[News] Honduran President Manuel Zelaya Speaks

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jul 31 11:03:19 EDT 2009

EXCLUSIVE: Ousted Honduran President Manuel 
Zelaya Speaks from Nicaraguan Border on Who’s 
Behind the Coup, His Attempts to Return Home, the 
Role of the United States and More


In a Democracy Now! national broadcast exclusive, 
ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya joins us 
from the Nicaragua-Honduras border for a 
wide-ranging interview on his attempts to return 
home, who’s behind the coup, the role of the 
United States, and much more. “I think the United 
States is going to lose a great deal of influence 
in Latin America if it does not turn the coup 
d’état around,” Zeleya says. “It will not be able 
to put forth its idea about democracy. It won’t 
be credible before anyone.” On his message to the 
Honduran people, Zelaya says they should 
“maintain their resistance against those who want 
to take their rights away
so that no one will be 
able to disrespect them, which is what the coup 
regime is doing today.” [includes rush transcript]


Manuel Zelaya, ousted Honduran president.

AMY GOODMAN: Governments around the world should 
continue sanctions against the coup regime in 
Honduras. Those are the comments of the Nobel 
Peace Prize-winning Costa Rican President Oscar 
Arias, who’s trying to mediate negotiations 
between ousted Honduran president and the coup 
leaders. He was speaking at a Latin American 
summit in Costa Rica a day after the US State 
Department’s decision Tuesday to revoke the visas 
of four Honduran coup officials, though the US 
has not cut off more than $180 million in economic aid.

The Honduran coup officials have indicated a 
willingness to negotiate. They have, quote, “not 
yet recognized that President Zelaya should be 
reinstated,” Arias told reporters in Costa Rica on Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, protests in support of Zelaya continue 
in the Honduran capital and near the border with Nicaragua.

Well, today, in a Democracy Now! broadcast 
exclusive, we bring you an interview with the 
ousted Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya, who is 
on the border with Honduras and Nicaragua on the 
Nicaragua side. I spoke to President Zelaya on 
Wednesday afternoon, a month after he was seized 
by armed soldiers and flown out of his country.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you have any breaking news for us at this hour?

presidents of Central America are meeting now in 
Costa Rico, and they’re also putting together a 
condemnation of the coup. And I think they’re 
going to take more measures against the coup leaders throughout Latin America.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you have any plans to join them in Costa Rica?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] I have sent 
my representative, who is the Vice President, 
Aristides Mejia. He will be there representing me 
and also recognizing the effort being made by 
President Obama by revoking the visas of the coup 
leaders. It’s a good sign that declares the coup 
leaders as enemies of humanity.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s widely recognized that the coup 
would not stand without US support. What more do 
you think the United States has to do now?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] I realize 
that President Barack Obama and the State 
Department were not involved in the coup, but 
some very conservative sectors in the United 
States, sectors of the extreme right wing, have a 
double standard. They talk about democracy on the 
inside, and outside they talk about dictatorship.

AMY GOODMAN: Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of 
State, said your going over the border from 
Nicaragua into Honduras was “reckless.” Your response?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] Well, she 
doesn’t have all the necessary information that I 
have on the repression in the country that’s 
being suffered by the people. I have to get close 
to the people to give them support.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you plan to go into Honduras again over the border?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] I would do 
it right now, if I could. But the military are 
threatening to assassinate me, to kidnap me. I 
have never been tried or condemned. This is a de 
facto regime that’s null and void.

AMY GOODMAN: What about your family? They are 
attempting to reach you in Nicaragua. What is the situation?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] My family 
will only go through the military checkpoints, 
without breaking the state of siege, when they 
give them security for their safety going in and out.

AMY GOODMAN: They have not got assurances at this point, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] Not at all. 
Last night, in a community that’s sixty 
kilometers from the border, El Paraiso, twelve 
kilometers from there, last night, they went to 
machine-gun the hotel and shout at them with 
megaphones. The police, supported by the 
military, are trying to terrorize my family.

AMY GOODMAN: While President Obama called your 
ouster a coup originally, the State Department is 
refusing to call it a coup now. Your response, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] Everyone in 
the world­governments, international 
organizations, all the lawyers and judges in the 
world­have called the fact of capturing a 
president at 5:00 a.m. without trying him, 
shooting arms­that’s a coup d’état. No one doubts that that’s a coup d’état.

AMY GOODMAN: Would it matter if the US government 
proclaimed this loudly now? Do you want to hear 
the President, the Secretary of State, call it a coup?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] Well, if 
they look at the analysis, they should call for 
an international tribunal to condemn them and 
make this coup guilty of assassination of a 
political leader, because a coup d’état takes 
power away from people to name their president. 
The president can only be named by the people, 
not by the United States and not by the armed forces.

AMY GOODMAN: Have you accepted the Arias accords, 
the Costa Rica accords? What do you want to see, 
in order to return to your country?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] We accepted 
the original proposal of President Arias that had 
seven points. We accepted the OAS and the UN 
proposals. The coup leaders have not accepted it.

AMY GOODMAN: In an article in the Wall Street 
Journal, Micheletti says they will abide by the 
Arias accords. Is this true? Though they say they 
do want to see you prosecuted.

willing to submit to a trial at any time, but not 
to the justice of Micheletti or the military 
justice of the coup leaders. That’s not justice. 
That’s an illegal regime and a de facto one.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you want to see the coup leaders tried?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] Of course. 
That should be a norm in any country in order to 
prevent coup d’états. If the reactionary right 
begins to use arms, there are going to be 
uprisings. The guerrilla will reappear. There 
will be insurrections as a method. And no one 
will be able to govern in these countries. There is hot blood running.

AMY GOODMAN: Lanny Davis, President Clinton’s 
lawyer, is the lawyer for the Honduras chapter of 
the Business Council of Latin America. He says he 
represents Camilo Atala and Jorge Canahuati. Who 
are they, as he speaks against your government?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] The coup 
has three actors: those who finance it are 
them­they finance it; the intellectual authors 
are political structures; and those who carry it 
out, which are the military. Those are the three actors in the coup.

AMY GOODMAN: And who are­who is keeping­who is 
providing the finances? Are you saying that it is 
these people, Atala and Canahuati?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] There are 
others on the list. There are ten economic groups.

AMY GOODMAN: Vasquez Velasquez was trained at the 
School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia. 
Now there are Honduran soldiers training there. 
Do you think that the training should stop?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] I think 
training should take place based on democratic 
values, not based on values of coup d’états. 
There are many honorable and patriotic military. 
These military have betrayed the armed forces and betrayed the people.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think the US should cut off 
economic aid­what, more than $180 million­to Honduras until you are restored?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] I think the 
United States is going to lose a great deal of 
influence in Latin America if it does not turn 
the coup d’état around. It will not be able to 
put forth its idea about democracy. It won’t be credible before anyone.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think is the most 
single­the single most important action the United States can do now?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] The United 
States is trying to resolve the coup in a 
peaceful and diplomatic way, and I agree with 
those manners, but I feel that it must be 
stronger, because when a coup d’état takes place, 
this is an act of international terrorism, which 
affects security in the hemisphere, because it 
revives the desire for machine guns as opposed to 
democratic dialogue, and it produces violence. 
And it should be stopped with greater force.

AMY GOODMAN: Ousted Honduran president Manuela 
Zelaya, in our national broadcast exclusive. 
We’ll come back to this discussion after break, 
where the ousted Honduran president will talk 
about his attempts to return home and who’s 
behind the coup and more. Then we’ll go to 
Colorado Springs. “The Hell of War Comes Home.” 
We’ll look at the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry 
Regiment. They’re known as the “Lethal Killers.” 
That’s in Iraq, Afghanistan, and on the streets 
of Colorado Springs. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: We return to our exclusive interview 
with the ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya.

AMY GOODMAN: Mr. President, some see the coup in 
Honduras as a new strategy against progressive 
independent governments in Latin America. Can you 
put the conflict, the coup, in a larger context in Latin America right now?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] I’d be 
pleased to. The coup in Honduras was made by a 
group of ambitious businessmen that want to 
maintain their privileges associated to 
multinational companies with political puppets 
and corrupt military. Trying to give it an 
ideological tint­left, right, Chavism, US 
right­is an intent to change the face of the coup 
and to distract attention to other ideological 
problems, when the problem are the economic 
privileges of the sectors that want to maintain it.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you plan to visit Washington again?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] As long as 
I’m invited, I’ll go to Washington, to the OAS, 
or the United Nations, or the Department of 
State, Congress, the Senate. This month, I went 
to Washington five times to respond to these invitations.

AMY GOODMAN: Has the Obama administration invited 
you now to come back from Nicaragua to Washington?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] No, they 
invited me once, and I went to speak with 
Secretary Clinton, but they have not invited me since.

AMY GOODMAN: What did Hillary Clinton tell you? And what did you tell her?

Clinton suggested Arias’s mediation to me, and I 
accepted it. I went to those negotiations. And I 
think that the United States now has a great 
responsibility, because the negotiations did not 
produce the desired results, and they have a 
greater need to resolve this coup than other countries.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think that the coup 
government is trying to just run out the clock until the election?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] No, I think 
they want to legitimize the elections through my 
return, but the two candidates participating 
approved the coup, supported the coup. And that’s 
like legitimizing the coup through other people. 
The elections should be held, but in a broad and 
democratic way, not with the coup regime, because 
it would be like extortion for the candidates.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you see a split in the coup government?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] Yes, of 
course. There is division in the armed forces, in 
the society. They have installed a repressive 
regime that’s only sustained by arms. When the 
armed forces remove their support from the coup 
regime, five minutes later they will have to leave power.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the significance 
of the Nobel Peace Prize winners and their role 
in the process against the coup­Perez Esquivel, 
Rigoberta Menchu, as well as Oscar Arias?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] President 
Arias did what he could. He dealt with the coup 
leaders with kid gloves, but he did what he 
could, responding to his limitations. And I am 
grateful to him for what he was able to do.

AMY GOODMAN: Rigoberta Menchu, about three days 
into the coup, went to report on the human rights situation in Honduras.

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] Yes, she 
has been condemning the coup and has done so very 
firmly. I think this is a good action, and it speaks well of her.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the role of the Church in the coup, please?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] The Church 
is divided. The cardinal, the only cardinal 
before the Vatican in Honduras, conspired with 
the coup leaders. He betrayed the people, the 
poor. He took off his robes to put on a military 
uniform. And with his words, he really 
contributed to the assassinations that have taken place in Honduras.

AMY GOODMAN: What about the beating of the 
priests, Andres Tamayo and Padre Fausto Milla, 
leading a protest against the coup?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] All the 
social organizations have been in opposition, 
very firmly, for thirty-two days against the 
coup. They have­which speaks very well of the 
ability to resist and to not accept a coup d’état.

AMY GOODMAN: What reports, Mr. President, do you 
have of the human rights situation right now in 
Honduras­the murders, the beatings, the bombings?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] There are 
thousands of prisoners. There are illegal entries 
without search warrants into homes. Civilian 
rights have been denied. There’s a state of 
siege. There is not freedom of movement or of 
press. Youth are being assassinated. This 
is­there is terror like we have never seen in 
Honduras in this new twenty-first century coup.

AMY GOODMAN: And the role of Billy Joya, who was 
one of the heads of Battalion 3-16, notorious for 
its human rights abuse in the early 1980s? His 
role today as the security aide to Micheletti?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] He has a 
number of charges against him open for human 
rights. They accuse him of committing several 
crimes. And now he is an adviser to the coup regime.

AMY GOODMAN: Battalion 3-16, do you see it being revived?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] With a 
different name, it’s already operating. The 
crimes being committed is torture to create fear 
among the population, and that’s being directed by Mr. Joya.

AMY GOODMAN: You have not seen your family now 
for more than a month. Can you talk personally 
about the effect of this, of your separation?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] A great 
deal of pain for the people and for my family, 
which are resisting alongside the people, 
suffering all the attacks of the mass media, who 
have sold themselves to the coup. Their spirits 
are being formed. Their consciousness is being 
formed, and it’s a consciousness that’s very 
strong, that will come out after this coup so 
that no one will be able to hurt the people and humiliate them again.

AMY GOODMAN: Some people have commented on your 
conversion, on changing from allying with the 
oligarchy to where you are today, with the 
popular movements. Can you talk about that change?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] I practiced 
liberalism as an ideological method that respects 
private property, private investment, and 
respects public freedoms. I turned­I went to a 
social liberalism, a pro-socialist liberalism, so 
that the economy benefits the people and not just 
the economic elites. And this irritated the 
economic elites. They thought it was dangerous 
for me to organize the social sectors, and they planned the coup d’état.

AMY GOODMAN: John Negroponte, who was the 
ambassador to Nicaragua­to Honduras in the early 
’80s, also worked with Battalion 3-16. Do you see 
his hand today, or others, like Otto Reich of the United States?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] Otto Reich 
has already made statements about it. Also Ramon 
Carmona, who’s a Venezuelan exile in the United 
States. They have already unmasked themselves. I 
can’t talk about other people, but I know that 
there are many hawks from the old guard in the 
United States and the CIA supporting violence and 
arms as a method to solve problems. I’m someone 
who professes peaceful means and nonviolence, and 
I don’t support force to resolve things, but rather dialogue.

AMY GOODMAN: What is your message to the American 
people and to the Honduran people?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] The people 
of the United States, their security is linked to 
the security, the safety of the world. If 
violence and force explodes in the US’s backyard, 
it will affect them. They should support peace 
and nonviolence and not be supporting coup d’états.

AMY GOODMAN: And the people of Honduras?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] That they 
maintain their resistance against those who want 
to take their rights away and firm up their 
social conquest. This will help the people 
acquire the maturity, so that no one will be able 
to disrespect them, which is what the coup regime is doing today.

AMY GOODMAN: If you were to return, if you are 
president again in Honduras, will you call for a 
constitutional assembly to change the constitution?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] I would 
call for a national dialogue. I am a Christian. I 
know how to forgive. I think that all human 
beings have the right to rectify and repent and 
to be forgiven. Those who commit sins should be 
taken to justice, to the courts, so that they are 
judged. I am not a judge. I am president. And my 
work is always to dialogue to find solutions to the problems.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you plan to run for president again?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] I never had 
that intention. Honduras doesn’t permit 
reelection. There’s no way legally, within the 
constitutional order, to make reforms. That could 
only happen at some point in the future, and that 
will not depend on me, and it cannot happen at this time, legally.

AMY GOODMAN: Would you accept a moving up of the 
elections, as was discussed in Costa Rica?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] I don’t 
have any problem with that. I’ve accepted the 
Arias plan. It’s the coup leaders that have not accepted it.

AMY GOODMAN: Is there anything else you would like to add, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] To thank 
you and congratulate you, because during the 
thirty days I’ve been in exile, it’s the best interview I’ve had. Many thanks.

AMY GOODMAN: Ousted Honduran president Manuel 
Zelaya, in this national broadcast exclusive. You 
can go to our website at democracynow.org for the 
video or audio podcast and the transcript of the 
entire interview in both English and in Spanish. 
A very special thanks to Andrés Conteris of 
Democracy Now! en Español. As well, we want to 
thank our translator, Victoria Furrio.

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