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2009-10-05

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya Speaks from the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa

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The deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya remains within the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, where he has been staying, surrounded by soldiers and riot police, since returning to his country two weeks ago. It has been nearly 100 days since President Zelaya was ousted by the Honduran military. On Friday, the Organization of American States told reporters that representatives of the deposed president and the coup government led by Roberto Micheletti will likely begin talks this week. Micheletti reportedly said he would meet with his cabinet today to consider lifting an emergency decree limiting civil liberties. [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to the ousted president of Honduras. Anjali?

ANJALI KAMAT: Well, we go now to Honduras, where the deposed President Manuel Zelaya remains within the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, where he’s been staying, surrounded by soldiers and riot police, since returning to his country two weeks ago. It’s been nearly 100 days since President Zelaya was ousted by the Honduran military.

Meanwhile, the Organization of American States told reporters Friday that representatives of the deposed president and the coup government led by Roberto Micheletti will likely begin talks this week. Micheletti reportedly said he would meet with his cabinet today to consider lifting an emergency decree limiting civil liberties.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more on Honduras, we’re going right now to the Brazilian embassy to speak with the democratically elected leader, the Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

President Zelaya, we welcome you to Democracy Now!

Can you explain how you got into the Brazilian embassy and what is happening there now?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] Thank you very much. I am facing great obstacles, but my spirit is strong. And I have faith in the international support that I’m receiving.

TRANSLATOR: It’s a very challenging problem. The connection is not particularly good.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to a break, and we’re going to come back. Again, we have reached President Zelaya inside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa in Honduras, where he has been under siege. Honduran soldiers are outside the embassy. There have been teargas over the period that he has been there, holed up with a number of supporters and also reporters. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back with President Zelaya in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: On the line with us from inside the Brazilian embassy — we have tried switching lines so we can get a better line — is the ousted president Manuel Zelaya, speaking to us in Tegucigalpa.

How did you get inside the embassy? That is one of the big questions, aside from whether you will be returned to power, that many people are asking, President Zelaya.

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA:

[inaudible]

TRANSLATOR: I can’t hear anything.

ANDRÉS CONTERIS:

Is this line dead? Is this line dead?

AMY GOODMAN:

This line is good, if you can speak directly into the phone.

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA:

[translated] I’m concerned that this is starting a process of further coups d’état throughout Latin America.

AMY GOODMAN:

President Zelaya, what are you demanding right now?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA:

[translated] We’re calling for dialogue, but the de facto president has responded by just restricting liberties. [inaudible]

AMY GOODMAN:

Andrés Conteris is next to you in the mission. We’d like to ask if he could try to translate. I’m not sure what’s going on with these lines, but we are having difficulty understanding. Andrés, if you could translate for the President right there.

ANDRÉS CONTERIS: I will do that, Amy.

The President explained that Brazil was the most friendly country, and that is why he came here, first of all.

AMY GOODMAN:

No, you’re not — Andrés, if you could speak directly into the phone. Otherwise, we cannot hear you.

ANDRÉS CONTERIS: The President explained that Brazil is the country that was most friendly, and that is what he came here first to this embassy. And then he talked about the repression that this coup regime has directed against the resistance.

AMY GOODMAN:

And are you speaking on speakerphone or directly into the phone?

ANDRÉS CONTERIS: I’m speaking directly into the phone. The President has speakerphone, and we’re going to turn that off.

AMY GOODMAN:

OK, if you could turn that off, that would be good. I think we could understand you a lot better. And just share the phone. He speaks, and then you speak.

Anjali, you had a question for President Zelaya.

ANJALI KAMAT:

President Zelaya —

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA:

Hello? OK?

ANJALI KAMAT:

President Zelaya, if you could talk about whether there are going to be talks between your representatives and representatives of the coup government led by Roberto Micheletti? This is the latest news we’ve heard from the Organization of American States.

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA:

[translated] The OAS is taking an active role to establish the dialogue, and we’ve decided on three points of negotiation to ensure that it is a good-faith negotiation and settlement. First, the Arias proposal needs to be signed onto immediately. Secondly, we need to create follow-up commissions and monitoring commissions for the Arias proposal. And thirdly, international verification commissions must also be able to work with national verifying missions.

AMY GOODMAN:

President Zelaya, what does the Arias accord call for? And what is your stance on that, and what is Micheletti’s?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA:

[translated] I’m inviting all parties to immediately sign onto the San Jose Accords, with the presence of the chancellors of Latin American countries. I’m also calling for the accord to create and include a verification commission.

ANJALI KAMAT:

President Micheletti — I’m so sorry, President Zelaya, if you could respond to the recent visit by four Republican lawmakers? Senator DeMint and three Republican congressmen visited Honduras last week. They met with Micheletti. Have you had any contact with any US lawmakers?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA:

[translated] No. I wasn’t aware of their visit, nor do I have a comment about their position. If they came to support the coup d’état, I think they’re committing a grave mistake.

AMY GOODMAN:

And your assessment of the support that President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have given you in attempting to return as the democratically elected president of Honduras? Do you think they have done enough?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA:

[translated] Well, I think the US has done a great deal, but I do think that the US could do more.

AMY GOODMAN:

What? What could the US do?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA:

[translated] I think it could call for a trade embargo. It could take commercial measures in that regard. I think that it could freeze bank accounts of the coup leaders and coup supporters.

I also think that it would be good that President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton and the ambassador have made a great effort to make the coup leaders understand that they don’t support this procedure — that is, the coup — to resolve the problems. Nonetheless, I don’t think that they’ve done enough, and clearly, these have not been sufficient measures to undo the coup d’état.

The United States needs to show and declare the coup d’état a military coup d’état, call it by that name. With regard to the human rights violations in the last hundred days, those, too, need to be denounced.

AMY GOODMAN:

We are talking to the ousted president Manuel Zelaya. He has made it back into Honduras and has taken refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa. Honduran troops are outside. At times, they are shooting tear gas. Anjali?

ANJALI KAMAT:

Can you describe what it’s been like inside the embassy? Can you describe the scene?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA:

[translated] Yes. What has occurred here is truly rude treatment for a democratically elected president. This is not how you treat a president who is fighting to reinstall democracy in his country.

We have been repressed and limited to the embassy. Tear gas has been fired. Our electronic lines, our telephone lines have been cut. We’ve also been under attack from microwaves and the sound cannon, a long-range acoustic device.

AMY GOODMAN:

What do you mean, acoustic device, a sound cannon?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA:

[translated] There are two kinds of unconventional weapons that have been used against us by the regime. There’s a high-frequency pitch that has been used against protesters. And another weapon that has been used against us is an electronic device that issues microwaves, which is very harmful for your health. It causes headaches.

AMY GOODMAN:

As president, do you know about this in the Honduran arsenal?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA:

[translated] Yes, of course. We all suffered this. We all witnessed it. There’s photographs and videos of this occurring.

AMY GOODMAN:

And who is using this outside — the tear gas, the sound cannon, whatever you call it, the high-frequency machine? Is it Honduran soldiers?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA:

[translated] There are military forces that have surrounded the embassy. The embassy, in fact, has been turned into a concentration camp.

ANJALI KAMAT:

President Zelaya, I want to turn back to the question of how the US has responded to your return. The US representative to the Organization for American States described your return to Tegucigalpa as, quote, "foolish and irresponsible." What’s your response to that?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA:

[translated] I think that that statement is an unfortunate personal opinion. I don’t think it recognizes or acknowledges my efforts and the sacrifices I’ve made and the peaceful efforts that I’ve made to reinstall democracy in this country. I think that the Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama’s statements are the ones that I will consider to be the US position.

ANJALI KAMAT:

President Zelaya, I want to turn to some of the news reports that came out when you first came into the Brazilian embassy. The Miami Herald on September 24th quoted you as talking about the presence of Israeli mercenaries. And I wanted to ask you about this, because this has now become a big issue, with the Anti-Defamation League and the Wall Street Journal accusing you of being anti-Semitic. Can you respond to these allegations?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA:

[translated] I believe that that is a campaign that is just trying to smear my image as a politician. In my government, I was criticized for including important leaders from the Honduran civil society who practice the Jewish religion. Mr. Jaime Rosenthal and Yani Rosenthal were some of my principal economic advisers and are, in fact, fluent in Hebrew.

I don’t believe in racial or religious discrimination at all. I’ve always shown solidarity with the Jewish diaspora and always taken a stand against the crimes against humanity that were committed during the Holocaust. I believe that tolerance has always characterized my time here on earth in the last fifty-seven years, and I think that speaks eloquently and certainly rebuffs any of those accusations.

AMY GOODMAN:

President Zelaya, we just have thirty seconds. Your final message as you speak to us from the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa?

PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA:

[translated] Thank you to Democracy Now! Thank you for covering our situation. And thank you to Andrés Thomas [Conteris]. I want you to know that our spirit is strong, and we will achieve peace in Honduras, and we will roll back the coup d’état.

AMY GOODMAN:

President Manuel Zelaya, we thank you for being with us. Manuel Zelaya is the ousted president inside the Brazilian embassy now in Tegucigalpa. We are speaking to him, and special thanks to Andrés Conteris for helping us with this broadcast.

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