August 25, 2009

An open letter from the Honduran Foreign Minister

The following open letter was printed in the Honduran newspapers yesterday, in Spanish, of course. It is from Carlos López Contreras, Foreign Minister of Honduras, addressed to the Citizens of World.

Happily, a translation to English was also performed. You can read the original letter in Spanish in the newspapers [I haven't been able to find it online yet], or the English translation here. I'm including the letter in full here because
I want everyone to read it and I know that some won't click links or don't have the ability to open PDF files.

An Open Letter to the Citizens of the World
from Carlos López Contreras,
Foreign Minister of Honduras

As citizens of an increasingly smaller and interconnected global community, we are all responsible for respecting one other and for creating a better world together. Our diverse cultures, religions, and forms of government must continually search for ways to understand one another and work together.

In Honduras, we have always worked diligently to uphold this responsibility as inhabitants of a global village. We have always remained steadfast in our commitment, and this past month is no exception. In fact, it is an example of what we must all vow to do from time to time: hold true to the principals of democracy and the rule of law while protecting the human and civil rights of our fellow citizens in the face of criticism and misunderstanding by certain sectors of the international community.

Let me be clear about what we as Hondurans believe. We believe in the rights of every person to freely express themselves and their beliefs so long as it is done in accordance with the rule of law. We encourage full and equal participation in political discourse and believe that a free and unfettered press is a valuable part of that discourse. We believe that the Honduran government must act in accordance with the Constitution that establishes and limits its power to govern.

As the Minister of Foreign Affairs, I am charged with representing the Honduran government and its people before the world. Now more than ever, my job is to bring an understanding to our shared global community of our dedication to uphold these beliefs, and ask each of you to consider our views as we consider yours.

Yes, Manuel Zelaya was democratically elected as the Honduran President. We cherish democracy.

Yes. as President, he did abuse his power and violate the Constitution. We respect our Constitution.

Yes. his powers as President were automatically forfeited after our Attorney General investigated the violation and our Supreme Court ruled that the violation had occurred. We respect the rule of law.

Yes, the military was ordered to arrest him as part of their Constitutional duty. We know this appearance might seem troubling to some, but it is clearly written in our Constitution -and has always been a part of our Constitution.

Yes, it was a mistake to remove Manuel Zelaya, a Honduran national, from the country. We admit the error and are aware that there are consequences.

Those consequences are that the Constitution and rule of law must be upheld. And so, the Attorney General opened an investigation into the expatriation of Manuel Zelaya on July 4th, and we await the findings of this investigation.

We, the Honduran people, firmly believe that those consequences are not any of the following:

• The restitution of the Presidential powers of Manuel Zelaya. This is not an option the Honduran Constitution grants to the government. In fact, it is clear that the exact opposite must take place. No powers under any circumstances.

• The granting of amnesty to Manuel Zelaya by the executive branch. This is a proscribed duty of the Congress. and the Congress alone. This is their power. and theirs alone.

• The unilateral decision to negotiate breaking articles of the Constitution in order to satisfy some members of the international community. Popular opinion by powerful nations does not rule our nation, and should not rule any country.

Please consider what is being asked of our country: Break the Constitution. Ignore the rule of law.

We simply can not do this because of a mistake in expatriating a Honduran national who had been Constitutionally stripped of the powers that democracy provided to him only to have him abuse them.

We would never ask another nation to ignore its Constitution and trample on the rule of law much less purposely violate its Constitution to please our opinion.

Each day, our citizens wake up and hope that through our insistence and dedication that we can bring understanding to others. We are thankful to friends who have courageously spoken up on our behalf. We are grateful for their support, and are humbled that they have chosen to work selflessly alongside us to bring other nations to understanding our commitment to democracy, the Constitution and the rule of law.

We are a little country among the community of nations but our nation's larger mission is to protect human rights, democracy, the Constitution and the rule of law. We are confident that these are values worth standing firmly in order to uphold. We invite the world to examine our true intentions and decide for themselves. As we prepare to hold free and fair elections this coming November, our faith in these principles could not be more clear.
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