Venezuela: Chavez Calls for Continent-Wide Protests against Honduran Coup

Caracas, June 29th 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called for all Latin American governments to organize demonstrations in solidarity with the people of Honduras at an emergency meeting of the nine member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for Our Americas (ALBA) in Mangaua, Nicaragua, Sunday night.

“It’s not enough to just say that we condemn it; we demand demonstrations in solidarity with the people of Honduras and with President Manuel Zelaya,” he said. Chavez characterized the military coup against Honduran President Manuel Zelaya as “a coup against all of us.”

“It’s not possible to negotiate with these coup plotters. They must step down. It’s necessary to be as firm as a rock, in the face of coup plotters, to whom it’s necessary to say hand over the government to Manuel Zelaya without conditions,” Chavez declared.

The Venezuelan head of state also denied reports circulating in the international media alleging Venezuelan troops plan to enter Honduras. “We would never do that because of our sacrosanct respect for Honduran sovereignty,” he emphasized.

However, he did say on arrival in Managua, “If the oligarchs of this continent break the rules of the game, as they have in the past few days, the peoples have the right to resist and fight back, and us with them. This is a warning for the oligarchs of this continent.”

The Venezuelan head of state also affirmed that the Venezuelan government “will not recognize any government in Honduras except the legitimate government of Manuel Zelaya.”

The coup against Manuel Zelaya in Honduras appears to be almost a carbon copy of the tactics used in the U.S.-backed military coup against Chavez in April 2002, when a mass popular uprising defeated the coup and restored Chavez to power. On Sunday, troops from the military high command in Honduras kidnapped President Manuel Zelaya and transferred him to Costa Rica. A forged resignation letter was then used as a “justification” for the coup and Roberto Micheletti, and the head of Congress, was sworn in as de facto president.

“What happened was a coup just like the coup that happened here in April 2002. The military acted similarly in Honduras… as Venezuelans and having the experience of what we suffered in April 2002, we support the democratically elected president of Honduras,” Ismael Peña told Venezuelanalysis.com in Merida.

President Chavez called on Venezuelans to protest the coup in Honduras. “We’re going to give this military high command, subordinated to the bourgeoisie, another lesson like the one we gave them 12th and 13th of April,” Chavez said referring to the mass uprising that defeated the 2002 coup.

Thousands of Venezuelans converged in Avenida Urdaneta and around the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas on Sunday to protest the coup in Honduras and to demand the restoration of the democratically elected government. Protests have also occurred around the country.

Hilda Girardi, a resident of the La Pastora parish, commented that the struggle of the people of Honduras is the struggle of all the Latin American people. “For us the homeland is America and as [independence leader Simon] Bolivar said integration is what will make us free, this is why we join in solidarity to reinstate the project of the peoples,” she explained.

The trigger for the coup, which occurred after days of tension in Honduras, was supposedly an initiative by President Zelaya to hold a non-binding referendum over the possibility of electing a constituent constitutional assembly during the upcoming November elections. The Supreme Court declared the initiative, which had the backing of social movements, unions and various political parties, illegal.

When the military refused to distribute election material throughout the country Zelaya fired Gen. Romeo Vásquez. The Supreme Court ruled the firing illegal and reinstated General Vásquez. Then in the early hours of Sunday morning 60 masked troops entered the presidential residence, kidnapped Zelaya and expelled him to Costa Rica.

However, many believe the coup is an attempt to halt the process of Latin American integration promoted by the Venezuelan government and other left-wing governments through ALBA, which prioritizes fair trade and investment in social programs aimed at reducing poverty.

This view appears to be sustained by comments made by Micheletti in press conference immediately after his swearing in as interim president. If Manuel Zelaya, “returns without the support of [the Venezuelan president] Mr. Hugo Chavez, then we will receive him warmly,” he said.

As to whether Honduras would continue being part of ALBA, Micheletti said, “I believe that first we are going to revise what ALBA has produced for Honduras.”

The coup has sparked global condemnation including from the European Union and UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. An extraordinary session of the Organization of American States (OAS) on Sunday unanimously condemned the coup d’etat in Honduras, and demanded the immediate and unconditional return of President Manuel Zelaya. The OAS statement also indicated that it would not recognize the illegitimate coup government.

United States President Barrack Obama expressed “preoccupation” over the situation and called for respect of “democratic norms.”

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also made a statement condemning the action taken against Manuel Zelaya and called for all sides to “respect constitutional order and the state of law.” She also called for the resolution of the conflict in a peaceful manner through dialogue.

Chavez accused the US, which maintains 600 personnel stationed in Honduras, of being involved in the coup, which the US has denied.

A New York Times article has revealed that the US officials “began in the last few days to talk with Honduran government and military officials in an effort to head off a possible coup.” The US government has not taken a clear position on whether or not it will recognize the coup government.

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