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Edmundo Orellana was Honduras' Defense Minister (and thus in charge of the Army) up until June 26th and two days before the military coup, and he resigned in order to not personally be involved in provoking a legal crisis between the judicial branch of government (with whose anti-referendum decisions he disagreed) and the executive branch (his own President).

A trained attorney and former practicing magistrate and administrative law judge on an appellate court, having occupied a variety of high Honduran government positions for decades, he obviously was trying to maintain some degree of clean hands from clearly a messy and troubling dispute.

Now, however, Orellana Mercado has apparently tired of claims of legal Constitutional by his fellow Congress members (he's an elected deputy) and in a letter to the Honduran Congress he boldly denounces what he describes as an un-Constitutional and illegal military coup which the Honduran Congress 'perpetrated'.

Below the fold, a bit more background on Orellana Mercado, and the letter as published in the Honduran daily newspaper Tiempo, in the original Spanish and in my own English translation.

Ángel Edmundo Orellana Mercado was, up until the past 26th of June, the Honduran Minister of Defense and an elected representative in the Honduran legislature.  He's also a doctorate-possessing Administrative Law attorney, former public prosecutor and Appeals Court magistrate, former Honduran representative to the UN, former Chancellor, former Minister of Foreign Affairs -- positions dating back decades, not just in the current administration.

Although disagreeing with the Honduran Courts who were opposing deposed President Zelaya's poll/referendum thing which was to take place last Sunday before the coup d'etat, nevertheless he found it necessary to resign given that he did not wish to be in the position of defying court rulings.

The following is my own translation of the article.  All errors are mine and any corrections are welcome.  The original Spanish version is available via the headline link.

Edmundo Orellana:  Congress Perpetrated a Coup

Tiempo | 03 July 2009

The liberal representative and ex national prosecutor, Edmundo Orellana Mercado, stated in a letter released yesterday that the removal [from power] of the deposed President Manuel Zelaya Rosales constituted a coup d'etat, and the same terms were echoed by the parliamentarians Carolina Echeverria and Elvia Argentina Valle.

In a letter to Congress, Orellana Mercado -- whom the legislators consider a hero because he resigned his position as Defense Minister in order to not participate in the Fourth Urn [the poll / referendum] -- assured that the removal of Zelaya had violated thee Constitution of the Repulic and perpetrated a coup d'etat.

He explained that he resigned so as to not disobey the judicial order that, in an absurd ruling [presumably Edmundo Orellana's view, I'm guessing] ordered that the poll / referendum known as the Fourth Urn not be carried out even though the practice in general was not declared illegal, but instead they declared the suspension of the balloting in an incidental ruling and in a clarification, that outrageously resulted in a new ruling, that included all future ballots similar to the poll / referendum.

A doctorate in Administrative Law and practitioner in this branch of the law, Orellana added that since communications were released between the Defense Ministry which recommended not doing the poll / referendum and that this brought about his resignation, he however insisted that none of this authorized the Congress to destitute a President of the Republic.

Orellana says that the actions of the Congress dramatically contradicted the Constitution of the Republic because in the first place they read a resignation [an alleged letter from Zelaya widely denounced as fraudulent], when it's utterly obvious that Zelaya Rosales was violently removed from his home and expelled involuntarily to Costa Rica.

In the second place, [the Congress] adopted a legislative degree by which they destituted the President of the Republic [of his position & authority], alleging supposed criminal acts that, if accurate, should be qualified and judged by the competent courts [Tribunals], not by the Legislative Branch, in respect to basic principles of the division of powers.

"The destitution of the President was adopted without the Constitution of the Republic recognizing the National Congress as having any such authority to take a decision of this nature," which is to say that "my position is that they violated the Constitution of the Republic and perpetrated a Coup d'Etat."

He finished by recalling that he resigned the Defense Ministry because he would have intended to disobey a court order and thus endanger the Rule of Law, which was a simple threat, but the acts of the Legislators described [above] constituted the execution of a violation of the Constitution of the Republic that "entered into an unarguable Coup d'Etat, which is to say, we now confront a fait accompli."

At this stage, personally I don't think it's impossible that Zelaya would be restored to the Presidency, though if he is it will be with 'golden handcuffs,' meaning that he will likely only be supported in this effort by the U.S., several other neighboring nations, and the Honduran governing establishment, military, and the oligarchic elites, in exchange for a much less empowered next few months until the end of his term.

Zelaya, for his part, already emphasized in speeches before the UN and OAS that he would no longer undertake efforts toward referenda or Constitutional reforms (which Honduras does need, given the 1982 origins of the existing Constitution under death squad military terms) or seek to allow an end to the single-term rule for Presidents.

Nevertheless, the reversal of a military coup by Honduras' interventionist, elite-favoring, anti-leftist military (which, when it isn't governing directly, is setting the terms under which its military leaders will or will not allow civilian governments to govern) would be positive for Honduras and possible for neighboring Guatemala, whose civilian government likewise maintains a nervous eye toward the historically death-squad involved military.

Originally posted to el cid on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 10:08 AM PDT.

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