Honduras Vote May Not Heal Wounds From Coup
JACKI LYDEN, host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. Liane Hansen is away.
In Honduras today, voters are going to the polls to choose a new president. The election comes after a coup last June, which forced then-President Manuel Zelaya out of office. Zelaya's ouster has divided many countries in the region, some of whom have contested the legality of today's election.
Joining us from Guatemala City is NPR's Jason Beaubien. Hi there, Jason.
JASON BEAUBIEN: Good morning.
LYDEN: Explain the situation, please. This political crisis in Honduras has been going on for five months or so.
BEAUBIEN: Yes, it was June 28th that Mel Zelaya was forced out of office at gunpoint by the army. Roberto Micheletti took over. Micheletti was next in line. He was constitutionally the next person in line to the presidency. And Zelaya has been attempting to regain his position ever since and that's where things stand. Even to this day, Zelaya is still trying to regain his position as president.
Micheletti has been pushing for elections. These are the regularly scheduled elections. The candidates were chosen a year ago in a primary and right now, today, they're holding those elections.
LYDEN: So how do Hondurans feel about the elections?
BEAUBIEN: Immediately after June 28th, people were extremely divided and have been divided for quite some time between supporters of Mel Zelaya who are adamant that he should be put back in power and supporters of Micheletti who say that Zelaya violated the laws of his country and that the coup was justified.
At this point, though, I was in Honduras all last week and really found that people are very tired of this situation and are ready for the country to move on. And it seems to me that most people are willing to accept these elections, have a new president and try to start things over, because this has really been a crushing blow to Honduras.
International aid has been cut off. The country has been completely isolated. All of its neighbors, almost everyone in the hemisphere has condemned the coup. And Hondurans really want to move on.
LYDEN: Jason, Brazil and Argentina have strongly opposed this election because they say it's legitimizing the coup. But Costa Rice and the United States are backing it. In fact, the U.S. has shifted positions. What's going on?
BEAUBIEN: Well, I think at this point the U.S. is basically seeing this as its best option - to accept these elections, have somebody completely new come into office as president and, as I said earlier, put this all behind it.
Argentina and Brazil in particular have stated emphatically that they're not going to accept the results of this election. They say it's being run by a coup regime. And it's going to lead to tension after these elections in terms of how the international community does or does not recognize the results.
LYDEN: Jason, will the election settle a political crisis?
BEAUBIEN: This political crisis has certainly shown a huge rift inside Honduras and it's not going to put that entirely to rest. It may, however, allow Honduras to simply move forward and sort of get back into the international fold and start operating more normally. But certainly the divisions that this crisis illustrated in Honduras are going to remain.
LYDEN: Well, NPR will be following this the remainder of the day.
NPR's Jason Beaubien, thank you very much for speaking with us.
BEAUBIEN: You're welcome, Jacki.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.