The news that Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was removed from his post and spirited out of the country by the Honduran military has elicited official condemnations from the governments of France, Ecuador, Chile, Spain, and Argentina; as well as protests from the Organization of American States and the United Nations. The U.S. State Department called the events an "attempted coup," and demanded that Mr. Zelaya be returned to power in order to facilitate the "restoration of democratic order."
Hold on. There was an attempted coup in Honduras, but it was Zelaya who initiated it, not his opponents. As the invaluable Mary Anastasia O'Grady reported in the Wall Street Journal, Zelaya, a Hugo Chavez acolyte, was attempting to ape his mentor by rewriting Honduras' constitution. Under Honduran law, however, the president cannot call a referendum on the constitution on his own authority. O'Grady explains: "While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite ... A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress. But Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. Chavez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do." The attorney general of Honduras, as well as the nation's Supreme Court, had declared the referendum illegal. Zelaya attempted an end run. O'Grady writes: "Calculating that some critical mass of Hondurans would take his side, the president decided he would run the referendum himself. So on Thursday he led a mob that broke into the military installation where the ballots from Venezuela were being stored and then had his supporters distribute them in defiance of the Supreme Court's order."