CARACAS – Deposed Honduran President Mel Zelaya hailed Washington’s announcement Tuesday that it has revoked the U.S. diplomatic visas of four high-level members of the de facto regime in Tegucigalpa, where supporters of the ousted head of state continued protests to demand his reinstatement.
“I believe it is a correct measure, as I understand it, with the aim of sending a message to Honduran society that the State Department and the government of (Barack) Obama are not supporting this interruption of the democratic order in the country,” Zelaya told Caracas-based cable network Telesur.
Speaking from Nicaragua, where is he organizing a “resistance” movement to enable his return to Honduras, Zelaya said the United States should take additional steps “to give a very clear demonstration of its repudiation of this coup d’etat.”
The State Department move, which came a month after Zelaya’s ouster by the Honduran military, followed by a few days a letter from the deposed leader to Obama urging a harder line toward the individuals involved in the putsch and the “interim” government headed by erstwhile Congress speaker Roberto Micheletti.
“What we are doing is we’re trying to do everything that we can to support this process that was begun by Costa Rican President Arias and their negotiation efforts. These actions that we’re taking are consistent with our policy of the non-recognition of the de facto – of the regime of Roberto Micheletti,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said in Washington.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Organization of American States chief Jose Miguel Insulza have urged Zelaya and Micheletti to accept the latest proposal from Costa Rica’s Oscar Arias, who has been mediating talks between the two sides.
Arias’s original proposal called for Zelaya to return and serve out his term, which ends in January 2010, and for a political amnesty that would protect both the coup plotters and the ousted head of state, accused of various offenses by the junta.
Zelaya would head a national unity government and the presidential and congressional elections set for Nov. 29 would be moved up to October.
Under the Arias initiative, Zelaya would also have to abandon his hopes for a constitutional convention.
Zelaya agreed to Arias’ plan, but the de facto regime balked at the president’s reinstatement.
Last Thursday, Arias presented a revised proposal that included the return of Zelaya, while adding some other features aimed at appealing to the junta.
The new plan was rejected by both sides.
On June 28, Honduran soldiers dragged Zelaya from the presidential palace and put him on a plane to Costa Rica just hours before voters were supposed to cast ballots in a non-binding plebiscite on the idea of revising the national charter.
Though the coup leaders accused Zelaya of seeking to extend his stay in office, any constitutional change to allow presidential re-election would not take place until well after the incumbent stepped down.
The president made his first attempt to return to the country on July 5, but was thwarted when the Hond
uran military blocked the runway at Tegucigalpa’s Toncontin International Airport and fired on tens of thousands of Zelaya supporters gathered there, killing at least one person.
Since then, other Zelaya partisans, as well as human rights activists, have been killed or “disappeared.”
Zelaya spent a few hours on Honduran soil last Friday before retreating back into Nicaragua to avert a confrontation with security forces massed along the border.
He said Monday that he would wait for his family and other supporters to reach the bordero from the Honduran side before making another attempt to enter his homeland.
Honduran troops and police have been preventing Zelaya’s wife, Xiomara Castro, and other family members from reaching the border, but the country’s Supreme Court ordered Tuesday that the ousted president’s family be allowed to drive to Nicaragua to join him there. EFE