Deposed Honduran president finds a platform at the UN

The US condemned the coup but finds itself defending a president allied with leftist critics such as UN General Assembly president d'Escoto and Venezuela's Chávez.

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

When ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya takes his case for reinstatement to the United Nations General Assembly today, he'll do so at the invitation of the assembly's president – a Marxist Nicaraguan priest who has used his international platform to berate the United States and other powers over the world's prevailing economic order.

Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, a one-time foreign minister for Nicaragua's leftist Sandinista regime, was quick to offer the New York podium he presides over to Mr. Zelaya, who was deposed Sunday in an early morning military coup in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital.

The US has condemned the coup, but now finds itself in the awkward position of defending a deposed president who has sought support from such American needlers as Mr. d'Escoto, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, and more significantly, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

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Mr. Chávez, who lost no time in airing his suspicions of CIA involvement in Sunday's military action in Honduras, met with Zelaya in Managua, Nicaragua, on Monday and appeared to revel in a new role as defender of Latin American democracy.

Zelaya, a landed baron from Honduras's oligarchy, would seem to be an unlikely Chávez protégé since the Venezuelan has built his power by exploiting the region's economic divides and America's association with the traditional elites.

But in recent months Zelaya appeared to steer Honduras into Chávez's orbit, accepting economic aid from him – and more importantly, emulating his trajectory by seeking an end to presidential term limits.

Sunday's coup has received near-universal condemnation, including from the US, as an antidemocratic throwback to an era of frequent military takeovers across Latin America. But it was also the result of a bubbling power struggle in Honduras between Zelaya, who was seeking to scuttle the country's ban on presidential reelection, and the country's other political institutions.

Zelaya had planned to hold a referendum Sunday to gauge public support for scuttling presidential term limits, though the Congress and Supreme Court deemed such a plebiscite unconstitutional.

General Assembly President d'Escoto, a product of Latin America's earlier left-right struggles and now a mouthpiece for global ideological differences with the US – earlier this year he used a visit to Tehran to condemn America's approach to Iran and the US presence in Iraq – appeared anxious to offer the Honduran crisis a platform.

Aside from turning over the UN platform to Zelaya this morning, he plans to hold a joint press conference with the deposed president this afternoon.

As for the US, it finds itself working to reinstate a president who has become the ally of Chávez, whom it has accused of taking an increasingly undemocratic road in Venezuela.

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