Honduras: Protests Continue as Obama, Regional Leaders Respond

Source: Democracy Now!

Zelaya Vows Return to Honduras as Crowds Protest Coup

In Honduras, large crowds continue to take to the streets to protest the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya. On Monday, police fired tear gas at demonstrators gathered outside the presidential palace. At least ten demonstrators were hospitalized and scores arrested. The coup government has ordered a statewide curfew while private television networks have refused to carry any news. On Monday, workers gathered outside the headquarters of the state-owned telecommunications company to protest the takeover.

Protester: “Is this democracy? Only channel 5 is working. The people, the Honduran population, want democracy and this is not democracy. They want to gag us and we will not allow that. Hondutel will not close.”

Zelaya says he plans to return to Honduras on Thursday after addressing the United Nations later today.

Obama Condemns Honduran Coup, But Won’t Suspend Aid

Meanwhile at the White House, President Obama condemned Zelaya’s ouster.

President Obama: “President Zelaya was democratically elected. He had not yet completed his term. We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the president of Honduras, the democratically elected president there. In that, we have joined all the countries in the region, including Colombia and the Organization of American States. I think it would be a terrible precedent if we start moving backwards into the era in which we are seeing military coups as a means of political transition, rather than democratic elections.”

Despite Obama’s comments, the U.S. is refusing to apply any tangible pressure on Honduras. After Obama spoke, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. isn’t ready to formally declare the ouster a military coup, which would force a cutoff of millions of dollars in aid. Clinton also refused to explicitly commit to seeking the democratically-elected Zelaya’s return, saying only the U.S. wants to restore what she called “full democratic and constitutional order.”

Latin American Leaders Back Zeyala

In contrast to the U.S. response, the Honduran coup has been roundly condemned across Latin America and much of the world. In Nicaragua, leaders from countries including Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia gathered in a show of solidarity with Zelaya. In what they called a “first step” in punitive action, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua jointly announced the temporary suspension of overland trade with Honduras. Meanwhile at the United Nations, General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto of Nicaragua condemned the coup.

UN General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto: “As a Nicaraguan, I am ashamed this coup has taken place in Central America during my presidency here at the General Assembly. This is a throwback to another era that we had hoped was not a distant nightmare.”