At the time of the Honduran coup, there were those who tried to defend it as a legitimate act. And not all of those defenders were in the Honduran military or political elite. Here is what the State Department was saying at the time, under a heading “Arguments of the Coup Defenders“:
¶3. (SBU)Defenders of the June 28 coup have offered some combination of the following, often ambiguous, arguments to assert it’s legality:
– Zelaya had broken the law (alleged but not proven);
– Zelaya resigned (a clear fabrication);
– Zelaya intended to extend his term in office (supposition);
– Had he been allowed to proceed with his June 28 constitutional reform opinion poll, Zelaya would have dissolved Congress the following day and convened a constituent assembly (supposition);
– Zelaya had to be removed from the country to prevent a bloodbath;
– Congress “unanimously” (or in some versions by a 123-5 vote) deposed Zelaya; (after the fact and under the cloak of secrecy); and
– Zelaya “automatically” ceased to be president the moment he suggested modifying the constitutional prohibition on presidential reelection.
¶4. (C) In our view, none of the above arguments has any substantive validity under the Honduran constitution. Some are outright false. Others are mere supposition or ex-post
rationalizations of a patently illegal act. Essentially:
– the military had no authority to remove Zelaya from the country;
– Congress has no constitutional authority to remove a Honduran president;
– Congress and the judiciary removed Zelaya on the basis of a hasty, ad-hoc, extralegal, secret, 48-hour process;
– the purported “resignation” letter was a fabrication and was not even the basis for Congress’s action of June 28; and
– Zelaya’s arrest and forced removal from the country violated multiple constitutional guarantees, including the prohibition on expatriation, presumption of innocence and right to due process.
The cable then goes on to review the Honduran constitution in some detail, concluding that there is no impeachment provision, and that “Forced Removal by Military was Clearly Illegal” and “Congress Had no Authority to Remove Zelaya.” Each of those quoted passages is another subheading in the cable, which is followed by further detailed arguments.
All in all, a fairly impressive bit of reporting and political analysis. Now, what politicians and political appointees in Washington choose to do with such clear and objective information is another matter.