Former Honduran president says US was behind coup that ousted him in 2009

By Freddy Cuevas, AP
Monday, June 28, 2010

Honduran ex-president: US was behind my overthrow

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya accused the United States of being behind the 2009 coup that ousted him, in a letter released Monday on the first anniversary of his ouster.

Zelaya, who now lives in the Dominican Republic, has given conflicting accounts on what role the United States allegedly played in the coup, in which Honduran soldiers hustled him out of the country on June 28, 2009.

He has alternately praised the policy of the U.S. government on the issue, and also criticized Washington for not pressing harder for his reinstatement.

But Monday’s letter said flatly: “What we suspected at the beginning has now been confirmed. The United States was behind the coup.”

The U.S. Embassy in Honduras did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Zelaya’s letter did not offer any specifics of what the United States allegedly did. He cited what he called “the public support the United States wound up giving to the coup.”

The United States refused to recognize the government of interim president Roberto Micheletti, froze U.S. aid to the regime and pressured Honduras to allow Zelaya to return to office.

But Zelaya claimed “the Honduran people are faithful witnesses to the role that the economic interests of the United States played in this tragic event.”

The United States is the largest source of foreign investment in Honduras and accounts for much of its trade.

Zelaya suggested that his administration’s ties to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his plans to convert into a civilian airport the Soto Cano military air base — which U.S. forces use, but do not control — may have played a role in U.S. hostility to him.

It is not the first time that Zelaya — who maintained contact with U.S. officials during the coup and even traveled to the United States in a bid to be reinstated — has changed his view on the U.S. role in the nine-month-long coup.

In September, when the United States cut off all aid to the interim government that replaced him, Zelaya said “it is gratifying that the United States has taken a strong position against the coup.”

But in a letter published June 11, he claimed that members of his own Liberal Party “conspired with the oligarchy and the Pentagon to remove me from the political scene.”

Zelaya angered Honduras’ business elite in early 2009 with a campaign to rewrite the constitution. When Zelaya ignored a Supreme Court order to cancel a referendum on the plan, soldiers flew him into exile in his pajamas at gunpoint.

Current President Porfirio Lobo was elected in November and took over from the coup-installed interim government in January.

Zelaya has said he wants to return to Honduras, but he faces charges of abuse of authority and other alleged crimes, which he claims are part of a political persecution against him.

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