Tuesday, June 30, 2009

DAY 3: COUP GOVERNMENT IN HONDURAS EXTENDS NATIONAL CURFEW THROUGH JULY 3rd

Brief note:

The coup government in Honduras, led by dictator Roberto Micheletti, former head of Congress, has reactivated the state television channel 8 after days of silence during the military coup that began on Sunday, June 28th. Apparently, the coup government needed a few days to find another team, loyal to the coup leaders, to operate the station.

A statement was read on Honduras' Channel 8 this evening, declaring an extension of the national curfew, imposed on Sunday, through July 3rd. The curfew is between the hours of 9pm and 5am. Those in the streets will be subject to military repression and detention.

There is no other justification for the imposed curfew and repression except for the stifling of dissent and the fear of mass protests to the coup government. This action further confirms Micheletti's coup regime is struggling to maintain control over the situation in the country and is responding to its opposition with repressive measures.

DAY 3: OAS & UN MEETINGS TURN THE PRESSURE UP ON COUP GOVERNMENT IN HONDURAS, WHICH DEFIANTLY REFUSES TO STEP DOWN

The coup government that took over the Honduran presidency on Sunday, June 28 via a military coup, is defiantly refusing to step down, despite major international pressure from the world community. Roberto Micheletti, former head of Congress before being sworn in as the coup president, has said he will not resign from the presidency, claiming his rise to power was a "constitutional act" and the "will of the people". Today in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, Micheletti held a rally with his supporters, mainly middle and upper class Hondurans, who filled the streets surrounding his podium. He was accompanied by previously deposed high military command General Romeo Vasquez, a School of the Americas graduate who led the coup efforts. Constitutional President Manuel Zelaya had ordered him to step down last Wednesday, after the General refused to obey orders from the president to distribute electoral material throughout the country to enable a non-binding consultation on the possibility of future constitutional reform that would have occurred Sunday had the coup not taken place.

Today, the democratically elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, ousted in the coup on Sunday, received widespread support from the 192 member nations of the United Nations, who all signed onto a resolution unanimously calling for Zelaya's unconditional reinstatement, condemning the coup d'etat underway in Honduras and strongly suggesting members cease relations with the coup-installed government until President Zelaya is returned to his elected office.

The Organization of American States in Washington, D.C., also received President Zelaya in a special session, and confirmed the commitment to resolve the political crisis in Honduras, as well as threatening to suspend Honduras' membership in the regional multilateral body until Zelaya is returned to power and the coup government steps down. Zelaya allegedly met with Sub-Secretary of State Thomas Shannon during his stay in Washington.

While the international pressure is heating up on the coup government to step down, Roberto Micheletti continues to enjoy the full support of Honduras' armed forces. Micheletti himself is a former soldier, adding to his close ties in the high military command. However, what is clear is that the Honduran armed forces would not act without the approval of the Pentagon, and particularly the approximately 600 US troops stationed on the Soto Cano base, a military presence that has been in Honduras actively since the early 1980s. In fact, Colonel Oliver North used the Soto Cano base in Honduras as a launching pad for the operations of the paramilitary death squads known as the "contra", trained and funded by the CIA, that were used to stifle leftist movements in Central America during the Reagan Administration, particularly in Nicaragua against the Sandinista government.

An interesting note that could provide clues regarding US support for the coup against Zelaya, is the fact that the Soto Cano base, while heavily funded and occupied by US military troops and personnel, and equipment, is actually not technically or legally a US military base. Honduran law forbids foreign military presence in the country. To get around the law, the US made a "handshake agreement" with the Honduran government decades ago, to allow the US military presence in exchange for economic and military aid. The US provides millions of dollars annually (between $60-$100 million/year) to Honduras in military and development aid.

Curiously, President Zelaya had issued a decree about a year ago, in early 2008, announcing the Soto Cano base, approximately 50 miles from the capital, would be used for commercial aircraft and international flights. A fund from the ALBA countries (the regional trade agreement between Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Dominique, St. Vicent, Antigua & Barbados) was dedicated to building a civilian terminal on the base. Such an effort could have led to a further expulsion of US military presence on the base, as the ALBA countries, staunchly anti-imperialist, could have supplemented the funding Honduras was dependent on from Washington. According to the terms of the "handshake agreement" regarding US military presence and occupation of Soto Cano, it could be terminated unilaterally by the Honduran government with little notice.

DAY 3 UPDATE: WORLD BANK "PAUSES" AID TO HONDURAS; WHY CAN'T OBAMA FOLLOW SUIT?

Strange to see the World Bank, headed by Bush-Reaganite Robert Zoellick, Condi Rice's second arm and co-signer of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) - the Bush-Cheney war doctrine in the Middle East to gain world energy control and domination and justify wars in Iraq and beyond - taking a step even the "progressive" Obama Administration has refused to pursue.

This in from Reuters:

"WASHINGTON, June 30 (Reuters) - The World Bank has "paused" all program lending to Honduras following a military coup in the impoverished country, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said on Tuesday.

"We're working closely with the OAS (Organization of American States) and looking to the OAS to deal with its handling of the crisis under its democratic charter," Zoellick told reporters, "In the process we have put a pause with our lending." (Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by James Dalgleish)"

Does Obama really want to appear further right-wing than Robert Zoellick?

DAY 3 UPDATE: COUP GOVERNMENT IN HONDURAS THREATENS TO IMPRISON PRESIDENT ZELAYA IF HE RETURNS

Despite efforts by the international community to pressure the coup government that illegally took power on Sunday in Honduras to step down, de facto president Roberto Micheletti has stated he will remain in power through January 2010, when a newly elected president is sworn in. Micheletti spoke today outside the presidential palace in the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa, to hundreds of supporters, announcing he will have President Zelaya arrested if he returns to Honduras. Zelaya confirmed again today, speaking before the United Nations General Assembly, that he plans to return to his post as constitutional president of Honduras this Thursday. He will be accompanied by Organization of American States Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza, Argentinean President Cristina Fernandez and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.

Zelaya's opposition controls the Honduran congress and supreme court, and de facto president Micheletti has already installed a partial cabinet and called on his Attorney General to draft detention orders that authorize President Zelaya's capture and imprisonment for alleged crimes of treason, drug trafficking and violation of the constitution. So far, Micheletti and his illegal coup imposed government have not presented any evidence of crimes committed by President Manuel Zelaya.

The Obama Administration is still wavering on its position regarding the Honduran coup. There is growing concern that should the U.S. Government fail to impose sanctions on Honduras and classify these events as a coup d'etat, Micheletti will take that as a silent approval of his de facto government and refuse to step down until the current presidential term runs out and elections are held in November.

Washington is still buying time by debating the "legal terminology" it choses to use in reference to the Honduran coup. Under U.S. law, the government must suspend most economic and military aid to a nation run by a military coup that has deposed a democratically elected government. Honduras is a major recipient of U.S. economic and military aid, totaling over $100 million annually. State Department representatives are currently negotiating with the coup government in Honduras to find a solution, which may be similar to Haiti in 2004 when President Aristide was kidnapped and forced into exile by opposition forces supported by Washington and later a "transition" government was implemented until elections could be held to install a new regime. It would be unfortunate and a major blow to democracy and social and economic justice if the current situation in Honduras ends the same way. It would also be a huge stain on the Obama Administration before the eyes of the international community and would finally "pop" the bubble of "hope" and "change" the Obama campaign sold to the world.

DAY 3 UPDATE: URGENT NEWS FLASH: U.S. SIGNS ONTO UN DECLARATION CONDEMNING COUP, CALLS FOR ZELAYA'S IMMEDIATE UNCONDITIONAL REINSTATEMENT

The UN General Assembly in New York just voted on the resolution discussed yesterday that unequivocally condemns the coup d'etat in Honduras, executed on Sunday, June 28th. The resolution calls for the immediate, unconditional return of President Zelaya to the presidency of Honduras to complete his term which ends in January 2010. The resolution also calls for all member states to REFUSE TO RECOGNIZE the coup government in place now in Honduras, headed by Roberto Micheletti, former head of Congress. The resolution also condemns human rights violations committed by coup leaders and condemns the violations of diplomatic norms also committed by the coup forces when they kidnapped and beat the Venezuela, Cuban and Nicaraguan ambassadors in Honduras on Sunday afternoon.

Nevertheless, as this Reuters article explains, "The resolution, watered down from an earlier draft that said the assembly "decides to recognize no government other than that" of Zelaya was co-sponsored by a group of Latin American and Caribbean states joined by several others including the United States."

And more importantly, "General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding.", meaning, it's symbolic, important, but still, symbolic. So we still need a firm statement from the US Government regarding the unconditional return of Zelaya to the Honduran presidency and the non-recognition of the coup government...

President Manuel Zelaya is right now speaking before the UN General Assembly.....


...will update as developments continue.

DAY 3, HONDURAN COUP CONTINUES; ZELAYA SAYS HE WILL RETURN THURSDAY

The meetings held yesterday in Nicaragua by Latin American and Caribbean nations concluded late in the evening. The ALBA nations, Rio Group, Central American nations and CARICOM (Caribbean nations) unanimously condemned the coup against President Zelaya in Honduras, called for his immediate and unconditional reinstatement to the presidency and for an investigation to be conducted into human rights violations that have been committed by the coup forces in place since Sunday.

The Central American nations and ALBA nations also recalled their ambassadors from Honduras and cut all diplomatic ties until President Zelaya is restored to power. The countries bordering Honduras, which are Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador, suspended all commercial activity and border traffic for 48 hours. Brasil also recalled its ambassador from Honduras and cut relations, as did Peru, which by the way is governed by right-winger Alan Garcia.

At the conclusion of last night's meetings in Managua, President Zelaya announced he will return on Thursday to Honduras, accompanied by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza, and a delegation of regional heads of state. This morning, President Cristina Fernandez of Argentina announced she will be a part of that delegation on Thursday.

Zelaya is expected to speak today before the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City. The UN has already issued a unanimous declaration condemning the coup and calling for Zelaya's immediate and unconditional reinstatement to the presidency. Zelaya will also be present at the special meeting convened today in Washington by the Organization of American States (OAS). It is expected that at this meeting, the OAS will suspend Honduras' membership from the regional body, a move set to severely isolate the coup government and encourage it (if not force it) to step down and allow for democracy to be restored.

There is still a curfew and media blackout imposed in Honduras. Yesterday's protests left several dead and hundreds wounded and detained by military forces.

The coup government, led by dictator Roberto Micheletti, still refuses to acknowledge its actions as illegal and in clear violation of Honduran and international law. They have stated that they are trying to communicate with the OAS and UN to "explain" the "truth" about what has happened in the country, still standing by their initial position regarding the events that have taken place since Sunday. The coup government continues to insist a "coup d'etat" has not occurred and that their violent and illegal actions have been in the "name of democracy".

Major international media are still reporting the reason behind Sunday's coup as an alleged "reelection" attempt by President Zelaya. But in reality, Sunday's scheduled opinion poll was not a reelection bid by Zelaya, it was a non-binding consultation with the people of Honduras, backed by more than 800,000 signatures from Honduran citizens that would merely consider the possibility of adding a 4th issue to the election ballot this coming November, when presidential elections are to be held. The question posed for Sunday's poll was:

"Do you agree that, during the general elections of November 2009 there should be a fourth ballot to decide whether to hold a Constitutional Assembly that will approve a new political constitution?"

As you can see, this makes no mention whatsoever of reelection efforts nor does it even confirm that an actual constitutional assembly would be held. It merely poses the question to the people to determine whether a majority of Hondurans want to allow the possibility of constitutional review and reform next year. In any case, the poll would have been non-binding.

A very important fact here is that President Zelaya's term runs out at the end of this year and he is not allowed to run for reelection under the current constitution. If the fourth ballot were included in the November elections and a constitutional assembly was convened, it wouldn't be until 2010. President Zelaya would no longer be president of Honduras and so therefore, his "reelection" would be impossible.

It's amazing how dramatically the media have distorted this issue.

The main reason the elite powers in Honduras didn't want Sunday's poll to take place was because they don't want the people's voice to be heard. The current constitution of 1982 in Honduras doesn't even recognize women's or indigenous people's rights. Imagine, if the people spoke, real change could happen, change that could alter the balance of power. Those in power, unwilling to share it, will do anything to crush initiatives for change.

The Obama Administration is still refusing to demand President Zelaya's immediate and unconditional reinstatement to the presidency and still is not considering suspending aid to Honduras until the coup government steps down. This is an unacceptable response to a clear violation of democracy and human rights. Even the Washington Post today is reporting on the US Government's role in the coup and its ambiguous position regarding the resolution to this crisis.

Excerpt here:

"Asked whether it was a U.S. priority to see Zelaya reinstalled, Clinton said: "We haven't laid out any demands that we're insisting on, because we're working with others on behalf of our ultimate objectives."

John D. Negroponte, a former senior State Department official and ambassador to Honduras, said Clinton's remarks appeared to reflect U.S. reluctance to see Zelaya returned unconditionally to power.

"I think she wants to preserve some leverage to try and get Zelaya to back down from his insistence on a referendum," he said.

Clinton told reporters that the situation in Honduras had "evolved into a coup" but that the United States was "withholding any formal legal determination" characterizing it that way....

The Obama administration has pledged to work more closely with Latin America and not dictate policy in its traditional back yard. But the United States has several points of leverage: It is Honduras's biggest trading partner, and President Obama has requested $68 million in development and military aid for 2010. Portions of that aid, which are provided directly to the government, would be cut off in the event of a coup. Congressional officials said last night they were not sure exactly how much that amounted to. Honduras also is a recipient of a five-year, $215 million Millennium Challenge grant that is conditioned on the country remaining a democracy.

The United States also has a close military relationship with Honduras. Hundreds of Honduran officers participate in U.S. military training programs each year, more than most other Western Hemisphere countries."

Monday, June 29, 2009

FROM REUTERS: HONDURAN ARMY SMOTHERS MEDIA AFTER COUP

TEGUCIGALPA, June 29 (Reuters) - Honduras has shut down television and radio stations since an army coup over the weekend, in a media blackout than has drawn condemnation from an international press freedom group.

Shortly after the Honduran military seized President Manuel Zelaya and flew him to Costa Rica on Sunday, soldiers stormed a popular radio station and cut off local broadcasts of international television networks CNN en Espanol and Venezuelan-based Telesur, which is sponsored by leftist governments in South America.

A pro-Zelaya channel also was shut down.

The few television and radio stations still operating on Monday played tropical music or aired soap operas and cooking shows.

They made little reference to the demonstrations or international condemnation of the coup even as hundreds of protesters rallied at the presidential palace in the capital to demand Zelaya's return and an end to the blackout.

"The spurious government is violating our right to information, blocking the signals of channels like CNN," Juan Varaona, a protest leader at a barricade, said as burning tires sent plumes of black smoke into the sky.

CNN en Espanol is the Spanish-language channel of the U.S.-based 24-hour news network CNN.

Others blasted the two main Honduran newspapers and said they were still online because they supported the coup.

"El Heraldo and El Tribuno are two papers that were part of the coup plot, them and some television channels controlled by the opposition," said 27-year-old Erin Matute, a government health worker.

"This morning, they were the only ones with signals, the others were shut down," Matute said at a barricade on a side street in the capital.

El Heraldo's website ran one headline saying "Semblance of normality across Honduras."


Some Hondurans used Internet social networking site Twitter to urge on demonstrators and spread news about the protests.

"Down with the coup! Brothers of Honduras break the information blackout and watch the repression on Telesur on the Internet," one message said.

Some protesters burned and smashed El Heraldo newspaper stands and others used them as barricades to block streets around the presidential palace.

PRESSURE ON OAS, WEST

Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders criticized the media shutdown.

"The suspension or closure of local and international broadcast media indicates that the coup leaders want to hide what is happening," the group said in a statement.

"The Organization of American States and the international community must insist that this news blackout is lifted."

Full article here.

HUFF POST BLOG: OBAMA HAS THE POWER AND RESPONSIBILITY TO HELP RESTORE DEMOCRACY IN HONDURAS

EXCERPT:

But when viewed from the closer physical (Miami is just 800 miles from Honduras) and historical proximity of the United States, the differences between Iran and Honduras are marked and clear in important ways: the M-16's pointing at this very moment at the thousands of peaceful protesters are paid for with U.S. tax dollars and still carry a "Made in America" label; the military airplane in which they kidnapped and exiled President Zelaya was purchased with the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid the Honduran government has been the benefactor of since the Cold War military build-up that began in 1980's; the leader of the coup, General Romeo Vasquez, and many other military leaders repressing the populace received "counterinsurgency" training at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly known as the infamous "School of the Americas," responsible for training those who perpetrated the greatest atrocities in the Americas.

The big difference between Iran and Honduras? President Obama and the U.S. can actually do something about a military crackdown that our tax dollars are helping pay for. That Vasquez and other coup leaders were trained at the WHINSEC, which also trained Agusto Pinochet and other military dictators responsible for the deaths, disappearances, tortures of hundreds of thousands in Latin America, sends profound chills throughout a region still trying to overcome decades U.S.-backed militarism.

Hemispheric concerns about the coup were expressed in the rapid, historic and almost universal condemnation of the plot by almost all Latin American governments. Such concerns in the region represent an opportunity for the United States. But, while the Honduran coup represents a major opportunity for Obama to make real his recent and repeated calls for a "new" relationship to the Americas, failure to take actions that send a rapid and unequivocal denunciation of the coup will be devastating to the Honduran people -- and to the still-fragile U.S. image in the region.

Recent declarations by the Administration -- expressions of "concern" by the President and statements by Secretary of State Clinton recognizing Zelaya as the only legitimate, elected leader of Honduras -- appear to indicate preliminary disapproval of the putsch. Yet, the even more unequivocal statements of condemnation from U.N. President Miguel D'Escoto, the Organization of American States, the European Union, and the Presidents of Argentina, Costa Rica and many other governments raise greatly the bar of expectation before the Obama Administration.

Full post here.

UPDATE 6:35PM TELESUR AND ASSOCIATED PRESS REPORTERS RELEASED IN HONDURAS AFTER MASS INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE

Adriana Sivori, correspondent for Telesur in Tegucigalpa has just been released, along with her camera crew and three Associated Press journalists who had been detained about half hour ago by military forces in Honduras under orders of the dictatorship that illegally took power yesterday in a coup d'etat that ousted constitutional president Mel Zelaya.

Sivori announced she, her crew and the AP journalists were taken prisoner while performing their journalist duties and forced into a military caravan by army forces loyal to the dictatorship. They were beaten and forcefully brought to immigration headquarters, most likely to be detained and deported, in order to silence their reporting. But due to a rapid response from different governments, the OAS, the UN and other international actors, they have been released.

The journalists are denouncing human rights violations in Honduras committed by the coup forces.

URGENT UPDATE 5:53PM TELESUR JOURNALISTS DETAINED BY COUP FORCES IN HONDURAS

Telesur, which has been the ONLY media outlet to provide non-stop coverage on the coup in Honduras since yesterday, has just been the victim of violent repression in Honduras. During the beginning of the meetings taking place this afternoon in Nicaragua with all heads of state from Latin America, Telesur abruptly interrupted coverage to broadcast the words and cries of Adriana Sivori, Telesur correspondent in Tegucigalpa, denouncing she was being detained, along with her cameraman, by military forces in Honduras under orders by the coup dictatorship. There is massive repression underway in Honduras right now. The Telesur team has been detained by armed forces and placed under arrest in clear violation of international law. Their identification documents have been confiscated by the military and they have been kidnapped.

Roberto Micheletti is the name of the dictator in Honduras, who illegally took over yesterday after the military coup kidnapped and forced into exile the democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya. Remember his name for he should be tried for human rights violations.

SECRETARY OF STATE CLINTON TODAY STATED THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT WAS NOT READY TO LEGALLY CALL THE DEVELOPMENTS IN HONDURAS A COUP D'ETAT, BECAUSE DOING SO WOULD REQUIRE WASHINGTON TO CUT OF ECONOMIC AID TO THE CENTRAL AMERICAN NATION AND BREAK RELATIONS, WHICH THEY ARE STILL HESITANT TO DO BECAUSE THOSE THAT ILLEGALLY TOOK POWER YESTERDAY IN HONDURAS ARE GROUPS AND POLITICAL PARTIES THAT RECEIVE US GOVERNMENT FUNDING FROM USAID, NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY, INTERNATIONAL REPUBLICAN INSTITUTE AND NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS. ADDITIONALLY THE HONDURAN MILITARY IS HEAVILY FUNDED BY THE STATE DEPARTMENT AND PENTAGON.

CALL ON THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO IMMEDIATELY DEMAND THE RELEASE OF THE TELESUR CORRESPONDENTS IN HONDURAS AND TO SUSPEND ALL ECONOMIC AID TO HONDURAS UNTIL DEMOCRATIC ORDER IS RESTORED, THE REPRESSION CEASES AND THE CONSTITUTIONAL PRESIDENT, MANUEL ZELAYA, IS RETURNED TO POWER:

State Department: 202-647-4000 or 1-800-877-8339
White House: Comments: 202-456-1111, Switchboard: 202-456-1414

UPDATE DAY 2: 5:30PM: US DECLARES 'COUP' BUT DOESN'T WANT TO CALL IT THAT

"WASHINGTON, June 29 (Reuters) - The United States said on Monday it views the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya as a coup but is not legally declaring this for now, a step that would require Washington cut off most aid to Tegucigalpa."

Well, confirms what I have been saying so far at least. The US is not assuming a clear position in reference to the coup d'etat in Honduras. If the US was really a defender of democracy, it would call the coup for what it is: a coup. And yes, cut off aid to Honduras until the constitutionally elected president, Manuel Zelaya, is returned to power.

But no, the US wants to wait and work with "all parties". So, the Obama administration is publicly admitting it wants to dialogue with a coup government that just yesterday violently kidnapped and forced the democratically elected president into exile so he couldn't "interfere" with their plans to illegally take over the government and implement a dictatorship and repressive state. Right now, the military forces in Honduras are in the streets repressing the people, because a national curfew has been imposed and those in the streets are therefore violating the state of emergency dictator decree. The dictatorship in Honduras also shut down all media - television, radio & print - that have reported on the coup. And most people in Honduras, the third poorest country in the region, don't have internet access, so, they are in the dark information-wise.

Here is the full Reuters story: U.S. holds off on cutting aid to Honduras

UPDATE DAY 2: 4:30PM: OBAMA AND CLINTON SPEAK OUT ON HONDURAN COUP; STILL AMBIGUOUS

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made remarks today about the military-civil coup that took place in Honduras yesterday against President Manuel Zelaya. While condemning the coup, she also stated Washington was not "calling for the reinstatement" of President Zelaya but rather was still "feeling out" and "monitoring" the situation. She also said the Obama administration was not considering cutting of aid to Honduras at this time, despite a coup government being in place. After wavering around saying a "coup d'etat" had taken place in Honduras yesterday, today Clinton said the United States believes the unrest in Honduras "has evolved into a coup." Nice to know.

President Obama spoke about Honduras at the end of a meeting with right-wing President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia in the Oval Office. The two were meeting on different issues unrelated to the Honduran coup, regarding a free trade agreement between both states that has been stuck in the US Congress for over a year due to congressmembers' protests against human rights violations in Colombia. Obama referred to Honduras very briefly, stating, " the weekend ouster of Honduran leader Manuel Zelaya was a "not legal" coup and that he remains the country's president." (Is there such thing as a 'legal coup'?)

From Associated Press:

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama says the weekend ouster of Honduran leader Manuel Zelaya was a "not legal" coup and that he remains the country's president.

Obama spoke to reporters in the Oval Office on Monday after meetings with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. Obama said he wanted to be very clear that President Zelaya is the democratically elected president.
Obama pledged the U.S. to "stand on the side of democracy" and to work with other nations and international entities to resolve the matter peacefully.

NOTE THAT CLINTON'S STATEMENTS ARE FAIRLY AMBIGUOUS, SHE LEAVES ROOM FOR WORKING WITH THE COUP LEADERS....AND SOMEWHAT JUSTIFIES THEIR ACTIONS...

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday the United States believes the unrest in Honduras "has evolved into a coup," but the U.S. is not demanding that deposed President Manuel Zelaya be restored to office.
She also said the military coup has not triggered an automatic cutoff of U.S. aid to Honduras.

Clinton told reporters at the State Department that a delegation from the Organization of American States will be heading to Honduras as early as Tuesday "to begin working with the parties" on the restoration of constitutional order.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said President Barack Obama has not spoken with Zelaya since the Honduran leader was forced into exile. Gibbs said it was premature to talk about whether the U.S. would withdraw its ambassador or seek to cut off aid from Honduras.

Clinton stopped short of saying the Obama administration would demand the return to power of the deposed president, who was forcibly removed from the country on Sunday morning by the Honduran military.

A reporter asked whether the administration would insist that Zelaya be restored to power.

"We haven't laid out any demands that we're insisting on, because we're working with others on behalf of our ultimate objectives, which are shared broadly," Clinton replied.

"So we think that the arrest and expulsion of a president is certainly cause for concern that has to be addressed. And it's not just with respect to whether our aid continues, but whether democracy in Honduras continues."

Clinton cited a "fast-moving set of circumstances" in Honduras that require close monitoring.

"Our immediate priority is to restore full democratic and constitutional order in that country," Clinton said at her first news conference since breaking her right elbow in a fall at the State Department June 17.

"As we move forward, all parties have a responsibility to address the underlying problems that led to yesterday's events in a way that enhances democracy and the rule of law in Honduras," she added.

While stating that circumstances in Honduras had "evolved into a coup," Clinton added that it was a fast-moving situation with an uncertain outcome. "So we are withholding any formal legal determination. But I think the reality is that having expelled the president, we have a lot of work to do to try to help the Hondurans get back on the democratic path that they've been on for a number of years now," Clinton said.

She said the United States is looking at its aid program for the country and considering the implications of the forced removal of Zelaya for continued American assistance.

UPDATE DAY 2: 11:17AM; VIOLENCE IN FRONT OF THE PRESIDENTIAL PALACE IN HONDURAS

ALERT: There is an irregular situation occurring outside the presidential palace in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Soldiers in riot gear are surrounding the palace, preparing for the coup leaders arrival. But the soldiers are not there to prevent the coup leaders from entering the palace, rather to facilitate their entry and the prevent protesters from nearing the palace grounds. The soldiers are in full riot gear with major weapons on hand and a potential major violent repression is about to occur.


Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas, previously kidnapped, beaten and forced into midnight exile by the coup leaders is giving declarations from her forced exile in Mexico. She confirmed she will be going together with Mexican president Felipe Calderon to the meetings in Nicaragua today. She reaffirmed the government she represents of President Manuel Zelaya remains the legitimate government of Honduras. President Calderon of Mexico, a right-wing president, has offered his help to dialogue with the coup leaders in Honduras in order to restore constitutional order.

DAY 2: COUP IN HONDURAS; MASS REPRESSION IN THE STREETS

Last night, the coup government de facto president in Honduras, Roberto Micheletti, spoke live in a television interview (the only television station left open in Honduras, the others have been shut down by the military), and reinforced his determination to remain in power. He said he would allow President Zelaya to return to the country - not as president, but as a citizen - only if he renounces his relationship with President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. Micheletti also said he didn't need the approval of any nation - including the US- regarding his position in power and the "new government" in place in Honduras. Despite all of the condemnations from the international community, Micheletti has said his coup government will not step down.

Today there are several meetings in Nicaragua - the Rio Group is meeting (comprised of all Latin American and Caribbean nations), ALBA countries have been meeting since last night (Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Dominica, St. Vicent, Antigua and Barbados and Honduras) and the Central American nations are also all going to meet later today to discuss the situation in Honduras.

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has made a statement unilaterally condemning the coup in Honduras and calling for President Zelaya's immediate reinstatement. All have said so far they will only recognize Zelaya as the legitimate president of Honduras.

Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas has been released by the coup military officers who beat and detained her. She was forced into exile in Mexico, where she is now and is expected to fly later today with Mexican president Felipe Calderon to Nicaragua.

The coup government in Honduras has issued arrest warrants for members of Zelaya's cabinet that are still in the country. There is widespread repression throughout the country. A curfew was imposed by the coup government last night at 9pm to 6am this morning and the military have thoroughly barricaded the presidential palace to prevent protesters from getting close.

Television, press and radio in Honduras are not reporting AT ALL on the coup and President Zelaya's whereabouts. As they did during the April 2002 against Chávez in Venezuela, television stations are showing soap operas and regular programming, print media is not mentioning the coup at all and neither is radio. There is a MAJOR BLACKOUT on information in Honduras.

No longer is the coup in Honduras making international headlines. Seems like the international media doesn't really care that a military coup has just occurred in Honduras and the president was kidnapped, beaten and forced into exile. Nor are they reporting that for the first time ever, all multilateral organisms, like the OAS, UN, European Community, ALBA, UNASUR, etc, have all condemned the coup and convened emergency meetings to discuss solutions.

This afternoon, President Obama meets with President Uribe of Colombia, in a previously scheduled meeting, and will most likely make statements regarding the situation in Honduras.

Nevertheless, it seems like in the particular coup scenario, Obama has lost control. The US Military Group and Embassy in Honduras have been directly involved with the coup leaders. USAID and the Pentagon have backed this coup, there is just really no question. The Honduran military would never have moved with consent from their commanding officers, the US Military Group in Honduras and those stationed on the Soto Cano base.

TOTALLY GROSS MIAMI HERALD ARTICLE ON HONDURAS

Check out this quote:

''This man broke the law and he deserved to be taken away,'' Alvarez aid. ``We want democracy in our country and for Chavez to butt out. And we want the United States to give us support.''

From the Miami Herald article, "Hondurans in South Florida express support for shake-up"....WTF?

UPDATE 1:00AM; US GOVT. CONFIRMS IT KNEW COUP WAS COMING

A New York Times article has just confirmed that the US Government has been "working for several days" with the coup planners in Honduras to halt the illegal overthrow of President Zelaya. While this may indicate nobility on behalf of the Obama Administration, had they merely told the coupsters that the US Government would CUT OFF all economic aid and blockade Honduras in the event of a coup, it's almost a 100% guarantee that the military and right wing parties and business groups involved in the coup would not have gone through with it.

So, while many make excuses for the Obama Administration's "calculated" statements, had they been more firm with the coup leaders, instead of "negotiating", the coup may never have happened. Also, the State Department says they believed "dialogue" was the best way to resolve the situation, but their lack of clarity and firm position has caused multiple human rights violations to occur in Honduras and a lot of tension to take place in the region.

And during the April 2002 coup against Chávez in Venezuela, the State Department also claimed it knew of the coup and tried to "stop" it. Later, in my investigations, it was discovered through documents from State and CIA declassified under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that CIA, State and other US agencies, funded, supported, advised and armed the coup leaders....

Here is the NY Times article posted a few hours ago.

And for the documents on the April 2002 in Venezuela, see my first book, The Chávez Code...or visit www.venezuelafoia.info.

UPDATE 12:26AM: ALBA COUNTRIES MEETING IN NICARAGUA WITH PRESIDENT ZELAYA

The ALBA nations have been convened for a special meeting in Managua, Nicaragua. Presidents Chávez of Venezuela, Correa of Ecuador and Ortega of Nicaragua are present, along with Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez. President Zelaya of Honduras, ousted earlier this morning by a militar-civil coup, is the guest of honor. Zelaya gave a recount of his kidnapping, saying machine guns opened fired on his residence this morning before soldiers kidnapped him and placed him on the presidential airplane. He didn't know where he was going until he arrived to Costa Rica. Apparently, the Costa Rican government was notified as Zelaya's plane was landing. The ALBA countries have clearly condemned the coup in Honduras today and are meeting to such effect.

The OAS declaration was also quite clear in condemning the coup and calling for President Zelaya's immediate reinstatement to power. Nevertheless, the coup government in Honduras has refused to respond to the calls of the international community to restore Zelaya to power. They continue to insist a coup has not taken place, but rather a "transition" to "democracy". (?!).

Two State Dept spokespeople have given a press conference and indicated, still a bit ambiguously, that the US Govt is calling for Zelaya's reinstatement and only recognizes him as the constitutional president of Honduras. Here is an extract of their telephone press conference today:

"QUESTION: Thanks. This is Elise Labott with CNN. Thanks for doing this. I know you say that this is a – it has to be dealt with internally, but I was wondering, given the presence of U.S. troops in the country, whether you’ve been in touch with the military. It sounds like the military has been kind of restricted to the barracks. So are there any discussions with the military right now, and are you working with them to try and find some compromise? Thanks.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: By the military, you mean U.S. military or Honduran?
QUESTION: Well, no, I mean, is the U.S. military making contact with the Honduran military at this point? I mean, whether the – where are your – I mean, obviously, since the president – and it sounds like the foreign minister has been detained too, maybe – I mean, what are your contacts with the Honduran government right now?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: We do not have military-to-military communications at this point. At the beginning of the day, the Honduran armed forces were taking calls from our Embassy as we were condemning this act, and – but they have ceased to take those calls.
QUESTION: So how are you – I mean, what is your communication with the government right now since you’re not talking to the military? And what is the situation with the foreign minister? Was he detained as well?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: We believe the foreign minister was detained. I don’t have independent confirmation of that; however, our ambassador in a public press conference called for the release of all officials who have been detained, demanding that Honduran authorities release them immediately.
We have been attempting to communicate with especially members of congress and others who have been driving this process, and insisting that they need to step down and restore full democratic and constitutional order.
QUESTION: But you haven’t heard back from them?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Well, I mean, they haven’t done that yet, so --
QUESTION: Okay. Thanks.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Cal Woodward. Please state your affiliation.
QUESTION: Associated Press. Just to be clear, are you – is the U.S. Government calling for the return of the president?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Correct. "

Sunday, June 28, 2009

UPDATE 7:40PM: OAS RESOLUTION SHOULD IMPLY US CONDEMNATION

Since the Obama Administration has stated the coup situation in Honduras should be resolved via the OAS, and the OAS has just condemned the coup and called for the unconditional restoration of President Zelaya to power, that should also imply that the US Government shares the same position.

Some rumors are flying around that two US government reps have made statements to the effect of Obama not recognizing the coup government in Honduras, but not wanting to "get involved" and to "wait" for the coup government to decide it is illegitimate by analyzing the OAS decision.

I think a clear coup d'etat against a democratic government that also happens to be a major dependent on US economic and political aid should provoke a more firm and concise statement by the US Government.

Tomorrow the State Dept will have to respond to questions about the coup....

UPDATE 6:54PM OAS HAS JUST CONDEMNED COUP IN HONDURAS, CALLS FOR ZELAYA'S REINSTATEMENT

In a major blow to the coup leaders in Honduras who just illegally installed themselves in power, the Organization of American States (OAS) has just issued a resolution condemning the coup against President Zelaya, demanding the return of Zelaya to power immediately and clarifying that the OAS will not recognize any other government other than Zelaya's in Honduras. Whew! For a minute there I thought this was going to turn out like Haiti in 2004 when coup forces kidnapped President Aristide and forced him into exile and, while the OAS "condemned" the constitutional rupture, they never called for Aristide's reinstatement, and since the US backed the coup, an illegal transitional government was installed and nothing more came of it from the international community.

This time, things seem different. Still waiting on the US Government's official position...If they say they will not recognize the coup government, then we have to see how things will play out in Honduras.

5:37PM COUP GOVERNMENT IN PLACE IN HONDURAS

It's official, illegal, but official. Roberto Micheletti, up until right now the head of Congress, has just been sworn in as de facto president after violently ousting President Zelaya from power, kidnapping him and forcing him into exile in Costa Rica. Micheletti just gave a speech before Congress, broadcast live via CNN en Español and Telesur, along with Honduran stations, was enraged with power, often yelling and declaring his "utmost respect for democracy and the constitution" (?!) He also discussed how his "cabinet" which he is about to announce, will "restore democracy" and "respect for the constitution" to the country. He repeated over and over again that what took place was not a military-civil coup but rather a "civil society" action to "ensure democracy".

Still no word about kidnapped and beaten Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas' whereabouts. The Congress also did not explain President Zelaya's beating and kidnapping and forced exile or the forged resignation letter, which they now obviously are no longer using as a legitimate "justification" for the coup. It's just too bogus.

BTW, The US Military Group in Honduras trains around 300 Honduran soldiers every year, provides more than $500,000 annually to the Honduran Armed Forces and additionally provides $1.4 million for a military education and exchange program for around 300 more Honduran soldiers every year.

UPDATE 5:00PM ILLEGAL SWEARING IN OF DE FACTO PRESIDENT IN HONDURAS

RIght now the Honduran Congress is illegally swearing in the president of Congress, Micheletti, as the de facto president of Honduras, in the next development of this ongoing military-civil coup taking place throughout the day.

President Zelaya is still in forced exile in Costa Rica, after being beaten and kidnapped by soldiers under orders of those involved in the coup. Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas is still disappeared, after also being beaten and taking prisoner by the Honduran military in clear violation of her rights.

The United States maintains a military base in Soto Cano, Honduras, that houses approximately 500 soldiers and special forces. The U.S. military group in Honduras is one of the largest in U.S. Embassies in the region. The leaders of the coup today are graduates of the U.S. School of the Americas, a training camp for dictators and repressive forces in Latin America.

Will the Obama Administration recognize the coup government in place now in Honduras? Or will Obama call for the reinstatement of constitutional president Manuel Zelaya. We are waiting to hear from the White House....

Tonight, a special meeting of ALBA nations has been convened in Managua, Nicaragua. Heads of state or high level representatives from Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Venezuela, Dominica, San Vincent and Antigua and Barbados are expected to attend.

UPDATE 4:32PM MASSIVE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS UNDERWAY IN HONDURAS

The Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya, elected in November 2005, has been kidnapped, beaten and forced into exile in Costa Rica. A fake letter of resignation, with his forged signature (see blog entry below), was used by Honduras' opposition majority Congress to justify the president's ouster. Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas was brutally beaten and kidnapped by military forces in her residence just before noon and taken into custody. She has not been seen since.

In complete violation of diplomatic law, the ambassadors of Venezuela and Cuba were both beaten and kidnapped for a short period by Honduran soldiers, under orders of the coup leaders. They have both been released and have taken refuge again in their respective embassies.

A non-binding vote, scheduled for today, on a possible future constitutional assembly, was impeded by the coup leaders, violating the Honduran people's right to vote and participate in their political processes.

Nations around the world, including the United Nations, Organization of American States, Latin American countries and even the United States have condemned the events in Honduras. Only the Obama Administration has yet to clarify whether they will recognize the illegal coup government led by the president of Honduras' congress, Micheletti.

UPDATE 4:10PM IF OBAMA DOES NOT REFUSE TO RECOGNIZE COUP LEADERS THAN US APPROVING MILITARY COUP

AS of this time, late Sunday afternoon, after the Honduran Congress has illegally removed President Zelaya from power and violently kidnapped and forced him into exile in Costa Rica, the Obama Administration has STILL NOT stated that it WILL NOT recognize any other president of Honduras other than the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya.

All of the nations in the region have made clear that they will only recognize President Zelaya as the legitimate president of Honduras. Even the United Nations and European Community have made clear the same sentiment. Only the Obama Administration has made no statement confirming that it will not recognize the head of Congress, who just declared himself president of Honduras, as a legitimate leader.

THIS IS AN OUTRAGE! We must DEMAND the Obama Administration refuse to recognize any other president than Manuel Zelaya in Honduras. If the Obama administration's rejects such a demand, then it is evidences its role in this illegal military coup.

UPDATE: 3:44PM FAKE RESIGNATION LETTER FROM ZELAYA DATED 3 DAYS AGO



Alleged resignation letter with forged signature from President Zelaya is dated June 25, 2009. This is completely ridiculous considering that up until he was violently kidnapped this morning, Zelaya gave no indication whatsoever that he was planning to resign. Today, in is forced exile from Costa Rica, he has reaffirmed his role as constitutional president of Honduras and denied any resignation via letter or any other means.

The Honduran Congress has violated the human rights of its citizens and has brutally repressed members of Zelaya's administration. Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas, who was beaten and taken from her home a few hours ago, has still not resurfaced.

The Honduran Congress says they have not executed a coup d'etat but rather are installing "rule of law" and "democracy". WTF?????

BTW, the FAKE RESIGNATION letter states:

"Mr. President:

Due to the polarizing political situation in the country, which has provoked a national conflict that is eroding my political support, and due to my uncureable health problems that have impeded me from concentrating on my fundamental duties in the government, I am handing in my irrevocable resignation as President of the Republic, together with my Cabinet members, effective as of today.

With my resignation, I hope to contribute to healing the wounds in the national political environment.

Sincerely,

Jose Manual Zelaya Rosales
President of the Republic of Honduras

Addressed to: President of the National Congress
Honorable Representative Don Roberto Micheletti Bain
Legislative Palace
Tegucigalpa"


THIS IS CLEARLY A FAKE! AND THE GUY IT'S ADDRESSED TO, MICHELETTI, IS THE ONE THE CONGRESS JUST NAMED PRESIDENT OF HONDURAS!

Also, the "health problems" referred to in the letter are regarding the opposition's claim that President Zelaya is "mentally ill". Hmmm....the Venezuelan opposition has tried to say the same about President Chavez and have even had psychiatric studies conducted to back their "accusations".

Maybe all of us are mentally ill who fight for social and economic justice and refuse to bow to imperialism, fascism and military coups!!

3:30PM: HONDURAN CONGRESS SAYS CAN'T ALLOW CONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY TO EVER TAKE PLACE

A member of Honduras' Congress has just admitted that in discussions with the US Ambassador in Honduras, the US Ambassador suggested they just let the opinion poll take place and then vote against the Constitutional Assembly in November, but, said the congressmember, "we can't just allow 'these people' to do this with the help of Venezuela and Cuba."

"we can't have a constitution that allows the 'people' to elect members on the supreme court and allows the 'people' to be involved in government".......

They also blamed Zelaya for increases in corruption, drugtrafficking and the relationship with "chavismo" in Venezuela....

Nevertheless, they can be in disagreement with Zelaya's policies, but he was elected by a majority of Honduran people and still remains popular as their president...It's the elite and the conservative parties, which have power in Congress, who have backed this coup...

3:15PM INT'L COMMUNITY UNANIMOUSLY REJECTS MILITARY COUP IN HONDURAS

The Organization of American States, ALBA nations, European Community, United Nations, UNASUR, MERCOSUR and even the United States have now ALL condemned the military coup underway in Honduras. HOWEVER, the Honduran Congress, Supreme Court and military are refusing to recognize their actions as a coup d'etat.

Still the other nation to not unequivocally call for President Zelaya's immediate rescue and reinstatement is the United States, nevertheless, Hillary Clinton has issued a statement condemning the "situation" in Honduras and calling for "respect" for constitutional order.

Electricity and state media outlets in Honduras are still shut down in order to impose a curfew and blackout state so the military coup can succeed.

Honduran Congress live on CNN en español, Jose Alfredo Saavedra, Secretary of the Congress, has just read a Decree declaring President Zelaya no longer President of Honduras because he wanted to proceed with the opinion poll scheduled to occur today.

What happened to the validity of all those who voted for Zelaya? He is the elected president since 2005!

UPDATE 3:00PM: PEOPLE TAKING THE STREETS IN HONDURAS TO PROTEST MILITARY COUP

Minister of the Presidency in Honduras, Enrique FLores Lanza, is live on "Once Noticias" Channel 11 news in Honduras affirming that hundreds of thousands of Hondurans are taking to the streets to demand the return of President Zelaya. He has confirmed that President Zelaya HAS NOT RESIGNED and the letter presented by the Congress is a FAKE.

The OBAMA Administration has not yet called for the unequivocal reinstatement of Zelaya to the presidency of Honduras.

Call the State Department and the White House
Demand that they call for the immediate reinstatement of Honduran President Zelaya.

State Department: 202-647-4000 or 1-800-877-8339
White House: Comments: 202-456-1111, Switchboard: 202-456-1414


The Honduran Congress and Supreme Court are backing the Armed Forces and the military coup. They say a military coup per se has not occurred because the military does not want to take power, but rather the head of Congress will be named president.

PRESIDENT ZELAYA WAS BEATEN AND KIDNAPPED FROM HIS HOUSE THIS MORNING AND TAKEN BY FORCE TO AN AIRPLANE AND SENT TO COSTA RICA. FOREIGN MINISTER PATRICIA RODAS HAS BEEN BEATEN, KIDNAPPED AND IMPRISONED BY MILITARY FORCES AND IS STILL IN CUSTODY, HER WHEREABOUTS UNKNOWN. HONDURAN TELEVISION IS TRYING TO SAY THIS IS NOT A COUP. BUT THIS IS A COUP D'ETAT AND MUST BE UNILATERALLY CONDEMNED AND DEFEATED BY THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TOGETHER WITH THE HONDURAN PEOPLE.

UPDATE 2:20pm PRESIDENT ZELAYA DENIES RESIGNATION, LIVE ON CNN

President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras was just live on CNN en Español, confirming that he never signed nor authorized his resignation from the presidency. This is a coup d'etat taking place, he denounced. The Honduran congress has forged a resignation letter removing illegally the president from power. They say it's a correspondence they have received and have to process, but have not confirmed its authenticity. MAJOR COUP UNDERWAY.

UPDATE 2:10PM: CNN BROADCASTS FROM HONDURAN CONGRESS; STATING ZELAYA HAS RESIGNED

Incredible! Just like Venezuela, April 2002. CNN has just issued a report saying that the Honduran Congress has just read President Zelaya's resignation from the presidency and the head of Congress will be the new president of Honduras. However, just under one hour ago, President Zelaya spoke live from Costa Rica and did not give ANY indication whatsoever that he was going to resign. Zelaya moreover reiterated that he remains the elected president of Honduras until 2010 and was hoping to return to his country as soon as possible.....Is the resignation letter real? Or is this yet another strange repetition of Venezuela in 2002 when the opposition forces released a forged resignation letter they attributed to President Chávez but had actually been doctored by the coup leaders...

UPDATE 2:00PM: SOA WATCH CALLS FOR URGENT CALLS TO STATE DEPT

Military Coup in Honduras
A military coup has taken place in Honduras this morning (Sunday, June 28), led by SOA graduate Romeo Vasquez. In the early hours of the day, members of the Honduran military surrounded the presidential palace and forced the democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya, into custody. He was immediately flown to Costa Rica.

A national vote had been scheduled to take place today in Honduras to consult the electorate on a proposal of holding a Constitutional Assembly in November. General Vasquez had refused to comply with this vote and was deposed by the president, only to later be reinstated by the Congress and Supreme Court.

The Honduran state television was taken off the air. The electricity supply to the capital Tegucigalpa, as well telephone and cellphone lines were cut. Government institutions were taken over by the military. While the traditional political parties, Catholic church and military have not issued any statements, the people of Honduras are going into the streets, in spite of the fact that the streets are militarized. From Costa Rica, President Zelaya has called for a non-violent response from the people of Honduras, and for international solidarity for the Honduran democracy.

While the European Union and several Latin American governments just came out in support of President Zelaya and spoke out against the coup, a statement that was just issued by Barack Obama fell short of calling for the reinstatement of Zelaya as the legitimate president.
Call the State Department and the White House
Demand that they call for the immediate reinstatement of Honduran President Zelaya.

State Department: 202-647-4000 or 1-800-877-8339
White House: Comments: 202-456-1111, Switchboard: 202-456-1414

Visit www.SOAW.org and www.SOAW.org/presente for articles and updated information.

UPDATE 1pm: PRESIDENT ZELAYA GIVES PRESS CONFERENCE FROM COSTA RICA

President Zelaya is speaking right now live from San Jose, Costa Rica, alongside the right-wing president of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias, who traditionally has been a staunch ally of Washington. Arias has just adamantly condemned the coup against Zelaya and called for the whole hemisphere to follow suit.

UPDATE 12:30pm

Foreign Minister of Honduras Patricia Rodas has been taken from her home by soldiers, beaten and imprisoned. Serious human rights violations are occurring in Honduras and President Obama has so far only said he is "concerned". Another showing of a US double standard? Since Zelaya is a "leftist" president, will the Obama administration refuse to condemn the coup against him?

Chávez announces that President Bachelet of Chile has also condemned the coup in Honduras and is emitting a formal declaration.

UPDATE 12:26pm CHAVEZ SPEAKING LIVE

President Chávez of Venezuela has just announced that the Cuban Ambassador in Honduras has been kidnapped and beaten by Honduran military forces. The Venezuelan Ambassador was beaten, kidnapped and left at the side of a road outside of Tegucigalpa. Chávez has denounced that both CNN and Venezuelan private station Globovisión have been trying to justify the coup against President Zelaya in Honduras. Chávez is live from the presidential palace together with the Honduran Ambassador in Venezuela. Chávez spoke with Fidel Castro in Cuba just over an hour ago regarding the situation. Both Cuba and Venezuela, along with Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador, have unilaterally condemned the coup in Honduras.

UPDATE ON HONDURAN COUP D'ETAT

UPDATE: 12: 18pm - Dan Restrepo, Presidential Advisor to President Obama for Latin American Affairs, is currently on CNN en Español. He has just stated that Obama's government is communicating with the coup forces in Honduras, trying to "feel out" the situation. He also responded to the reporter's question regarding whether Washington would recognize a government in Honduras other than President Zelaya's elected government, by saying that the Obama Administration "is waiting to see how things play out" and so long as democratic norms are respected, will work with all sectors. This is a confirmation practically of support for the coup leaders. Restrepo also inferred that other countries are interfering in Honduras' international affairs, obviously referring to Venezuela and other ALBA nations who have condemned the coup with firm statements earlier this morning.


UPDATE: 12pm noon – The Organization of American States is meeting in an emergency session in Washington concerning the situation in Honduras and the kidnapping of Honduras’ president. Venezuelan Ambassador to the OAS, Roy Chaderton, just announced that the ambassadors of Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua in Honduras have just been kidnapped along with Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas, and are being beaten by Honduran military forces.

President Obama has made a statement regarding his “concern” for the situation in Honduras and a call to all political leaders and parties to “respect democratic norms”. However, this statement is NOT a clear condemnation of the coup d’etat that has taken place during the early morning hours on Sunday. Nor did Obama indicate, as other countries have done, that Washington would not recognize any other government in Honduras other than the elected government of Manual Zelaya.

Opposition forces in Honduras, led by a US-funded NGO Grupo Paz y Democracia, have stated via CNN that a coup has not ocurred, but rather a “transition” to democracy. Martha Diaz, coordinator of the NGO, which receives USAID funding, has just declared minutes ago on CNN that “civil society” does not support President Zelaya nor his “illegal quest” to hold a non-binding referendum on a potential future constitutional reform. She justified his kidnapping, beating and removal from power as a “democratic transition”. Again, this is eerily reminiscent of the coup d’etat in Venezuela in April 2002, when so-called “civil society” along with dissident military forces kidnapped President Chávez and installed a “transition government”. The goups involved also received funding from the U.S. government, primarily via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and later from USAID as well.

CNN en Español, Telesur, and other international television stations reporting on the situation in Honduras have been removed from the airways in the Central American nation. The whereabouts of the Foreign Minister and the ambassadors of Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua are still unknown. OAS General Secretary Jose Miguel Insulze has announced he will travel immediately to Honduras to investigate the situation. President Chávez of Venezuela has also announced an emergency meeting of ALBA nations in Managua, Nicaragua, as soon as this evening.

More to come as the situation develops over the next few hours. Catch live blogging at www.chavezcode.com.

COUP D'ETAT UNDERWAY IN HONDURAS

OBAMA’S FIRST COUP D’ETAT
President Zelaya of Honduras has just been kidnapped
By Eva Golinger (evagolinger@hotmail.com or evagolinger@gmail.com)
28 June 2009

[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 compliance.]

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.

Such 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 Vásquez, after he refused to allow the military to distribute the electoral material for Sunday’s elections. General Romeo Vásquez 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 situation.

But the following day, Honduras’ Supreme Court reinstated General Romeo Vásquez 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. No images have been seen of the president so far and it is unknown whether or not his life is still endangered.

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 cowardness”, said the first lady, referring to the illegal kidnapping occuring during a time when no one would know or react until it was all over. Casto 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.

Presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia and Hugo Chávez 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 condenming any attempts to undermine his mandate and Honduras’ democratic processes.

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 Chávez 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 Chávez (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 Reagain 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 responsable 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 condeming 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 Chávez. Many believe the coup has been executed as a method of ensuring Honduras does not continue to unify with the more leftist and socialist countries in Latin America.

Monday, June 15, 2009

LATEST PUBLICATIONS (EN ESPAÑOL, SORRY)

Interview with me by Salvador López Arnal for Rebelion.org

Article of mine on US reaction to the Organization of American States (OAS) decision to overturn the 1962 Resolution that suspended Cuba's participation from the regional organization

Article of mine on US policies regarding Ideological Exclusion

Article of mine on latest right-wing meeting in Venezuela sponsored by NED/USAID (US taxpayer $$$)

I'm currently working on a book about US intervention in Bolivia with a particular emphasis on USAID. It will be published simultaneously in English and Spanish.

I apologize for not posting more, but living and working in Venezuela, I tend to redact more articles in Spanish for local publication and then can never find enough time to translate to English more frequently!! Any interested translators can email me at evagolinger@gmail.com

Thanks for your patience!