Coup and Political Development in Honduras

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by Pintu, Jul 5, 2009.

  1. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    The coup with current political turmoil in Honduras, is noticed by everybody in daily newspaper, but sometime it is being overlooked by everybody unintentionally, but as the present news of current political turmoil drawing large space in the web pages and also amount of media coverage prompted me to open this thread on the Coup and political development in Honduras.

    Before, starting this thread , I have decided to share little bit of information on Republica de Honduras, as I feel direct going into the reporting of news may confuse the readers, a bit, as Honduras is a 'less important' nation in world politics.

    Honduras or Republica de Honduras is a democratic republic in Central America, bordered west by Guatemala, South West by El Salvador, South East Nicaragua, south Pacific Ocean, North Gulf of Honduras. The size is 110,000 sq. km with population is 7.5 million with Capital, Tegucigalpa. Official Language : Spanish, overwhelmingly populated with ethnic group of Mestizo 90% , followed by Amerindian 7% , Black 2% , White 1%. The country got independence from Spain on 15th September, 1821. Government is : Presidential Constitutional Republic. As a vital part of once dominant Mayan Empire , Honduras is rich in History and culture, with Mayan city of Copan (150-900 BC) it is rich in ancient sculpture and cave works. Honduras is a very poor country with 50% population remained in dire poverty, Currency is Lempira , 1 US $ = 18.89622. During 2nd World War , Honduras sided with Allied nations, in 1941. Honduras is known in international politics with war with El Salvador which is known as 'Football War' in 1969.

    (Wikipedia)

    Present crisis started with arrest of the president Mel Zelya by the Army as he opted for a plebiscite which is opposed by Congress (President is elected head) and Supreme Court deemed that unconstitutional, New president chose by Congress elected , present situation may be treated as Power struggle between Congress and the President, but gained importance when US President Barak Obama issued the statement condemning the Coup and simultaneously it turned in a new way when Bolivian President threatened Military Action against Honduras........................
     
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  3. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    Honduran President ousted | military coup | Manuel Zelaya | constitutional referendum

    Honduran military ousts president ahead of vote

    June 29, 2009

    Honduran soldiers have seized the national palace and sent President Manuel Zelaya into exile, hours before a disputed constitutional referendum.

    Zelaya, a leftist ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, says he's the victim of a coup.

    Hours later, Congress voted to accept what it says is Zelaya's letter of resignation, but Zelaya said the letter isn't his and vowed to remain in power.

    The Supreme Court said it's supporting the military in what it called a defense of democracy, and the Honduran ambassador to the Organisation of American States said the military is planning to swear in Congressional President Roberto Micheletti - who is next in line to the presidency - to replace Zelaya.

    Zelaya was arrested on Sunday shortly before polls were to open in a referendum on whether to change the constitution. The Supreme Court ruled the referendum illegal and everyone from Congress to members of his own party opposed it. Critics said Zelaya wanted to remove limits to his re-election.

    Tanks rolled through the streets and hundreds of soldiers with riot shields surrounded the presidential palace in the capital, Tegucigalpa. Zelaya, at the airport in the Costa Rican capital, San Jose, called the military action illegal.

    "There is no way to justify an interruption of democracy, a coup d'etat," he said in a telephone call to the Venezuela-based Telesur television network. "This kidnapping is an extortion of the Honduran democratic system."

    A majority of members of Congress voted with a show of hands to accept a letter of resignation that Congressional Secretary Jose Alfredo Saavedra said was signed by Zelaya and dated Thursday. The letter said Zelaya was resigning because of "the polarised political situation" and "insuperable health problems".

    But Zelaya told CNN the letter is "totally false". He told Telesur he will not recognize any de facto government and pledged to serve out his term, which ends in January. He said he will attend a scheduled meeting of Central American presidents in Nicaragua on Monday. He said Chavez, who is also going, will provide transportation.

    Chavez, who along with the Castros in Cuba is Zelaya's top ally, said Venezuela "is at battle", and put his military on alert.

    US President Barack Obama said he's "deeply concerned" by Zelaya's expulsion and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the arrest should be condemned.

    "I call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter," Obama's statement read.

    Zelaya told Telesur he was awoken by gunshots and the shouts of his security guards, whom he said resisted troops for at least 20 minutes. Still in his pajamas, he jumped out of bed and ducked behind an air conditioner to avoid flying bullets, he said.

    He said eight or nine soldiers in masks escorted him onto an air force plane that took him to Costa Rica.

    Chavez said troops in Honduras also temporarily detained the Venezuelan and Cuban ambassadors, beating them.

    Zelaya called on Honduran soldiers to desist, urged citizens to take to the streets in peaceful protests, and asked Honduran police to protect demonstrators.

    Zelaya ally Rafael Alegria, a labour leader, called for protests.

    "We demand respect for the president's life," he told Honduran radio Cadena de Noticias. "And we will go out into the streets to defend what this has cost us: living in peace and tranquility."

    About 100 Zelaya supporters, many wearing "Yes" T-shirts for the referendum, blocked the main street outside the gates to the palace, throwing rocks and insults at soldiers and shouting "Traitors! Traitors!"

    "They kidnapped him like cowards," screamed Melissa Gaitan. Tears streamed down the face of the 21-year-old, who works at the government television station. "We have to rally the people to defend our president."

    Honduras has a history of military coups: Soldiers overthrew elected presidents in 1963 and 1972. The military did not turn the government over to civilians until 1981, under US pressure.

    Micheletti has been one of the president's main opponents in the dispute over whether to hold the referendum. The head of the Supreme Court was also opposed to the non-binding referendum, on whether to ask voters whether they want to convoke an assembly to rewrite the constitution.

    It appeared that the vote would no longer take place.

    AP
     
  4. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    Honduran president says he was kidnapped, flown to Costa Rica_dgshi

    Honduran president says he was kidnapped, flown to Costa Rica

    Pubdate:2009-06-29 12:10 Beijing ChinaSource:internet Author:internet Hits:115

    Honduran President Manuel Zelaya said on Sunday that he was kidnapped and flown to Costa Rica against his will and he did not sign a letter of resignation.
    [​IMG]

    Honduran President Manuel Zelaya attends a news conference in Tegucigalpa, capital of Honduras, on June 27, 2009. Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was arrested at home on June 28, 2009 by troops and was taken to an air force base near the capital Tegucigalpa, Zelaya's private secretary told Xinhua. (Xinhua/David)

    "I was kidnapped with force, violence and brutality," he told media at a joint press conference with his Costa Rican counterpart Oscar Arias. He said that between eight and 10 hooded and heavily armed soldiers had entered his home and forced him to board a plane without telling him its destination. "I was in my pajamas and did not even have socks on," he said.

    [​IMG]

    Honduras' congressional leader Roberto Micheletti, third left, is sworn in as the country's new President at the National Congress in Tegucigalpa, Sunday, June 28, 2009. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

    "This kidnap is a blow to a nation and a slap in the face for the whole world," he added.

    [​IMG]

    Demonstrators hold a rally, calling for the release of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and preventing soldiers entering the presidential house in Tegucigalpa, capital of Honduras, on June 28, 2009. Honduran troops arrested President Manuel Zelaya in an apparent military coup Sunday to stop him pressing ahead with a constitutional referendum, in a move triggering global concern. (Xinhua/David)

    Earlier on Sunday, Zelaya thanked Costa Rica for its hospitality and said he had been kidnapped and put on a plane to Costa Rica against his will.
     
  5. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    Radio New Zealand News : Stories : 2009 : 07 : 01 : Other leaders to accompany deposed president

    Other leaders to accompany deposed president


    Updated at 9:03am on 1 July 2009

    The deposed president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, will be accompanied by the presidents of Argentina and Ecuador for his planned return on Thursday.

    The secretary-general of the Organisation of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza and the UN General Assembly president, Miguel D'Escoto will also accompany him.

    Mr Zelaya was flown to Costa Rica on Sunday by the Honduran military.

    He was expelled after trying to change the constitution to let presidents seek re-election beyond a single four-year term - a move opposed by Congress, the courts and the army.

    He is now in New York, where he has received the backing of the United Nations General Assembly. However, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding.

    Mr Zelaya said he intended to finish his current mandate, ending in January, and would not run for office again. He took office in 2006.

    Interim foreign minister Enrique Ortez said on Tuesday Mr Zelaya would be arrested if he returns to Honduras.
     
  6. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    Soldiers seize palace, expel Honduras’ president - The Guardian | Nigerian Bulletin!

    Soldiers seize palace, expel Honduras’ president - The Guardian



    June 29, 2009 by Bunmi Awolusi

    No fewer than 12 soldiers arrested President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras and disarmed his security guards after surrounding his residence before dawn yesterday in an action one of the ousted President’s supporters had labelled “a coup.”

    Zelaya was taken to an air force base on the outskirts of the capital, Tegucigalpa, his Private Secretary, Carlos Enrique Reina, told the Associated Press (AP).
     
  7. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    SocraticGadfly: US expat – no Honduras coup – EXCLUSIVE

    June 30, 2009

    US expat – no Honduras coup – EXCLUSIVE

    In case you are not familiar with the story line, let me refresh you.

    Either consciously influenced by President Barack Obama, consciously kowtowing to him, unconsciously doing one, the other, or a bit of both, or else lazily taking the line that Central American military activity automatically equals "coup," U.S. media has largely continued to claim a coup took place in Honduras earlier this week.

    Instead, President Manuel Zelaya illegally tried to go ahead with a referendum to change the constitution, then, after the military arrested him, acting on a court order, Congressional leader Roberto Micheletti was sworn in ONLY to complete the seven months left on Zelaya’s term. If this really were a military coup, we wouldn’t have his denouement.

    It’s still not a good thing whenever the military gets involved in government, especially in Central America. But, in this case, the military was doing its duty, and did it the right way.

    And, now, via getting someone's attention with this blog...

    An American expatriate in Honduras, who started there with the Peace Corps several years ago, has this to say:

    Most of the country is calm, Most of the people are in favor of the new government as can be seen in the difference in the size of rallies.

    The Ex president had said several times that it did not matter to him what the Supreme Court and the Congress thought He was going to carry through his referendum, even went to the extreme of robbing funds from other ministries to pay for the referendum.

    Most people are extremely confused by the Response of Obama, Obama was extremely popular down here, and for him to denounce this action without researching it seems like a betrayal to them.

    Chavez and the OAS are seen as leftest enteties who are or were trying to illegally influence Honduras's internal politics.


    And, yes, it is meddling by the Obama Administration when it insists on restoring Zelaya. And, when it tried, for a full week in advance, to prevent the military from arresting him.

    I then asked my “foreign correspondent” if I could post some of what he e-mailed me.

    He replied:

    I would greatly appreciat(e) it if you do. I have been increasingly frustrated over the last couple of days as I watched the reporting on CNN which did not at all mirror what I was watching here.


    There you have it.

    Media sensationalizing. Obama either sensationalizing, with resultant mishandling, or just plain mishandling for other reasons.

    Perhaps, per the often sensible conservative blogger Allahpundit, Obama is fearful of “optics,” knowing the Honduran military’s long connection to more thuggish elements in the U.S. military, CIA, etc.

    Updates as I get them.

    No matter. It’s not a coup.

    Labels: Honduras

    Posted by Gadfly at Tuesday, June 30, 2009
     
  8. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    Gawker - Is Honduras' Military Junta The Hot New Revolution? - Honduras

    Is Honduras' Military Junta The Hot New Revolution?

    By Foster Kamer, 12:00 PM on Sun Jun 28 2009, 4,690 views

    [​IMG]

    basic rundown:

    - Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya was arrested outside the presidential palace. He's been transported to Costa Rica, where he's seeking political asylum.

    - The military arrested him because he was going to follow through with a referendum that the Supreme Court of Honduras had ruled illegal.

    - The referendum in question Hondurans would be asked to vote on today was an extension of term limits. It wasn't a vote to extend the term limits, it was a vote to get the question of term limits put on the ballot in Honduras' upcoming election in November. The vote would put in place a constitutional assembly who could essentially override things like term limits.

    - Zeleya's noted that it's "just a poll" that doesn't obligate the government to do anything. He's asserted that the poll isn't to ensure his reelection, as he'll be out of office regardless. On Friday, Zeleya lead a peaceful protest to pick up a bunch of ballots from a military base to show that he was actually going to go through with this thing, today. Zeleya had also instructed the armed forces to provide him and the poll with security.

    - The heads of Honduras' military have all resigned to show support for the military's chief, Gen. Romeo Vasquez Velasquez. Zeleya had threatened earlier this week to fire Velasquez if he didn't support Zelya's poll.

    - Protesters and supporters of Zeleya who've gathered at the presidential palace - about 600, according to initial reports - have had tear gas fired at them by the military.

    - Finally, President Obama is not cool with any of this shit. Put it on ice, Honduras! "I am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Honduras regarding the detention and expulsion of President Mel Zelaya. As the Organization of American States did on Friday, I call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Any existing tensions and disputes must be resolved peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference," was the statement Obama put out.

    Either way, it looks like a crazy leader kinda got a little carried away with this little poll of his. But it seems to be a mostly by-the-numbers kind of Junta - if you can even call it that - no? Either way, in Honduras, they protest and get active over this kind of thing! If Bloomberg had lost the opportunity to run for a third term, and we found out he was going to do it anyway, we'd probably all just sit around at brunch, gnawing on a croissant, figuring out when we could take a nap. Actually, I'm pretty sure that already happened. But no, this isn't quite on the level of Iran, which will still retain the title of Hot Revolution Of The Moment.

    Anyway: more to come on the Honduran "coup," I guess!
     
  9. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2009...nduras-president.html?_r=2&hp=&pagewanted=all

    Troops Oust Honduras President


    [​IMG]

    Orlando Sierra/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    Supporters of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya protested against the coup d'etat in the area surrounding the presidential house in Tegucigalpa on Sunday.


    By REUTERS
    Published: June 28, 2009

    Filed at 11:31 p.m. ET

    TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Shots were fired near the presidential palace in Honduras where protests erupted after the army ousted and exiled leftist President Manuel Zelaya on Sunday in Central America's first military coup since the Cold War.

    Hundreds of pro-Zelaya protesters, some masked and wielding sticks, set up barricades of chain link fences and downed billboards in the center of the capital, Tegucigalpa, and blocked roads to the presidential palace.

    Reuters witnesses heard shots outside the presidential palace that apparently came from a truck arriving at the protest, and an ambulance arrived at the scene. It was not clear who fired the shots or whether anyone was hurt. One witness said shots were fired only in the air.

    Zelaya, in office since 2006, was ousted in a dawn coup after he angered the judiciary, Congress and the army by seeking constitutional changes that would allow presidents to seek re-election beyond a four-year term.

    Congress named an interim president, Roberto Micheletti, who announced a curfew for Sunday and Monday nights. The country's top court said it had told the army to remove Zelaya.

    The coup was strongly condemned by Zelaya's regional ally Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez -- who has long championed the left in Latin America. Chavez put his military on alert in case Honduran troops moved against his embassy or envoy there.

    U.S. President Barack Obama's administration, the European Union and a string of other foreign governments also voiced backing for Zelaya, who was snatched by troops from his residence and whisked away by plane to Costa Rica.

    The Organization of American States demanded Zelaya's immediate and unconditional return.

    Honduras, an impoverished coffee, textile and banana exporter with a population of 7 million, had been politically stable since the end of military rule in the early 1980s.

    But Zelaya has moved the country further left since taking power and struck up a close alliance with Chavez, upsetting the army and the traditionally conservative rich elite.

    In central Tegucigalpa, groups of men, some holding metal pipes and chains and their faces covered with T-shirts, threw rocks at cars trying to enter the area late on Sunday. Remnants of burned tires and a charred newsstand selling papers seen supporting the coup lay smoldering in the street.

    Troops in full fatigues with automatic weapons lined the inside of the fenced-off presidential palace, some covering their faces with riot gear shields as protesters taunted them.

    "For the country to have peace in the future, there will have to be deaths, injuries. We are willing to fight to the death," said Cristhian Rodriguez, a 24-year-old plumber, who had set up an improvised tent in front of the palace.

    Honduras is a big coffee producer but there was no immediate sign the unrest would affect output.

    MANAGUA MEETING

    Zelaya's bid to hold a poll on Sunday on changing the constitution to let presidents stay beyond one four-year term had set him in opposition to the army, courts and Congress and he tried to fire the armed forces chief, General Romeo Vasquez, last week over the issue. As the constitution stands, Zelaya was due to leave office in early 2010.

    A former businessman who sports a cowboy hat and thick mustache, Zelaya, 56, told Venezuela-based Telesur television station he was "kidnapped" by soldiers and barely given time to change out of his pajamas. He was later bundled onto a military plane to Costa Rica.

    Zelaya was due to fly on Sunday evening to the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, to meet Chavez, who had already arrived, and other regional leftist leaders. OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza was also on his way to Nicaragua for consultations with the regional leaders.

    The global economic crisis has curbed growth in Honduras, which is heavily dependent on remittances from Honduran workers abroad. Recent opinion polls indicate public support for Zelaya has fallen as low as 30 percent.

    After Zelaya's ouster, the army guarded Congress as Honduran deputies unanimously elected Congress head Micheletti, a member of Zelaya's own Liberal Party, as interim president until after a presidential election in November.

    Micheletti defied world pressure to reverse the coup, saying: "I don't think anyone here, not Barack Obama and much less Hugo Chavez, has the right to come and threaten (Honduras)."

    FOREIGN REACTION

    Chavez said he would do everything necessary to abort the ouster. He said if the Venezuelan ambassador was killed, or troops entered the embassy "we would have to act militarily," adding: "I have put the armed forces of Venezuela on alert."

    Chavez has in the past threatened military action in the region but never followed through.

    The United States and other foreign governments condemned the coup. Obama called for calm and a senior administration official said Washington recognized only Zelaya as president.

    "Any existing tensions and disputes must be resolved peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference," Obama said in a statement.

    The coup could be an early test for Obama as he tries to mend the United States' battered image in Latin America.

    "This is a golden opportunity to make a clear break with the past and show that he is unequivocally siding with democracy, even if they (Washington) don't necessarily like the guy," former Costa Rican Vice President Kevin Casas-Zamora told Reuters in Washington.

    Honduras was a U.S. ally in the 1980s when Washington helped Central American governments fight Marxist rebels.

    Chavez, who is known for his stridently anti-U.S. rhetoric and has in the past accused the United States of backing his own removal, said there should be an investigation to see if Washington had a hand in Zelaya's ouster. The White House denied any participation in the coup.

    The United States still has about 550-600 troops stationed at Soto Cano Air Base, a Honduran military installation that is also the headquarters for a regional U.S. joint task force that conducts humanitarian, drug and disaster relief operations.

    Democracy has taken root in Central America in recent decades after years of dictatorships and war, but crime, corruption and poverty are still major problems. Zelaya said the coup smacked of an earlier era.

    "If holding a poll provokes a coup, the abduction of the president and expulsion from his country, then what kind of democracy are we living in?" he said in Costa Rica.

    The Supreme Court, which last week came out against Zelaya and ordered him to reinstate fired military chief Vasquez, said on Sunday it had told the army to remove the president.

    (Addition reporting by Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa, David Morgan, JoAnne Allen and Ross Colvin in Washington, and Frank Jack Daniel in Caracas, Writing by Alistair Bell and Catherine Bremer, Editing by Frances Kerry)
     
  10. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    Military Repression Intensifies in Honduras

    Military Repression Intensifies in Honduras
    HAVANA, Cuba, Jun 29 (acn) Many Hondurans wounded and arrested is the result of the intensification of repressive actions in Tegucigalpa by police and military forces that support Sunday’s coup against President Manuel Zelaya, as film footage by Telesur television network shows.

    The Latin American multinational network denounced this afternoon the intensification of repression in the main streets of the Honduran capital city, where Army helicopters are flying over, in an open confrontation with the people that have taken to the streets to peacefully demand the return of President Zelaya.

    Social leader Luther Castillo denounced the death of a resistance comrade, who was run over by an army truck and died shortly afterwards in a city hospital, while dozens of people have been wounded by the Army’s charges against the demonstrators.

    In addition, he said that there is a large number of detainees whose whereabouts are not known, which causes concern for their physical integrity. After regrouping, states the source, the Army has intensified its repressive actions throwing tear gas bombs and red water blasts with chemicals to the demonstrators that fight back with stones as their only weapon.
     
  11. Pintu

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    Honduran Cartoonist Freed After 24-Hour Detainment

    Honduran Cartoonist Freed After 24-Hour Detainment


    By E&P Staff

    Published: July 01, 2009 2:46 PM ET

    NEW YORK A Honduran cartoonist has been released from custody after being arrested and detained for 24 hours by that country's miltary authorities.

    Allan McDonald was taken from his home outside the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa along with his 17-month-old daughter Abril by the Honduran Armed Forces, who destroyed McDonald's drawing materials and cartoons after ransacking his house.

    McDonald has published several cartoons in the newspaper Diaro el Heraldo de Honduras and on the Web site Rebellion.org in support of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

    Zelaya was overthrown last Sunday by the country's military after he insisted on a referendum that would allow him to seek a second term of office. Under the current Honduran constitution, presidents cannot be re-elected.

    McDonald told the Habla Honduras blog that pressure from Rebellion.org and the Catholic Church of Spain helped secure his release, and that he was told he was arrested for breaking curfew. According to Rebellion.org, McDonald was detained with 15 other people, including two female journalists from Spain and Chile.

    The Web site also claims that there is a list of 300 people that the military is targeting, primarily Zelaya government officials, intellectuals and labor leaders.
    E&P Staff ([email protected])
     
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    Pintu New Member

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    Honduras warned of sanctions over coup - The Irish Times - Sat, Jul 04, 2009

    Saturday, July 4, 2009

    Honduras warned of sanctions over coup

    RORY CARROLL

    LATIN AMERICAN diplomats yesterday delivered an ultimatum to Honduras to reverse a coup within 24 hours or face becoming an international pariah.

    José Miguel Insulza, the secretary general of the Organisation of American States, is to lead a delegation that will warn coup leaders of economic and diplomatic sanctions over the ousting of President Manuel Zelaya.

    Mr Insulza said he would not negotiate with the new government.

    “We hope the coup leaders recognise the damage they are doing to the country and the world and allow the return of President Zelaya,” he told reporters in Guayana yesterday.

    He played down hopes of a breakthrough, saying: “I will do everything I can. But I think it will be very hard to turn things around in a couple of days.”

    The interim Honduran government in the capital Tegucigalpa ruled out reinstating President Zelaya and said the country could survive isolation.

    The crisis could enter a new, explosive phase at the weekend if the president keeps his promise to return to Honduras to try to regain power.

    The interim government said it would arrest him.

    Rival crowds have demonstrated for and against the exile in recent days, underlining deep polarisation.

    Honduras faces expulsion from the 34-member Organisation of American States. Cuba was the last to be so punished, in 1962. It would be a symbolic step, putting pressure on donors and creditors to squeeze the impoverished coffee exporting country.

    – (Guardian service)
     
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    Coup dtat in Honduras - 21st Century Socialism

    Coup détat in Honduras by Dan Morgan in Santiago / July 4th 2009

    In the early hours of June 28, 2009, President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras was woken by a group of 200 to 300 soldiers who shot and smashed their way into his house. He was forced out in his pyjamas, put on a plane and taken to Costa Rica. This was the start of a coup d'état in classic style.

    The background

    Honduras: The archetypal banana republic, it was dominated for many years by the US United Fruit Company. Very poor, the people of this country of 7.5 million people has never had the chance of real participation in their government. After military dictatorships between 1963 and 1981, a series of right-wing governments provided bases for the USA, for the contra-revolutionaries who were a key factor in destabilising the Nicaraguan Sandinista progressive government.

    The same political machine kept control until now. With 50% living in poverty and 28% unemployment, many people have emigrated to the USA in recent decades and young returnees have imported the Los Angeles gang culture, creating a big crime problem. Many transnational ‘maquila’ factories have exploited the country’s cheap labour in recent times. Typically, young women are worked to the bone at sewing machines for a few years, until their tendons give out.

    Manuel Zelaya: A businessman, and politician of the Liberal Party, one of the traditional political parties, he was elected President in 2005. He soon began to show signs of betraying his friends in the elite. He promoted a big increase in the minimum wage, sent a bill to the congress to give rights to domestic workers, and in general wanted to improve the lives of the people.

    He joined ‘Petro-Caribe’, basically a solidarity arrangement whereby Hugo Chávez of Venezuela sells oil at a very low price to poorer countries in the region. This could only be of benefit to the country but, for the oligarchy, any co-operation with Chávez is anathema. Zelaya also joined the ALBA bloc (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas) of nations designed to promote economic and other co-operation as an alternative to domination by the USA. Even more repulsive for the traditional elite.

    Before the proposed vote on Sunday, 28th June, Zelaya declared he would hand over the presidency in January 2010 (after the elections in November 2009) but would hand over a country with reforms in progress. The major reform was to be the election of a Constituent Assembly, which could propose a new constitution to be voted on by the people. To begin this process, Zelaya decided to test public opinion with a non-binding consultation vote on 28th June. If favourable, a decisive vote would be held in November, at the same time that a new President and Congress would be elected. Some time later, the Constituent Assembly would be elected, and a new constitution voted on, many months later.

    The main excuse, or 'justification' given for the coup, repeated endlessly in mass media from 'The Guardian' up, was that this new constitution would give Zelaya the right to run for re-election. Never mind that the time-table described makes this argument preposterous, don't let the facts spoil a good story. The 'big lie' tactic.

    In Europe that argument might seem strange, given that re-election of Prime ministers or Presidents is commonplace. In Latin America, however, it is not usual, and has been given enormous importance by the right-wing media, as meaning little short of dictatorship. The bogeyman, of course, is Hugo Chávez, and the idea of popular leaders staying in power long enough to make real structural changes, leading to socialism, is the real fear of oligarchies and their imperialist backers. So 're-election', or worse, 'indefinite re-election' is shorthand for 'dangerous progressive'.

    Before the coup

    There were reports of movements of tanks on Wednesday 24th June, and that day the Chief of General Staff, Romeo Vásquez, said he would not obey President Zelaya’s order to move the election material for the popular consultation on Sunday. The military chief said the order was illegal, basing this on decisions of the Supreme Court, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal and the National Congress. The opposition to this expression of the will of the people of these bodies, dominated by the traditional elite, shows their visceral fear of real democratic participation.

    Manuel Zelaya therefore dismissed the armed forces chief for disobedience. In solidarity, the chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force, plus the Defence Minister, also resigned. On Thursday the Supreme Court ‘ordered’ Zelaya to reinstate the military chief, although, as in many countries, the President is Commander-in-Chief. On Friday, Zelaya led a group of citizens to recover the election material from an Air Force base, and declared that the popular vote would go ahead. On Sunday morning, two hours before voting was due to start, 'the gorillas were let out of their cage' as was said in the OAS meeting.

    The National Congress (as in the USA, only the legislative body, and not the Executive or government) firstly 'accepted' a supposed letter of resignation from Zelaya. Then, when informed that Zelaya had denied resigning, on CNN, they just proceeded to 'depose' him and named the President of Congress, Micheletti, as provisional President of the country.

    But, unlike previous coups in Latin America, the reaction in other countries has been swift and unanimous. Condemnation has come from all sides, including the White House, emergency meetings of the Organisation of American States (OAS), and a meeting in Nicaragua that same day of the countries of Central America and of the ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas) which now convenes 9 countries of Cental and South America and the Caribbean. The whole of Latin America has spoken. Michelle Bachelet was among the leaders condemning the coup and demanding the reinstatement of Zelaya, in her position as President of Chile and President of UNASUR, the Union of South American countries. There was a unanimous call for the unconditional reinstatement of Manuel Zelaya. Many countries have now recalled ambassadors for consultation and, more importantly economcally, the neighbouring countries (Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala) have closed borders, stopping trade.

    After the coup


    During the day, over 15,000 people gathered near the Presidential palace. Leaders of Trade Unions and Peasants called for resistance to the coup, and a general strike. The military response was at first limited to the use of beating, tear gas and water cannon, although some leaders were arrested including Patricia Rodas, the Foreign Minister, and the Mayor of San Pedro Sula, the second city of Honduras. Patricia Rodas, an important leader of the government, was later deported to Mexico and the Mayor of San Pedro Sula has also been deposed and a puppet of Micheletti imposed.

    From early morning, women could be seen on TV defying, even pushing the soldiers taking over public buildings. Later, in one place men stood in front of tanks, 'pushing' them back. Crowds shouted to soldiers “You are of the people”. The centre of the capital, Tegucigalpa, filled with people shouting “We will not be moved”, “The people united will never be defeated” and “we want Mel” (Zelaya's nickname).

    Defying repeated orders of curfew, the demonstrators have continued to build in numbers, in many parts of the country but especially in the capital Tegucigalpa, and the second city, San Pedro Sula. Although the military have stopped buses, taken people off to hit and search them. Buses have had their tyres let down. People have walked for five and ten hours to get to the capital. Every day more resistance is mobilised, and the repression is stepped up. The military have taken control of electrical plants, and poor areas have had power cuts, cuts in internet access, and all mass media are under political control of the 'golpistas' (the forces of the coup). The only good source of news is the TV channel TeleSur. The army has reportedly been press-ganging youths in rural areas, presumably to increase their numbers.

    Increasing repression


    On Wednesday also the regime of Micheletti (or, as signs say in Honduras, Goriletti or Pinocheletti) suspended civil rights for 72 hours under a 'state of siege', hoping to crush demonstrations and all resistance. Repression was stepped up on Thursday but TeleSur continued to interview determined opponents of the coup, as well as showing arrests being made in the street in San Pedro Sula.

    Telesur: I don't know if this can be seen in Britain (it is possible in some European countries), in Chile only one small satellite TV provider offers it. It has been invaluable, as its courageous journalists have braved intimidation to continue sending images and words from Honduras, including inteviews with many militant and determined leaders of popular organisations. TeleSur is a truly multinational station. Set up on the initiative of Hugo Chávez aiming to be an alternative to CNN, it is based in Venezuela but owned by a consortium including Cuba, Venezuela, Argentina and Ecuador.

    On Monday, the day after the coup, an emergency general assembly of the United Nations repeated the call for Zelaya's reinstatement, and he repeated his intention of returning to Honduras on Tursday, accompanied by the President of the UN, the Nicaraguan Miguel d'Escoto, the Secretary General of the OAS, Chilean José Miguel Insulza, and the Presidents of Argentina and Ecuador, Cristina Fernández and Rafael Correa.

    Wednesday brought a change: The OAS suggested the postponement of the return to Honduras until Saturday, giving the de facto authorities 72 more hours to accept Zelaya's return as President, or face suspension. Manuel Zelaya agreed.

    The role of the USA


    Almost certainly we will not know details of the role of the USA for years but Venezuela's embassador to the OAS said on Sunday that one Otto Reich had been talking to golpistas in Honduras. Reich is known as a right-wing extremist with a long history of interference in Latin America, from the State Department and the military, under Presidents Reagan and both Bushes. An ex-Cuban, he is obsessed with Cuba but played roles in the destabilisation of the Sandinista government in the '80s, and reportedly selecting the Venezuelan golpista generals in 2002. Now, as ambassador Chaderton said, 'we have the Third Reich'. For an article on his history, see: see: http://www.coha.org/2004/07/otto-reich-a-career-in-disservice/

    The coup faces Obama with a political problem. He has presented himself as a supporter of demcoracy, who will listen to Latin America. With the unanimous condemnation of the coup by Latin America, he can only follow suit. According to a right-wing paper in Chile, “US diplomatic sources said that, if the restitution of Zelaya was not resolved before that day (Sunday, when Obama travels to Europe), the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, could take on international leadership of the offensive against the government of Micheletti.” It continues, saying Thomas Shannon is charged with finding a negotiated settlement, such as “allowing Zelaya to return to power but with conditions, such as not holding a referendum on reforming the constitution.”

    This is a political problem for the USA. The spread of progressive governments which open up popular participation, work for economic independence and threaten to open the way for socialism, are a threat to US interests. There is a US base in Honduras, with 600 troops (confined to barracks at the moment). On the other hand, Honduras is a small country, and open support for a 'gorilla' government will threaten their efforts to win over Latin America politically. Within the Obama adminstration and secret services, there are probably those in favour of Zelaya's return and of supporting the Micheletti gorillas. Even the CNN reporting has shown uncertainty as to the tone to adopt.

    The moves to postpone Zelaya's return to Honduras might also be due to hopes that the world will forget about the problem, and the golpistas will be able to repress resistance and continue in power. The issue has already disappeared from the Guardian on-line, almost so from The Independent (is it?) and the BBC has a jolly piece about the coup not being a big issue in Honduras.

    For the people of Honduras and progressives in Latin America, it is obviously also a key moment. Are the brute forces of reaction to be unleashed again?

    Latest, Thursday pm: J M Insulza, OAS Secretary, announces that he will go to Honduras on Friday, and not Saturday, and Manuel Zelaya says his return is being planned with people in Honduras, and leaves the timing uncertain.
     
  14. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    Zelaya may return by Sunday

    July 4, 2009

    Zelaya may return by Sunday
    [​IMG]

    Mr Zelaya, who was arrested on Sunday by security forces and forced into exile in Costa Rica, has vowed to return to the country. -- PHOTO: AFP

    MANAGUA - OUSTED Honduran president Manuel Zelaya could return home as soon as this weekend, his Nicaraguan counterpart Daniel Ortega said on Friday.

    'I want to tell the Honduran people what Manuel Zelaya has stated... this Saturday or more likely Sunday, he will return,' Mr Ortega said as he greeted Taiwanese President Ma Ying-Jeou.

    Honduras has been in turmoil since early on Sunday, when Mr Zelaya was arrested by security forces and forced into exile in Costa Rica.

    The architects of the coup had been concerned by Mr Zelaya's moves to defy a high court judgment against a planned constitutional referendum.

    The head of the Organisation of American States arrived in Honduras on Friday for talks to try to resolve the crisis.

    The OAS has given interim president Roberto Micheletti and other coup leaders until Saturday to reinstate Mr Zelaya, or face being ejected from the bloc.

    Mr Oretga - a leftist who once led Nicaragua's Sandinista rebels - said Mr Zelaya had not yet decided how to return.

    'He is going to return by land, by air, we still don't know,' said OMr rtega, who said he spoke with the Honduran leader late on Thursday.

    Mr Zelaya has vowed to return to the country accompanied by the presidents of Ecuador and Argentina and Guatemalan Nobel prize winner Rigoberta Menchu.

    An Argentine government source told AFP that President Cristina Kirchner would travel to Washington on Friday, a stop on route to Honduras. -- AFP
     
  15. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    Coup leader willing to hold early election - Americas, World - The Independent

    Coup leader willing to hold early election

    Honduras tries to fend off sanctions but rejects calls to re-instate ousted President

    By David Usborne

    Saturday, 4 July 2009

    [​IMG]

    AFP / GETTY

    Exiled Honduran President Manuel Zelaya arrives at the
    presidential palace in San Salvador to meet his counterpart,
    Mauricio Funes, on Thursday


    The self-declared leaders of Honduras showed signs of softening yesterday, indicating a willingness to bring presidential elections forward or even hold a plebiscite on re-instating the man they ousted last weekend.

    First murmurs of possible compromise emerged from Tegucigalpa just hours before the scheduled arrival of the head of the Organisation of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, who had given the coup leaders until today to reverse course or face sanctions.

    Before the visit, Mr Insulza said he was not prepared to negotiate or meet with the interim government headed by Robert Micheletti, who has been declared president. "I cannot say I am confident," he said. "I will do everything I can but I think it is very hard."

    There had been plans for President Manuel Zelaya to return to the capital this weekend, but Mr Micheletti flatly stated that he would be arrested should he set foot in Honduras.

    Mr Zelaya came to power in 2006 as the leader of the centrist Liberals but he subsequently allied himself with President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and tacked leftwards. Already at odds with the country's business elite, he then began moves to change the constitution to allow him to run for a second term. Congress and the courts supported his removal from the presidential palace at gunpoint on Sunday.

    But the overthrow of Mr Zelaya has triggered unusual unity in the hemisphere. Even the US and Venezuela have united to demand his re-instatement. Honduras has seen ambassadors withdrawn and trade barriers thrown up against it. The streets of the capital have been the scene of clashes between supporters of the coup and Zelaya loyalists and there were fears last night of fresh violence.

    Mr Insulza said: "We hope the coup leaders recognise the damage they are doing to the country and the world and allow the return of President Zelaya."

    Asked about bringing forward elections planned for November, Mr Micheletti said he would have "no objection if it would be a way of resolving these problems".

    He did not rule out a referendum on restoring Mr Zelaya to power either but said it would be hard to organise. There was little change in tone, however, when it came to Mr Zelaya personally. "For the peace and calm of the country I would prefer he does not come in," Mr Micheletti told Honduran radio. "I do not want even one drop of blood spilled in this country."

    The country itself seems split on the issue. Before his rude awakening and involuntary dispatch to Costa Rica on Sunday, Mr Zelaya had not only earned the wrath of the other main institutions of government but had also seen his approval rating among voters slump to 30 per cent or less. Mr Chavez moved to lower the temperature of the crisis after indicating earlier this week that he was prepared to invade Honduras after his ambassador was briefly detained.

    He indicated instead that he was talking about ending the standoff with contacts in Honduras and outside it. "We are in contact with people inside and in various parts of the world," Mr Chavez said. "Of course, one wants to do more but that country has its sovereignty and we have to respect it."
     
  16. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    Zelaya Meets with Salvadorian President

    Zelaya Meets with Salvadorian President


    HAVANA, Cuba, Jul 3 (acn) Honduras’ legitimate president Manuel Zelaya met Thursday with the head of state of El Salvador, where he was welcomed by hundreds of demonstrators expressing support of his government.

    Even though no details of the two-hour meeting between Zelaya and Mauricio Funes were given to the press, according to Salvadorian media outlets, the position of president Funes of not recognizing the illegitimate government of Roberto Micheletti in Honduras is well-known, reported Juventud Rebelde newspaper.

    The daily also notes that the Salvadorian president is willing to receive in his country the relatives of the ousted president and that he supports initiatives of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations to overcome the crisis in the neighboring country.

    Likewise, hundreds of locals, Hondurans and supporters of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), gathered near the Monument of Christ for Peace to welcome Zelaya and express their support of his government.

    Participants were waving the FMLN’s red flag and that of Honduras and carrying placards with messages that read: “Zelaya no estás solo, Latinoamérica está contigo” (Zelaya you are not alone, Latin America is with you), “Bienvenido compañero Mel Zelaya” (Welcome comrade Mel Zelaya) and other slogans condemning the coupists.

    The Honduran President opened the door of a van that was taking him to the Presidential House to wave at the crowd that gave an ovation to the leader and shouted expressions of support.Sources of the Salvadorian government informed that after concluding his visit to this country, Zelaya will travel to Guatemala.
     
  17. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    Former Honduran Presidents Withdraw Support of Coupists

    Former Honduran Presidents Withdraw Support of Coupists
    HAVANA, Cuba, July 5 (acn) Former Honduran presidents Carlos Flores and Ricardo Maduro, from the traditional political elite of this Central American nation and current businesspeople, among other members of the Honduran oligarchy, decided to withdraw their support of the coupists early this morning, announced Radio Globo of Honduras.

    According to the Bolivarian News Agency (ABN), Flores and Maduro decided to withdraw their support of the de facto regime of Roberto Micheletti because he has refused to comply with the decisions of international bodies and he refuses to hand over power to constitutional President Manuel Zelaya.

    This step could be considered as a confirmation of discrepancies and would be the first fissure in the ranks of the coup supporters. Meanwhile, popular support of Zelaya grows as more than 120,000 people await the democratically elected and constitutional president near the international airport in Tegucigalpa.
     
  18. Pintu

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    The American Spectator : He's Zelaya and a Cheat

    He's Zelaya and a Cheat

    By Jay D. Homnick on 7.6.09 @ 6:07AM

    If you are stunned at the response of the United States to the scenario in Honduras, we are here today to help you understand. Logic does not apply in this case, making it necessary to explore cultural clues rather than intellectual ideas.

    The facts are fairly straightforward. Honduras has constitutional term limits, one four-year term per President. The last election, in 2006, was won by Mister Zelaya. In a quest to extend his reign beyond 2010, he advanced a referendum to change the law. The Supreme Court of Honduras ruled such a vote would be unconstitutional, as the constitution cannot be amended by this process. Zelaya refused to accept their ruling. They instructed the military to arrest him and deport him. The Honduran Congress picked his successor from his own party. The successor is only interim President until the close of Zelaya's term.

    Obama has condemned the process as undemocratic, and demanded the reinstatement of Zelaya under threat of sanctions. In none of his public utterances on the subject has he acknowledged the verdict of the Honduran Supreme Court. More amazingly, no American envoy of any kind has made any effort to have a discussion on the subject with the Court, the Congress, or the new President. This behavior is purportedly an effort to save democracy.

    To get a handle on this, I suggest we return to the notorious Cairo speech by our President. In that address he assayed an apology for the untoward CIA role in deposing President Mossadegh of Iran in 1953 and replacing him with General Zahedi, who was friendlier to the Shah. There ensued a debate between right and left if it was appropriate for later Presidents to issue condemnations of earlier administrations. What no one remembered to ask was this: who told Obama the CIA toppled Mossadegh?

    We all heard about the CIA papers Leon Panetta provided to the White House and Congress about the extent of briefings to Nancy Pelosi about waterboarding. Yet we never heard that Obama had requested files about Mossadegh. Even Bill Clinton thought to ask Webster Hubbell to check archives in Justice to see if any goodies lurked about the Kennedy assassination or aliens in Roswell, New Mexico. Barack Obama does not need to ask; he knows.

    How does he know? The accusations of a CIA role in Iran's coup of 56 years ago are vague, mostly based on anonymous leaks by retired agents to New York Times reporters. There is no definitive evidence of this, and even if individual CIA guys claim to have moved mountains with their machinations, the odds are that those are mostly cocktail-party bravado. A dose of healthy skepticism would seem to be the sensible thing. It might be worth reading the website maintained by Zahedi's son, where he makes a strong case against this conventional wisdom.

    It is not important here to get into this Iranian debate. My point is that Obama has no way of knowing the truth any more than you or I do. His apology was not based on research or government Eyes-Only files. It was based on standard collegiate peacenik rhetoric, nothing more profound or more complicated. Scowling professorial types in faculty lounges have been grumbling about this for half a century, and that is good enough for our commander-in-chief.

    Which brings us to the oldiest, rustiest saw of all, the story of the CIA and Salvador Allende in Chile. Anyone who wears his quiver on the left reaches for this arrow first. I shudder to recall innumerable tiresome lectures about the horror of the CIA unseating of Allende, always with a supercilious flourish in pronouncing his name I-end-ay. Somehow the supposal of CIA disposal in the Allende deposal trumps any alternate proposal. The many wonderful articles in these pages by James Whelan debunking most of this bunk are either ignored or derided.

    So for Obama there is no choice based on realpolitik, pragmatism, common sense or justice. The bottom line is Allende is back in the person of Zelaya. Right, wrong or indifferent, this crowd cannot leave a legacy evoking the ghost of Allende.

    Funnily enough, the Honduran Foreign Minister thought to bolster the case against Zelaya by mentioning his complicity in drug-running. Oops! Now we are channeling Noriega.

    But there is hope yet of turning Obama around on this one. If only we can figure a way of comparing Zelaya to Ferdinand Marcos or the Shah or Botha or Pinochet or even Jerry Falwell…
     
  19. Pintu

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    AFP: Honduran police fire tear gas as Zelaya reaches border

    Honduran police fire tear gas as Zelaya reaches border

    By Julia Rios (AFP) – 3 hours ago

    LAS MANOS, Nicaragua — Clashes erupted on the Honduran border Friday as ousted President Manuel Zelaya arrived just meters away in Nicaragua ahead of an expected showdown in a second attempt to return to power.

    Zelaya arrived at Las Manos, on Nicaragua's border with Honduras, at around midday (1800 GMT) as anti-riot police fired tear gas on hundreds of his supporters massed on the other side.

    Zelaya supporters, including some armed with stones, faced off with hundreds of soldiers and anti-riot police, while the Honduran government imposed an 18-hour curfew in border areas.

    The Honduran army earlier closed the border with Nicaragua and said it would not guarantee Zelaya's safety.

    "We can't be responsible for the security of people who, by inciting generalized violence in the country, may be subject to attacks even from their own supporters who may have the sole aim of turning them into martyrs," an army statement said.

    In Nicaragua, Zelaya's foreign minister, traveling with him, said the ousted leader would meet with social groups to decide how to proceed with his entry into Honduras, where the army has ordered his capture.

    Zelaya said earlier he was considered crossing by land or air.

    "We have planes and helicopters to go today to (cross) the border to Honduras," Zelaya said in Nicaragua.

    Honduran troops expelled Zelaya from the country at gunpoint on June 28 in a move supported by the Central American country's courts and legislature as he sought to hold a referendum on changing the constitution.

    Zelaya announced he would return home after talks with the interim government, brokered by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, this week collapsed.

    In a first attempt, on July 6, he tried to fly into Tegucigalpa airport, but was blocked by military units deployed on the runway, while on the ground at least one of his supporters died in clashes with troops.

    Regional powers, including the United States, have backed Zelaya's quest to return to office, but urged him not to come back for fear of prompting bloodshed in a country some say is on the brink of civil war.

    In an increasingly polarized Honduras, Zelaya supporters called a national strike Thursday and Friday.

    Zelaya was traveling in a 50-vehicle caravan alongside his Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas; Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, and Nicaraguan former rebel leader Eden Pastora.

    Leaders across the region were meanwhile in rhetorical high gear, with the leftist alliance of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador generally blaming the United States for the deadlock.

    Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva told a summit in Paraguay Friday the Honduran coup could "not be tolerated, and we cannot back down. We condemn the interruption of democracy in Honduras."

    Cuba's sidelined revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, 82, was all claws writing that US top diplomat Hillary Clinton ought to win a Nobel for her "nifty idea" of having Arias work to consolidate an unconstitutional coup.

    "And now coup plotters are gearing up in Latin America's oligarchies, some of whom... are no longer shy about saying they support the coup, while US imperialism is trying to see what it can fish out of the waters of turmoil in Latin America," Castro wrote in Cuban state media.
     
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    Al Jazeera English - Americas - Zelaya 'begins return' to Honduras

    UPDATED ON:
    Friday, July 24, 2009
    22:13 Mecca time, 19:13 GMT

    Zelaya 'begins return' to Honduras

    [​IMG]
    Troops in Honduras were deployed near the border in a
    bid to keep Zelaya's supporters at bay [AFP]




    Honduras's deposed president appears close to attempting another return home, having arrived at a Nicaraguan town near the border with his country.

    Manuel Zelaya drove in to the northern town of Esteli, about 40km south of the border with Honduras, on Friday, while Honduran troops massed at the frontier.

    Honduras' de facto government imposed a curfew from noon on Friday to 6am on Saturday, as hundreds of Zelaya supporters headed to the border.

    Mariana Sanchez, Al Jazeera's correspondent at El Paraiso, a town about 12km from the Honduras-Nicaragua border, said: "There have been several rounds of tear gas shot at a group of about 1,000 pro-Zelaya demonstrators, who have been here since very early this morning.

    "They are trying to cross the line of police and military to be able to walk all the way to the border."

    Several military and police checkpoints are in operation between the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa and El Paraiso, Sanachez said.

    People wishing to reach the frontier by car or bus are being forced to leave their abandon their vehicles about 50km from the border but can proceed by foot, Sanchez said.

    Arrest warning

    After he reached Esteli, Zelaya said he hoped Honduran troops at the border would "lower their guns" when they saw him.

    "We go with the white flag of peace to proclaim reconciliation for the Honduran people," he said.

    "I know that I am in danger, at risk, but I am ready to make the sacrifice, because Honduras needs peaceful change."

    The interim government in Honduras, led by Roberto Micheletti, has threatened to arrest Zelaya, who was overthrown in a military-backed coup on June 28, if he sets foot in the country.

    Wearing a black leather vest and his trademark white cowboy hat, the ousted leader arrived in Esteli by jeep, accompanied by Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan foreign minister.

    Zelaya said he would attempt to return to Honduras on Saturday. It is not clear when he will attempt to enter Honduras, or how he will do it.

    'Completely isolated'

    Allan Fajardo, a spokesman for the ousted leader, said he could travel by air, sea, or land from any of Honduras' three neighbouring countries - Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador.

    The US and Latin American governments have demanded Zelaya be reinstated but Honduras' de facto rulers are refusing to agree.

    An attempt earlier this month by Zelaya to return in a Venezuelan aeroplane was thwarted when the military blocked the runway.

    US-backed mediation attempts in Costa Rica broke down earlier in the week.

    Oscar Arias, the Costa Rican president who led the talks, said the de facto leaders of Honduras risk becoming international pariahs if they do not agree to back down.

    Aid threat

    [The interim government of Honduras] is completely isolated. They have become the North Korea or the Albania of Central America," he said on Wednesday.

    [​IMG]
    Micheletti and his interim government will not
    accept Zelaya's return as president [AFP]


    The Organisation of American States, or OAS, warned the de facto government that it needs to agree to Arias' proposal.

    Barack Obama, the US president, has condemned the coup and cut $16.5m in military aid to Honduras.

    He has also threatened to slash economic aid to what is one of Latin America's poorest countries.

    Zelaya was removed from power as he was about to press ahead with a non-binding referendum that critics said was aimed at changing the constitution to enable him to run again for office.

    Zelaya said the charter changes were necessary to improve the lives of the poor.
     
  21. Pintu

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    Honduras crisis dominates South American summit | International | Reuters

    Honduras crisis dominates South American summit

    Fri Jul 24, 2009 6:57pm EDT

    [​IMG]

    By Todd Benson

    ASUNCION (Reuters) - The political crisis in Honduras took center stage at a South American presidential summit on Friday, with regional leaders calling for the unconditional return of deposed President Manuel Zelaya.

    With Zelaya headed toward Honduras against the warnings of the de facto government there, South American presidents pushed aside debate about the global economic downturn and regional trade to make a joint demand for the immediate restoration of democracy in the Central American country.

    "This is a step backward that our region cannot tolerate," Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said in a speech at the summit of the Mercosur trade bloc in Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay. "We cannot compromise."

    The summit, which brought together the presidents of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, finished with a harsh statement condemning the June 28 coup in Honduras that ousted the left-leaning Zelaya from power.

    The statement, which referred to the de facto government headed by Roberto Micheletti as "illegitimate," said the countries of South America would push the Organization of American States to adopt a resolution banning the return of Honduras to the OAS unless Zelaya is reinstated as president.

    Venezuela's firebrand President Hugo Chavez, whose close ties with Zelaya irked the conservative opposition in Honduras, was also invited to the summit in Paraguay but sent representatives instead.

    There was heated debate about the steps that each country could take to put pressure on the interim administration of Micheletti. Venezuelan officials urged the region's governments to deny visas to the de facto Honduran rulers and adopt economic sanctions against them.

    Argentine President Cristina Fernandez proposed that the governments of South America refuse to recognize any steps taken by the Micheletti government, including elections, a view that was backed by the summit's host, Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo.

    "Honduras is a bleeding wound in democracy in the region," Lugo said. "We're not going to accept any elections called by this regime."

    Though U.S. President Barack Obama has condemned the coup, Bolivian President Evo Morales -- who, like Chavez, is famous for his anti-U.S. rhetoric -- used the Mercosur summit to blame Washington for the crisis in Honduras.

    "The origin of this coup is the U.S. military presence in Honduras, and we have proof," Morales said without elaborating.

    The debate about Honduras overshadowed long-running feuds over regional trade and investment that have plagued Mercosur for years, prompting leading Paraguayan newspaper ABC Color to label the trade bloc as "useless" in a front-page editorial on Friday.

    (Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
     

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