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US embassy in Honduras recognized Zelaya’s removal as an illegal coup

November 29, 2010

Among the WikiLeaks diplomatic cable disclosures, I haven’t seen the following mentioned in the mainstream press:

On July 23, 2009 the US Embassy in Honduras sent a cable to the Secretary of State that characterized the removal of President Zelaya as “an illegal and unconstitutional coup”. Here is the summary:

Summary: Post has attempted to clarify some of the legal and constitutional issues surrounding the June 28 forced removal of President Manuel “Mel” Zelaya. The Embassy perspective is that there is no doubt that the military, Supreme Court and National Congress conspired on June 28 in what constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup against the Executive Branch, while accepting that there may be a prima facie case that Zelaya may have committed illegalities and may have even violated the constitution. There is equally no doubt from our perspective that Roberto Micheletti’s assumption of power was illegitimate. Nevertheless, it is also evident that the constitution itself may be deficient in terms of providing clear procedures for dealing with alleged illegal acts by the President and resolving conflicts between the branches of government. End summary.

The cable goes on to debunk the various legal arguments wielded by supporters of the coup. All in all, it is a much stronger condemnation than those offered publicly by top US officials – though Obama did call it an illegal coup – and further signals the degree to which the State Department was willing to let the matter slide in order to further US interests in the region. The State Department, as well as the IMF and World Bank, began restoring full diplomatic ties with Honduras early in 2010.

UPDATE: As ever, Bob Naiman was right on top of this and provides a wealth of context.

UPDATE: CNN is apparently the first and as of yet (11/30) only mainstream outlet to report this story.

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