UNITED NATIONS (FinalCall.com) – “I am going to fulfill my four years. I am going to fight to have the four years respected, because it is part of our law,” Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales, the deposed president of Honduras, recently told UN reporters.
Mr. Zelaya, as he is known, denied reports that the military coup was a result of his seeking a constitutional change that would allow a second term, saying if offered the chance to remain in power, he would reject it.
“I could never have considered convening such a constitutional assembly because it is forbidden by the existing constitution,” said Mr. Zelaya June 30. He added that when his term ends on January 27, 2010, he planned to return to life as a cattle farmer, with no role in governing the nation of eight million people.
In a press release, the Washington-based Organization of American States’ Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza said the OAS was not going to negotiate Mr. Zelaya’s return to power, but would demand that the interim regime obey a unanimous OAS resolution calling for the safe and unconditional return of the elected president.
The only bully pulpit option open to the OAS is suspending Honduras from the organization–which would complete a circle of isolation that began with Latin American and European governments recalling their ambassadors. The U.S. has yet to recall its ambassador. The World Bank and the Development Bank announced withdrawal of loans from Honduras.
The State Department announced suspension of mostly military and non-humanitarian assistance, approximately $100 million, on July 2, according to Voice of America. A spokesman for the department said there would be other aid cuts, depending on the outcome of the OAS visit.
A planned return by Mr. Zelaya to Tegucigalpa on July 5 was thwarted as the Honduran military prevented his airplane from landing.
The plane carrying Mr. Zelaya flew at low altitudes circling the airport’s landing strip, then finally made a detour to neighboring Nicaragua.
Mr. Zelaya’s supporters attempting to gain access to the airport were repelled and dispersed by riot police using tear gas. According to Telesur, at least one protester was killed, and eight others were injured.
Asked by reporters if he saw any possibility of compromise that might mean a return to power without bloodshed, the Honduran leader said he was a proponent of non-violence and a tolerant person. President Zelaya said he would not condone the use of force.
Supporters of Honduras’ interim president, Roberto Micheletti, said Mr. Zelaya had become dependent on Venezuelan Pesident Hugo Chavez. Some suggested Venezuelan oil money bought Mr. Zelaya’s election in 2005.
Mr. Zelaya told the General Assembly he was caught in the cross hairs of the ruling oligarchy in Honduras, which is composed of the political and business class. President Zelaya said he fought for freedom of information and freedom of the press. “I offended those who make money off the poor,” he said.
“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 things that they say the president should not raise,” Mr. Zelaya told the General Assembly.
The CIA Factbook describes Honduras as the second poorest nation in Central America, with extraordinarily unequal distribution of income, high unemployment (27 percent), and 50 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.
During his press conference, the deposed Honduran leader openly laughed at questions concerning reports the coup could not have taken place without the tacit approval of a “Western power.”
“No! No!” Mr. Zelaya said emphatically. “The United States has changed a great deal. And Europe has changed a great deal. True they have been imperial powers, but, I have listened to President Obama and he not only demanded the restoration of the ‘president,’ he has condemned the events of the coup.
“I believe that the coup was an arbitrary action by a group of people who manipulated the army with the goal of getting even richer,” Mr. Zelaya told reporters.
Social unrest, tensions build days after Honduras coup (FCN, 07-07-2009)
Honduras President overthown in military coup (FCN, 06-29-2009)