Merida, June 26th 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) — The Venezuelan government, the Latin American and Caribbean integration organization, ALBA, and the Organization of American States (OAS) have given their backing to Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, who said recent legal and military challenges to his constitutional reform initiative amount to a coordinated attack against his democratically elected government.
Zelaya has proposed a national referendum on whether to establish a constituent assembly to re-write the nation's constitution. On Wednesday, Zelaya dismissed General Romeo Vasquez and accepted the resignation of Defense Minister Edmundo Orellana, after the two officials disobeyed orders to distribute materials for a national poll on whether to carry out the referendum.
On Thursday, troops deployed around the Honduran Congress and Zelaya's supporters demonstrated in the street, but no violence occurred. The Honduran Supreme Court unanimously decided that General Vasquez must return to his post, arguing that his rights had been violated.
Zelaya said the Supreme Court and the disobedient military officials represent elites who oppose the proposed referendum. "The Court has totally attacked the rule of law by taking away the authority of the president as commander in chief. They have returned to re-live the 1980s, to relive the dictatorship and make the military more powerful than the civil state," said Zelaya.
On Friday, Zelaya and thousands of his supporters recuperated the polling materials that Vasquez had refused to distribute, and have promised to carry out the national poll this Sunday.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez pledged his support for Zelaya against the apparent attempts to destabilize his government. "A coup d'etat is underway in Honduras," said Chavez on national television on Thursday. "It's the bourgeoisie that's trying to block a popular vote. They fear the people," he said.
Chavez said Zelaya "did the right thing" by dismissing General Vasquez, and noted the bloody role of the U.S.-backed Honduran military in subverting democracy and propping up dictatorships in Latin America in the Twentieth Century. "It is part of the reality that we have lived in Latin America and the Caribbean," said Chavez.
The political, economic, and social integration alliance known as ALBA, which Honduras joined as a member last year, as well as the Organization of American States (OAS), also gave their support to Zelaya. The OAS voted to send a special commission to Honduras to investigate this week's events.
Venezuela's ambassador to the OAS, Roy Chaderton, read the ALBA declaration aloud during the OAS's emergency meeting on the crisis in Honduras on Friday. The ALBA countries "manifest our firmest support for the government of [Zelaya], in its just and decided actions to defend the right of the Honduran people to express their sovereign will and advance a process of social transformation in the framework of democratic institutions," he read. "We will mobilize ourselves… in the event of any attempt by the oligarchy to break the democratic and constitutional order of this sister Central American republic."
Chaderton compared the events in Honduras to past coup d'etats against democratically elected leaders, such as Chilean President Salvador Allende in 1973. "This movie is not new, it is a re-run, it already occurred in Venezuela in 2002, it has occurred in Ecuador, in Bolivia, and it is occurring in Honduras," said Chaderton.
Honduras joined the five year old ALBA alliance last year. The nine-member bloc, which is based on the cooperation and national sovereignty of its members, includes the region's most anti-imperialist and socialist governments: Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador.
Over the past ten years, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador have all re-written their constitutions to strengthen human and environmental rights and national sovereignty. All three new constitutions were approved by the majority of voters in national referendums.