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Campaign groups keep eye on Honduras after military coup

Last update - Thursday, July 2, 2009, 15:56 By Metro Éireann

As the dust begins to settle after the recent military coup in Honduras, campaign organisations in Ireland are concerned about the potential implications of the government shake-up in the central American nation.

“It looks very similar to the attempted coup in Venezuela in 2002,” says Robert Navan of the Latin American Solidarity Association. “The country is going left and the rich and powerful are beginning to lose their influence, and so they chose to overthrow the government.”
The coup saw leftist President Jose Manuel Zelaya ousted from power by armed soldiers who transported the deposed leader to Costa Rica, where he is currently residing. The more conservative Roberto Micheletti was sworn in by the Honduran Congress as interim president on Sunday.
At the heart of the conflict is Zelaya’s attempt to secure constitutional changes that would allow him and future presidents to seek re-election after one term. These efforts angered the judicial wing of the Honduran government, who declared his attempts illegal. Zelaya’s current term is scheduled to expire in January 2010.
But despite Zelaya’s actions, many foreign governments, including the United States, have condemned the use of force to remove Zelaya.
According to Navan, the more conservative Micheletti administration has put a curfew in place and attempted to control media coverage of the coup. “If you’re in the right, you don’t put a clampdown on TV and the media,” he says.
In contrast to the disputed elections in Iran, however, violence and protest by Hondurans has been relatively mild.
“There’s been a few small protests, but nothing at all like what they expected,” says Sally O’Neill, director of central American affairs for Trócaire. “Obviously people are tense and waiting to see what Zelaya and Chavez do, but as the interim president promises to respect the democratic process and hold elections on 23 November, as per usual, I think it will be a relatively peaceful process.”
Whether or not Zelaya’s attempts to change Honduras’ constitutional language were illegal, there is grave concern about the potential implications of the coup on peace and stability in the region.
“We are extremely concerned about the potential impacts of the coup and what effects the coup my have on human rights in Honduras,” says Justin Moran, a communications co-ordinator for Amnesty International. “We are monitoring the situation closely.”

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