First anniversary of Zelaya’s failed coup d’état

Update 2010-06-28: Today is the anniversary of the deposing of Zelaya. La Gringa in La Ceiba, Honduras, has written a very good blog article summing up the situation. She is unfortunately correct in that the hope and optimism under Micheletti has largely vanished under Lobo. It started when he went to Dominican Republic and signed a deal to let Zelaya leave Honduras, before he even took office. At that point Micheletti withdrew from the limelight, and the people raged against Lobo without the previous president to channel their feelings. That is, however, how democracy works; alternation at power. What those who liked Micheletti can do is to channel their frustration and their desire for change into creating a better political platform, and candidates that support that platform, for the next election. Create a platform that is grassroots-based, that is about realpolitik, concrete actions, not ideals.


Original post 2010-06-23: On June 24, 2009, the head of the joint chiefs of staff in Honduras, general Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, told his president, Manuel Zelaya Rosales, that the military was unable to carry out the order they had been given to distribute ballots for a referendum on June 28, since the Supreme Court of Justice had issued an injunction against anyone in Honduras participating in that endeavor.

With that statement, Zelaya’s coup d’état came off its tracks. Without the support of the military he could not win. If the military took orders from the Supreme Court, he would not be able to throw out the constitution of the republic as he had planned.

“Mel” Zelaya’s response was to fire general Vasquez, but immediately he did so, the other chiefs of staff handed him their resignations, starting with the head of the army, general Miguel Garcia Padgett. This is public knowledge, but what happened behind closed doors is not.

In the face of this setback, Zelaya understood that he was, to put it bluntly, screwed. He decided to throw in the towel and resign, according to my sources. However, there were powerful business interests who had vested economical interests in him continuing in power. What exactly those interests are I do not know, but given the extensive misappropriation of public funds that has been revealed after his departure from office (he didn’t even have a budget the last year!), one may guess that there were those who wanted certain things to stay hidden. Others might have lucrative oil contracts related to the deal with ALBA (Chavez’s band of countries, who get to buy oil on loan on favorable terms) – they must have understood that if Zelaya left office, the oil would stop flowing, and thus the loans that allegedly didn’t have to be paid back. You all know what that is called in plain English.

The reason Zelaya did not hand in the resignation letter on June 25 was allegedly that he was persuaded not to. He was persuaded to stay and fight, to take a mob to the military to retrieve the ballots, and to completely run roughshod over all the democratic institutions. Whoever persuaded him managed to convince him that if he was only bold enough, the tepid public servants would not dare to stop him.

But they did.

The key persons were anything but tepid. They may have appeared tepid, but when faced with real and imminent danger to the democratic form of government, they stepped up to the challenge and acted like veritable heroes.

Honduras thus managed to preserve its constitution. As we all know, the actual act of removing Zelaya from office was, unfortunately, erroneously interpreted by the whole world as a military coup. An enormous pressure was put on the constitutional interim president, Roberto Micheletti Bain, to effectively abandon Honduras’s sovereignty.

He did not.

Micheletti turned out to be the right person at the right place at the right time. He fiercely defended Honduras’s independence and sovereignty, and made Honduras into a symbol of pride in Latin America. This image, which I first saw on a site in Venezuela, illustrates that beautifully:

7 thoughts on “First anniversary of Zelaya’s failed coup d’état”

  1. Ulf, I sent this letter to my friends on June 27th, 2009.

    Dear Friend:
    I just came back from Tegucigalpa where all the turmoil is happening,
    and want to share my views.
    The President is pushing for a poll (next Sunday) to propose for a new
    Constitution that would allow him to stay in office longer and to run
    for a 2nd term. Our constitutional tradition is: no reelection, once a
    President never run again. Zelaya wants to change that to become at
    par with Chavez, Ortega, Evo Morales and the guy in Ecuador. There
    has been a strong opposition from the private sector, the political
    parties and the military. Congress and the Judiciary are also against
    changes in the Constitution, especially in what refers to duration and
    re election.
    Zelaya´s MO is to create chaos and confusion, provoke violence and
    disorder to dissolve the Congress and suspend the elections to be held
    in November 2009.
    This coming Sunday a Poll will take place and it is expected that on
    Monday Zelaya will cry Victory (regardless of the turn out) at that point
    Monday one would expect reactions from the opposition that may be
    fueled by instigators imported from Venezuela or Nicaragua.
    Mel Zelaya´s game is to provoke enough violence, confusion and
    despair to allow him to suspend what is called constitutional
    warranties (Civil Rights) and impose a state of siege, curfews, exchange
    controls, transportation controls and blockades, etc…
    The private sector, the religious leadership, the military, the Judiciary
    and Congress are cautious not to fall into the trap and let things
    happen in a way that Zelaya has no chance to light the fuses.
    I think this is a genuine episode of a realignment of countries in the
    Hemisphere where ALBA members are opposed to ALCA countries.
    Interesting enough, Honduras belongs to both groups.
    What roll shall the US play in this? Is the US interested in what is going
    on in Central America? Does Venezuela and Cuba foreign policies affect
    US interests in the region? In Honduras? In Roatan?
    Have you addressed this with your Congressman or Senator?
    I personally believe the man at the American Embassy in Tegucigalpa is
    too soft, too naïve and, being under a new Administration and with a
    weakened NSC his interventions or reactions are already late or
    unfruitful. Where is Negroponte?
    1. We Hondurans are capable of taking care of our business.
    By mid next week we shall know what the majority want: live
    poorly but in peace or ´´free from all means of oppression´´
    and poorer.
    2. Americans, Canadians and Europeans need to address
    their concerns to their Representatives and Mission Members.
    3- Lets help each other.
    All the best

  2. Very good and succinct review. Thanks Ulf. This must not be forgotten. I really appreciate the stand taken by Cesar Gonzalez too. I hope we’re able to preserve freedom and democracy in Honduras!

  3. El ex gobernante interino de Honduras, Roberto Micheletti, dijo hoy que tras un año del golpe de Estado del 28 de junio de 2009 al entonces presidente, Manuel Zelaya, está preocupado porque el país aún no ha recuperado la “armonía”.

    “Estoy preocupado, porque pese a que el país ha restablecido relaciones con varios países, falta la armonía que se vivía anteriormente, la situación no se ha normalizado, hay un ambiente de incertidumbre”, dijo Micheletti en entrevista telefónica con Efe.

    Agregó que, pese a todo, tiene “confianza en el presidente Porfirio Lobo”, quien asumió el 27 de enero pasado, y cree que el nuevo gobernante “tratará de actuar con la mayor responsabilidad para que se logre la unidad interna y con los demás países”.

    Micheletti asumió el poder el 28 de junio, el mismo día en que Zelaya fue sacado por la fuerza del país, en un hecho que llevó a Honduras al aislamiento y a su suspensión de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA).

    Zelaya, quien desde el 27 de enero vive en República Dominicana, fue depuesto cuando promovía una consulta popular para reformar la Constitución, pese a que tenía impedimentos legales.

    Un año después del derrocamiento, Honduras sigue suspendida de la OEA, mientras que Nicaragua impide la normalización de las relaciones con el Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana (SICA).

    Micheletti dijo que le preocupa que Honduras no haya retornado al seno de la OEA y resaltó que su país “ha cumplido con todos los requisitos que le exigía la comunidad internacional para reconocer a las nuevas autoridades” hondureñas.

    “Se ha dado cumplimiento a los Acuerdos Tegucigalpa-San José, hay un Gobierno de unidad, hubo elecciones limpias y se creó la Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación”, subrayó Micheletti, quien tras concluir con su mandato de facto de siete meses regresó a El Progreso, norte de Honduras, para dirigir sus empresas.

    Pese a las denuncias de organismos públicos y privados sobre la continuidad de las violaciones de los derechos humanos en el país, Micheletti considera que “no hace falta” que la OEA envíe una comisión especial para verificar la situación de Honduras y analizar su reintegro al organismo hemisférico.

    Dijo, además, que a Zelaya no le ve futuro político y que el Partido Liberal, al que pertenecen ambos y que quedó resquebrajado tras el golpe, “mantiene su condición democrática y quiere volver al poder de la nación”.

    De los seguidores de Zelaya, muchos de ellos aglutinados en la resistencia zelayista, subrayó que “es un grupo de gente resentida que ha dejado un mal sabor en la conciencia del pueblo, que salen a pintar paredes y a provocar a la ciudadanía”.

    En su opinión, los hondureños están viviendo “en paz y democracia”, en el país “hay transparencia” y “el pueblo quiere vivir en paz y tranquilidad”.

    “El poder político de la nación se fortaleció con las elecciones”, dijo Micheletti, sobre los comicios de noviembre pasado que ganó Porfirio Lobo, del Partido Nacional.

    “Estamos viviendo en democracia desde hace treinta años, desde entonces hemos venido eligiendo a nuestras autoridades cada cuatro años, eso nos da la garantía que la gente quiere vivir en democracia y no presionada por ideologías de izquierda”, acotó el ex jefe de Estado de facto.

    De Lobo, expresó que “está haciendo esfuerzos para conciliar con la comunidad internacional, aunque la situación económica del país sigue siendo de crisis”.

    Pese a la crisis, Micheletti, quien era presidente del Parlamento hondureño cuando Zelaya fue derrocado, cree que “hay confianza en que la situación del país se irá normalizando en la medida que se restablezcan las relaciones con la mayoría de países”.

    Designado “sucesor” de Zelaya en una acción de los diputados calificada como “sustitución constitucional”, Micheletti dijo que tras cesar en el poder regresó a sus negocios y que con frecuencia se reúne con amigos y políticos para “estudiar la situación y contribuir con el Gobierno de Lobo en lo que se pueda”.

    Agregó que aunque ha seguido recibiendo amenazas de muerte, no teme por su vida porque no ha cometido ningún delito.
    que fue golpe, fue golpe !!!
    Pepe Lobo , presidente de Honduras
    claro que sí, póngale como quiera, pero fue un golpe”.

    1. From Dr. Alvaro Albornoz:

      “Podemos concluir que lo que sucedió el 28 de junio de 2009 fue el acontecimiento político más importante del siglo XXI y que constituyó un golpe pero al comunismo, a la corrupción, a la eternización en el poder, al narcotráfico, a Hugo Chávez, a la injerencia indebida, en eso consistió el golpe.”

  4. No it wasn’t a coup. Keep up the delusion.

    And what do you have to say about all of the people from the Resistance that have been murdered, tortured, beaten or threatened in the last year? All common crimes? No state involvement?

    If you believe that, then I have a part of the Brooklyn Bridge I would like to sell you.

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