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"The Blood of Jesus Christ" will Protect the Return of Ousted Honduran President

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Ousted Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya declared today that he will return to his country on Thursday. He said that he does not fear for his life, because "the blood of Jesus Christ," his convictions and conduct during his entire life, as well as the Honduran masses who had taken to the streets, would protect him. Repeating a position he had stated in his speech to the General Assembly Mr. Zelaya declared: "We have in my country a de facto military regime; an illegitimate one." He told correspondents at a joint press conference held with the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, that he would be returning to Honduras on Thursday, accompanied by General Assembly President d'Escoto, Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, OAS Secretary General Jose' Miguel Insulza and the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa. "This is a struggle for all of us," he said, "the struggle for the respect for others' rights; which is peace."

In his address, Mr. Zelaya said, "I have always said that anyone who was afraid, should not become a politician. Because when the powerful come to perform extortion or anything, you have to denounce them, or shut up. When a force shows up to humiliate you, you must not give up the sovereignty of your country or the dignity of your country."

When the ousted leader was asked if the coup could not have taken place without the tacit or actual approval of a "Western power" or Western powers, Mr. Zelaya was emphatic in his response: "No. No. The United States has changed a great deal. And Europe has changed. They have been imperial powers. But, I have listened to President Obama. It is not only that he condemns the events, but he has demanded the restoration of the President." Similarly, the American ambassador in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, had similarly taken the same position against "the coup powers."

Mr. Zelaya said that he was not afraid of threats of arrest upon his return to Honduras, stressing that he expected that when he arrives there on Thursday, his supporters, his enemies and the military would be there. "In the three years in government, I have not harmed a single person. I have not persecuted a single person, not even the opposition. But, I have spoken and I have mentioned the difficulties," he said. In that context, therefore, he said he was not afraid to return on Thursday, because he had been expelled by force. He would do so as he had always done: as a citizen and as the President. Mr. Zelaya said that it was his expectation that, when he returned home, the people would do what they always did; they would say: "Commander-in-chief, we're at your orders. And the military will have to rectify. There is no is no other possibility."

However, when Mr. Zelaya was asked what guarantee he had that he would not be arrested immediately after he stepped off the plane, Mr. Zelaya said his only guarantee was that the perpetrators of the coup had seen what they had provoked, the country is totally paralyzed, , with airports and borders closed. In support of his belief, Mr. Zelaya said that "there was no recognition by anyone. They are the only ones that recognize themselves. They have been totally rejected."

Commenting upon his planned return, Mr. Zelaya said he had no intention of staying in power beyond his term, which ends next January, and he would return to the countryside where he came from as a farmer, and would have no role in governing the country.

When asked if he saw any possibility of compromise that might get him back into power without any bloodshed, the Honduran leader said he was a proponent of non-violence and a tolerant person who would not condone the use of force at all, because he believed the use of force was an illegitimate recourse. "Even if the state authorizes the use of force, it is still illegitimate. Even in demanding your rights," Mr. Zelaya asserted. He explained that there were certain non-violent practices that people could exercise, citing as examples the right to strike, the right to public demonstrations and the right to protest.

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Lawrence J. Gist II is a dedicated pro bono attorney and counselor at law, adjunct professor of legal studies at Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles, CA, a member of the board of directors of the Institute of Indigenous Knowledges, and a veteran (more...)
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