Coup in Honduras: Military Ousts President Manuel Zelaya, Supporters Defy Curfew and Take to the Streets
AMY GOODMAN: In the first military coup in
The ousted president was forced from the presidential palace by armed soldiers early Sunday morning and flown to
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
President Obama, meanwhile, issued a declaration Sunday morning saying he was, quote, “deeply concerned” by reports from
Well, for the latest from
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Let’s begin with Dr. Almendares. Can you describe what is happening right now in
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?
AMY GOODMAN: Yes, we can hear you fine. We can hear you fine, Dr. Almendares.
DR. JUAN ALMENDARES: Oh, yes, alright, alright. So what we are looking now is, we are going back to repressive situation. Some of the advisers of the government have been perpetrators, torture perpetrators, of the 1980s. We have a very, very strong, conservative way of looking things. However, we are not only strong for—not only for President Zelaya; we are also strong for the rights of the people, because in this movement is not only persons from one side of political sector. There are many sectors involved in this movement trying to restitute the constitutional rights, the human rights. We are really worried for the human rights.
Some of these people think like Pinochet, and they are comparing Zelaya with Salvador Allende. And we have here in
And we want really actions from the Organization of States of America, from the European community, not only declarations. We want actions to contribute to the democratic beginning, because we don’t really have a true democracy in this country. We have just a beginning to have some democratic principles. That’s why the people are struggling. This is a very, very poor country. We are still occupied by the
AMY GOODMAN: What kind of information are you getting, Dr. Almendares, from television? I understand TV channel 8 was shut down, radio stations closed, CNN and Telesur not allowed to air news on cable.
DR. JUAN ALMENDARES: That’s true. I mean, in the beginning, they were all—cancel out all the TV channels, the radio information, who are against the video situation in
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, “a terror situation,” Dr. Almendares, for popular leaders?
DR. JUAN ALMENDARES: Well, because they are—they are calling—they are having, all the time, militaries coming against people demonstration. And also, they are persecuting some leaders. They have to be out of the country. And also, they captured the minister of foreign relationship, Patricia Rodas. We don’t know what happened with her. So, we don’t have so much information, and also there is no freedom of communication. We have also a curfew, because after 9:00 you can be shot if you are on the streets. So we have a curfew from 9:00 to 6:00 a.m.
AMY GOODMAN: You can be shot, you said? You can be shot, you said?
DR. JUAN ALMENDARES: Well, I mean—well, yes, because [inaudible] we have a—I don’t know if you understand; maybe I don’t explain very well—a curfew. So, if you go on the street after 9:00, I mean, they are not responsible if they shoot you, because they say this is for, they say, like prevention of any situation. So they are threatening. They’re threatening the human rights of the people. And human rights activists are really—we consider that there is a new situation on respect of human rights in
AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Juan Almendares, we have to break, but we’re going to come back. I want to ask you more about who you believe is behind this coup and also talk to Greg Grandin, professor of Latin American history, author of Empire’s Workshop.
This is Democracy Now! Then a national broadcast exclusive with the President of Ecuador. By the way, he’s in
AMY GOODMAN: Coup in Honduras, that’s what we’re talking about right now with Dr. Juan Almendares, who is a Honduran medical doctor, award-winning human rights activist, president of the Honduran Peace Committee, and Greg Grandin, professor of Latin American history at NYU, New York University. His latest book is called Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City.
Who is behind this, Greg?
GREG GRANDIN: Well, I think it’s fairly clearly, who is behind it is the military, sectors of the military, if not the whole military, and sectors of the old political establishment, who see the changes in South America, and they’re doing their best to make sure they don’t arrive in Central America.
AMY GOODMAN: And the connection to the School of the
GREG GRANDIN: Well, a number of the leaders of the Honduran military were trained in the School of the
AMY GOODMAN: Like who?
GREG GRANDIN: Well, Romeo Vasquez, the head of the armed forces, who Zelaya removed from office just a few days ago, because he refused to support the referendum, non-binding referendum. He’s obviously behind it, as well as the head of the navy and other high-ranking officials.
The Honduran military is effectively a subsidiary of the
AMY GOODMAN: And what do you think about their responses. There was concern when it first happened, the ouster, that the language wasn’t strong enough.
GREG GRANDIN: Yeah, at first the language is very tepid. Obama expressed concern for events, and
AMY GOODMAN: Interesting today, President Obama, who met with Bachelet last week, of
DR. JUAN ALMENDARES: Well, I will say that we have really—we have an army who have been really repressive and torturers since the 1980s, and most of this military have been trained by the
But that’s what I say, to have a concrete action. They usually—they usually have been, in history, obeying to the
AMY GOODMAN: Interesting, when looking at past coups and the parallel being made to 1973, the September 11th, ’73, coup against Allende, when President Obama met with Michelle Bachelet, a reporter asked if he wanted to apologize for CIA involvement in the Chilean elections. Obama said last week, “I’m interested in going forward, not looking back. I think that the
GREG GRANDIN: Yeah, and he has an opportunity to look forward. He could do all—he could bring the full power of the
AMY GOODMAN: In fact, Dr. Juan Almendares, same language used. President Aristide said he was kidnapped, and then the opposition forces, the coup leaders, said he had signed a resignation letter, the same thing they’re saying about Zelaya, which he is contesting.
DR. JUAN ALMENDARES: Well, I think this is a lie. I hear the voice of the administer of presidency and also the voice of President Zelaya in
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we will continue to follow this story. I want to thank you for being with us, Dr. Juan Almendares, speaking to us from the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, where a coup has just occurred, the ouster of the democratically elected President Zelaya, who is now in Nicaragua meeting with other Latin American leaders. Thank you for being with us, head of the Honduran Peace Commission, and Greg Grandin, professor of Latin American history at