What’s Behind the Honduras Coup? Tracing Zelaya’s Trajectory
... NIKOLAS KOZLOFF:....And so, I think if you were just reading the reports in the mainstream media, you might get the impression that this coup is just about term limits in Honduras and it’s just a conflict over whether Zelaya will be able to extend his constitutional mandate of one four-year term. And my point is that there is an ideological component to this coup. You know, what did the coup plotters do? When they came into power, they roughed up the Venezuelan ambassador. They threatened and harassed a journalist working for Telesur, which is a satellite news network that’s run by Uruguay, Argentina, Cuba and Venezuela. So there’s a definite ideological component to this. And Roberto Micheletti, the new president, had actually opposed many of this—of foreign policy reorientation that Zelaya had favored in recent years.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Didn’t he also, Zelaya, take other stands that were diametrically opposed to US policy? For instance, he began coming out questioning whether the drug war was a legitimate war and should—there should be a possible legalization of drugs. And also, didn’t he raise the minimum wage substantially in a country where there’s a lot of free trade zones and people working in factories for foreign companies?
NIKOLAS KOZLOFF: Well, right. I mean, the first salvo against the Honduran elite was his moves to raise the minimum wage by 60 percent. And you’re right. I mean, this is a country where you have these maquiladora assembly plants, and the Honduran elite were, to say the least, displeased by the moves.
And then, after that, he started taking some very controversial foreign policy initiatives, probably most controversially, as you point out, criticizing the US war on drugs. And that’s not surprising, given that in recent years drug violence has exacted a heavy toll in Honduran society. You have these drug gangs that carry out gruesome attacks, beheadings, eye gougings, very gruesome kinds of tactics. And so, Zelaya actually called for the legalization in order to lessen the violence in Honduras. And then the US ambassador, actually the outgoing US ambassador, Charles Ford, remarked as he was leaving Honduras that, well, actually, remittances of Hondurans to Honduras are mostly drug-related, as I think that was a sort of punishment against Zelaya for taking unpopular foreign policy initiatives. And then, actually, that just prompted Zelaya to shoot back that, you know, the US is responsible for a lot of the drug violence in Central America.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Nik, the letter that President Zelaya wrote to President Obama.
NIKOLAS KOZLOFF: Well, I think it’s a very audacious move for the leader of a small Central American nation to write Obama personally. And this was in December of 2008, right after the election, even prior to the inauguration. And not only did he criticize US foreign policy in this letter, but what I think is really interesting is that he made it public, because he was upset by some of the remarks that the former US ambassador had made. And in his letter, he criticized the interventionist policies of the US ambassador. ...
Excerpted from today's Democracy Now...