Early Sunday morning in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, the Hoduran military, trained and armed by the United States, removed the President of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, by gunshots and force to an airbase, where he was flown to neighboring Costa Rica. The situation was a result of Zelaya attempting to hold an opinion poll on a Constitutional referendum seeking to do away with the current one-term limit of the Presidency. Also at work was Zelaya’s desire to implement reforms for those living in poverty, by seeking to institute a minimum wage, rather than initiating IMF & World Bank projects that assist the business wealthy and military class. The Honduran Congress sought to cement the Military Coup by producing a forged resignation letter, proportedly written by Zelaya, in a move that bypasses both the electorate as well as the sitting Vice President. They then installed the head of the Congress, Roberto Micheletti, within 2 hours of Zelaya’s forcible removal and kidnapping.
Honduras houses a major US Military base, as well as receiving $2 Million annually for arms and training. The coup is remaniscent of shows of force have happened frequently in the history of Latin America, though in recent years they have become less prevalent. In nearby Haiti, Jean Bertrand-Aristede was summarily kidnapped in 2004 from the Presidental home and flown, without knowledge of his destination, 6,500 miles away across the Atlantic to the Central African Republic.
Though Zelaya was removed by the military in exactly the same fashion, he was not flown as far afield, and upon his landing, he immediately called the press to his aid. The Organization of American States has condemned the coup, as they did in Haiti, but have taken the added step of refusing to acknoledge the newly sworn in Micheletti. ALBA, the organization of Bolivarian states lead primarily by Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and others, has likewise condemned the coup, with Chavez threatening military intervention if Zelaya was not restored to power, a move in response as well to the kidnapping and beating on Sunday of the Venezuela and Cuban ambassadors in Honduras. Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas was proportedly kidnapped as well and her whereabouts are currently unknown.
The Honduran Supreme Court has ruled that a referendum to add another term to the Presidency is unconstitutional, but it remains to be seen if the opinion poll due to occur on Sunday, for a Referendum Vote due in November, 2009, required the Supreme Court to sanction a Military takeover of a democractically elected government.
U.S. Response has been soft to the point of complicity. Obama said that the administration was ‘deeply concerned’, but offered no language of condemnation, while Hillary Clinton stated that people need to , ‘address the underlying problems that led to yesterday’s events.’ This sort of soft-speech in a region and country that has a long history of U.S. interventions, cout-d’etats, disappearances, extra-judial killings, assassination squads and military dictatorships does not and should not sleep well with either the Honduran people or persons of conscience around the world. It is beyond a troubling sign that the new Obama Administration has not outrightly condemned the forced removal of an elected head of state and is grossly suspicious. Though Obama on Monday called the removal of Zelaya ‘illegal’, it remains to be seen what concrete steps he or the administration will take to bring the Honduran President back to office.
Said cadejo4 of dailykos.com:
It’s remarkable, when you think about it. In a period of just over 2 hours, the Honduran congress removed a president from power and (skipping over the vice-president in line of succession) installed a new president. All after forcibly removing the president and shipping him off to another country, while controlling all sources of information, limiting communication and disseminating misinformation about the president’s resignation.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Activist organizations are calling on supporters of democracy to call the State Department and White House and demand:
1. A cut-off of all military aid to Honduras until President Zelaya and Foreign Minister Rodas are safely returned to office
2. Support for international movements to bring the coup plotters to justice
3. Replace the U.S. ambassador to Honduras.
Call the State Department at 800-877-8339 and the White House at 202-456-1414.