President Manuel Zelaya was arrested early on Sunday, June 28 by a 12-member Honduran military team. Some 200 soldiers, supported by tanks, arrived at Mr. Zelaya’s residence at dawn and surrounded the presidential palace amidst hundreds of protesters. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd, and Mr. Zelaya was transported to an air force base on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa and flown into exile to San Jose, Costa Rica. – hondurasthisweek.com
In an article publish today, Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya told Spain’s El Pais that a planned attempt to wrest power him was thwarted after the United States declined to back the move. It would seem Zelays spoke too quickly, as a second coup attempt was successful. Further details regarding roll America played in that incident are unclear at this time.
President Zelaya had promised to put a referendum on the ballot that would decide on changes in Honduras’ electoral laws. The Supreme Court had previously ruled that the referendum was illegal. Around 100 Zelaya supporters protested the arrest by blocking the gates to the presidential palace and throwing stones at soldiers.
Sunday’s events followed a tumultuous week where some 70 percent of the population lives in poverty. At the crux of the current political crisis was the referendum. After the Supreme Court ruled the poll illegal, the country’s top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, told the president that the military would not support the referendum.
In response, Zelaya on Wednesday said he would fire Vasquez.
The next day, the Supreme Court stepped in again and ruled that the general’s dismissal was unconstitutional. Initially, Zelaya referred to the court as the “supreme court of injustice,” but later reaffirmed that Vasquez still held his military post.
Determined to hold the referendum, the president on Thursday led a protest to the military base where the ballots were being housed and took possession of them — the same ballots that the military re-seized Sunday morning.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said troops in Honduras temporarily detained the Venezuelan and Cuban ambassadors and beat them.
In separate appearances Sunday, Zelaya, Chavez and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said the military also detained Honduran Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas, further raising regional tensions.
Speaking in Havana, Cuba, Rodriguez said the Cuban, Venezuelan and Nicaraguan ambassadors to Honduras had tried but were unable to protect Rodas from a group of masked soldiers who forcibly took her from their grasp.
“If they attack our ambassadors, they will be declaring a state of war,” Chavez said. “If they have weapons, then we have weapons, too.”
“This was a brutal kidnapping of me with no justification,” Zelaya said. He called the coup an attack on Honduran democracy. “There are ways to protest without arms,” Zelaya said.
Much of the capital was without electricity on Sunday and residents stood on long lines to buy kerosene for home generators. Military tanks patrolled the streets and military planes flew overhead. Soldiers were on guard at all the main government buildings and military trucks dropped off police at strategic crossings throughout the city, residents said.
Hugo Chávez vows to ‘bring them down’ after seeing Honduran ally ousted in military coup