By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, June 28 — Cuba lashed out Sunday against the military coup earlier in the day against Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez demanded an immediate restoring of the constitutional order in the Central American country.
Several regional organizations including the Rio Group, Organization of American States (OAS) Central American Parliament, Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) vocalized their support for the immediate reinstatement of Zelaya.
The Obama administration also came out against the coup and said it would not recognize the new de-facto Honduran government.
The United Nations General Assembly was convened for Monday to discuss the coup. So far no country has supported the Honduran military in their breaking the nation’s constitutional order.
Cuban TV and Juventud Rebelde newspaper online are bringing the island’s population non-stop coverage of the coup, similar to events during the failed US supported rightwing coup in April 2002 against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Numerous supporters of Zelaya have been gathered in blocks surrounding the presidential residence from where Zelaya was kidnapped and forced on a plane to San Jose, Costa Rica. Hours later, the Honduran Parliament swore in its chair Roberto Micheletti as the new president.
Micheletti played down the coup and called for calm among the population. He announced a 48-hour curfew in an attempt to block demonstrations in support of Zelaya.
Meanwhile, Zelaya arrived in Managua just after 9:00 p.m. Sunday night to attend an extraordinary meeting of the ALBA countries. Also present are Presidents Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua) and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.
To view the live coverage on the coup in Spanish from Havana click on: http://www.juventudrebelde.cu/cuba/2009-06-28/transmision-en-vivo-de-la-television-cubana-sobre-el-golpe-de-estado-en-honduras
IPS reporter Thelma Mejia reported earlier in the day from Honduras:
There is virtually no power or Internet in the Honduran capital in the wake of the coup d’etat. Electricity was gradually cut throughout the city, which is being overflown by war planes and helicopters. The media outlets that continue to broadcast are only airing music.
The police have reportedly fired tear gas to disperse the growing crowds that have taken to the streets to protest.
There is also a blackout in some neighborhoods in San Pedro Sula, the second largest city in this Central American nation.
The Organization of American States (OAS) has convened an emergency meeting on the situation at its headquarters in Washington, D.C.
In a statement, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza strongly condemned the military coup and called on the Honduran people, the countries of the Americas and the international community “to join forces against this grave disturbance of the democratic process” in the region.
U.S. President Barack Obama said “”I am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Honduras regarding the detention and expulsion of President Manuel Zelaya. As the Organization of American States did on Friday, I call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Any existing tensions and disputes must be resolved peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference.”
Officials in the White House reported that Obama and National Security Adviser James Jones met early Sunday to discuss the situation in Honduras.
Zelaya’s plans to hold a non-binding popular referendum Sunday asking voters whether or not to hold a formal vote in November on creating a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution put him at loggerheads with the Supreme Court, the military, and Congress, including members of his own party, the Liberal Party.
The situation deteriorated quickly over the last few days.
On Wednesday the president dismissed the military chief, General Romeo Vásquez and accepted the resignation of Defence Minister Edmundo Orellana after the armed forces commanders refused to help organise the referendum by distributing ballot boxes and providing security.
The Supreme Court ruled that the referendum was illegal, and voted to reinstate Vásquez. But Zelaya refused to accept the military chief’s reinstatement.
The opposition maintains that Zelaya’s aim was to change the constitution to allow presidents to run for re-election.
Sunday’s unofficial referendum was deemed illegal on the argument that it violates the constitutional stipulation that referendums cannot be held during an election year.
The European Union has called on the Honduran military to release Zelaya and restore constitutional order. “The EU strongly condemns the arrest of the constitutional president of the republic of Honduras by the armed forces,” Foreign Minister Jan Kohout of the Czech Republic, which holds the rotating EU presidency, told reporters in Corfu, Greece.
“This action is an unacceptable violation of constitutional order in Honduras,” said Kohout. “The EU calls for the urgent release of the president and a swift return to constitutional normality.”
Zelaya was elected as the candidate of the centrist Liberal Party, but soon after taking office he took a turn to the left.