[News] Coup Fears in Honduras

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Fri Jun 26 11:00:23 EDT 2009

Coup Fears in Honduras


Posted by Kristin Bricker - June 25, 2009 at 9:35 pm

Civil society organizations and UN General Assembly President Miguel  
D’Escoto have warned of a possible coup attempt by the Honduran  
military. D'Escoto's spokesperson said that the Assembly President  
“clearly and strongly condemns the attempted coup d’etat that is  
currently unfolding against the democratically elected Government of  
President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras.” Fears of a coup stem from a  
military deployment around the Presidential Palace and the Toncontín  
airport on Thursday.

The military and President Zelaya have been at odds over the  
President's initiative to hold a popular consultation on June 28 to  
decide if November's presidential elections should include a  
referendum where citizens would vote on whether or not Honduras should  
write a new constitution.

Mexico's El Financiero claims that President Zelaya's problems stem  
from his decision to join the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas,  
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's alternative to the US-supported  
Free Trade Area of the Americas.

However, Venezuela's TeleSUR reports that Honduras' current problems  
stem from that country's free trade agreement with the United States:

Carlos Reyes, an independent Honduran presidential candidate, reported  
on Thursday that s ince 2005, when the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with  
the United States was approved, popular movements "said that that was  
the final blow to the Constitution, and therefore a new Constitutional  
Assembly was necessary."

For that reason, President Manuel Zelaya has taken up the cause and  
has rallied Hondurans around the necessity of holding a referendum  
during the upcoming elections, explained Reyes in a telephone  
interview with TeleSUR.

"This has unleashed the wrath of powerful groups, of the dominant  
classes that have been waging a terrible campaign.  Yesterday they  
were even talking about a coup," he noted.

Honduras' Supreme Court ruled the June 28 consultation illegal.   
Following the Supreme Court's decision, Honduras' Congress unanimously  
voted to ask the Organization of American States (OAS) to withdraw the  
three observers it had sent to observe the consultation.  Congress  
argued that the OAS observers' presence legitimated a process that had  
been declared illegal by the Supreme Court.

Honduras' La Tribuna reports that following the Supreme Court  
decision, the military refused to distribute the ballot boxes as  
originally planned.

High-ranking military officials have refused to distribute the ballot  
boxes and the rest of the materials necessary for carrying out the  

In retaliation, Zelaya fired the head of the military's Joint Chiefs  
of Staff, Gen. Romeo Vásquez, and accepted the resignation of Minister  
of Defense Edmundo Orellana.

Likewise, the commanders of the other branches of the Armed Forces,  
Military, Navy, and Air Force, quit in solidarity.

La Tribuna reported that the military deployment around the  
Presidential Palace and the airport immediately followed the firing  
and resignations.

President Zelaya has called for mass mobilizations in the Honduran  
capital of Tegucigalpa "to make decisions in favor of Honduran  
democracy and development."  Peasant leader Rafael Alegría told  
TeleSUR that peasants, indigenous people, and workers from around the  
country have set out from around the country towards the capital to  
support the president, and that some have already arrived.

Today President Zelaya and a caravan of supporters entered the Hernán  
Acosta Mejía air force base to recover the ballot boxes for the June  
28 consultation that the military had refused to distribute.  The  
president and his supporters loaded the ballot boxes into trucks and  
removed them from the base so that they can be used for the Sunday  

A correspondent from Radio Es Lo De Menos who travelled with the  
caravan to the air force base reports that 25,000-30,000 people  
participated.  The Associated Press, on the other hand, reports that  
only "dozens" of people entered the base to recover the ballot boxes.

One caravan participant, interviewed by Radio Es Lo De Menos on a bus  
on his way to the military base, called for international solidarity  
in the form of actions at Honduran consulates and embassies: "This is  
a call to the people and unions of the world to plan actions in  
solidarity with the Honduran people at consulates and embassies so  
that this coup doesn't happen."

Meanwhile, the Honduran Congress has convened an investigation into  
the president's "mental health" to determine if he is still capable of  
governing the country.

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