Zelaya blames US for his ouster in 2009
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Last Updated: Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 10:18
Tegucigalpa: Ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya said the United States was behind the 2009 coup that toppled him because it dominates his country's politics and economy.

"The US is handling the economy, military, international relations and fuel. So I cannot understand why a (new) president was elected, rather than appoint a (US) governor," Zelaya told Channel 13 television yesterday from the Dominican Republic, where he has been in exile.

"US oil companies wanted to keep their monopoly and price control formulas on Honduras," he continued, charging that the United States had sought to accelerate his downfall in order to benefit its fuel and oil interests.

Yet the allegations came after a secret diplomatic cable dated June 8, 2009, released by WikiLeaks showed Zelaya had in fact worked at Washington's behest to limit leftist regional influence.

Zelaya, a wealthy property owner, was elected in late 2005 as a conservative, pledging to boost security for ordinary Hondurans.

But during his presidency he veered dramatically to the left, leading Honduras to join the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) and clash publicly with Washington.

As Honduras hosted an Organization of American States meeting in June 2009 that considered re-admitting communist Cuba after a 47-year suspension, Zelaya strongly pressured Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and even phoned up Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro to get them to approve a US-drafted compromise, the cable said.

US Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens wrote in the memo that "Zelaya successfully pressured ALBA to accept our text," which supported a resolution dropping the Cuba ban as long as it mandated that Cuba apply for membership and that membership be contingent on Havana adhering to democratic OAS principles.

According to Zelaya's latest claims, the United States threatened that any alliance with Chavez would lead to "problems with them," a threat the ex-leader said he ignored.

Chavez is a "friend who reached out to me," Zelaya said, referring to a regional agreement allowing access to Venezuelan oil under preferential terms.

The Honduran legislature has approved the use of plebiscites to amend the constitution, an issue that foreshadowed Zelaya's ouster.

The move paved the way for changes to once unalterable provisions of the charter, including a one-term limit for the president.

Zelaya said the passage of reforms similar to those he once championed proved the coup against him was "political."

The former president's opponents, fearing he would use a referendum at the time to extend his time in office, justified his overthrow by declaring the vote proposed by Zelaya a treasonous attack on the constitution.


First Published: Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 10:18

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