Honduras is defying international pressure to
reinstate President Manuel Zelaya, ousted in a military coup on
Here are some of the key personalities involved.
OUSTED PRESIDENT MANUEL ZELAYA
* A wealthy logging magnate who wears a cowboy hat with his
suits, Zelaya, 56, won a surprise victory as a moderate liberal
in 2005 presidential elections. Originally close to Honduras'
ruling elite and known as a guitar-strumming motorbike rider,
he has moved further left politically and sought financing and
energy deals with Venezuela, forging close ties with Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez and echoing his populist rhetoric. His
effort to extend term limits for the president were considered
unconstitutional by his critics and sparked the coup.
Public support for Zelaya dropped as low as 30 percent
recently and the interim government has said Zelaya has charges
pending against him for violating the constitution, drug
trafficking and organized crime. Zelaya has vowed to return to
Honduras despite threats to arrest him if he does.
INTERIM PRESIDENT ROBERTO MICHELETTI
* Micheletti is a veteran of Zelaya's Liberal Party who was
head of Congress when he was picked as interim president until
November elections. A centrist who mixes social programs with
deep conservative beliefs, he was formerly an ally of Zelaya
but opposed his shift to the left and now has the backing of
the business and political elite. Micheletti has said the
removal of Zelaya saved Honduras from "Chavismo," a term for
the style of socialism championed by Chavez.
VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ
* Chavez is a president who knows all about coups. A former
soldier who himself once led a failed putsch in Venezuela,
Chavez was on the receiving end of a coup attempt in 2002 that
briefly ousted him. A foe of U.S. trade and foreign policy in
Latin America, Chavez has nationalized many companies and used
Venezuela's oil wealth to become a flag-bearer for leftist
sentiment in the region. Last year he enticed Zelaya to bring
Honduras into ALBA trade pact of pro-Chavez nations.
Chavez has put his troops on alert and threatened military
action in Honduras if Venezuela's embassy or envoy there were
harmed. He has cast the crisis as an attack on democracy by
imperialist forces and suggested a U.S. role in the coup. As a
close ally of Zelaya, he stands to gain from the ousted
president's return, especially if he is seen to do more than
the United States to bring it about.
OAS SECRETARY GENERAL JOSE MIGUEL INSULZA
* Another man who has first hand experience of a coup,
Insulza was part of Salvador Allende's leftist Popular Unity
government in Chile and was forced into exile by the 1973 coup
that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power. A lawyer and
former foreign minister of Chile, Insulza has headed the
Organization of American States since May 2005. The OAS has
issued a 72-hour deadline to Honduras to reverse the coup and
restore Zelaya as president, and has instructed Insulza to take
diplomatic steps to achieve that.
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
* The coup is an early test for Obama as he tries to mend
the United States' battered image in Latin America, where
Washington supported a number of rightist coups and military
governments during the Cold War. Obama was swift to condemn the
Honduras coup, pleasing Latin American countries bitter about
the long history of U.S. intervention in the region. Obama has
vowed to work with the OAS to restore Zelaya and said it would
be a "terrible precedent" if the coup is not reversed.
OTHER LATIN AMERICAN PRESIDENTS WHO MAY PLAY A ROLE
* Moderate left-wing Latin American presidents such as
Brazil's LUIZ INACIO LULA DA SILVA and Chile's MICHELLE
BACHELET could weigh in to persuade Honduras to hold an early
presidential election as a compromise solution. Costa Rican
President OSCAR ARIAS, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for trying
to end political violence in Central America in the 1980s, is
another possible broker.
(Written by Claudia Parsons)