Military Coup in Honduras Outs Manuel Zelaya

A military coup in Honduras this weekend deposed President Manuel Zelaya. The Honduran Congress has stripped Zelaya of his office and appointed the president of the Congress, Robert Micheletti, to be head of state. It is Central America’s first military coup since the Cold War.
Eva Gollinger in Caracas, Venezuela reports:

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 controversy 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.

Kim Pearson has a great summary this morning over at BlogHer.
I’m left wondering about the safety of the women in Honduras during military coup and state instability–these are often the times when sexual assault increases, women struggle to get access to the medical help they need, not to mention all the other basic resources that are necessary to keep families going. We’d love to hear from readers with family in the area…
There will be a protest of the military coup of Honduras at the United Nations today from 3 to 6 pm for those in the New York area.
Update: Christy Thornton, the head of NACLA, recommends this post on the subject. She’ll be writing something for us tomorrow on the topic.

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19 Comments

  1. dormouse
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Wow, I guess the 24-hour news networks decided that repeated the same information and speculations about MJ’s death was more important than this event that will impact thousands of Hondurans. Thanks, feministing, for bringing this news to my attention.

  2. lost_calendar
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Not the best phrasing – I honestly thought that they’d exposed him as homosexual. Now that would be a feministing scoop.

  3. dianita
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    THIS is making me VERY upset. I am from Honduras, currently living in Texas but I go back home ALL the time, in fact I just came back from Honduras. First of all, the majority of people do NOT back Manuel Zelaya as you are incorrectly reporting. This is a president who is VERY unpopular, who cavorts around with Chavez who wants Zelaya to make Honduras into a new Venezuela.
    “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.”
    THIS. Completely WRONG. NO ONE wanted to vote on this referendum because it is a referendum to keep Zelaya in power for many more terms, which is AGAINST our democratic values. Everyone in Honduras knows that he wanted to pass that referendum vote so he could rig the elections like Chavez did and proclaim that he could be president for more terms than he constitutionally can.
    So please, Feministing, CHECK your sources before you report. This is an example of exercising your privilege and immediately stating that Hodnuras is not letting its citizens exercise tehir “sacred right.” I am so upset that people around teh world are siding with Zelaya and they do not realize it was NOT a coup, he was breaking the law and thus got ousted and NOBODY except for a VERY miniscule minority supports him.
    And women’s rights may not be at tehir best in Honduras but the political climate there is STABLE no one is making arrests or raping women. God, get a grip. MY parents said eveythign is at usual, everyone is going to work, going out, etc. PLEASE check your sources. I do not want my country misrepresented.

  4. dianita
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    THIS is making me VERY upset. I am from Honduras, currently living in Texas but I go back home ALL the time, in fact I just came back from Honduras. First of all, the majority of people do NOT back Manuel Zelaya as you are incorrectly reporting. This is a president who is VERY unpopular, who cavorts around with Chavez who wants Zelaya to make Honduras into a new Venezuela.
    “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.”
    THIS. Completely WRONG. NO ONE wanted to vote on this referendum because it is a referendum to keep Zelaya in power for many more terms, which is AGAINST our democratic values. Everyone in Honduras knows that he wanted to pass that referendum vote so he could rig the elections like Chavez did and proclaim that he could be president for more terms than he constitutionally can.
    So please, Feministing, CHECK your sources before you report. This is an example of exercising your privilege and immediately stating that Hodnuras is not letting its citizens exercise tehir “sacred right.” I am so upset that people around teh world are siding with Zelaya and they do not realize it was NOT a coup, he was breaking the law and thus got ousted and NOBODY except for a VERY miniscule minority supports him.
    And women’s rights may not be at tehir best in Honduras but the political climate there is STABLE no one is making arrests or raping women. God, get a grip. MY parents said eveythign is at usual, everyone is going to work, going out, etc. PLEASE check your sources. I do not want my country misrepresented.

  5. Van Byrd
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Excellent post, but I must pause to wonder about the second part, the “wondering” about possible sexual assaults or medical care.
    Are women only bodies to be protected or receive medical care? Women don’t care about poorer countries that have been shafted about their own unless there’s a woman somewhere who might get raped or denied access to a doctor?
    Or am I right in thinking that women, especially feminists, have the intellectual interest in the world common to anyone in a movement devoted to a better humanity?

  6. Van Byrd
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    No one wanted to vote? Or do you mean that people of your opinion were so obviously in the minority that they would lose if a vote were taken? Hence the coup.
    (sorry for posting twice)

  7. dianita
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    “Hence the coup” THIS. The “coup” if that’s what you wnat to call it, was made BECAUSE Zelaya was breaking the law by wanting to hold that assembly/referendum. The urns were there and NOBODY showed up to vot because NO ONE supports him. People know that if he were to stay in power longer we’d end up like Venezuela. In case you haven’t noticed, Chavez is talking a lot about this issue because he greatly influences Zelaya. The “coup” happened because of the majority, ie, the people who hold my opinion that Honduras is a DEMOCRACY and does NOT need a president that emulates Chavez.
    Get your facts straight

  8. Tara K.
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad to see this covered. My grandparents-in-law are in Honduras right now. It’s distressing to see that CNN can’t spare a Billy Mays or MJ speculation to cover this.

  9. TWP
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    Thanks for posting. I had read on one bloggers web site about how the Honduran military as following the rule of law, and Zelaya was actually breaking the law. The WSJ posted an article supporting that. (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124623220955866301.html) It can be confusing as to know who to believe. It looks like President Obama is backing the wrong horse in this race.

  10. Jeanette
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 2:27 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the comment, dianita. To tell you the truth, what I read yesterday about the situation in Honduras is more in line with your version of events than Courtney’s article. (Sorry Courtney!)
    The only thing I’m confused about is the trip to Costa Rica. I get that what Zelaya was trying to do was illegal, but why not just impeach him, or arrest him?

  11. Van Byrd
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    So “democracy” is why the Los Angeles Times reports today that “In Honduras, forces crack down on protesters,” right?
    See: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-honduras-coup30-2009jun30,0,4319817.story

  12. Van Byrd
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    The Wall Street Journal piece you cite is an opinion piece by a columnist. It’s not straight reporting.
    Before Rupert Murdock bought the paper, The WSJ had always separated its news from its opinion, precisely because it has always been very right wing. They’re apparently still trying to make clear the difference. The page says OPINION in big letters.
    I’m going with the straight news. Zelaya was deposed by force without any due process. People are protesting.
    Chavez-haters have gone rabid this time inventing a fictional military “democracy.” It was a coup.

  13. amday
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    I am disturbed by the mainstream media’s lack of full coverage and the misinformation they are disseminating about these events.
    My S.O. is currently in San Pedro Sula (he is originally from there). He and all of my friends and acquaintances from Honduras feel very much the way dianita seems to.
    Yes, there are protesters in Zelaya’s favor, but the millions of Hondurans who are against him are being granted little to no voice on the world stage right now. Whether or not the use of removal by force was the correct way to prohibit Zelaya from installing himself as a dictator, now is the time to check our own privilege and really try to understand what the Honduran people are trying to do.
    Before anyone posts on this again, please do research and seek out how actual Hondurans feel about the removal of Zelaya before thinking that the majority of Hondurans support him or want him back in power.

  14. amday
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    La Gringa provides some pictures and information about peaceful anti-Zelaya protesters on her blog, as well as links to other blogs that depict the side of the story we’re not hearing from our media.
    See: http://lagringasblogicito.blogspot.com/index.html

  15. Veronica
    Posted July 3, 2009 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Van Byrd, I beg you, before you pass judgments like this, get the full story. Even if you were right. Even if congress was afraid of the non binding vote. Even if the majority of Hondurans support Zelaya…does that mean he can break laws? The law shouldn’t be a judgment call. It’s not a law as long as you agree with it, it’s not a law only if it’s in the best interest of the people. There are three branches of government, all three branches are democratic representatives of the people. It’s not just the president. Please, I beg you all to realize that in a country with no impeachment process congress took the only action that guaranteed his removal from office. They ordered the military to remove Zelaya from his home and out of the country. Did you know the interim president is the president of congress, a leader from the same party as Zelaya? What kind of coup and military regime is that?
    I agree that he should have been simply arrested and given a trial. But don’t equate being against his forced removal of the country to reinstating him. Be clear on where you stand. Don’t call the situation a military coup and ignore the laws being broken by Zelaya. As Hondurans we continue to face criticism from the international community and the media, and I can not find one good reason that tells me why it was OK for him to disrespect the other branches of government. All the focus is on his forced removal. Judge the means, but don’t judge the end result. Congress, the Supreme Court, National Electoral Tribunal, Attorney General were all in agreement on the illegality of the referendum. Why is it OK for Zelaya to have the ballots flown in from Venezuela? Why is it OK for him to say this is what the people wanted and he was going to have the referendum no matter what the other branches said? Please don’t ignore these facts.
    The country is divided, I don’t know where the majority is…should one man decide for us all? Or should we trust the balance of power.
    I have to say it one more time. I beg to put an end to this. You can do it by informing yourselves, your family, your friends, the media. You can say “The Honduran Congress should not have acted forcefully, there had to be a better way, this is a military coup, it’s not acceptable in this day in age…but you don’t have to support the reinstatement of a president who felt his authority is above all other branches of government”

  16. Veronica
    Posted July 3, 2009 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    Van Byrd, I had to comment on your other response. I know where you get your information, and you are only being shown one side. The military is not in power in Honduras. I couldn’t be more proud of being Honduran this week. Our head of the armed forces decided NOT to follow the orders given by his commander in chief. He said NO, I will not follow your order, you are asking me to do something illegal. People aren’t grasping what this meant. He’s not writing books about it 8 years later, he stood up to his president. In Latin America, there is so much corruption and I am going to assume this man could have gotten so much money from Zelaya if he followed his order. He didn’t!! He said, the supreme court has deemed this illegal, I will not follow your order, I will not help you proceed with this referendum. So what did Zelaya do? He fired him! He didn’t have the authority to do this. Congress immediately told Zelaya that General Vazquez should be reinstated. What did Zelaya do? He said NO, he marched with supporters to the army base where the ballots, that were illegally sent in from Venezuela, had been taken and he retrieved them. Zelaya continued to ignore Congress and the Supreme Court.
    Please I am asking you not to leave these facts out. Don’t allow Mel Zelaya to decide for all of us. You sound like a passionate person, this is the type of people we need to help spread the truth. We all have our right to our opinion, judge Congress’ actions, judge their current behavior, judge the Supreme Court speak against them…but be clear that you’re not speaking in favor of Zelaya. There’s a big difference.

  17. Veronica
    Posted July 3, 2009 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Here is a great video that CNN in English hasn’t shown : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QfKUn1mwts

  18. Ashley
    Posted July 5, 2009 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I went on a mission trip to honduras and left 12 hours before the coup. While there i saw the way so many people there lived, no one should live that way, luckily the SHH (Students Helping Honduras) are bettering the lifes of these warm and inviting people. Also i made relationships with alot of the people there, and i learned the truth about the country and it’s president.
    Zelaya is nothing more than a selfcentered power hungry dictator that has tried to change the constitution so that he could become the Dictator of Honduras.
    As i tell this to so many people the always say that he should still be president, he was elected by the people, they like him, ect. But that is all fasle, well except for the part about being elected by the people. He was but he was only elected because he said he would help the poor, better the llives of hondurans, ect. These were lies. He is hated by the people of Honduras (in general, there probably are a few people that still like him, but not that many). The SHH has done more to better the lives of the poor Hondurans than their own president. He has only ignored their cries for help, even after the worst natural disasters, and walk all over them just so he can have power.
    I met a little boy named Roberto in Honduras, he became my little brother. He is an amazing boy and I love him so much. he was one of the many people i formed relationships with and that i loved. they are like a faily to me and i promised them i would come back to Honduras and that i would make their lives better. With Zelaya in power, that is impossible. He can only harm his people, and i don’t want him harming my family any longer.
    Oh, and about the whole crime rate and rape and stuff rising, that is a total myth. My friends from the SHH are living in honduras and posting updates. according to them it pretty peacequiet over there, literally NOTHING is happening. Sure there is still crime and rape, but that happens everywhere. The honduran military has set up curfews and other precautions to prevent crimes, and most of the people are cooperating. This isn’t a bad thing that’s happening in Honduras, it’s a great thing. The people of Honduras are taking their country back, and destroying the tyrants who have neglected and harmed them for too long. I am so proud and happy for the Honduran militay. They saved their county.

  19. Ashley
    Posted July 5, 2009 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    i am so siding with you. I got back from a mission trip to Honduras 12 hours before the coup and let me tell you, after two days in that country i hated him. i made relationships with the people there, and having Zelaya in the country only makes their lives worse.

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