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UN Dismisses Honduran Accusations of Venezuelan Scheming

By Tamara Pearson
July 19, 2009

The United Nations dismissed as illegitimate a letter it received from the current coup government of Honduras which accused Venezuela of attempting to "provoke a bloodbath" in the country which has been under military rule since a 28 June coup.

Private newspapers in Honduras and Venezuela amplified the coup regime's message, accusing Venezuela of organising violent conspiracies against the Honduran regime. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the accusations were part of the de facto government's "clumsy" strategy to maintain power.

Since the Honduran military kidnapped Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and transferred him to Costa Rica, Venezuela has ardently demanded an unconditional return of Zelaya to power. Meanwhile, there have been ongoing protests, road blocks and strikes against the coup, met by military repression. Zelaya and representatives of Roberto Micheletti, the de facto president, have been involved in dialogue, mediated by the president of Costa Rica.

On 15 July, the coup government wrote to the UN Security Council to request its intervention in the face of "threats and acts of provocation" by Chavez against the new authorities in Honduras.

The letter, signed by Secretary of State Carlos Contreras and published by the Honduran paper El Heraldo, specifically accused Venezuela of publicly threatening to send Venezuelan military to Honduras on 1 July and of violating Honduran airspace when it supplied Zelaya with aircraft so he could try to re-enter his country on 5 July. On that day, Zelaya tried to land in Honduras but had to turn back because the military blocked the runway and told Zelaya his plane would be "intercepted".

The letter concludes by accusing Venezuelan of wanting to "provoke a blood bath."

Venezuelan media reported that the current president of the UN Security Council, Ruhakana Ruganda received the letter but would not distribute it among the members as an official document, because it came from a government the UN considers illegitimate. The UN assembly unanimously adopted a resolution recognising Zelaya as legitimate president of Honduras on 30 June.

"There's not going to be any debate about this topic," said the Honduran representative to the UN, Jorge Reina, who remains faithful to the government of Zelaya.

"They are just fireworks to make it known that they have contacts abroad, when in reality they are completely isolated," Reina said. The European Union, the Organization of American States (OAS), and several Latin American integration blocs have also condemned the coup.

The de facto government also threatened to expel the staff of the Venezuelan embassy in Honduras, according to the Venezuelan daily El Nacional, quoting a Honduran Foreign Ministry press release.

"Certain governments, in particular the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in open violation of the principles of equality, sovereignty, and self determination, have conducted inadmissible acts of interference, intervention that should cease immediately. If it continues, the withdrawal of their respective embassies will be solicited," the press release said.

In another article, El Heraldo also accused Venezuela of "looking for a massacre" and "conspiracy managed from Caracas by President Hugo Chavez."

"Plan Chavez," the paper says, will be led by gang members linked to drug dealers from Nicaragua. Their objective "will be to rise against authority until the provocation of gunshots" by taking over airports, blocking roads, paralysing public institutions, destroying businesses and media, burning vehicles, and creating confrontations with police and military, according to the paper, which quoted only "reports" as the source of the information.

President Chavez said on Friday that the de facto government of Honduras is preparing a massacre and "inventing the spectre of a Venezuelan invasion".

"They are preparing a massacre and washing their hands of it in advance. But the strategy is so clumsy that it will be difficult for the sensible world to believe," Chavez said.

"How far will they go? They don't have limits, this mafia, their criminal advisors who have so much blood on their hands, so much torture and persecution of the people," he continued.

"Now [Micheletti] is going about saying that Rafael Correa [president of Ecuador], Daniel Ortega [president of Nicaragua] and Hugo Chavez are preparing the invasion of Honduras. Further, he says that there are Venezuelan terrorists in Honduras throwing grenades and bombs, and he goes about saying that Chavez will be to blame for the deaths that there'll be," Chavez said.

"We respect sovereignty. Who could get the idea in their head that Venezuela is going to invade Honduras? Much less Nicaragua or Ecuador, it's an invention. They're inventing the spectre of war now to justify the... assassinations and persecutions against the Honduran people."

Ramon Alegria, a campesino leader and a leader of the National Resistance Front against the Coup in Honduras, told ABN that the media campaign in Honduras is aimed at demobilising protestors and creating a climate of terror favourable to the Micheletti regime.

Further, Chavez said on Friday that the de facto Honduran government is misspending Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA) funds that were assigned to micro-credits and health policies.

Chavez explained that Honduras, through agreements negotiated by ALBA, was paying for half the oil it received from Venezuela within three months, and the rest over 21 years, using that money instead on social policies.

"Zelaya was using those resources, which are some millions of dollars, for micro-credits for rural workers, health, and medicine," Chavez said.

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