Sunday, June 28, 2009
Honduras takes giant step backward -- military coup topples leftist government
No doubt, the military geniuses who engineered Sunday's dawn overthrow of the democratically elected president of Honduras, leftist Manuel Zelaya, thought they were doing the right thing. And maybe they were. The Supreme Court said it had ordered military commanders to remove the president after he precipitated a political crisis last week by firing the armed forces chief, Gen. Romero Vasquez, over a disagreement about a national election Zelaya had called in an effort to change the constitution to allow him to run again, according to the Reuters international news service. Zelaya was put on a plane and flown to exile in Costa Rica over objections from the United States, the European Union and other nations; and the Honduran legislature named Roberto Micheletti, a member of Zelaya's Liberal Party, as the new president of the poor Central American nation. Micheletti immediately declared a curfew for Sunday and Monday nights as the streets of the capital, Tegucigalpa, filled with pro-Zelaya protesters, Reuters said. U.S. President Barack Obama called for the reinstatement of Zelaya but Micheletti refused, Reuters said. "I don't think anybody here, not Barack Obama and much less Hugo Chavez, has the right to come and threaten," Micheletti said. It was Zelaya's growing relationship with Chavez, the leftist Venezuelan president famous for his angry anti-U.S. rhetoric, that appears to have upset the generals, Reuters said. The court ordered Zelaya's removal, saying he had exceeded his authority by firing Vasquez. The coup was a rather painful reminder of the political turmoil that characterized Central American governments last century, but which had calmed down in the past few decades as democracies became firmly established. The United States still has 600 troops stationed at Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras, Reuters said.