|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Foreign Minister of Honduras
The Foreign Minister of Honduras, speaking at a Headquarters press conference this afternoon, called on the international community to hold firm in its non-acceptance of the authorities installed by the 28 June coup in her country if there was no resolution of the situation by a 15 October deadline.
“We hope that in the coming days the international community will remain vigilant,” Foreign Minister Patricia Isabel Rodas said. “We cannot accept that a small group, after rising up in arms, can be stronger than the international community,” she added, stressing that a restoration of the Government had been set as a precondition for talks sponsored by the Organization of American States (OAS), which were now suspended.
She emphasized her Government’s non-negotiable demand for the restoration of President Manuel Zelaya, who had been forced out of Honduras by the military, but returned to the country on 21 September, taking refuge in the Brazilian embassy.
Not resolving that situation by 15 October would put in jeopardy the holding of presidential elections that had been set for November, she said. She maintained that if that poll was held under the authority of the coup’s perpetrators, it would legitimize what she called “succession by force”. “Elections are a right, not the way to resolve coups, not the way of to resolve illegitimate situations,” she added.
If the de facto Government, led by Roberto Micheletti, did not meet the deadline, she expressed hope that the international community would review the need for “perhaps more thorough sanctions on the Honduran regime”.
Asked by correspondents what that might mean, Ms. Rodas suggested pressure on the perpetrators of the coup through their businesses and banks could help. “We must isolate the perpetrators and make sure they are not legitimized”, she said, adding that the Honduran people, meanwhile, would continue their peaceful struggle.
She thanked the entire international community for their reactions so far, but noted that 70 per cent of Honduran trade and investment involved the United States, which could use multilateral mechanisms to apply direct sanctions to the perpetrators of the coup.
In regard to compromise proposals such as the installation of a caretaker President between the elections and the inauguration date in January, she insisted her Government and people would refuse to accept such illegal mechanisms, warning: “We mustn’t find unconstitutional ways to resolve an unconstitutional situation.”
“We want a return to the day before the coup d’état”, she specified, explaining that: “We don’t want to put a balm on the wound. We have to cure the wound”.
She stressed, in addition, that the human rights situation in Honduras was only getting worse, with violations increasing on the part of the de facto authorities and President Zelaya under a constant “state of siege” in an embassy surrounded by police and military forces and illuminated by stadium lights. He was subject to constant torture through noise, light and threats of assault and death, she maintained.
The regime had virtually suspended all constitutional guarantees, including freedom of the press, and wanted to impose an election to legitimize its crime, she said, adding that President Zelaya had not called for violent action at any point, and that the violence was utilized only by the coup perpetrators.
Asked about the denunciation of the de facto regime’s use of Colombian mercenaries and its acquisition of arms, including chemical weapons, from a Jewish dealer, Ms. Rodas clarified that her Government had joined in the United Nations working group on the use of paramilitaries in its denunciation of the use of such soldiers. In the case of the weapons being supplied to the Honduran army, an individual had been denounced, not his people or his country of origin.
Unfortunately, she said, that denunciation was being used to accuse her Government of prejudice by lobbyists in the United States hired by the new regime for $300,000. She said they had used a new model for forced succession, which she called “Launch a coup and then hire lobbyists”.
* *** *For information media • not an official record