saying to the world that we want peace and we have democracy .... Young, old, men, women have told that they are against the restitution and the corruption."

Update: 5:00: Voting continues. Congressman Valentin Suarez speaks of the murders and terrorism committed against family members and congressmen by .... not going to accuse .... Brazil? What do they have to do with our country? This person is dividing our country .... The past government has offended many people, defended acts of corruption .... in favor of the motion, in favor of democracy, in favor of Honduras, Viva Honduras!

Update: 5:10: Voting continues. Silvia Ayala, UD, reads a long list of human rights violations by the 'dictator' and says they are not an invention. Says the congress has no power to separate the president. Says the resignation was false. Repeats all the usual Zelaya arguments. Votes against the motion.

Update: 5:15: Saavedra interrupts to say Ayala is out of order because she has been talking for 12 minutes. [applause] She says okay, but then continues to talk. Says XXI socialism nor Chávez have anything to do with this situation.

Update: 5:20
: Next very excited speaker says June 28 was within the law. The dignity of Honduras will prevail. There is only two months left .... what the congress has done is prudent .... The DC party has been clear. We support the motion.

Update: 5:25: When they say 'golpista' (coupster) .... we need to think about what is happening in Honduras .... corruption is their problem [Zelayistas] .... Vote in favor. Next vote was against. Next speaker in favor. Next speaker: For what has happened here .... with all respect .... I'm loyal to the constitution. My vote is in favor of the motion. Another two votes in favor.

Update: 5:30: Next Copán congressmen, I am speaking for the poor of my district, the ones who died in the hospitals for lack of medicine because the prior government was spending the money on the cuarta urna. To the international community ..... We feel poor but open your eyes, this was a constitutional succession .... Vote in favor of the motion.

Update: 5:35: Next: This is a difficult moment for the Honduran family .... vote in favor. [LG finds a package of crackers on her desk and finishes the last of her no-longer iced tea.] Next, Honduras is a state of law, sovereign, no one, from the president to the most humble citizen, is above the law. We have heard the reports .... they confirm that we acted in conformation of the laws and the constitution. The people went to the polls massively on Sunday, 63% compared to 55% in 2005. My vote is in favor.

Update: 5:40: [LG feeling very good that no backdoor deals have been made and that the congressmen have not submitted to US and international pressures.] Next: A frustrated dictator was stopped. The international community, etc., have put us in jeopardy .... More votes with microphone turned off. Next: Again we are defending the laws, the democracy of our country .... Manuel Zelaya has been president. According to the constitution, he cannot be president again. Hondurans need to resolve our problems .... People came here sent by Insulza, the OAS .... Insulza is a person non grata here .... Non gratos are the people who are trying to put their noses in our business. OAS is manipulated by Chávez! My vote is in favor.

Update: 5:50: This country is not of Chávez or the OAS. That is why we are voting for the motion. More votes in favor. Comayagua votes to defend the constitution and to live in peace and democracy. I vote in favor. Next: To the five political parties, when we talk about democracy, we need to reflect .... names several congressmen individually .... my mother always said to me, when Zelaya speaks stupidities, we need to get rid of him .... we need our country to be more tranquil, more clean (from corruption).... My vote is in favor. More votes in favor.

Update: 6:00: Next: The decision is very easy. I have heard on the media that Zelaya is not interested in returning, so my vote is easy. I am in favor of the motion. [LG feeling so proud of the dignity of Honduras.] Next: I support the person who was voted into office in 2005, therefore I vote in contra. Another vote in favor. Next: This vote is not in favor or against one individual, it is a vote for our children, for the future of Honduras. No one can be above the law. We are demonstrating to the world that Honduras is a place of democratic institutions. Vote in favor. Current count is 39 in favor of the motion to NOT reinstate Mel Zelaya; 4 against the motion. [LG: This could take all night with 128 congressmen however, the ultimate results are clear!]

Update: 6:05: Next speaker screams, golpistas! I am proud to support .... Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales .... friends in the Sao Paulo forum .... 23 countries .... Sandistas .... [I have a hard time following when someone is shouting] FARC of Colombia .... Mercosur .... OAS .... [I think he is saying they are all against us] Socialismo XXI century .... [more SHOUTING!!] .... proud Liberal party .... Saavedra: Much much respect, please, we have a motion .... [applause] thank you .... [More SHOUTING has this guy been reelected? Is that why he is so angry?] He who has eyes, sees. He who has ears, hears. He who has a mouth, speaks. [More SHOUTING!] .... now quoting the constitution regarding the military .... The constitution is the identity card of the country. [Incredible! -- his vote was in favor! Obviously I misunderstood.]

Update: 6:20: I am proud to be Honduran. I am proud to live in a democracy .... I don't agree with the the UD party but I congratulate César Ham for participating in the democratic elections on Sunday .... The court has spoken .... Porfirio Lobo Sosa is going to respect the constitution and the laws. Vote in favor for the fight for liberty, democracy, the constitution, the civil society, my children, peace and tranquility. More votes in favor. One more vote against. Vote is now 54 in favor of the motion (to ratify the June 28 vote) and 6 against. Saavedra reminds the media and others in the audience to maintain decorum.

Update 6:25: Next: On June 28, the congress disapproved the conduct of Manuel Zelaya and voted for the substitution of Don Roberto Micheletti .... Solicitor General wrote .... for the flagrant violations of the norms on the part of Manuel Zelaya .... I approved the succession of Don Roberto Micheletti, and for my children and grandchildren, I vote in favor of the motion.

Update 6:35: Next congresswoman from Cortés: They speak much of democracy and peace .... but I am ashamed .... [relating the whole story again] everything that has happened since June 28 is illegal .... Zelaya's rights were violated .... I wasn't for the cuarta urna, but I was against the golpe de estado. [LG needs her tea -- someone else take over.]

Update 6:40: [Did I miss anything? Good guess on my part -- she's still going on and on. I have my iced tea. I'm good for another couple of hours. ;-) ] She continues: bombs, deaths .... not in agreement with golpes de estados ....
I'm in favor of democracy .... return to the constitutional order .... restore Manuel Zelaya .... I'm completely against the motion .... "Your vote? Your vote?" I am completely ..... Manuel Zelaya Rosales ..... against the motion.

Update 6:45: [I missed something funny. Did anyone catch it? I feel a another long winded one coming on.] .... Chávez .... Venezuela .... we had to act fast to save the Republic .... they signed the Guaymuras Accord but Zelaya doesn't recognize it. So .... many international opinions .... worries .... This day, today!, we won't permit that he will return. Please! I vote for the motion.

Update 6:55: Marvin Ponce, UD zelayista: committed a crime to stop a crime .... golpe de estado .... golpe de estado .... golpistas .... nation of golpistas .... Resistance is in a fight in the streets against the dictator .... golpistas trying to assassinate us .... where is the humanity? .... 28 deaths .... where is your conscience? .... golpe de estado .... dictator .... [Much shouting] dialogue, reconciliation, it's all a farce .... I want to say .... succession constitutional doesn't exist .... invented .... the people who are fighting against this dictator are the most dignified .... for the people who have been shot .... killed... hit .... raped .... I vote against the motion.

Update 7:00: Next: Living in caos .... democracy is not about one person .... This country isn't about Chávez, the OAS, the friends in the world. Sunday, the Honduran people were clear .... I don't want to change my vote from June 28. Next: In favor of peace and democracy. In favor of the motion. Next: I vote in favor because no one can stand above the law.... thanks to President Micheletti for standing for peace.

Update 7:15: Zelaya was a good leader the first two years. [Some would argue about that] .... then he followed his 'friends' and did things against the law .... In Honduras we have to make an effort to be just and make reforms but within the rule of law and the constitution .... .

That's it. That is the majority.

"We inform Honduras and the entire world, the sovereign nation of Honduras has made a decision. Manuel Zelaya will not be restored to the presidency.

VOTE: 65 in favor of the motion to ratify the decision made on June 28.
8 against.

Viva the sovereign Republic of Honduras!

Viva the constitutional President of the Republic, Roberto Micheletti!

Viva democracy!

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