Crisis in Honduras: the search for answers to the removal of president Manuel Zelaya
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The removal of presidents from office in Latin America has generally occurred under delineated constitutional procedures since the military governments of the mid-twentieth century returned to their barracks. Many theories on presidential removal have been tested among numerous cases, yet none alone can explain the Honduran political crisis of 2009 that led to the ouster of constitutionally elected President Manuel Zelaya. The situation harkened back to the days when military coups were prevalent as the armed forces, acting under the authority of a court order, arrested the president, and illegally expatriated him to Costa Rica. Honduran elites feared Zelayas shift to the new radical left in Latin America and his alleged desire for reelection through his proposal for a referendum calling for the election of a constituent assembly. Responding to this fear, the Congress and Supreme Court acted to remove the president while the militarys decision to expatriate Zelaya stemmed from a legacy of leftist hatred. This thesis tests several elements of presidential removal theories against the Zelaya incident and argues that not one theory on its own can thoroughly answer the question; rather, it is necessary to incorporate several elements of each theory while examining the actions of the military and the courts to arrive at the answer. From a comparative analysis of past presidents, it argues that Zelayas new ideology and desire for reelection ultimately were the needed factors to initiate his removal.
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