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July 9, 2009
Q&A: Ask your questions on media battles in Honduras

Political upheaval continues in Honduras, after liberal leader Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a military coup in late June. It is a battle that has played out not only in the streets of Honduras, but also on television screens and over radio waves across the world.

Some, including U.S. President Barack Obama and the Organization of American States, have condemned the ouster of the democratically-elected president, saying it was unconstitutional, illegal and a threat to democracy.

Others point out that Zelaya was pushing ahead with a referendum on term limits that Honduras’ Supreme Court had ruled unconstitutional, and consider his removal the result of healthy checks and balances.

The Honduran military has clamped down on pro-Zelaya channels in the country and blocked the signal of Telesur, a left-leaning television network based in Venezuela. Other state-run media across Latin America have broadcast programs in support of Zelaya.

Worldfocus.org’s weekly radio show on explored the coup in Honduras and how Latin America’s media industry — from state-run stations to independent websites — has become a political battleground.

Worldfocus anchor Martin Savidge hosted the panel of guests:


Competing protests have rocked the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa. Photo: Sandra Cuffe

Sandra Cuffe is an independent journalist and photographer from Montréal, Canada­. Sandra has reported from Latin America for several years and is the Honduras correspondent for UpsideDownWorld.org.

Daniel Duquenal is a blogger at “Venezuela News and Views,” which he’s been writing for six years. He hails from small San Felipe in Venezuela and spent 15 years in the US before returning to Venezuela to manage a small family business.

Silvio Waisbord is an associate professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University, and editor of the International Journal of Press/Politics. He is the author of “Watchdog Journalism in South America: News, Accountability and Democracy.”

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Comments

4 comments

#4

we see this same desire for unlimited power in many socialistic (what’s mine is mine and what’s your’s is mine)leaders these days…particularly in the americas.Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutly.How conceited are these so-called leaders to not have the humility to step aside and let someone else have a turn? Well says the Good book,”pride goes before a fall, and a haughty spirit before destruction”. Here’s to a free Honduras!

#3

[…] Ask your questions on media battles in Honduras for our online radio show on Tuesday, July 14. […]

#2

I’m a resident of New York City and part of me admires the Honduran people. Our mayor lengthened his term limits without a vote and not one person here got upset.

#1

Interestingly, the Honduran Constitution of 1982 does provide for loss of citizenship for those who “incite, promote or aid in the continuation or re-election of the President” http://pdba.georgetown.edu/Constitutions/Honduras/hond05.html (article 42):
ARTICULO 42.- La calidad de ciudadano se pierde: 5. Por incitar, promover o apoyar el continuismo o la reelección del Presidente de la República.
Further, Article 239 indicates that anyone who has held the office of chief executive cannot be president or vice president and anyone who proposes reform to that prohibition can be barred from holding public office for ten years: ARTICULO 239.- El ciudadano que haya desempeñado la titularidad del Poder Ejecutivo no podrá ser Presidente o Vicepresidente de la República. El que quebrante esta disposición o proponga su reforma, así como aquellos que lo apoyen directa o indirectamente, cesarán de inmediato en el desempeño de sus respectivos cargos y quedarán inhabilitados por diez años para el ejercicio de toda función pública.
My educated guess on that provision is that it is aimed move at banning past military dictators from pursuing the office than it is a stricture contra re-election, per se.
Additionally, Article 374 bars any amendments regarding the length of the presidential term (amongst other things:
ARTICULO 374.- No podrán reformarse, en ningún caso, el artículo anterior, el presente artículo, los artículos constitucionales que se refieren a la forma de gobierno, al territorio nacional, al período presidencial, a la prohibición para ser nuevamente Presidente de la República, el ciudadano que lo haya desempeñado bajo cualquier título y el referente a quienes no pueden ser Presidentes de la República por el período subsiguiente.
As such, it is pretty clear why the Supreme Court of Justice ruled against Zelaya’s plebiscite proposal in the first place. It also means that if the vote had been allowed to happen it would have had no legal standing.

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