WikiLeaks on Latin America: Honduras coup 'illegal'
The June 2009 coup that ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was rooted in an "illegal and unconstitutional" military and civilian plan, says one of the secret U.S. diplomatic cables published online by WikiLeaks.
The cable, dated July 24, 2009, and signed by the U.S. ambassador to Honduras, Hugo Llorens, is directed to the White House and senior State Department officials. It says the Honduran legislative and judicial branches "conspired" with the military to remove Zelaya from power. Zelaya was yanked from bed on the night of June 28 and put on a plane to Costa Rica. His foes alleged he was planning an illegal referendum to help him keep in power, a goal the cable labeled a "supposition."
From the cable:
The analysis of the Constitution sheds some interesting light on the events of June 28. The Honduran establishment confronted a dilemma: near unanimity among the institutions of the state and the political class that Zelaya had abused his powers in violation of the Constitution, but with some ambiguity what to do about it. Faced with that lack of clarity, the military and/or whoever ordered the coup fell back on what they knew -- the way Honduran presidents were removed in the past: a bogus resignation letter and a one-way ticket to a neighboring country. No matter what the merits of the case against Zelaya, his forced removal by the military was clearly illegal, and Micheletti's ascendance as "interim president" was totally illegitimate.
The United States temporarily blocked aid to Honduras after Zelaya's coup, and President Obama called it "not legal" in the days that followed Zelaya's ouster. Yet Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton eventually agreed to recognize the results of elections in November won by Porfirio Lobo, who assumed office in January.
-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City
Photo: Manuel Zelaya, former president of Honduras. Credit: EFE