|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-third General Assembly
93rd Meeting (AM)
GENERAL ASSEMBLY, ACTING UNANIMOUSLY, CONDEMNS COUP D’ÉTAT IN HONDURAS,
DEMANDS IMMEDIATE, UNCONDITIONAL RESTORATION OF PRESIDENT
Following Text’s Adoption, President Zelaya Tells Member States
Historic Resolution ‘Will Empower Every Last Citizen in This World’
Condemning the coup d’état in Honduras that had interrupted constitutional order and led to the 28 June removal of democratically elected President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales, General Assembly delegates today adopted a consensus resolution demanding the immediate and unconditional restoration of power for the President and the established authority in that country.
By an orally revised text on the “Situation in Honduras: democracy breakdown” (document A/63/L.74), introduced by the representative of Honduras, the Assembly decided it would recognize no Government other than that of President Zelaya, and requested the Secretary-General to inform the 192-member body about the evolving situation in a timely manner.
It also expressed deep concern at the violence against diplomatic personnel and accredited officials in Honduras, which violated the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The breakdown in democratic order endangered security, democracy, and the rule of law, and jeopardized the safety of Hondurans.
“This resolution is historic”, declared President Zelaya, who had arrived just hours earlier at United Nations Headquarters. “It is significant and it will empower every last citizen of this world.” The text expressed the indignation of Hondurans and people worldwide who had struggled for the rights to life, freedom, justice, dignity and citizen participation.
While some had stood in the way, believing that the use of force and violence should prevail over peace upheld by the United Nations, Mr. Zelaya said today’s decision sent a signal that all countries -- without exception –- had spoken loud and clear about the atrocities unfolding in his country.
Recounting his recent ordeal, he said he had awoken to shouts, hammering on his front door and eight rifles pointed at him by people in full combat gear. His 21-year old daughter had fled downstairs, hoping to avoid the bullets. He tried to call a journalist but was grabbed, put on a plane, and, within 45 minutes, was in Costa Rica, still wearing his night clothes. “These are moments I do not wish to remember,” he said.
Honduras had been in a state of paralysis for three days -- 160 people had been injured, arrests had been made and ministers were being forced into exile. People were taking to the streets, companies were striking and teachers were no longer going to school, fearing for their lives. “Whenever brute force prevails over reason, humankind returns to its primeval state,” he said.
In the midst of all that, the world had come out unanimously to condemn such barbarity, from regional organizations -- like the Organization of American States, Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Union of South American Nations and the European Union --to nations throughout the Americas, including the United States, whose “resolved” language stood out. He personally thanked Presidents from countries including Nicaragua, Panama, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba who had repudiated the gross acts of a military group standing in the way of change.
While various charges had been levelled at him, he said he had been told of no crime. He had come to power January 2006, following elections that had given him a 3 to 5 per cent margin over his rival. “We broached a new era in the country, immediately applying democratic, peaceful standards”, which were characterized by citizen participation, he said. It was that participation that gave him legitimacy.
Describing his administration, Mr. Zelaya said his Government sought to improve trade -- notably between Oceania and Africa -– and had made use of the rights to freedom of thought, expression and conscience by adjusting the country’s minimum wage to the cost of living, which he never thought would be viewed as a growth-slowing move. That decision had prompted 180 comments from conservatives, simply because he sought to feed the hungry.
He also had struggled to attain rights for the media, he explained. Today, there was press freedom in Honduras, which ironically, had been denied to him throughout his ouster. When he came to office, six out of ten Hondurans lived in poverty. But two years later, his Government had alleviated their plight by increasing economic output, developing the private sector and launching a stream of social programmes.
He said he did not believe that such acts constituted a crime. But there were some who thrived on the discourse of poverty, and he had been called a populist and a communist. There was injustice in Honduras, stemming from inequality embedded in various laws that the country sought to repeal.
“The people of Honduras have the right to participate in their democracy”, and express their views on the economy, social progress and development, he said. Last week, the Honduran Congress adopted legislation on the plebiscite and referendum, which undermined citizens’ rights to be consulted.
He sought to carry out what was, in effect, a public opinion poll, which a judge declared illegal. Some 15,000 boxes had been circulated to reach 1.5 million people -– mainly by unions and indigenous peoples who took up the job after others refused to distribute them. Questions on the survey pertained to national interest, citizen participation and the possibility for a fourth “urn” in upcoming elections. He planned to leave after his term expired and wished to only see Hondurans with newly empowered rights.
Repression had been established in Honduras and he firmly condemned such acts. Congress did not appoint a President -– the people did. Citing United States President Abraham Lincoln in his 1863 address at Gettysburg, Mr. Zelaya said the citizens of the world declared a “government of the people, by the people and for the people”.
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