In Miami, Praise For Honduran President's Ouster
GUY RAZ, host:
The diplomatic impasse in Honduras continues. Talks to restore to power the ousted president, Manuel Zelaya, have so far failed. Now yesterday, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez described the negotiations as, quote, "Dead before they started." Here in the U.S., the half million-strong Honduran community is following events back home closely.
But while President Obama has called for Manuel Zelaya to be returned to power, NPR's Greg Allen talked to a number of Hondurans in Miami who take the opposite view.
GREG ALLEN: If there's one thing many Hondurans in Miami want you to know about recent events in their country, it's this:
Ms. MARINA CROWE(ph): What happened in Honduras was not a coup.
ALLEN: Marina Crowe is from Honduras, and with her husband, owns a company that imports food products from her home country. She's part of a group of Hondurans who've been holding almost daily demonstrations throughout the Miami area in support of the government of interim President Roberto Micheletti.
Crowe says all the Hondurans she knows are agreed: Zelaya had to go.
Ms. CROWE: I have not heard of anything opposite of that in the groups that I have been attending. It was not a coup. It was a constitutional action to prevent the president from trying to seek re-election indefinitely, like other presidents in Latin America have done.
ALLEN: Presidents like Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.
About 50,000 Hondurans live in Miami Dade County. But there are also tens of thousands of Venezuelans and Nicaraguans, also more than a half million Cuban Americans; people who left their home countries because of leftist regimes. Many also support Zelaya's ouster.
Marifeli Perez-Stable is a Cuban American and professor of sociology at Florida International University. What's being decried elsewhere as a coup in Miami is being celebrated, and Perez-Stable says it has to do with Hugo Chavez.
Professor MARIFELI PEREZ-STABLE (Sociology, Florida International University): In Honduras, the Chavez model has been stopped. I really think that it has been stopped. It's not going to fly. So that's the reason South Florida is so intertwine with the Caribbean and with Central America.
ALLEN: Members of the Honduran community this week paid a visit to the Costa Rican consulate in Miami. They were there to deliver a letter thanking Costa Rican President Oscar Arias for mediating discussions aimed at ending the political stalemate.
In the consulate reception area, Honduran activist Jose Lagos said there's one thing they want Arias to know that would not be acceptable, and that's Zelaya's return.
Mr. JOSE LAGOS (Activist): People have to understand with Honduran people that were humble and what have you, but one thing that we abide the law and we cannot allow for the international committee to tell Hondurans what to do imposing the return of former President Zelaya.
(Soundbite of music)
ALLEN: On Flagler Street in Miami, on one block, there are half dozen restaurants, beauty salons and other shops that cater to the Honduran community. At Los Paisanos Restaurant, music players in the parking lot.
Donald Cordova(ph), an insurance company account executive, had just arrived for lunch. Like other Hondurans I spoke to, he said he believes Zelaya had been removed from office constitutionally.
Mr. DONALD CORDOVA: I don't like the way this thing has been taken internationally, especially here in the United States, because only people that actually know what the internal problems of the country are those people who know this president is a criminal, has been a criminal and has only made bad things to our country. And God will (unintelligible).
ALLEN: Around the world, international organizations are calling for Zelaya's return. Both the U.N. and the OAS have said otherwise, they may consider sanctions. The U.S. has cut aid to the country, and President Obama has said Manuel Zelaya should be reinstated as president. But no matter how it's viewed by the rest of the world, in Miami, a small but vocal group of Hondurans and their allies say what happened in Tegucigalpa last month was a victory for democracy.
Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami.
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