By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor
Hondurans in the United States are intensely following the events in their home country, after the military on Sunday rushed President Manuel Zelaya out of bed and sent him into exile in Costa Rica.
But not every talk-show caller nor every demonstrator in American cities is asking for the swift return of the democratically-elected president. Many Hondurans in the U.S. support the coup and the government that took power in Tegucigalpa, despite unanimous condemnation from the international community — including President Barack Obama.
“I think it’s a good thing that they took him away, because he would have won the election on Sunday, and he would have been in office another four years,” restaurant owner Marlen Nunez told WDSU in New Orleans, where there is a big Honduran community. She was referring to Zelaya’s botched attempt to conduct a non-binding national referendum asking voters if they wanted to change the constitution to allow him to run for a second term.
“Constitutionally, a president shouldn’t be in office more than four years … that’s not a democracy,” Nunez said.
Maria Portillo, a 62-year-old shopkeeper in the Little Havana section of Miami, expressed a similar opinion when interviewed by The Miami Herald.
The military is supposed to protect the country and that’s what they did today. The way the president was acting has just not been correct. This is a country that does not want to be Communist.
Since taking power in 2005, Zelaya has been edging closer and closer to leftist Latin governments like those of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Bolivian President Evo Morales.
New Orleans newspaper The Times Picayune reported:
With audiences largely made up of Hondurans, New Orleans’ two most prominent Spanish-speaking radio stations have been flooded with phone calls since the weekend ouster of the Central American republic’s president, most in support of the action.
An overwhelming majority of callers to Radio Tropical, KGLA-1540 AM, and La Fabulosa, WFNO-830 AM, likened the military’s removal of President Manuel Zelaya to the U.S. Constitution’s impeachment process, according to the stations’ talk show hosts, managers and guests. Callers also denounced world leaders’ use of the word “coup” to describe what happened.
However, there were also many Honduran immigrants who opposed the coup. In Boston, a protest was organized for Thursday against the ouster, which President Barack Obama swiftly condemned as “illegal.”
The Boston Herald reported:
Angel Meza of the Boston-based nonprofit group Proyecto Hondureno and others plan to deliver letters to U.S. Sens. Edward Kennedy and John Kerry, asking them to push to restore democracy in Honduras. They also plan to write to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
UMass Spanish professor Carlos Benavides told South Coast Today he was “totally against” the coup.
“I don’t agree with everything the president was doing, but in a democracy you don’t kick out the president. You discuss things,” he said.
In Southern California, “immigrants rights advocates, progressive activists, and Central Americans who live in Los Angeles say the United States should do as much as possible to support ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya,” public radio station KPPC reported.