U.S. Cable Reveals Honduran Resistance Sought Weapons In Nicaragua After 2009 Coup

Honduran police square off against protestors after the 2009 coup.
Honduran police square off against protestors after the 2009 coup.
Honduran police square off against protestors after the 2009 coup.

After the ouster in 2009 of then-Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, the country’s resistance movement sought to obtain weapons from neighboring Nicaragua, according to a confidential cable released by Wikileaks.

According to Honduras’ El Heraldo newspaper, a U.S. diplomatic cable from October 2009 describes a meeting between the former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas A. Shannon and Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Samuel Santos, held on September 29, 2009, eight days after former President Manuel Zelaya returned to Honduras.

During the meeting at the UN General Assembly in New York, Santos told Shannon that Honduras’ National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP) were actively looking for weapons, ostensibly to fight in Honduras to restore Zelaya to power.

Shortly after sitting down with Shannon, Santos also received an “unexpected” phone call from Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who reaffirmed to Shannon that the FNRP was looking for weapons and raised a broader concern over arms trafficking in the region.

“Ortega said growing frustration in Honduras could lead  to violence, and noted that members of the pro-Zelaya  resistance were in Nicaragua looking for weapons,” The cable said. “Ortega said his government had deflected these overtures, but he was very worried about increasing radicalization of the popular sectors in Honduras.”

The Honduran coup took place on the morning of June 28, 2009 when about 100 soldiers stormed the presidential palace in Tegucigalpa, forcibly removed Zelaya from the premises and flew him to San José, Costa Rica. Citing a plot by Zelaya to eliminate presidential term limits and create a socialist state in the vein of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, the National Congress later that day voted to remove him from office and swore in Speaker of Congress Roberto Micheletti as president.

For his part, after unsuccessful attempts to mediate the crisis the ousted Zelaya encouraged his supporters to perform acts of civil disobdience before he secretly returned to Honduras.

While at the meeting, Nicaragua’s Santos also brought up the idea of economic sanctions against the de facto regime to “bring Micheletti to the bargaining table.” Shannon, however, rebuked the idea, claiming that sanctions would do more harm to the average Honduran worker than the regime and that U.S. companies would also be hurt by sanctions.

Shannon added that the U.S. government was instead focusing on sanctions aimed at those in the private sector and military who supported the coup.”

Earlier this month, the Organization of American States (OAS) voted to allow Honduras back into the regional group, ending a two-year diplomatic hiatus that began with the June 2009 coup.

To read the entire cable, follow the link here.

Photo: Codepinkhq @ Flickr.

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