Ousted Honduran president Zelaya: The 2009 U.S.-backed coup helped cause today’s migrant crisis


VIDEO/Democracy Now/You Tube

Since the 2009 U.S.-backed military coup in Honduras, extreme poverty and violence has skyrocketed in the country, forcing tens of thousands of Hondurans to flee to the U.S. with the hope of receiving political asylum. We speak with ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya in the capital of Tegucigalpa about the 10th anniversary of the coup in Honduras, U.S. intervention in Central America and its link to today’s migration crisis.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman. We end today’s show in Honduras to look at some of the root causes of the migration crisis and how it links to U.S. foreign policy. Honduras recently marked the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-backed coup that ousted the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. The coup was orchestrated by the Honduran military, business and political elite, with the support of the Obama administration.

Since then, extreme poverty and violence has skyrocketed in Honduras. Tens of thousands of Hondurans have been murdered, including more than 300 LGBTQ people, about 60 journalists, hundreds of peasant rights and environmental activists. Tens of thousands of refugees have also fled Honduras, most with the hope of receiving political asylum in the United States.

Meanwhile, mass protests are continuing to take place in Honduras against the right-wing government of Juan Orlando Hernández and his plans to privatize healthcare, pensions and education. Protesters have been met with violent repression from the Honduran military and police.

Last week, we spoke with ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. We reached him in Tegucigalpa. I spoke with him along with Democracy Now!’s Juan González. I asked President Zelaya about the 10th anniversary of the coup and the link between drug traffickers and government corruption.


Well, look, the coup d’état, inexorably, it marks a new form of U.S. meddling in our society. Ten years ago, John Negroponte, undersecretary of state, and President George W. Bush warned me and threatened me, when I was president of Honduras, saying that if had relations with Hugo Chávez, then I would have problems with the United States. Six months after that warning, I was removed from power and removed from this country. The problem for the United States is that the friends of those who they consider their adversaries are not their friends. They’ve decided they’re enemies of the United States, quite simply, because I was seeking better relations with the south, bringing in oil from Venezuela and getting financing for hydroelectric projects with President Lula da Silva, who they are now holding prisoner in Brazil.

So, the policies of the United States towards this region changed. And they made a mistake. And I’ll talk to you about the gangs, the maras, in just a moment, to your question. But if you think about the elite in the U.S. government, well, their view for this region is mistaken. They want to go back to the 1980s, which was marked by the Cold War, stigmatizing the opposition. They’ve created shock forces, psychological war, dirty war. Well, if they think that they’re going to be able to stop migration in this way, well, it’s only going to worsen.

The gangs are a link in the drug trafficking business, and they come about because there’s no jobs. There’s an excess of poverty. Poverty is misery in Honduras. Youth find no solution. So, organizations such as—well, then the drug trafficking organizations come on the scene, and instead of creating more jobs, the government brings more repression.

Plus, these are components of the dictatorship the United States is supporting. They’ve looted the country. Since the coup d’état, in these 10 years, each year, the United States, through the International Monetary Fund, has authorized $24 billion of additional debt each year. So now we have approximately $14 billion debt. When they removed me 10 years ago, we only owed $3 billion. Today, it’s $14 billion. So, to uphold the dictatorship, first they militarize the country, then they drive the country into debt. And they take out huge credits, which they call sovereign bonds, at huge interest rates. And of every 100 lempiras, 40 now go to the banks.

Plus, they loot the state institutions. The levels of corruption are exorbitant. They are abusive in every sense of the word. They’ve looted institutions such as Social Security, which is where the retirement funds for the elderly are and where the moneys are to cover the illnesses that the mothers suffer. They have looted these institutions in order to finance an unpopular, anti-democratic and dictatorial regime.

The United States doesn’t talk about Honduras, because it’s shameful. They are ashamed to talk about what they’re supporting in Honduras. And the only thing to do about it is to denounce it, because there are murders. There are death squads. They’ve exported what’s called Plan Colombia to Honduras, the false positives, where many opposition leaders, such as Berta Cáceres, to mention one, or Murillo at the time of the coup, or another person who was asphyxiated—a 24-year-old who was asphyxiated by the gases—all of these, there’s no way to describe these crimes over the last 10 years other than by calling them crimes against humanity. And this country should be brought before the International Criminal Court, because what U.S. policy is doing is supporting genocide in Honduras and in Central America.

Democracy Now for more

Comments are closed.