Restore President Zelaya to Power
Demand Obama Act to Stop Aid to Coup Leaders and Restore President Zelaya to Power Now!
The U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organization (USMO) denounces the military coup d’etat June 28 against democratically elected President Jose Manuel Zelaya of Honduras. The coup was a clear attack on democracy carried out by members of the Honduran military, which raided the presidential palace and removed Zelaya at gunpoint. He was kidnapped and forced to go to Costa Rico. These are actions by putschists in mutiny against the civilian government of Zelaya. They are actions that echo the many U.S. organized coups against elected governments throughout Latin America, such as in Chile and Guatemala. And they were carried out while the U.S. was in direct contact with the Honduran military.
We demand the U.S. immediately act, as required by law, to end aid to the anti-democratic coup government installed in Honduras, and join in helping secure President Zelaya’s safe return to power in Honduras. This is the first necessary condition for democracy.
We condemn President Barack Obama’s refusal to denounce the coup d’etat and call for Zelaya to be restored to power. And his refusal to break relations, including aid, with the coup government installed. Obama issued one statement June 28, saying only, "I am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Honduras regarding the detention and expulsion of President Mel Zelaya. As the Organization of American States did on Friday, I call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Any existing tensions and disputes must be resolved peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference."
The impression given by Obama’s statement is that all sides are wrong and that the U.S. will continue to support “all political and social actors in Honduras” — despite the fact that the organizers of the coup acted directly against democratic norms and rule of law. Indeed, his administration reported that National Security Advisor Jim Jones was in contact with the Honduran military and coup forces through out the day of the coup and in the days leading up to it.
Obama did not denounce the military forces involved in the coup or demand that they abdicate and guarantee Zelaya’s safe return to Honduras as President. And this remained the case even after Zelaya called on Obama and all the presidents of the Americas to support him. Zelaya spoke from Costa Rico and made clear that he had been kidnapped, that a military coup had taken place and that he had not resigned, as the coup organizers claimed. Again, the echoes of another coup were heard, that against Jean-Betrand Aristide of Haiti, who was kidnapped by U.S.-backed coup leaders who also claimed Aristide had resigned.
It is well known that a statement from Obama in support of Zelaya at the time of the coup would have carried weight. Yet he remained silent. Later in the day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement, again refusing to call the military action against Zelaya a coup d’etat and offering only a slap on the wrist to the military forces responsible. She stated, “The action taken against Honduran President Mel Zelaya violates the precepts of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and thus should be condemned by all.” She then repeated what Obama had said calling on “all parties in Honduras to respect the constitutional order and the rule of law, to reaffirm their democratic vocation, and to commit themselves to resolve political disputes peacefully and through dialogue.” Clinton too refused to call for Zelaya to be restored, refused to announce a U.S. break with ties to and aid for the coup organizers or even to say a military coup d’etat had occurred.
USMLO calls on the U.S. to act immediately to stop aid to the coup leaders, and fully support Zelaya as the sole representative of the Honduran people. The coup forces must abdicate immediately. We also denounce the brutality against ambassadors from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua by the coup organizers and demand the U.S. denounce these actions as well.
The coup organizers also acted when they did to prevent a non-binding nationwide referendum from taking place June 28. The referendum asked if citizens favored convening a constituent assembly to reform the Honduran constitution. The current constitution was put in place during the Reagan regime and its aggression in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras at the time. The referendum was an effort by Zelaya to engage the entire population in the critical question of deciding the constitution. The wealthy elite of Honduras and their military forces had already acted against the civilian authorities by refusing to distribute the materials for the referendum. After Zelaya, backed by hundreds of supporters, had successfully secured the ballot boxes and ballots in actions June 25, the military organized to carry out the coup early on June 28. Thus it is an action not only against Zelaya as president, but against the right of the people of Honduras as a whole to decide on their constitution themselves.
The drive of Hondurans to decide their constitution for themselves reflects the drive of all the peoples of Latin America to decide their own course. Numerous examples of this drive are taking place across the continent, inspired by the example of Cuba and the long anti-imperialist struggle of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, from Haiti's overthrow of slavery to the struggle for sovereignty in Honduras today. The U.S. has a long history of blocking this drive, organizing coups, installing fascist dictators, and doing everything to contain the flowering of democracy and change.
President Obama has said it is time for new relations with Latin America and that each country has the right to decide its own affairs. Now is the time for him to act on that basis and denounce the coup d’etat in Honduras, break relations with the coup leaders and stop any aid to their illegal government. He should call directly for Zelaya’s safe return to Honduras and his return to power as president, now. This is the minimum requirement of democracy.
Oppose the Coup in Honduras!
Oppose Coup in Honduras!
Demonstrate at U.S. Federal Buildings or Honduran Consulates!
As of 11:15am Sunday June 28, 2009, Caracas time, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was speaking live on Telesur from San Jose, Costa Rica. He verified that 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 an air base and flew him to Costa Rica. He has requested that the U.S. government make a public statement condemning the coup; noting that no statement would indicate its compliance. Zelaya said that he has not resigned and that until his term ends in 2010 he remains president of Honduras.
The Honduran Foreign Minister and the ambassadors to Honduras from Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua were detained by the military. The ambassadors, after suffering physical mistreatment by the military, were reportedly set free but the Foreign Minister, Patricia Rodas, remained in military custody.[She was later released in Mexico.]
Upload a message to the President at www.whitehouse.gov./contact/
President Obama, I urge you to condemn in no uncertain terms the coup d'état in Honduras. Please demand the immediate return of President Manuel Zelaya to office. Please state that you will not recognize any new illegal government and would suspend all assistance to such illegal government. President Zelaya is supported by Honduras’ poor majority, including members of labor and social movements, tens of thousands of whom have come out in the streets to support his return. If you do not condemn the coup, people around the world will assume that the U.S. government supports the coup or, worse yet, was involved in its planning.
Give your name, city and state.
President of Honduras Manuel Zelaya confirmed he was forced to go to Costa Rica. He was kidnapped by Honduran military officers, who dragged him from his residence. During a telephone conversation with [Venezuelan TV network] Telesur, Zelaya made clear he did not resign, he continues in his post as President and he did not request political asylum. He urged all the international community to condemn the coup against Honduran democracy and demand restoration of constitutional order.
Zelaya called on the Honduran people, their social organizations and unions to unite and fight peacefully for their rights, without violence, through civil disobedience.
"The leaders of the armed forces have deceived me, they have betrayed me, they stormed my house early Sunday morning, breaking down the door," he explained. "It is a brutal kidnapping that they have done against me, with no justification but opposing our desire to do good for Honduras and install a participatory democratic process."
He said that on Sunday "we were scheduled to carry out a non-binding referendum, as any other international pollster usually does." The objective was to know the people's opinion about the possibility to vote in November in favor or against convening a Constituent Assembly in the future to reform the Constitution. “This poll cannot justify the interruption of democracy or the coup,” Zelaya said. He said the coup was “A plot by a small but powerful elite that wants only one thing — to keep the country in extreme poverty.” He added, “We have no way to communicate with the people because radio and TV broadcasts were shut down, and they cut the power.” The people have the right to resist if their rights are violated, as established in article three of the Constitution, he noted.
Zelaya called on President Barack Obama and all the heads of state of the Americas to condemn the coup. Zelaya traveled to Nicaragua for emergency meetings June 29 of the Bolivarian Alternative of Our Americas (ALBA), the System for Central American Integration (SICO) and the Rio Group.
Thousands of Hondurans continued to protest on the streets of Honduras Monday, June 29, despite the 48-hour curfew imposed Sunday night by the head of the illegal coup government of Roberto Micheletti, installed by the military. Soldiers and tanks remain in the streets, with snipers positioned on rooftops. People are opposing the coup d’etat and demanding the return of elected President Manuel Zelaya. The military has not been able to occupy all of the country, and some towns have declared that they will not recognize the authority of the military imposed government.
On Sunday, local organizers in Honduras reported that more then 25,000 Honduras protested in front of the National Palace in support of President Zelaya despite reports that the entry and exits to some towns were blocked by the military to prevent public protests.
Though it is reported that in some areas the ballot boxes for the referendum were captured by the military, promoters of the poll established mobile polling stations to defend the ballot boxes. People expressed their determination to have their say in writing the Constitution by striving to vote in the referendum until late Sunday afternoon. The referendum was non-binding, asking whether a Constituent Assembly should be convened to reform the Constitution. The coup leaders attempted to block the referendum, confiscating ballot boxes and preventing voting from taking place. Also on Sunday, political and social organizations created the Front of Popular Resistance, which called on everyone to join in strike actions. Participants include labor unions, farmers and student organizations.
Reporters on the ground in Honduras said an all-night vigil was conducted despite the curfew imposed by coup Micheletti. Increasingly larger crowds are demonstrating outside the Presidential Palace, currently occupied by the coup leaders. Large numbers of youth chanted, “We Want Zelaya” and “No to the coup d’etat.” Protesters were also speaking with the soldiers, calling on them not to betray their nation and to instead lay down their arms.
Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas had earlier called on the people to take to the streets to resist the coup against President Zelaya. Speaking to Venezuelan TV network Telesur before she too was kidnapped, Rodas said “Only the people's struggle will make the return to institutional normalcy possible.” She accused the National Congress and the Armed Forces of being behind the coup and threatening the life of the president. She held the powerful groups who own the media, especially president of the Congress Roberto Micheletti, responsible.
She also confirmed that in her capacity as Foreign minister, she officially requested an urgent meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States to condemn the coup and adopt measures to restore constitutional order: "From the OAS we will only accept as valid its condemnation of seditious forces plotting against the rule of law and the people, and the demand to return to constitutional normalcy and return the kidnapped president home.
"We hope the OAS won't turn its back on the Honduran people as has happened in the past and refuses to recognize any other government that they may try to establish illegally here. Under no circumstance will we allow the coup; the people will resort to the constitutional prerogative to do battle when their rights are violated.”
All radio stations and other media were shut down by the plotters, who also cut the power in the city, she said. They are trying to make people believe that nothing has happened. Not a single media organization owned by the oligarchy is broadcasting information about what is going on, she added.
The people continue taking to the streets, as it is there where we will wage popular resistance, she said. Rodas said that helicopters and planes were flying over the capital to terrify the people, and there was fear that telephone communications might be shut down too. We are trying to contact embassies, but it has not been possible so far, she said. The U.S. Embassy was not answering calls or making any comment, added Rodas.
Prensa Latina reported that TV Channel 36, Channel 8, Maya TV and several radio stations were shut down. Just seconds before TV broadcast was lost, the Channel 8 news presenter called on people to gather at La Libertad square to defend their president.
A Suicidal Mistake
Three days ago, in the evening of Thursday 25th, I wrote in my Reflections: “We do not know what will happen tonight or tomorrow in Honduras, but the courageous behavior adopted by Zelaya will go down in history.”
Two paragraphs before I had indicated that: “The situation that might result from whatever occurs in that country will be a test for the Organization of American States (OAS) and the current U.S. administration.”
The prehistoric Inter-American institution met in Washington the following day and in a halfhearted and spiritless resolution promised to immediately make the necessary efforts to bring about harmony between the contending parties; that is, a negotiation between the putschists and the Constitutional President of Honduras.
The high-ranking military chief who was still in command of the Honduran Armed Forces was making public statements different from the President’s position while recognizing his authority in a merely formal way.
The putschists needed barely anything else from the OAS. They could not care less for the presence of a large number of international observers who had traveled to that country to bear witness to a referendum and who had been talking with Zelaya until late into the night. Today, before dawn, they launched on the President’s home about 200 well-trained and equipped professional troops who roughly set aside the members of the Guard of Honor and kidnapped Zelaya — who was sleeping at the moment — taking him to an air base and forcibly putting him on a plane to Costa Rica.
At 8:30 a.m. we learned from Telesur of the assault on the Presidential House and the kidnapping. The President was unable to attend the initial activity related to the referendum that was to take place this Sunday and his whereabouts were unknown.
The official television channel was silenced. They wanted to prevent the early spread of the news of the treacherous action through Telesur and Cubavision Internacional, which were reporting the events. Therefore, they first suspended the broadcasting centers and then cut off electricity to the entire country. At the moment, the Supreme Court and the Congress involved in the conspiracy had yet to make public the decisions that justified the plot. They first carried out the indescribable military coup and then legalized it.
The people woke up to a fait accompli and started to react with growing indignation. Zelaya’s destination was unknown. Three hours later the people’s reaction was such that we could see women punching soldiers with their fists and the latter’s weapons falling off their hands as they were nervous and confused. At the beginning, their movements resembled a strange combat with ghosts; later, they tried to cover Telesur’s cameras with their hands and nervously aimed their guns at the reporters. Sometimes, when the people advanced the troops stepped back. At this point, armored vehicles carrying cannons and machine guns were sent in as the people fearlessly discussed with the crews of the armored vehicles. The people’s reaction was amazing.
Approximately at 2:00 in the afternoon, a tamed majority in Congress — in coordination with the putschists — toppled Zelaya, the Constitutional President of Honduras, and appointed a new Head of State announcing to the world that the former had resigned and showing a forged signature. A few minutes later, from an airport in Costa Rica, Zelaya related everything that had happened and categorically refuted the news about his resignation. The plotters had placed themselves in a ridiculous situation in the eyes of the world.
Many other things happened today. Cubavision took all of its time to expose the coup and keep our people informed. Some events were purely fascist in nature and even if expected they are still astonishing.
Honduran Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas was the putschists’ main target, second only to Zelaya. Another detachment was sent to her residence. She was brave and determined, and she acted quickly; she did not waste time and started denouncing the coup in every way possible. Our ambassador, Juan Carlos Hernandez, contacted Patricia to learn about the situation; other ambassadors did likewise. At a given moment, she asked the diplomatic representatives of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba to meet with her since she was being fiercely hounded and required diplomatic protection. Our ambassador, who from the first moments was authorized to offer the minister all the constitutional and legal support, proceeded to visit her in her own residence.
When the diplomats were already in her house, the putschist command sent Major Oceguera to put her under arrest. The diplomats stood between the woman and the officer and claimed she was under diplomatic protection and could only be moved accompanied by them. Oceguera discussed with them in a respectful fashion. A few minutes later, 12 or 15 men in uniform and covering their faces with ski masks rushed into the house. The three ambassadors embraced Patricia but the masked men using force managed to separate the Venezuelan and Nicaraguan ambassadors; Hernandez held her so strongly by one arm that the masked men dragged them both to a van and drove to an air base where they finally separated him and took her away. As he was there in custody, Bruno, [Cuba's Foreign Minister] who had news of the kidnapping called him on the cell phone; one of the masked men tried to violently snatch the phone out of his hands and the Cuban ambassador, who had already been punched in Patricia’s home, shouted: “Don’t push me, cojones!” I don’t remember if the term was ever used by Cervantes, but there is no doubt that ambassador Juan Carlos Hernandez has enriched our language.
Later, he was abandoned in a road far from the Cuban mission not before being warned that something worse could happen to him if he talked. “Nothing can be worse than death,” he answered with dignity, “and still I’m not afraid of you.” Then people from the area helped him to return to the embassy and from there he immediately called Bruno again.
There is no way to negotiate with that putschist high command. They must be asked to abdicate while other younger officers, uninvolved with the oligarchy, take charge of the military command; otherwise, there will never be in Honduras a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
There is no hope for the cornered and isolated putschists if the problem is faced with determination. Even Mrs. Clinton stated this afternoon that Zelaya is the only President of Honduras and the Honduran putschists can’t even breathe without the support of the United States of America. Zelaya, a man who was in his pajamas just a few hours ago, will be recognized by the world as the only Constitutional President of Honduras.
On Sunday, June 28, following the coup d’etat in Honduras where the military kidnapped elected president Manual Zelaya at gunpoint and forced him to go to Costa Rico, President Barack Obama issued the following statement:
"I am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Honduras regarding the detention and expulsion of President Mel Zelaya. As the Organization of American States did on Friday, I call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Any existing tensions and disputes must be resolved peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference."
An administration official said Obama's national security adviser, General Jim Jones, had briefed Obama on the situation in Honduras by telephone. An interagency team was following the situation and provided updates to Obama throughout the day. General Jones was reported to be in contact with the military in Honduras through out the day. The Honduran military is armed and trained by the U.S.
Statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, June 28, 2009
The action taken against Honduran President Mel Zelaya violates the precepts of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and thus should be condemned by all. We call on all parties in Honduras to respect the constitutional order and the rule of law, to reaffirm their democratic vocation, and to commit themselves to resolve political disputes peacefully and through dialogue. Honduras must embrace the very principles of democracy we reaffirmed at the OAS meeting it hosted less than one month ago.
Statement from the member states of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America condemning the coup d’état underway against the President of the Republic of Honduras, José Manuel Zelaya.
The member states of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America represented at the United Nations, profoundly concerned about the events under way in the Republic of Honduras, express the following:
• We denounce before the international community a coup d’état underway against compañero José Manuel Zelaya, the constitutionally elected president of the Republic of Honduras.
• We emphasize that this coup d’état underway is aimed at blocking the realization of a democratic popular referendum called to define whether the people agree with convening a Constituent Assembly.
• We condemn this coup action against the genuine aspirations of the Honduran citizenry, which id demanding to be taken into account via processes of consultation and forms of democratic expression.
• We call on the international community to reject the abovementioned attempt to break with the democratic constitutional order, as well as any acts of violence or destabilization against the Honduran people and government.
• We express our unconditional solidarity with compañero President José Manuel Zelaya and the sister people of Honduras.
• We reiterate our firm support for the Statement backing the popular referendum process in Honduras, adopted by the ALBA Summit Meeting yesterday, June 24, in the city of Maracay, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Venezuela.
Following the kidnapping of President Zelaya, Honduran military personnel also kidnapped the ambassadors of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua in Honduras, along with the Honduran Foreign Relations Minister Patricia Rodas, according to Venezuela's ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Roy Chaderton.
Chaderton made the announcement just before noon on Sunday during an emergency meeting of the OAS in Washington that was convened to respond to the military coup d'etat underway in Honduras.
"Excuse the interruption, it is an urgent matter. I have just received information that the ambassadors of Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela, and Foreign Relations Minister Patricia Rodas have been kidnapped by a group of hooded military agents," said Chaderton.
Rodas confirmed the kidnapping in a hurried phone call to the Caracas-based television channel Telesur as the kidnapping was underway, according to Telesur.
UN Condemns Coup in Honduras
UN General Assembly President and former Nicaraguan foreign minister Miguel D'Escoto, condemned on June 28 in a clear, decisive and sharp manner the coup against the Honduran constitutional president Manuel Zelaya. D'Escoto has summoned an urgent meeting of his crisis cabinet in his office at the UN to evaluate the current situation in the Central American nation, his official spokesperson, Enrique Yeves told Prensa Latina.
"The situation is worrying because unfortunately in Latin America we still recall the sound of sabres in the barracks," according to D'Escoto's statements quoted by Yeves.
Expressing his deep concern over the way rule of law was being violated, the President of the General Assembly said, "That is a reality which we thought was ousted in the 21st Century and, nevertheless, these incidents in Honduras indicate the contrary." He also demanded that the physical security of President Zelaya be ensured.
D'Escoto's official spokesperson also pointed out that the General Assembly crisis cabinet condemns any destabilizing attempt against people's sovereignty in Honduras.
The President of the UN General Assembly said everything possible must be done so that Honduras returns to democratic normality, legality is respected in that country and above all the popular decision to affirm democratic rights is not stopped. He called upon the presidents of Central America, Latin America, the Caribbean and the world to "immediately speak out against the attempted coup and in solidarity with the constitutional president of Honduras."
U.S. Urged to Condemn Coup in Honduras
D'Escoto also called on U.S. President Barack Obama to immediately condemn the military coup. In his appeal to Obama, D'Escoto referred to the U.S. president's statements in the recent Summit of the Americas regarding his new Latin America policy. "Many are wondering whether this attempted coup is part of that new policy, given that it is well known that the Honduran army has a history of total submission to the United States," the General Assembly president commented.
That is why it is essential that Obama — in order to leave no room for doubt — immediately condemn the coup being carried out against President Zelaya, D'Escoto said. The "only solution to the current crisis is to immediately restore Zelaya to his office and the powers that popular sovereignty has granted him through the ballot box," he said, adding that "no other alternative would be acceptable to the international community."
European Union Condemns Military Coup in Honduras
The European Union is condemning the military coup in Honduras and calling for the immediate return of the deposed president. A statement released by the EU's 27 foreign ministers described the overthrow of Zelaya as an "unacceptable violation of the constitutional order in Honduras." The statement says the bloc wants his immediate release and "a return to constitutional normality."
Venezuelan Foreign Minister: Latin America Has to Guarantee the Defeat of the Coup in Honduras
Venezuelan foreign minister, Nicolás Maduro Moros, said Sunday, June 28 from Miraflores Presidential Palace, that Latin America must guarantee the defeat of the coup d'etat against the President of Honduras Manuel Zelaya and try those responsible. "Latin America has to guarantee the defeat of this coup d'etat and also has to demand, without conditions, the reestablishment of President Manuel Zelaya and ensure justice is done to the fullest extent so that the rabid ultra-right gets a clear message, that they cannot take swipes at the democratic processes that the people are carrying forward," Foreign Minister Maduro expressed.
Minister Maduro said that it is clear that those responsible for this military coup, "those who have not shown their faces, but who will be discovered in the end, should be submitted to international justice for violating the democratic Charter and the constitutional rights of the Honduran people."
"Sooner or later," the Venezuelan foreign minister indicated, "the people accompanied by the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean are going to defeat this coup, fomented by these fascists who kidnapped president Zelaya, and his principle collaborators and who continue to hold captive the [Honduran] foreign minister Patricia Rodas."
The Venezuelan diplomat announced that today had been a day of intense consultation in order to convoke various international scenarios, where the situation could be analyzed, among those, a meeting of member countries of the Rio Group, "we have direct contact with the foreign ministers from Central America and of the Bolivarian Alternative for Our Americas (ALBA), as well as diverse political and social actors in Honduras. We know that the people remain in the streets in a very valiant manner, resisting, confronting this coup d'etat that is a direct expression of the oligarchy and [private] media."
He stressed that a Venezuelan commission has been activated in Costa Rica supporting the president of Honduras Manuel Zelaya, "we are in contact for the convocation of this Presidential Summit in Managua that is going to coincide with the summit of the System of Central American Integration (SICA)."
The Venezuelan foreign minister emphasized that the media is justifying the coup, "today they [the media] awoke in silence so that no one would be informed [of the coup]. It was [the Venezuelan-based] Telesur, that broke the media dictatorship, the media dictators of the Honduran oligarchy and the continental oligarchy tried to impose silence."
"We remain in contact with, we have spoken recently with a senator from Chile and with other parliamentarians who are observers in the poll [in Honduras], and they told us that people continued voting until late in the afternoon as a form of expression and of support for the democracy of president Zelaya," he said. He pointed out that there is a large concentration in front of the Honduran presidential palace, "the rumors are running that they are going to decree a state of siege, but the people of Honduras are disposed to confront all the measures that this rookie dictatorship aims to impose."
(Venezuelan Foreign Ministry item translated for Venezuelanalysis.com by Kiraz Janicke. Other sources: Prensa Latina, Venezuelanalysis.com, ABN, Associated Press)
The Venezuelan government, the Latin American and Caribbean integration organization, ALBA, and the Organization of American States (OAS) have given their backing to Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, who said recent legal and military challenges to his constitutional reform initiative amount to a coordinated attack against his democratically elected government.
Zelaya has proposed a national referendum on whether to establish a constituent assembly to re-write the nation's constitution. On Wednesday, Zelaya dismissed General Romeo Vasquez and accepted the resignation of Defense Minister Edmundo Orellana, after the two officials disobeyed orders to distribute materials for a national poll on whether to carry out the referendum.
On Thursday, troops deployed around the Honduran Congress and Zelaya's supporters demonstrated in the street, but no violence occurred. The Honduran Supreme Court unanimously decided that General Vasquez must return to his post, arguing that his rights had been violated.
Zelaya said the Supreme Court and the disobedient military officials represent elites who oppose the proposed referendum. "The Court has totally attacked the rule of law by taking away the authority of the president as commander in chief. They have returned to re-live the 1980s, to relive the dictatorship and make the military more powerful than the civil state," said Zelaya.
On Friday, Zelaya and thousands of his supporters recuperated the polling materials that Vasquez had refused to distribute, and have promised to carry out the national poll this Sunday.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez pledged his support for Zelaya against the apparent attempts to destabilize his government. "A coup d'etat is underway in Honduras," said Chavez on national television on Thursday. "It's the bourgeoisie that's trying to block a popular vote. They fear the people," he said.
Chavez said Zelaya "did the right thing" by dismissing General Vasquez, and noted the bloody role of the U.S.-backed Honduran military in subverting democracy and propping up dictatorships in Latin America in the Twentieth Century. "It is part of the reality that we have lived in Latin America and the Caribbean," said Chavez.
The political, economic, and social integration alliance known as ALBA, which Honduras joined as a member last year, as well as the Organization of American States (OAS), also gave their support to Zelaya. The OAS voted to send a special commission to Honduras to investigate this week's events.
Venezuela's ambassador to the OAS, Roy Chaderton, read the ALBA declaration aloud during the OAS's emergency meeting on the crisis in Honduras on Friday. The ALBA countries "manifest our firmest support for the government of [Zelaya], in its just and decided actions to defend the right of the Honduran people to express their sovereign will and advance a process of social transformation in the framework of democratic institutions," he read. "We will mobilize ourselves... in the event of any attempt by the oligarchy to break the democratic and constitutional order of this sister Central American republic."
Chaderton compared the events in Honduras to past coup d'etats against democratically elected leaders, such as Chilean President Salvador Allende in 1973. "This movie is not new, it is a re-run, it already occurred in Venezuela in 2002, it has occurred in Ecuador, in Bolivia, and it is occurring in Honduras," said Chaderton.
Honduras joined the five year old ALBA alliance last year. The nine-member bloc, which is based on the cooperation and national sovereignty of its members, includes the region's most anti-imperialist and socialist governments: Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador.
Over the past ten years, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador have all re-written their constitutions to strengthen human and environmental rights and national sovereignty. All three new constitutions were approved by the majority of voters in national referendums.