Hondurans organise historic welcome for Zelaya; 'Democracy Now!' interview with Manuel Zelaya

More at The Real News
May 28, 2011 -- Real News Network report on Manuel Zelaya's return to Honduras.
Zelaya: "Without democracy there are no human rights ... No blood was shed in vain because we are in an ongoing struggle."
Hugo Chavez: "Mel Zelaya has returned to his homeland, a great victory of the Honduran people, down with the dictatorship, long live the people's power ... "

Tegucigalpa, May 28, 2011 -- Honduras Resists -- The former president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, returned home accompanied by part of his family and by an extended international committee of supporters and observers from countries in Latin America and Europe. Hundreds of thousands of people waited outside of Tegucigalpa’s Toncontin airport, where Zelaya gave a landmark speech in which he requested his adversaries to let the people exercise democracy. 

During his opening remarks Zelaya emphasised, "where there is democracy, institutions work better and ensure human rights." A few minutes after leaving the airport he said,  "Without democracy there are no human rights."

Zelaya thanked the mediation of Colombia and Venezuela for his return, and the international solidarity that mobilised from the very first day of the coup, especially Argentin'a President Cristina Kirchner, who flew to Washington and was willing to accompany him on his return in July 2009.

The Cartagena Accord was read and explained to the people, especially under what conditions and for what purposes the agreement was signed with Porfirio Lobo, Zelaya's unrecognised successor.

International support

During the speech Colombian senator Piedad Cordoba also spoke. She urged an anti-imperialist struggle and called to respect the sovereignty of PDVSA, "Venezuela's oil for the people". For his part, Venezuela's foreign minister Nicolas Maduro offered all the love and the solidarity of the people of Venezuela at the same time he told the students, the peasants, the workers and the youth that they "have the support of Latin America to the road to the Patria Grande which is to be build". 

In the two airplanes that left Nicaragua there were representatives of several organisations and political parties from nearly all Latin American countries, as well as Britain. France’s Parti de Gauche said it will follow up the implementation of the Cartagena Accord.

During the event, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez sent a message through Twitter that was broadcasted by Telesur: "Mel Zelaya returned to his homeland, is a great victory of the Honduran people, down with the dictatorship, long live the people's power ..."

Announcement by the Political Committee of the National Front for Popular Resistance on the signing of the Cartagena Accord

Political Committee of the National Front for Popular Resistance (FNRP), Tegucigalpa

May 23, 2011 -- Today in the city of Cartegena de Indias, Colombia was signed the Accord for National Reconciliation and Consolidation of the Democratic System in the Republic of Honduras by Porfirio Lobo Sosa and Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales for the Republic of Honduras and as witnesses/facilitators the presidents of the Republic of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos and Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

With respect to these recent events we announce the following:

·         We appreciate the process of international mediation developed by the presidents mentioned above because we have always held that the civilized mechanisms of humanity including international diplomacy, conciliation, and healthy tolerance are the proper methods for human coexistence and an exit to the crisis generated by the coup d’état en Honduras.

·         With respect to the agenda raised by former President of the Republic of Honduras (2006-2010) and General Coordinator of the National Front for Popular Resistance Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales relevant to the four points set out in the mediation:

a.    The return of Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales and the exiled associates

b.    The respect for human rights in Honduras.

c.    The recognition of the National Front for Popular Resistance as a political and belligerent force.

d.    The national constitutional assembly.

The first point mentioned in the agenda will be completely obtained with the return of Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales and exiled associates when they return this Saturday, May 28, 2011 at 11am at the Toncontin International Airport.

In the human rights sphere there is no progress because the Lobo regime is not committed to it, neither guaranteeing the application of justice to the violators of human rights, nor the trusteeship of the human rights of the people in resistance. This is a challenge for the National Front for Popular Resistance.

As far as the recognition of the National Front for Popular Resistance as a political and belligerent force, it is progress in the sense that the regime is committed to fulfill the registration of the FNRP by the Supreme Electoral Court in the light of the laws for democratic participation in the electoral political processes of Honduras and so that it can integrate official electoral political organisms in conditions of equality.

On the subject of the constituent assembly that is one of the great objectives of the National Front for Popular Resistance, the right to the consultation for the National Constituent Assembly has been achieved.  In this way we affirm that with the strength of sovereign principles and ideas, we triumph over the petty interests of the power groups that have denied us the right to participatory democracy.

It is due to all of that mentioned above that this internationally mediated accord permits us to end the exile, strengthen our process for the refounding of Honduras and go on to recover our homeland, that we are able to make, in the name of all the members of the resistance at the national and international level, a united call for a great mobilization to receive and welcome our leader and General Coordinator of the FNRP Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales this Saturday, May 2011 at 11am a the Toncontin International Airport.

We resist and we will overcome

Political Committee National Front for Popular Resistance

Human rights are not subject to political negotiation

May 23, 2011 -- The Committee of the Families of the Detained-Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH) celebrates the signing of the Cartegena de Indias Accord which permits the return of ex-constitutional President Manuel Zelaya Rosales to our country.

At the same time, COFADEH condemns the language of the oligarchy aligned with the coup in the text of the Accord which refers to human rights as a political instrument of “reconciliation,” evidence of their old practice of negotiation.

“While admitting that during the political crisis there have been people who consider that their human rights were violated, the Government of Honduras, through the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, commits to attend these denunciations in order to contribute to the reconciliation of Honduran society within a framework of verifiable guarantees (…) and awaits support from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights” reads the official, signed text.

The terms utilized reflect doubts, ironies, intentions and evasions on the part of the same political–military elite that attempted to bury the memory of the forced disappearances during the 1980’s and sell a manipulative discourse regarding human rights violations to the international community.

At the beginning of the decade of the 90’s the same ex Presidents - Rafael Callejas, Ricardo Maduro and Carlos Flores, who audited the text of the Cartegena Accord – repeated the need to leave the past behind and to end the “dark night of disappearances”.

This was their way to escape their own responsibilities, some of them as participants in the Alliance for Progress in Honduras (APROH) that inspired and financed the repression against political and ideological dissidence at that time and which continues to hold us in grief.

We have no doubt that ex President Zelaya signed the Cartagena Accord in absolute good faith regarding the urgency of investigating human rights violations that have resulted since the coup d’état to the present, to repair damage caused to the victims and to punish those responsible.

However, we have nothing but doubts regarding those who support the coup, control the repressive forces and sustain a fragile state that fails to overthrow the enormous monster of impunity with legality and justice.

Our doubts are underscored by the fact that with this Accord, the regime imposes recognition of the “Ministry of Justice and Human Rights as the entity that will permit the national capacity to promote and protect human rights in Honduras.”

This Committee does not observe habits, practices or policies that indicate that this institution makes even the most minimal difference within the State regarding the government Human Rights Commission which is delegitimized as a result of its partiality regarding institutional violence against the population.

Nearby, five teachers sustain an indefinite hunger strike due to violations of their social and economic rights; hundreds of campesino families in the zone of Aguán are surrounded by legal and clandestine forces acting against their lives and lands; and an average of 16 violent deaths occur each day throughout the country, in total impunity.

Therefore, we exhort the population to continue to use services worthy of your trust and respect, to access justice at all levels, local and international, as the people of Honduras rebuild institutionality and the rule of law that has been lost.

For the crimes and those who commit them

Neither forgetting, nor forgiveness

Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 23 de mayo de 2011


Exclusive Democracy Now! interview with Manuel Zelaya on the US role in Honduran coup, WikiLeaks and why he was ousted

May 31, 20100 -- Democracy Now! -- Shortly after Manuel Zelaya returned to his home this weekend for the first time since the 2009 military coup d’état, he sat down with Democracy Now! for an exclusive interview. He talks about why he believes the United States was behind the coup, and what exactly happened on June 28, 2009, when hooded Honduran soldiers kidnapped him at gunpoint and put him on a plane to Costa Rica, stopping to refuel at Palmerola, the U.S. military base in Honduras. “This coup d’état was made by the right wing of the United States,” Zelaya says. “The U.S. State Department has always denied, and they continue to deny, any ties with the coup d’état. Nevertheless, all of the proof incriminates the U.S. government. And all of the actions that were taken by the de facto regime, or the golpista regime, which are those who carried out the coup, favor the industrial policies and the military policies and the financial policies of the United States in Honduras.”

AMY GOODMAN: Manuel Zelaya, the former president of Honduras, returned home on Saturday after 23 months in exile. At a news conference Sunday in his living room, Zelaya said the coup was the work of an international conspiracy that should be investigated. It was the first coup in Central America in a quarter of a century. The military kidnapped Zelaya from his home at gunpoint, put him on a plane to Costa Rica, stopping to refuel at Palmerola, the U.S. military base in Honduras—this after he tried to organize a non-binding referendum asking voters if they wanted to rewrite the constitution. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos brokered the agreement between ousted President Zelaya and the current Honduran President Porfirio Lobo. It was called the Cartagena Accord, paving the way for Zelaya’s return.

Democracy Now! flew with President Zelaya from Managua, the Nicaraguan capital, to Honduras. On Sunday, we sat down with him at his home in Tegucigalpa. I asked President Zelaya to talk about what happened the day of the coup, June 28th, 2009.

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] A president who was elected by the people was taken out of his home at gunpoint in the early, early morning wee hours in his pajamas and taken and abandoned in Costa Rica, in the airport of Costa Rica.

AMY GOODMAN: But first, can you tell me what exactly happened here? What time was it? What did you hear? How did you wake up?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] I arrived to my home at 3:30 in the morning. The next day, we were going to have a referendum, public referendum, throughout the whole nation. It was only an opinion poll, basically, and it was not legally binding—14,000 polls placed all over the country. And there was an international conspiracy in order to say that communism was entering into this country and that the Caracas plan was going to enter in to destroy the United States and that we are destroying the U.S. empire, if they would let that opinion poll take place. Many who were business leaders and others, high society folks, they fell into that trap. This coup d’état was made by the right wing of the United States.

Those early morning hours, in the wee hours of that morning, they started to pressure the honor guard. They came here at 5:15 in the morning. There were isolated shots that were fired in the neighborhood, some in this street over here and others in the back part of the house. You can see that this is a small house, middle class. It’s easy to assault this house. I was woken by the gunshots. I went downstairs in my pajamas to the first floor, on the patio on the outside. At that very moment, the gunshots were impacting on the door in the back. My first reaction was to hit the floor and to cover myself from the gunshots. That is the moment in which the military entered into the patio in the back.

They threatened me with their rifles, M-16 machine guns. They said that it was a military order. And they were shouting at me, and they were ordering me to give my cell phone, because I was talking on my phone. There were more than 10 military, who were hooded, who entered into the house, actually. But outside there were 200 to 300. The only thing you could see were their eyes. Everything else was covered. And they surrounded me. They threatened me, that they were going to shoot. And I said to them, "If you have orders to shoot, then shoot me. But know that you are shooting the president of the republic, and you are a subalternate, you are an underling." And so, they did not shoot at me.

And so, they forced me to go to their vehicles outside with my pajamas on. We landed in the U.S. military base of Palmerola. There, they refueled. There were some movements that happened outside. I don’t know what conversations took place. About 15, 20 minutes, we waited there in the airport of Palmerola. And then to Costa Rica, and everything else is public after that.

AMY GOODMAN: Why were you brought to the U.S. military base? It is not that far to fly from Tegucigalpa airport to Costa Rica. Why would you be brought to the U.S. military base? And they must have had the U.S. military’s permission.

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] The U.S. State Department has always denied, and they continue to deny, any ties with the coup d’état. Nevertheless, all of the proof incriminates the U.S. government. And all of the actions that were taken by the de facto regime, or the golpista regime, which are those who carried out the coup, and it is to make favor of the industrial policies and the military policies and the financial policies of the United States in Honduras.

AMY GOODMAN: Was your daughter Pichu in the house?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] In my house, there were three people. The woman who cleans the house and who works here, and she has 10 years working with us, she is a woman of great trust. And she continues to work here. Her name is Suyapa. She was taken out, and they dragged her by pulling out her hair, because the military, after they captured me, they entered into each one of the rooms, and they broke into the rooms through using their rifle butts, looking for my wife and for my daughter. My daughter is very thin, and so she went underneath the bed. Suyapa, the cleaning lady, she’s a little overweight, and so she could not hide. So they grabbed her by her hair, and they took her away. Pichu, whose real name is Xiomara Hortensia, she hid under the bed, and they didn’t find her.

AMY GOODMAN: The M-16s, where were they made, that the hooded Honduran soldiers used?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] All of the arms that the Honduran military uses are U.S. weapons. And the high command of the military of Honduras is trained at the School of the Americas.

AMY GOODMAN: After the coup, did the U.S. stop the weapons flow to Honduras?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] This week, there were 85 members of Congress of the United States, they sent a letter to the State Department, Hillary Clinton, and this letter speaks to the necessity of controlling the support, and they speak of paralyzing, which is given to the armed forces of Honduras. And so, they point to the high rates of violations of human rights that take place in Honduras. In other words, after the coup d’état in this country, the U.S. has increased its military support to Honduras.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you support the call of the Congress members?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] All who defend human rights and who are against the armaments and war making, they have my support.

AMY GOODMAN: You say that the coup was a conspiracy. And you talked about the right wing in the United States. Explain exactly what you understand. Who fomented this coup against you?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] The conspiracy began when I started to join what is ALBA, the Latin American nations with Bolivarian Alternative. So, a dirty war at the psychological level was carried out against me. Otto Reich started this. The ex-Under Secretary of State Roger Noriega, Robert Carmona, and the Arcadia Foundation, created by the CIA, they associated themselves with the right wing, with military groups, and they formed a conspiracy. They argued that I was a communist and that I was attacking the security of the hemisphere, because I’m a friend of Fidel, I’m a friend of Chávez, and I had declared my government as a government which is progressive.

AMY GOODMAN: And yet, WikiLeaks released that trove of U.S. government cables, and in it was a cable from then-U.S. ambassador—the then-U.S. ambassador to Honduras to the State Department, saying that—I think it was titled "Open and Shut: The Case of the Honduran Coup," and it was saying it was illegal, it was unconstitutional. It was written by U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens.

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] Hugo Llorens cooperated in order to avoid the coup d’état. He knew everything that was happening in Honduras. And I am a witness to the effort that he made to stop the coup. But when he perceived that he could no longer stop it, then he withdrew. I don’t know if he had orders to withdraw, but he allowed everything to happen. He did help my family a great deal after the coup. And I am grateful to him now. He showed me that he is someone who believes in democracy and not in the coups d’état. But a great part of the Pentagon does not believe this, nor does the Southern Command.

AMY GOODMAN: What does the Southern Command have to do with this?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] The link that Ambassador Ford, who was the ambassador from the United States before Llorens, he said that I could not have a friendship with Hugo Chávez. He wanted me to give political [asylum] to Posada Carriles. He wanted to name who my ministers of my cabinet of my government should be. He wanted his recommendations to become ministers of my government.

AMY GOODMAN: Posada Carriles, he wanted him to be able to take refuge in Honduras, the man who was alleged to be the mastermind behind the Cubana bombing that killed scores of people?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] After eight days of my becoming president of the country, the ambassador, Charles Ford, asked me if I could give political asylum to Posada Carriles in Honduras. And of course, I sent him to outside. He spoke to my foreign minister, my secretary of state, about that—the same ambassador who prohibited me from becoming a member of the ALBA. And this ambassador, who just left Honduras, who left the country with a political profile of myself, the ambassador, Ford, left this letter as a profile of the president, and when you read it, you can tell that it is the precursor of the coup itself. WikiLeaks published this document. They published the profile that Ambassador Ford made of me to give to Hugo Llorens, saying that the United States needs to make decisions about what it will do the following year in order to detain me, because I am tied to narcotrafficking and to terrorism and to many, many other things. So, he prepared the ambiance, situation. And he was transferred from the embassy to the Southern Command. And that is the tie. And if you ask today, where is this Ambassador Ford? He is in the Southern Command. And so, he left here in order to prepare the coup d’état.

AMY GOODMAN: And yet, the coup d’état took place under President Obama, not before.

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] We’re talking about the United States, so it’s an empire. The United States is an empire, and so Obama is the president of the United States, but he is not the chief of the empire. Even though Obama would be against the coup, the process toward the coup was already moving forward. The most that they tell a president like President Obama, that there’s a political crisis going on. But they do not talk about the details that they were involved in in terms of the conspiracy.

AMY GOODMAN: President Obama early on called it a coup. But then the administration seemed to back off, both he and Hillary Clinton.

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] They gave themselves up before the coup itself. That is the proof, in fact, that the coup came from the north, from the U.S. So they are even able to bend the arm of the President of the United States, President Obama, and the State Department, and they impeded my restitution as president of the country.

AMY GOODMAN: Ousted President Manuel Zelaya, sitting in his home in his living room in Tegucigalpa for the first time in 23 months, kidnapped at gunpoint by Honduran soldiers as his daughter Pichu hid under her bed upstairs. He was then flown to Palmerola, the U.S. military base in Honduras, supposedly to refuel, and then on to Costa Rica. It was the first military coup in Latin America in more than a quarter of a century.

We leave you today with Zelaya’s address to tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Hondurans upon his arrival home on Saturday.

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] Your presence here this afternoon shows the support of the international community, that the blood was not shed in vain, because we’re still standing, keeping our position valid. Peaceful resistance. Fellows, resistance is today the cry of victory, of the return to Honduras of all the rights and guarantees of the Honduran democracy.

AMY GOODMAN: Tomorrow, in part two of our interview, President Zelaya will talk about his plans for the future. We’ll also speak with his wife, former First Lady of Honduras Xiomara Castro de Zelaya. We ask her if she plans to run for president next. Special thanks to Democracy Now!’s Hany Massoud for his remarkable camera work and Andrés Tomas Conteris for translating, and to both for making this broadcast possible. Also thanks to Channel 11 in Tegucigalpa.

Out of exile: Democracy Now! exclusive report on ousted Honduran president Zelaya's return home 23 months after US-backed coup

May 31, 2011 -- In a Democracy Now! global broadcast exclusive, we take you on the plane of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya as he and his family return home after almost two years in exile. We speak with Zelaya, ousted Honduran foreign minister Patricia Rodas, Honduran exile René Guillermo Amador, and former Colombian senator Piedad Córdoba, one of the many representatives of Latin American countries who accompanied Zelaya home. We also speak to Father Roy Bourgeois of School of the Americas Watch on the role U.S.-trained generals played in the 2009 coup. "This military coup had real connections to the School of the Americas. The two top generals, the key players in this military coup—the head of the air force, the head of the army—were graduates of the School of the Americas,” said Bourgeois.

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] Thanks to you, I was able to return to the land that witnessed my birth. Thanks to your fight. Thanks to your effort, comrade. Thanks to your effort, comrade. Thanks to your demands. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Honduran President Manuel Zelaya returned to his country this weekend after being ousted at gunpoint in a military coup on June 28th, 2009. In a U.S. broadcast exclusive, Democracy Now! takes you on Zelaya’s flight home. Our journey began in the Nicaraguan capital on Friday.

AMY GOODMAN: We’ve just landed in Managua. We have two people who just came in from Spain. Interestingly, one of them is from Honduras. He is a leader of the grassroots movement in Honduras.

RENÉ GUILLERMO AMADOR: [translated] My name is René Guillermo Amador. Twenty months in exile. After the coup d’état, I had to leave, and that’s why we’ve been in Spain this whole time. I wrote an email to President Zelaya some time ago saying that he should go back to Honduras. And we made the commitment that we would be there with him at the moment at which he would do that.

It’s very difficult to do it at this time because the points that the resistance front has been pushing for have not been complied with. And to give a vote of confidence to a regime that has not complied with the minimum respect is something that causes us great pain. But there are over 200 compañeros and compañeras who have not been able to return from exile, so this is one of the points that is not consistent.

AMY GOODMAN: René, why did you have to leave?

RENÉ GUILLERMO AMADOR: [translated] Because the situation to guarantee the safety of our lives was no longer guaranteed within Honduras.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Father Roy Bourgeois, you have just landed in Managua, Nicaragua. Why are you here?

FATHER ROY BOURGEOIS: Well, you know, the SOA Watch movement that so many in the United States are a part of—

AMY GOODMAN: School of the Americas Watch.

FATHER ROY BOURGEOIS: The School of the Americas Watch. When the military coup took place close to two years ago, we were very, very upset by this, as so many were here in Honduras. And we came just a few days after the coup to express our solidarity.

AMY GOODMAN: To Honduras?


AMY GOODMAN: After Zelaya was forced out.

FATHER ROY BOURGEOIS: Yes, just a few days after, we came here to meet with our friends, counterparts, we had met years—you know, during these years. And I must say, we were very, very alarmed at the seriousness of the situation. This military coup had real connections to the School of the Americas. The two top generals, the key players in this military coup—the head of the air force, the head of the army—were graduates of the School of Americas, which did not really surprise us. It’s been a pattern throughout the years.

So we came back then, and we are back now to express our support and solidarity with the people of Honduras, who really are living under intense repression. We were in Honduras just a month ago to follow up our visit after the coup, to meet once again with our friends here to get an update on what’s going on. And we met with many campesinos, the small farmers way out into the countryside, teachers, labor leaders. And we were quite surprised to see, once again, that fear, that repression, that’s still very alive in Honduras.

What saddens us, though, is that—well, first of all, when the coup happened, what we heard was President Obama, immediately after the coup, did say that it was a military coup and that the President, President Zelaya, must return with no conditions. He was the democratically elected president. But I must say, these were words only that lasted, I would say, about 24 hours. And something happened, Amy. They got to President Obama, and he did not use that word ever again, along with Secretary of State Clinton and others. Those who used that word "coup" when it actually—what do you call it when the president, democratically elected president of a country, at 5:00 in the morning is awakened with his pajamas at gunpoint and put on a plane and flown out of the country and could not return? What do you call it other than a military coup? And actually, a few days later, we came here, where we met also with our U.S. ambassador, Llorens. And he also referred to it as a military coup, and he said the same thing as we were saying: what do you call it if this is not a coup? But something happened. They stopped using that word "coup."

And we were very, very disappointed in President Obama. There was such an opportunity, as President Zelaya expressed and so many of the people in Honduras, that our president—you know, we have such influence and power in this region, throughout the world, and especially in this small country, Honduras. We really could have done something, within a short while, to bring President Zelaya back to this country—cut off military aid, withdraw our U.S. ambassador. But none of this happened. But now we see this as somewhat of a historic moment here with the return of the democratically elected president, Zelaya, Mel, as he’s known by so many.

AMY GOODMAN: The delegation that will accompany Zelaya greets him at a hotel across the street from Sandino International Airport. I ask Zelaya how he feels.

How do you feel right now?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] I feel very full of hope and optimism and just very good feelings. The dialogue that we have yet to come, and the political action, is possible instead of armaments. No to violence. No to military coups. Coups never more.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I can’t believe who I’m seeing right now here across from the airport in Managua, Nicaragua. The last time we saw each other was in Port-au-Prince when you greeted President Aristide, who was ousted and returned home in Haiti. Now here are about to get on a plane with President Zelaya to return to Honduras. Piedad Córdoba, why are you here?

PIEDAD CÓRDOBA: [translated] I am Piedad Córdoba. I am the spokesperson of Colombians, both men and women, for peace. This is a process that we have been accompanying since the coup d’état itself some time ago.

AMY GOODMAN: You yourself had been kidnapped.

PIEDAD CÓRDOBA: [translated] Yes, I was in fact kidnapped by the paramilitaries.

AMY GOODMAN: For how long?

PIEDAD CÓRDOBA: [translated] Sixteen days.

AMY GOODMAN: And this was when you were a state legislator?

PIEDAD CÓRDOBA: [translated] Yes, it was when in the Senate of the Republic, and that was some 10 years ago.

AMY GOODMAN: What does it mean that it was President Santos, the Colombian president, and President Chávez of Venezuela who witnessed this accord between the current president of Honduras, Lobo, and the ousted president, Zelaya, for Zelaya’s return?

PIEDAD CÓRDOBA: [translated] The message is very, very clear, and it has to do with politics. It is the triumph of politics against war. It was very much easier to have confrontation and to have war than to have dialogue and sensibilities. And so, it is an absolute, overwhelming triumph of this kind of politics. It gives the possibility for the people to really witness and be involved in differences and to be witnesses of the true change that comes with that process.

AMY GOODMAN: Piedad Córdoba, former Colombian senator, one of the many representatives of Latin American countries who accompanied ousted president Zelaya and his family on their historic trip home. When we come back, we take you on the flight to Honduras and sit down with President Zelaya to talk about the day the military kidnapped him at gunpoint and why he believes the U.S. is behind the coup. This is Democracy Now! Back in a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: We continue our special on the return of Manuel Zelaya.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re coming onto the tarmac right now, where President Zelaya, his family, his supporters have all gathered to get on the flight to go home to Tegucigalpa, to Honduras, for the first time in almost two years. It’s hot. It’s windy. And it’s a historic occasion. As one ambassador said to me, this is Latin America’s moment. President Zelaya just said, as I was interviewing him, this means no war, no violence, no more coups. We’re getting on the flight.

PATRICIA RODAS: [translated] I am Patricia Rodas, ex-president of the Liberal Party of Honduras. And also I am the ex-foreign minister of the citizens’ power of the President, José Manuel Zelaya Rosales.

AMY GOODMAN: When were you last in Honduras?

PATRICIA RODAS: [translated] I was expelled from my country by the military. They came to my house. I was taken prisoner by the air force of Honduras. And then, later, they deported me at midnight, and they transferred me in the airplane. Apparently, this airplane belonged to Miguel Facussé, the plane in which I was transferred. I was transferred forcibly and expatriated forcibly. And at that moment, I was received by the Republic of Mexico.

AMY GOODMAN: And your feeling right now?

PATRICIA RODAS: [translated] It is absolutely indescribable. These are absolutely feelings that are bittersweet. And what we will miss in this new struggle, this new step of the struggle, we will miss the compañeros, the men and women whose lives were lost by the repression, the persecution.

AMY GOODMAN: The family of President Zelaya has now just gotten on the flight, and now President Zelaya himself, in his signature cowboy hat, is coming onto the red carpet. This is the beginning of another journey that began for President Mel Zelaya two years ago in Honduras. He was driven out of the country at gunpoint in a military coup. What happens next is not clear. The flight from Managua to Tegucigalpa is expected to be about half an hour. We hear that tens of thousands of people are waiting for him in his home country.

We have just flown from Nicaraguan airspace into Honduran airspace. President Zelaya and his wife Xiomara, they’re in the front row. And actually, the President has flown over Tegucigalpa before, but he was not able to land. It was a very fateful day when hundreds of thousands gathered at the airport in Tegucigalpa to greet him. Andrés Conteris, with Democracy Now! en Español, has been translating for us.

Talk about that day. The date was...?

ANDRÉS CONTERIS: The date was July 5th, 2009, Amy, and it was a very, very fateful day. It was the day when the people of Honduras went in massive force to the Toncontín airport in Tegucigalpa, one of the most dangerous airports in the world, I might add, and we’re about to land there. This airport is the place where President Zelaya first attempted to return into his country after the coup on June 28th, 2009. He was not allowed to land. They blocked the airstrip with military trucks. And then, there were 250,000, it is estimated; that many people, a quarter million, were there to receive their president. And I was there, as well. And we all wanted that plane to land. We could see the plane in the air, just as when we approach in about 15 minutes they will be able to see us. And what happened is that that plane was not allowed to land.

And what happened after that? The people continued in a very peaceful protest. And that peaceful protest turned violent, not by the demonstrators, not by those who were protesting, but by the military and the police who started shooting at the crowd. And there were several victims who were wounded, but one who was killed. His name is Isis Obed Murillo, 19 years old at the time on July 5th, 2009. And there is a monument in his honor very near the airport where he died. I have been at that monument at a moment when there have been ceremonies in honor of the martyrs of the coup d’état of Honduras. It’s actually the very first place that I saw Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, the wife of President Zelaya, who stayed in Honduras after he was expatriated in the coup.

AMY GOODMAN: President Zelaya has landed in Honduras with his family. He is just about to step out of the plane. We saw thousands of people on the outskirts of the airport waving flags. We also saw riot police. Now, a small gaggle of press is going to document his arrival.

When President Zelaya walks off the plane, he kneels down and kisses the ground. After greeting family and friends, many of whom he hadn’t seen for years, his motorcade slowly made its way through massive crowds to the rally to thank his supporters. It was held at the memorial to the young man killed by Honduran security when Zelaya had attempted to land in Honduras a week after the coup. President Zelaya addressed the crowd. Zelaya then went to the presidential palace and had a ceremonial banquet with the delegation that accompanied him on the flight, as well as the current Honduran president, Porfirio Lobo, and OAS Secretary General Insulza. President Zelaya then went home for the first time in 23 months. Friends and family gathered throughout the house, including his bedroom, singing songs and greeting each other.

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