|Juan Orlando Hernádez, Porfirio Lobo, Jorge Rivera Avilés, Luis Rubí|
in cadena nacional today
image: El Heraldo
[See Part 1 here]
What has been the reaction to firing of Supreme Court judges in Honduras? Who knew what and when? Who is behind this latest action of congress?
JOH claims organized crime conspiracy
|Juan Orlando Hernández,|
President of Congress and
Nacionalista presidential candidate
image: El Heraldo
Interestingly, the investigation report [español] given to congress did not make any accusations of wrong-doing or criminal activity by the judges. The report stated that their decision was made two days after the law expired, implying administrative irregularity because the law was no longer in force, but they did not fire the fifth judge who voted the way the Congress and President wanted. The report declared that the court's decision was "incongruent with the security policies of the legislative and executive branches of government" and could result in huge legal claims from those who had already been fired under the law. Yesterday it came out from the Supreme Court that JOH had sent a note requesting a report on the four judges sometime after the vote to fire them had already been taken. Of course, no report has yet been sent back to congress.
Wednesday's scheduled hearing on the police purification law by the full Supreme Court was postponed until Friday. The court system closes down for two weeks at the end of every year. Today it was announced that the review will be postponed until next year, giving the 15 judges plenty of time to ponder whether or not they, too, want to be fired and publicly defamed.
Who knew what, when?
|Congressman Marvin Ponce|
image: Proceso Digital
|Jorge Rivera Aviles, |
President of Supreme Court
image: La Prensa
|Four fired Supreme Court judges|
Images: El Heraldo
Business, legal, and civil society organizations quickly issued statements of condemnation of the firings and demand for respect for the constitution. Some have filed formal complaints with the Ministerio Público (Attorney General's office). After a long meeting of nine of the remaining eleven Supreme Court justices (two were unavailable), they announced their solidarity with the fired judges and condemned the action of the Congress. Eight of them signed a statement to the public [español] that the Congressional action is inconsistent with a democratic system and is an attack on the independence of the judiciary. One current Supreme Court justice stated that he will not recognize the new judges because they were illegally appointed and will not attend the sessions. He also suggested the possibility that all of the justices would resign. The judiciary system has now closed down for previously scheduled vacations until January.
President Lobo, who no doubt was the instigator of all this since he has had full control of the congress since his election, has safely stayed behind the scenes coming out in a national cadena Wednesday night only to call for dialogue and harmony among the branches of government. Another cadena today featured all three main actors plus the Attorney General Luis Rubí. Lobo stated that they have begun dialogue and stressed that there is respect and independence among the powers of state. MP Rubí has opened an official investigation to determine whether or not criminal charges should apply.
The 'dance of millions'
|Mauricio Villeda Bermúdez,|
Liberal party presidential candidate
Image: Proceso Digital
Apparently he has received information that the all night negotiations included promises of payments for favorable votes of some congressmen, including those of Villeda's own Liberal party. This echoes the 2008 congressional vote for Honduras to join Chávez' ALBA, an action which everyone said could never happen. It came out later that certain congressmen were paid L.1 million each for their votes. This afternoon, two Congressional Bulletins were sent out demanding that Villeda retract his statement or provide evidence of payments. The text additionally blamed the Supreme Court for endangering lives of citizens by declaring the law unconstitutional.
Of those voting on Wednesday morning, all but four Nationalistas voted in favor of the firings (67 of 71). In the Liberal party, 22 of 46 congressmen voted in favor. In the miniscule UD, DC, and PINU parties, the favorable votes were 4 of 4, 4 of 4, and zero of 3, respectively. Just the fact that all 128 congressmen or their substitutes were present at 4:00 a.m. should tell us something!
But why would the Congress take such drastic and unprecedented action before the final court decision was even taken? Was it to intimidate the justices to ensure the verdict which this administration wants? Why now when the judges have ruled against several other laws proposed by this administration? Why wouldn't the congress just amend the law to change the constitutional defects? Some believe that there is something even more sinister behind these actions and it could have serious consequences for the next presidential election....now I'm off to write the third part of this story. I probably won't get it posted until tomorrow.
See Part 3 here.
ABC News has a 4-page article today about the situation in Honduras here [english].
This 2010 article popped up on the "You might also like...." list below. It gives an excellent example of how this administration has ignored and in fact, overruled Supreme Court decisions in the past:
Expropriation of media in Honduras
Here is a quote from a related article in which Congress overruled the Supreme Court decision:
So now we know how it really is in Honduras. The President can rule by decree. The Congress is subordinate to the wishes of the President. The President and Congress can pick and choose which Supreme Court rulings can be disregarded. Justice can be decided by the Congress (or more accurately, the ruling political party) if they don't agree with the justice doled out by the courts. Most importantly, political affiliations are more important than either the laws, the balance of power, or the constitution.