[News] Honduran President Manuel Zelaya Speaks
news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jul 31 11:03:19 EDT 2009
EXCLUSIVE: Ousted Honduran President Manuel
Zelaya Speaks from Nicaraguan Border on Whos
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, whos 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
détat around, Zeleya says. It will not be able
to put forth its idea about democracy. It wont
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, whos 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
Departments 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?
PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] The
presidents of Central America are meeting now in
Costa Rico, and theyre also putting together a
condemnation of the coup. And I think theyre
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. Its a good sign that declares the coup
leaders as enemies of humanity.
AMY GOODMAN: Its 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
doesnt have all the necessary information that I
have on the repression in the country thats
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 thats 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 thats 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 armsthats a coup détat. No one doubts that thats a coup détat.
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 détat 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.
PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] I am
willing to submit to a trial at any time, but not
to the justice of Micheletti or the military
justice of the coup leaders. Thats not justice.
Thats 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 détats. 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 Clintons
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 détats.
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 détat around. It will not be able to
put forth its idea about democracy. It wont 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 détat 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.
Well come back to this discussion after break,
where the ousted Honduran president will talk
about his attempts to return home and whos
behind the coup and more. Then well go to
Colorado Springs. The Hell of War Comes Home.
Well look at the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry
Regiment. Theyre known as the Lethal Killers.
Thats 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] Id 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
Im invited, Ill 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?
PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] Mrs.
Clinton suggested Ariass 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 thats
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 thats 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 détat.
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. Theres 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, its already operating. The
crimes being committed is torture to create fear
among the population, and thats 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 its a consciousness thats 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 détat.
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, whos a Venezuelan exile in the United
States. They have already unmasked themselves. I
cant 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. Im someone
who professes peaceful means and nonviolence, and
I dont 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 USs backyard,
it will affect them. They should support peace
and nonviolence and not be supporting coup détats.
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 doesnt permit
reelection. Theres 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 dont
have any problem with that. Ive accepted the
Arias plan. Its 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 Ive been in exile, its the best interview Ive 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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