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

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.
The presidents of Honduras (left), Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Ecuador during the emergency ALBA summit Sunday

Caracas, June 29th 2009 ( — 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 in

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

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.