News & Politics

Video: Honduran Rights Activist on Coup: 'We Want Actions, Not Only Declarations'

Dr. Juan Almendares: "We have an alliance between the very powerful class with the military."

AMY GOODMAN:In the first military coup in Central America in a quarter of a century, the Honduran military has ousted the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. Former Parliamentary speaker Roberto Micheletti, who was sworn in as Zelaya’s replacement Sunday, has imposed a two-day nationwide curfew. But hundreds of Zelaya supporters remain on the streets. Shots were fired at protesters near the presidential palace early Monday morning.

The ousted president was forced from the presidential palace by armed soldiers early Sunday morning and flown to Costa Rica after he tried to carry out a non-binding referendum to extend his term in office. Micheletti says Zelaya was not ousted through a coup but by a legal process. But speaking at a press conference in Costa Rica, Zelaya called it a kidnapping and vowed to return to his country as president. He explained a small group of elites and military officers were behind the coup.

    PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA:[translated] I think it is a group of military men, and it’s not the entire army or all the armed forces. There are good soldiers who are good and capable people who are not blinded with ambition or greed. There are some who have not been blinded by the voracity of a small elite, which, through politics and the economy, have provoked this terrible event.

AMY GOODMAN:The military coup in Honduras and the reported arrests of the Cuban, Venezuelan and Nicaraguan ambassadors to Honduras have been roundly condemned by the Organization of American States that held an emergency session Sunday. The Honduran representative compared the coup to what happened in Chile in 1973. The Venezuelan representative accused former Bush administration undersecretary of state Otto Reich of complicity in the coup. Earlier in the day, the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez warned his armed forces were on alert.

President Obama, meanwhile, issued a declaration Sunday morning saying he was, quote, “deeply concerned” by reports from Honduras. In a statement later in the day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the action against the ousted Honduran President should be, quote, “condemned by all.” The U.S. ambassador to Honduras reaffirmed the United States only recognizes Manuel Zelaya as the President of Honduras.

Well, for the latest from Honduras, we go there to Dr. Juan Almendares. He joins us on the line from the capital, Tegucigalpa. We’re also joined here in our firehouse studio by New York University professor of Latin American history, Greg Grandin.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Let’s begin with Dr. Almendares. Can you describe what is happening right now in Tegucigalpa?

DR. JUAN ALMENDARES:Well, what we are having here is a military coup d’etat who has been persecuting and repressive action against some member of the legitimate government of President Zelaya and also popular leaders. We have almost a national strike for workers, people, students and intellectuals, and they are organized in a popular resistance-run pacific movement against this violation of the democracy. So we want a democracy now. We want people from all over the world to [inaudible] service, make contacts, because what we are looking right now is a really -- hello? Hello? Hello?

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