Deposed Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya will meet Tuesday with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the State Department said.
Zelaya is trying to reclaim the presidency after the Honduran military removed him from office June 28 and flew him to Costa Rica. He is looking to Washington for help. “I ask the United States to do more than the other countries of the world,” Zelaya told CNN en Español in an interview Monday night. Zelaya failed in a attempt to return Sunday when the government of provisional President Roberto Micheletti prohibited his airplane from landing. The United States, United Nations, Organization of American States and European Union have condemned the coup and demanded that Zelaya be returned to power. Watch the Honduran military block the runway » “We’re very focused on the need for a dialogue to restore him and to restore the democratic order,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Monday. Zelaya said Monday night he will try to return to Honduras again after a series of meetings in Washington this week.
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Zelaya said he plans to return, even if it means being arrested. “I have never hidden from justice,” he said. A trial and a chance to defend and clear his name would be a possible resolution to the conflict, Zelaya told CNN en Español. “I have not committed any crime,” he said. Micheletti, the interim president, rejects the characterization of the transfer of power as a coup. The military action against Zelaya, Micheletti has said, was backed by a court order, and arrest warrants have been issued against Zelaya for violating the constitution. In brief televised remarks Monday night, Micheletti remained steadfast that his government was upholding the constitution. “We have demonstrated we are a country of laws, which must be followed,” Micheletti said. Zelaya supporters demonstrated near the presidential palace and blocked some roads Monday. A 19-year-old man was killed and at least eight were wounded after security forces opened fire and used tear gas on several thousand protesters who ringed the airport in anticipation of Zelaya’s attempted return Sunday. Watch Honduran protesters mourn teen’s death » The OAS on Saturday suspended Honduras’ membership for refusing to reinstate Zelaya. The U.N. General Assembly has demanded that he be restored; the United States and the World Bank have suspended some aid; and the European Union and other nations have recalled their ambassadors from Honduras. In remarks Sunday, Micheletti said Honduras was open to good-faith talks with the OAS but reiterated that his government was legitimate. “We are going to remain here until the country becomes calm,” he said. Presidential elections are scheduled for November.
After 18 years of nearly uninterrupted military rule, Honduras returned to civilian control in 1981. Since then, the military has not seemed interested in holding power in the nation of more than 7 million people, about 70 percent of whom live in poverty. Military interventions were once common in Latin America, but civilian governments have held sway since the 1980s. Before Sunday, the only other barracks revolt this decade was an unsuccessful 2002 coup attempt against Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. The military displaced Chavez but backed down days later and allowed his reinstatement.