Honduras Coup Leader Micheletti Decrees 45-Day Suspension of Constitution
By Al Giordano
Now they've really done it. On the same day that the Honduran coup regime detained six foreign diplomats from the Organization of American States (OAS) - two US officials, two Canadian, one Colombian and Chilean OAS chief Jose Miguel Insulza - for six hours in the Toncontin International Airport, barring their entrance into Honduras, it has made public the following decree, which bans freedom of assembly, transit, the press and orders National Police and the Armed Forces to arrest and detain any person suspected of exercising those rights.
There really really isn't much editorial comment necessary to explain what this means. Read the decree yourself, which we have just translated into English:
Article 1. For a period of 45 days beginning with this decree’s publication, the Constitutional rights of Articles 69, 72, 81 and 84, are suspended.
Article 2. The Armed Forces will support, together or separately with the National Police, when the situation requires, to execute the necessary plans to maintain the order and security of the Republic.
Article 3. The following is prohibited:
First: Freedom of transit, which will be restricted according to the parameters established by press releases broadcast on all radio and TV stations by the President of the Republic, which will be in effect in all national territory and during curfews, with the exception of cargo transport, ambulances, and urban traffic in the cities excluded in said communiqués, and medical personell and nurses that in those cities work during curfew hours.
Second: All public meetings not authorized by police or military authorities.
Third: Publication in any media, spoken, written or televised, of information that offends human dignity, public officials, or criticizes the law and the government resolutions, or any style of attack against the public order and peace. CONATEL (the Honduran communications commission), through the National Police and the Armed Forces, is authorized to suspend any radio station, television channel or cable system that does not adjust its programming to the present decree.
Article 4. It is ordered:
First: Detain all persons who are found outside of the established orders of circulation, or that in any manner are suspected by police and military authorities of damaging people or property, those that associate with the goal of committing criminal acts or that place their own lives in danger. All detainees will be read their rights, and at the same time must be brought to be booked in a police station of the country, identifying all persons detained, their motives, the hour of arrest and release from the police station, recording the physical condition of the detainee, to avoid future accusations of supposed crimes of torture.
Second: All persons detained must remain c onfined in the legally established detention centers.
Third: All public offices, national, state and municipal, that have been occupied by demonstrators or have persons inside of them engaging in illegal activities will be cleared.
Fourth: All Secretaries of State, decentralized institutions, municipalities and other state organisms must place themselves at the orders of the National Police and Armed Forces without any equivocation, along with all means at their disposal, for the development of these operations.
Article 5. The present Decree becomes law immediately, being duly published in the Official Daily “La Gaceta” and will be sent to the National Congress to be made law.
Ordered from the Presidential Palace in the City of Tegucigalpa, municipality of the Central District, on the 22nd of September of 2009.
ROBERTO MICHELETTI BAIN
CONSTITUTIONAL PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
The four articles of the Honduran Constitution that have been declared suspended for the next 45 days by this decree are:
Article 69: Personal liberty is inviolable and only through law can it be restricted or suspended temporarily.
Article 72: The expression of thought by any media, without censorship, is free. Those who interfere with this right or through direct or indirect means restrict or impede the communication and circulation of ideas and opinions will held responsible by the law.
Article 81: Every person has the right to circulate freely, leave, enter and remain in national territory.
No one can be obligated to move from his home or residence except in special cases in accord with the law.
Article 84: No one can be arrested or detained except through written order by competent authorities, executed through legal formalities and for motives established by law.
Notwithstanding, open delinquency can be apprehended by any person only to deliver the delinquent to the authorities.
The arrested or detained person must be informed clearly of his rights and the facts of the accusations against him, and, additionally, authorities must permit him to communicate his detention to a family member or person of his choice.
In other words, out of 375 articles in the Honduran Constitution, it is revealing that those most basic liberties are the four that Micheletti and his coup regime have chosen to suspend for the next 45 days.
Those 45 days happen to coincide with more than half of the remaining period until the November 29 "election" that it insists will be carried out fairly and freely. I guess one can theoretically campaign for his or her candidate, but only with a written permission note, according to this decree, from police or military authorities.
The rogue regime that just instituted this decree enjoys the support of some US citizens, including lobbyist Lanny Davis in Washington, DC, a gringo expat on the Honduran island of Roatan named Mitch Cummins who leads a global PR effort by a small group of US expats in Honduras to defend the coup, the cowardly and serially dishonest (and not very bright) anonymous blogger who claims to be a US citizen in the La Ceiba Honduras area that goes by the pseudonym of La Gringa Blogocito, and, now, a new defender of this authoritarian state terrorism: The US public relations firm of Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter & Associates has just received, according to US Department of Justice records, a $290,000 dollar contract to advise the coup regime.
Given the irrational and authoritarian move by Micheletti and his regime today announcing this decree - one that is apparently already a week old but was kept clandestine until now - the aforementioned companies and individuals ought to be challenged to clarify if they still support a regime that is capable of the atrocities and war crimes it has just announced, in advance, today. And if they do not loudly proclaim their severance from the regime's latest attack on basic human rights and liberties, they, too, will be judged harshly by history, present and future, as sharing in the responsibility for what happens next, by the freedom loving peoples of Honduras and all of América.
Here is the second page of the decree, from the official coup regime "Gaceta" or gazette, so you can read it an weep for democracy, liberty and justice in Spanish, too:
Finally, a prediction: This will not stand. And even if the coup regime eliminates every newspaper and radio and TV and cable network inside Honduras with the new powers it has granted itself through this decree, this online newspaper, with a server far from its grasp, and a thousand allies and reporters on the ground, will not sleep as we continue to break its attempted information blockade in Spanish and in English both within Honduras and throughout this hemisphere and world.
Monday morning update: Military soldiers entered the studios of Radio Globo in Tegucigalpa this morning by force and took it off the air. Our correspondents throughout Honduras confirm that its signals are silenced today.
Our friend Latuff, the political cartoonist in Brazil, was listening at 5:27 a.m. Tegucigalpa time this morning and recorded the final moments on the air:
The text says, in Portuguese and Spanish: "Exact moment in which Radio Globo of Honduras was taken off the air by coup soldiers, Monday, September 28 of 2009."
9:14 a.m. Tegucigalpa (11:14 a.m. ET): Note that the "gaceta oficial" above has contradicting information about when it takes effect. On the one hand it says "immediately upon publication" and on the other hand it says the text "will be sent to the Congress to be made law." The Honduran Congress has taken no such action. But the coup soldiers went ahead and busted down the doors at Radio Globo anyway. These monsters don't even respect their own make-believe rules and laws.