Honduras President Zelaya Speaks with US Activists Via Conference Call
Workers World published the following account of US activists’ conference call with President Zelaya on September 2 during a trip he made to the US.
Honduras President Zelaya speaks with activists in U.S.
By Berta Joubert-Ceci
Published Sep 9, 2009 5:22 PM
It was an unprecedented event for a head of state. While he was in Washington, D.C., Honduran legitimate President Mel Zelaya spoke on the evening of Sept. 2 with 26 anti-coup activists based in the United States.
Roberto Quesada, writer and counsellor to the Honduran Mission at the United Nations and Tito Mesa, coordinator of the Proyecto Hondureño in Massachusetts, had organized the call to show support for the struggle in Honduras and have a direct exchange between the president and activists in the U.S.
Besides Zelaya and Quesada, representing the government, the Zelaya-nominated ambassador to the U.S., Eduardo Enrique Reina, was on the call. The U.S.-based activists—mostly Honduran—joined the conversation from Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, California, New Orleans and Florida. Among the non-Honduran, Latino/a and Caribbean activists invited were Teresa Gutiérrez, co-director of the International Action Center, and this writer.
Excerpts from President Zelaya’s opening remarks
After the president finished his conversation with resistance leaders in Honduras, he began warmly and without ceremony, “Good evening, this is Mel Zelaya.” At his request, participants all introduced themselves and briefly spoke on their activities and efforts inside the U.S. on behalf of the Honduran people. Each speaker wished the president success and a speedy return to his country and office. In return, Zelaya told us how moved and grateful he was for this important call and the activists’ efforts.
“I am determined to struggle tirelessly for this cause. … My destiny is tied to the people of Honduras,” he began.
Mentioning the Bible story of David and Goliath, he said, “We are facing a monster that is torturing the Honduran people and wants to even humiliate the international community. … They dare to challenge the world to say that they will win over us through the power of their weapons.
“Mr. Micheletti and his gorillas, of which he is one, could not hold out for a couple of hours in the Presidential House if tomorrow he would say that he will give away his weapons to the Red Cross and let the people be the ones who decide who should be in the Presidential House. The people would kick him out of the Presidential House, and it would allow me to return peacefully if he would lay down his arms.
“The people are determined to risk death in the struggle and not allow an abuser to impose his rule. … I am determined to return and take on whatever risks are necessary. Today I am exhausting the diplomatic route. I hope that tomorrow God illuminates Mrs. Clinton. I think that the prestige of the U.S. and the government of President Obama is at stake. They recommended the Arias Plan and it is impossible that they don’t now defend it. If they do not defend it, Latin America will be critical of President Obama.
“We have a mission as Hondurans, with the support of friends of other nationalities, to return to Honduras, to take back Honduras. We are going to get the golpistas [the military coup plotters] out of the Presidential House. We have to establish an era of peace, prosperity and justice in our country; so that future generations remember you and remember us as those who struggled and put their lives and blood on the line, so that future generations will never again have to endure a regime directed by gorilettis [a Spanish pejorative for Micheletti and his cronies].”
Zelaya began his response to a question on how people living in the U.S. can help by noting that today large and voracious economic sectors are squeezing the rest ever more. “We have one mission, to fight against arms buildup, against militarism in our societies. We should struggle against those who promote war, violence and must proclaim for ourselves a new international order that will allow the value of human beings over that of commodities.
“The struggle should be against all those who try to create those problems in society. … The world can be a much better place if we defend those principles of peace and equality that our society needs. … I am totally convinced that if we are able to defeat the golpistas, nobody else in Latin America will dare to force a coup d’état in America.”
He concluded by inviting the 26 activists to the Presidential House in Tegucigalpa to celebrate democracy and freedom upon his return.
Washington bends to international pressure
The following day President Zelaya met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss measures to increase pressure on the de facto and illegal government of Roberto Micheletti and the adoption of the six-point Arias Plan, which would allow the safe return of Zelaya to office.
On Sept. 3, State Department spokesperson Ian Kelly wrote: “The Secretary of State has made the decision, consistent with U.S. legislation, recognizing the need for strong measures in light of the continued resistance to the adoption of the San Jose Accord by the de facto regime and continuing failure to restore democratic, constitutional rule to Honduras.”
Though the statement stopped short of calling the takeover a military coup, Zelaya and the Honduran resistance welcomed the measures. They cut more than $30 million in aid to Honduras, including $9.4 million from the Agency for International Development, $8.96 million in funds for weapons and military training from the State Department, $1.7 million in funds for assistance in security, and $11 million from the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation.
The measures also include not recognizing the outcome of the November elections if they are held under the de facto government and the revocation of U.S. visas of some of the coup leaders and supporters.