Program on the Americas director for Nonviolence International. He also works at Democracy Now! en Español.
The Honduran coup regime and representatives of the ousted President Manuel Zelaya reached an agreement late Thursday that would pave the way for Congress to restore Zelaya to office and allow him to serve out the remaining three months of his term. We go to the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa to speak with Andrés Conteris, who has been holed up at the embassy since Zelaya took refuge there last month. [includes rush transcript]
JUAN GONZALEZ: In Honduras, the coup regime and representatives of the ousted President Manuel Zelaya have reached an agreement that could end a four-month-old political crisis. The two sides signed an agreement late Thursday that would pave the way for Congress to restore Zelaya to office and allow him to serve out the remaining three months of his term. Zelaya was ousted in a military coup on June 28th and flown into exile.
The head of the coup regime, Roberto Micheletti, said the agreement would create a power-sharing government and would require both sides to recognize the result of the November 29th presidential elections. It would also create a truth commission to investigate the events of the past few months.
AMY GOODMAN: Micheletti and Zelaya held talks separately Thursday with Tom Shannon, the US Assistant Secretary of State, and Dan Restrepo, Washington’s special assistant for Western Hemisphere affairs. As the negotiations were underway Thursday, a rally by hundreds of pro-Zelaya protesters in Tegucigalpa was broken up by police who fired tear gas.
Zelaya told Radio Globo that today, quote, "will be the day that the plan will be signed to restore democracy to the country." Zelaya remains holed up at the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa after re-entering the country in late September, two months after he was forced from the presidential palace and flown to Costa Rica.
We go now to the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, where Andrés Conteris is also holed up. He has been there since the beginning of the president, the ousted president, taking refuge in the Brazilian embassy. Andrés is with Democracy Now! en Español, in Spanish.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Andrés. Tell us the situation. Explain what this deal has — that has been worked out.
Amy, it’s good to be with you and Juan.
The deal has been accepted by both sides and is expected to be signed today. The accord includes the most difficult point that was arrived at by both sides, which is the restitution of President Zelaya as the elected democratic leader of the country. This was also agreed upon two weeks ago, but — in a text that was agreed upon by both sides; however, when it was taken back to the Micheletti camp, then they came up with a condition that the Supreme Court had to ratify the accord. That, of course, was completely opposed by the Zelaya camp, because the Supreme Court has been totally in cahoots with the coup regime. The alternative proposed by President Zelaya was that it be ratified by the Honduran Congress, and finally that was accepted by the Micheletti negotiators, and that is the accord that has been reached and will be signed today.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Andrés, how would this power sharing work? Has it been spelled out in the agreement?
ANDRÉS CONTERIS: Juan, could you please repeat the question?
JUAN GONZALEZ: Oh, sure. I said, how would the power-sharing agreement work? Has it been spelled out in the document?
ANDRÉS CONTERIS: The power sharing has not been spelled out in detail in the document, and this is a very controversial point, especially by the resistance that has been nonviolently struggling against the very repressive coup regime over the past four months. And so, we are not clear what powers the President will have when he is restored to the presidential palace.
Another point that does not have a lot of clarity has to do with the truth commission that is to be established. One of the points had been that there was going to be an amnesty for both sides. That no longer is the case. And there is an arrest warrant out for President Zelaya. That arrest warrant could in fact still be upheld when he leaves the embassy. And so, who knows if he’ll ever even make it to the presidential palace. But it will be very, very important for the truth commission to do a deep investigation into all of the allegations on both sides.
AMY GOODMAN: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that there was a deal that was made, but even as they sign this, does it have to be approved by the Congress in Honduras? And do they support Zelaya?
ANDRÉS CONTERIS: It does need to be approved by the Congress only. That was the point that was agreed upon, that President Zelaya did agree to. And basically, it’s not known how the Congress is going to vote. President Zelaya, of course, does not have many friends in the Congress.
However, the point is that the Congress knows that the international community needs to support and validate the elections on November the 29th. And in order for them to do that, the international community has said that President Zelaya needs to be restored to power. So that means that many of the legislators will be supporting the restitution of President Zelaya, because they want the international community to validate the elections, especially Porfirio Lobo, who is the head of the National Party, and he is the leading presidential candidate in the elections next month.
JUAN GONZALEZ: What’s been the reaction of the popular movement that has supported President Zelaya, because I would assume that some of them would see any kind of a power-sharing agreement as, in essence, a major concession on his part, given that he would only have a few months left in office?
ANDRÉS CONTERIS: You’re very right about that, Juan. There are [inaudible] raising serious questions about that, especially those who have been very severely beaten and hospitalized. That includes Carlos H. Reyes, an independent presidential candidate, and he was hospitalized for weeks after a severe beating. But that repression even took place, in very intense ways, yesterday, the very day that the accord was agreed upon. So, there’s not a lot of trust in terms of how this regime is going to continue to operate, given their record, and also — not only in terms of repression, but given their record in terms of delaying as long as possible before allowing the President to return to power.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we want to thank you, Andrés Thomas Conteris, for joining us. Andrés is holed up and has been since the President, the elected President Zelaya, went into the Brazilian embassy, as well. Again, the latest news: a deal has been struck between the coup regime and the elected President Zelaya for Zelaya to return to office as president with conditions. And we’ll you bring more on this on Monday. We’ll bring you the latest news. You can go to our website for all the images, the videos of the protests and the images inside the Brazilian embassy, as well.