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General News    H2'ed 6/28/09


By Eva Gollinger via shamus cooke  Posted by Shamus Cooke (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   8 comments

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by Eva Gollinger   www.chavezcode.com

[Note: As of 11:15am, Caracas time, President Zelaya is speaking live
on Telesur from San Jose, Costa Rica. He has verified the soldiers
entered his residence in the early morning hours, firing guns and
threatening to kill him and his family if he resisted the coup. He was
forced to go with the soldiers who took him to the air base and flew
him to Costa Rica. He has requested the U.S. Government make a public
statement condemning the coup, otherwise, it will indicate their

Caracas, Venezuela - The text message that beeped
on my cell phone this morning read "Alert, Zelaya has been kidnapped,
coup d'etat underway in Honduras, spread the word." It's a rude
awakening for a Sunday morning, especially for the millions of
Hondurans that were preparing to exercise their sacred right to vote
today for the first time on a consultative referendum concerning the
future convening of a constitutional assembly to reform the
constitution. Supposedly at the center of the controversary is today's
scheduled referendum, which is not a binding vote but merely an opinion
poll to determine whether or not a majority of Hondurans desire to
eventually enter into a process to modify their constitution.

an initiative has never taken place in the Central American nation,
which has a very limited constitution that allows minimal participation
by the people of Honduras in their political processes. The current
constitution, written in 1982 during the height of the Reagan
Administration's dirty war in Central America, was designed to ensure
those in power, both economic and political, would retain it with
little interference from the people. Zelaya, elected in November 2005
on the platform of Honduras' Liberal Party, had proposed the opinion
poll be conducted to determine if a majority of citizens agreed that
constitutional reform was necessary. He was backed by a majority of
labor unions and social movements in the country. If the poll had
occured, depending on the results, a referendum would have been
conducted during the upcoming elections in November to vote on
convening a constitutional assembly. Nevertheless, today's scheduled
poll was not binding by law.

In fact, several days before the
poll was to occur, Honduras' Supreme Court ruled it illegal, upon
request by the Congress, both of which are led by anti-Zelaya
majorities and members of the ultra-conservative party, National Party
of Honduras (PNH). This move led to massive protests in the streets in
favor of President Zelaya. On June 24, the president fired the head of
the high military command, General Romeo Vasquez, after he refused to
allow the military to distribute the electoral material for Sunday's
elections. General Romeo Vasquez held the material under tight military
control, refusing to release it even to the president's followers,
stating that the scheduled referendum had been determined illegal by
the Supreme Court and therefore he could not comply with the
president's order. As in the Unted States, the president of Honduras is
Commander in Chief and has the final say on the military's actions, and
so he ordered the General's removal. The Minister of Defense, Angel
Edmundo Orellana, also resigned in response to this increasingly tense

But the following day, Honduras' Supreme Court
reinstated General Romeo Vasquez to the high military command, ruling
his firing as "unconstitutional'. Thousands poured into the streets of
Honduras' capital, Tegucigalpa, showing support for President Zelaya
and evidencing their determination to ensure Sunday's non-binding
referendum would take place. On Friday, the president and a group of
hundreds of supporters, marched to the nearby air base to collect the
electoral material that had been previously held by the military. That
evening, Zelaya gave a national press conference along with a group of
politicians from different political parties and social movements,
calling for unity and peace in the country.

As of Saturday, the
situation in Honduras was reported as calm. But early Sunday morning, a
group of approximately 60 armed soldiers entered the presidential
residence and took Zelaya hostage. After several hours of confusion,
reports surfaced claiming the president had been taken to a nearby air
force base and flown to neighboring Costa Rica.

President Zelaya's wife, Xiomara Castro de
Zelaya, speaking live on Telesur at approximately 10:00am Caracas time,
denounced that in early hours of Sunday morning, the soldiers stormed
their residence, firing shots throughout the house, beating and then
taking the president. "It was an act of cowardice", said the first
lady, referring to the illegal kidnapping occurring during a time when
no one would know or react until it was all over. Castro de Zelaya also
called for the "preservation" of her husband's life, indicating that
she herself is unaware of his whereabouts. She claimed their lives are
all still in "serious danger" and made a call for the international
community to denounce this illegal coup d'etat and to act rapidly to
reinstate constitutional order in the country, which includes the
rescue and return of the democratically elected Zelaya.

Evo Morales of Bolivia and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela have both made
public statements on Sunday morning condeming the coup d'etat in
Honduras and calling on the international community to react to ensure
democracy is restored and the constitutional president is reinstated.
Last Wednesday, June 24, an extraordinary meeting of the member nations
of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), of which
Honduras is a member, was convened in Venezuela to welcome Ecuador,
Antigua & Barbados and St. Vincent to its ranks. During the
meeting, which was attended by Honduras' Foreign Minister, Patricia
Rodas, a statement was read supporting President Zelaya and condemning
any attempts to undermine his mandate and Honduras' democratic

Reports coming out of Honduras have informed that
the public television channel, Canal 8, has been shut down by the coup
forces. Just minutes ago, Telesur announced that the military in
Honduras is shutting down all electricity throughout the country. Those
television and radio stations still transmitting are not reporting the
coup d'etat or the kidnapping of President Zelaya, according to Foreign
Minister Patricia Rodas. "Telephones and electricity are being cut
off", confirmed Rodas just minutes ago via Telesur. "The media are
showing cartoons and soap operas and are not informing the people of
Honduras about what is happening". The situation is eerily reminiscent
of the April 2002 coup d'etat against President Chavez in Venezuela,
when the media played a key role by first manipulating information to
support the coup and then later blacking out all information when the
people began protesting and eventually overcame and defeated the coup
forces, rescuing Chavez (who had also been kidnapped by the military)
and restoring constitutional order.

Honduras is a nation that
has been the victim of dictatorships and massive U.S. intervention
during the past century, including several military invasions. The last
major U.S. government intervention in Honduras occured during the
1980s, when the Reagan Administration funded death squads and
paramilitaries to eliminate any potential "communist threats" in
Central America. At the time, John Negroponte, was the U.S. Ambassador
in Honduras and was responsible for directly funding and training
Honduran death squads that were responsible for thousands of
disappeared and assassinated throughout the region.

On Friday,
the Organization of American States (OAS), convened a special meeting
to discuss the crisis in Honduras, later issuing a statement condemning
the threats to democracy and authorizing a convoy of representatives to
travel to OAS to investigate further. Nevertheless, on Friday,
Assistant Secretary of State of the United States, Phillip J. Crowley,
refused to clarify the U.S. government's position in reference to the
potential coup against President Zelaya, and instead issued a more
ambiguous statement that implied Washington's support for the
opposition to the Honduran president. While most other Latin American
governments had clearly indicated their adamant condemnation of the
coup plans underway in Honduras and their solid support for Honduras'
constitutionally elected president, Manual Zelaya, the U.S. spokesman
stated the following, "We are concerned about the breakdown in the
political dialogue among Honduran politicians over the proposed June 28
poll on constitutional reform. We urge all sides to seek a consensual
democratic resolution in the current political impasse that adheres to
the Honduran constitution and to Honduran laws consistent with the
principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter."

As of
10:30am, Sunday morning, no further statements have been issued by the
Washington concerning the military coup in Honduras. The Central
American nation is highly dependent on the U.S. economy, which ensures
one of its top sources of income, the monies sent from Hondurans
working in the U.S. under the "temporary protected status" program that
was implemented during Washington's dirty war in the 1980s as a result
of massive immigration to U.S. territory to escape the war zone.
Another major source of funding in Honduras is USAID, providing over
US$ 50 millon annually for "democracy promotion" programs, which
generally supports NGOs and political parties favorable to U.S.
interests, as has been the case in Venezuela, Bolivia and other nations
in the region. The Pentagon also maintains a military base in Honduras
in Soto Cano, equipped with approximately 500 troops and numerous air
force combat planes and helicopters.

Foreign Minister Rodas has
stated that she has repeatedly tried to make contact with the U.S.
Ambassador in Honduras, Hugo Llorens, who has not responded to any of
her calls thus far. The modus operandi of the coup makes clear that
Washington is involved. Neither the Honduran military, which is
majority trained by U.S. forces, nor the political and economic elite,
would act to oust a democratically elected president without the
backing and support of the U.S. government. President Zelaya has
increasingly come under attack by the conservative forces in Honduras
for his growing relationship with the ALBA countries, and particularly
Venezuela and President Chavez. Many believe the coup has been executed to ensure that Honduras does not continue to unify with the
more populist, leftist and socialist countries in Latin America.
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Shamus Cooke is a social service worker and activist living in Portland Oregon.
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