Coup in Honduras – Correction: This is NOT a coup
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Please read the 1:50PM update. The Honduran Supreme Court of Justice has confirmed that Honduran president Manuel Zelaya was detained this morning by the military in compliance with an order of the courts of law.
Honduran troops have arrested president Manuel Zelaya, who then was taken to an air base outside of Tegucigalpa.
President Manuel Zelaya’s private secretary told the AP that Zelaya was arrested and brought to a base on the outskirts of the capital, Tegucigalpa.
An AP reporter saw dozens of green-helmeted soldiers surround the president’s house Sunday morning and then later jump in trucks and drive away, according to the report. About 60 police continue to guard the house, it said, adding that the president did not appear.
Noticias24 reports that four units of 200 soldiers stormed the presidential residence at 6AM.
Electricity has been cut off in the capital, and it is rumored that Zelaya has been flown out of the country.
It’ll be interesting to watch what Hugo Chavez’s reaction will be, considering that he was saying
Hugo Chavez declared that “we are not going to watch with our arms crossed the goings-on in Honduras,” and insisted “we will do what we will have to do so the sovereignty of the Honduran people will be respected.”
Unconfirmed rumors say that Zelaya was flown to Venezuela.
“This coup will be defeated and it will be defeated by the people of Honduras and through its will.”
Background on the referendum, which Zelaya insisted on in spite of it having been declared unlawful:
* When the armed forces refused to distribute the ballots, Zelaya fired the chief of the armed forces, Gen. Romeo Vásquez, and the defense minister, the head of the army and the air force resigned in protest.
* Yesterday the Supreme Court ordered by a 5-0 vote that Vásquez be reinstated.
* Honduras’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal ordered authorities to pick up all the ballots and electoral material, which were held by the country’s air force.
* The country’s Attorney General requested yesterday that Congress oust Zelaya.
* The courts have declared the referendum unlawful. Last Tuesday the Congress passed a law preventing the holding of referendums or plebiscites 180 days before or after general elections. Congress has also named a commission to investigate Zelaya.
This is the first coup in Honduras since 1982 when a democratically elected civilian government came to power .
The Honduran Congress is holding an emergency session.
The OAS is also holding an emergency sessionat 3PM GMT.
Honduran daily La Prensa reports that Zelaya is now in Costa Rica.
Police fired tear gas at hundreds of demonstrators protesting after Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was deposed ahead of a controversial referendum.
President Barack Obama is calling for all sides in Honduras to respect democracy and the rule of law following the arrest of President Manuela Zelaya and his reported expulsion to Costa Rica.
Obama says any disputes must be settled peacefully through negotiations that are free from outside interference.
White House officials say Obama spoke with his national security adviser, James Jones, about the situation on Sunday morning. Aides from several agencies are monitoring the situation and providing updates to Obama, Jones and Jones’ deputy.
Zelaya was detained shortly before voting was to begin on a constitutional referendum. He had insisted on holding the vote even though the Supreme Court ruled it illegal and everyone from the military to Congress and members of his own party opposed it.
Noticias 24 has photos of a small group of Zelaya supporters protesting his removal and burning tires.
The EU criticized the overthrow.
Copy of the White House statement
Title VII, with two chapters, outlines the process of amending the constitution and sets forth the principle of constitutional inviolability. The constitution may be amended by the National Congress after a two-thirds vote of all its members in two consecutive regular annual sessions.
That is what Zelaya tried to bypass.
The official Chavista news agency published Zelaya’s speech from Costa Rica, where he blames the “rich elite who wants to keep everybody else poor.” He spoke upon arriving at the airport in San Jose.
WSJ (emphasis added)
Giving voice to the deep fears that sparked the military’s action, retired Honduran general Daniel Lopez Carballo justified the move against the president, telling CNN en Espanol that Mr. Zelaya was a stooge for Mr. Chavez. He said if the military had not acted, Mr. Chavez would eventually be running Honduras by proxy.
Chavez’s propaganda channel Telesur has been blocked from broadcasting in Honduras
Univision is broadcasting live from Tegucigalpa. They showed a few demonstrators, but the situation appears otherwise quiet.
12:30PM: Univision ceased its live coverage. While tanks are patrolling the streets, the city remains calm.
Nicaraguan paper La Prensa Gráfica reports that the Venezuelan ambassador to the Organization of American States claims that the ambassadors for Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua in Honduras were kidnapped, hooded, and beaten. OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza announced he will travel to Honduras.
Welcome, Memeorandum readers.
Chavez warns Honduras with “war” if anything happens to the Venezuelan ambassador in Honduras. (My translation: Please credit me and link to this blog if you use it)
President Hugo Chavez has warned the Honduran military behind the coup today with “war” if anything happens to our ambassador in Tegucigalpa, or if the Venezuelan embassy is taken.
Chavez said that it would be “a declaration of war” and Venezuela would be forced to send troops. “The Venezuelan Armed Forces are on alert.”
“The military junta would be entering on a de-facto state of war. We would have to act even militarily. I wouldn’t be able to remain with my arms crossed knowing they are assaulting our ambassador.”
He then went on to say he’d teach those gorillas a lesson, and concluded by saying he would overthrow the president designated to substitute Zelaya. Globovision quotes Chavez as saying that “If they swear in Roberto Micheletti (the head of the Honduran Congress), we’ll overthrow him.”
CNN en español mentioned that Zelaya was arrested by court order. This signals that all the Honduran institutions were behind this move, in which case the president was overthrown, but it would not be a coup d’etat.
Indeed, Honduras’ La Prensa states that (My translation: If you use this, please credit me and link to this post)
An official statement of the Supreme Court of Justice explained that the Armed Forces acted under lawful grounds when detaining the President of the Republic, and by decommissioning the materials to be used on the illegal poll which aimed to bring forth Executive Power against a judicial order.
Other sources verified that the president of the Congress, Roberto Micheletti, will assume the presidency of the republic in a few hours.
Honduran president Manuel Zelaya was detained this morning by the military in compliance with an order of the courts of law.
Eight members of Zelaya’s cabinet are under arrest.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the action taken against Honduras’ president should be condemned by everyone.
Op-ed La hora de Honduras
Zelaya claims he did not resign. Noticias 24 has his letter of resignation.
The Honduran Congress has officially ousted Zelaya “for repeated violations to the Constitution” and has now named the Congress President Roberto Micheletti as president of the country.
Honduras is scheduled to hold a presidential election next November.
UnoAmérica pide al mundo impedir acción de Chávez en Honduras The Union of American Democratic Organizations, UnoAmérica, requests that democratic governments declare themselves against Hugo Chávez’s meddling in Honduras’s internal affairs.
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UPDATE, Monday 29 June
I’ll be talking about this in today’s podcast at 11AM Eastern.
Check out the following links from Honduras (via La Gringa):
Mel, Chávez, Ortega Plotting the Real Coup in Nicaragua
Gracias A DIOS que “Mel” Zelaya Renunció, Vivan las Fuerzas Armadas de Honduras
Dear CNN: PLEASE CORRECT BIASED COVERAGE ON MEL ZELAYA’S DESTITUTION
What we Hondurans want
The Silent Majority of Honduras Speaks
FOLLOW UP POST:
Honduras defends its democracy