Visual demands for the restoration of constitutional order, Sky Tower, Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Honduras: A great patriotic leap to restore the rule of law and the constitution of 1982

A province of the First Mexican Empire, then a core component of the Federal Republic of Central America, and now an independent republic, Honduras shares republican revolutionary traditions deriving from 1776 (US), 1789 (France), and 1810 (Mexico).

25 February 2021

Brian Lüdtke

Brian Lüdtke

The Constitution of Honduras must be restored as the prevailing foundational text shaping and guiding the government.  It has been in partial abeyance since 2017, when the current pretender to the presidency “won re-election,” despite the constitution not only banning presidential re-election, but also specifying severe punishments for those who promote presidential re-election.

The constitution is a wonderful document deserving to be known, revered, and obeyed.  The elected National Constituent Assembly of Honduras (1980 – 1982) designed a representative government that would embody the values of republican democracy with clear limits on the executive branch. 

A strong unicameral congress and clearly delineated judicial authority would ensure the balance of power, representative government, and the rule of law.

Tegucigalpa, Honduras, is marked by posters celebrating the republic’s revolutionary values and society’s attachment to term limits and the Constitution of 1982

Tegucigalpa, Honduras; support for term limits and the Constitution of 1982

Notably, the presidency is clearly defined as having a strict prohibition on reelection, with a four-year term limit and frequent peaceful changes of power.

No court has the power of the National Constituent Assembly; judges cannot simply pretend to rewrite the constitution.  Trying to change obvious statements in the constitution is an illegal abuse of a court’s duty to “interpret” the law.  Unfortunately, such abuse and institutional degradation are consistent with multiple recent legal cases connecting the “president” to narco-mafia smuggling, namely cocaine and heroin moving north to the United States.

Article 42

One is stripped of citizenship for inciting, promoting or supporting [presidential] continuity or reelection of the President of the Republic.

The constitution of 1982 provides the only path to the rule of law

The constitution not only forbids presidential re-election, it actually strips of citizenship those who promote presidential re-election.  The current pretender to the presidency of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, could not possibly have a legitimate claim, because he has previously completed a term as president.  Of course, his “re-election” of 2017 was condemned as fraudulent by the Organization of American States, but his candidacy lacked legality even before the fraudulent election itself.

The so-called political right and left must cherish most of all shared values of republican democracy, limited government, and liberty.  Honduras does not need a strongman or a cult of personality and the constitution does not allow it. 

Irresponsible populists and authoritarian leaders use scapegoats, fear, and an us-vs-them collective mentality to justify their power grabs.  Ultimately, these false leaders end up hurting their own followers as well as others.

An alley in Tegucigalpa with revolutionary republican posters that invoke the constitution of 1982

Francisco Morazán, president of Central America

Honduras: product of a republican tradition

Engaged, educated, patriotic citizens who organize themselves and pay taxes can achieve positive outcomes in many domains.  Beyond maintaining republican order and responsible government, this type of strong society can easily overcome other challenges, e.g., to suppress extortionist rackets with firm yet humane state power.

Article 184

Laws can be declared unconstitutional for reason of form or content.

The constitution gives the judicial branch the power to declare laws unconstitutional.  But no court has the power to declare the constitution itself unconstitutional.  The constitution can only be changed through the established process for amending the constitution, and this was never done.  Thus, the constitution’s many articles that explicitly limit presidents to one term of four years still remain valid.

Patriotic Hondurans and friends of Honduras must continue to raise awareness about the constitution and the priceless protections it confers.  This foundational text, the cornerstone of democratic sovereignty in the republic, shows the way toward prosperity, healthy families, and liberty.