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Mr. Speaker, there is trouble in Honduras, and the United States has chosen sides in this conflict. Here are the facts: the people of Honduras are holding an election on November 29. Honduras is a democracy. Their elections will fill 3,000 offices nationwide and all 128 seats of the national congress, and they will elect a new President.
They've had some trouble recently with their current President. Manuel Zelaya attempted to stay in office and be on the November ballot, which is not allowed by term limits in their Honduran Constitution. Zelaya wants to become a permanent President of Honduras and has tried to illegally change the Constitution to keep himself in power.
The people have followed the rule of law, however. They followed their own Constitution. Just as the people of this country would follow our Constitution under similar circumstances, they took proper, legal action to stop Zelaya's illegal behavior, and they removed him from office through the legal court system.
Article 239 of the Honduran Constitution states: "The citizen who has already held executive power"--that would be the President--"may not be President or designee. Anyone who violates this provision or proposes its reform and supports those who do directly or indirectly, must immediately cease the discharge of their duties, and shall be disqualified for 10 years from the exercise of any public function."
Those are pretty simple words. It sounds like the Constitution prevents Zelaya from trying to hijack the government.
The self-governing people of Honduras set forth in their Constitution that a tyrant could not abuse the process and become a dictator. They set rock solid term limits to one term for President. These good people legally removed Manuel Zelaya, the man who would be dictator, a tyrant, and a special friend of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Now that's special.
Here's how the people acted legally. After several attempts by legal means to prevent Zelaya from staying in power, the Office of Public Prosecutor filed a criminal complaint. The charges were treason, abuse of authority and usurpation of power in violation of the Honduran Constitution. The Supreme Court of Honduras agreed with the charges and issued an arrest warrant for the armed forces to arrest Manuel Zelaya. So Zelaya was legally arrested. And because he violated the Constitution, he was exiled from the country.
We should be applauding the people of Honduras for following their rule of law. In America, we honor the rule of law. We believe in self-determination and constitutional limits on government power, but we picked the wrong side in this case. We took the side of the tyrant versus the people of Honduras.
Now why would we do that? We cut off foreign aid to Honduras. We have refused to recognize the interim government that followed the rule of law. This is a Honduran Government that is doing everything despite America's interference to make sure that their elections take place as scheduled, to make sure their democracy survives according to the Constitution.
In the meantime, Zelaya, who was exiled, has slipped back into the country. He's holed up in the Brazilian Embassy. He's being funded by guess who? The Communist dictator, Hugo Chavez. Zelaya's thugs are targeting select groups with violent acts, including attacks on Christians. Zelaya is attempting to create chaos, but the popular will does not exist to return this would-be dictator to power. The people want their free elections to take place as scheduled.
One of our Senate colleagues, Senator DeMint of South Carolina, recently returned from Honduras. He said that the only person he found in Honduras interested in putting Zelaya back in power was guess who? The American ambassador.
Mr. Speaker, it is a moral imperative that we back the rule of law, that we honor the decision of the democratically elected institutions of Honduras, that we support the elections in November, and that we recognize the new government, whoever wins the race.
Why do we, as a Nation, say we believe in self-determination but deny self-determination to Honduras? Why do we say we believe in a constitutional government but bash the nation of Honduras for following their own Constitution? Why do we support the likes of a deposed ruler like Zelaya? And how is it any of our business to determine who should be President of Honduras anyway?
Honduras has been an ally of the United States, yet appears to be another example of how we treat our allies worse than we treat our enemies. We are on the wrong side of things when we stand by the bandit dictator Hugo Chavez and his buddy, Manuel Zelaya.
And that's just the way it is.
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