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José Manuel Zelaya Rosales

Zelaya Rosales, José Manuel (hōsāˈ mänwĕlˈ sālĪˈä rōsäˈlās) [key], 1952–, Honduran political leader, b. Catacamas. A businessman and rancher, he joined the Liberal party of Honduras (PLH) in 1970. He served in the National Congress (1985–98) and was minister for investment in the late 1990s before winning election as president in 2005. A populist in office, Zelaya sought to lower the cost of petroleum in Honduras, and a won passage of an increase in the minimum wage and ended school tuitions. He gradually moved to left during his term, alienating Honduras's conservative political elite, and when he proposed a referendum on calling a extraconstitutional assembly to revise the constitution, it was seen as an attempt to end presidential term limits. The referendum was declared illegal by the courts several times and opposed by the National Congress, but he pushed to hold it; in June, 2009, after the Supreme Court ordered Zelaya arrested, the military forcibly exiled him. Zelaya returned clandestinely in September, and from his refuge in the Brazilian embassy sought unsuccessfully to regain power. After Porfirio Lobo Sosa, who was elected president in Dec., 2009, was inaugurated in Jan., 2010, Zelaya went into exile, but returned to Honduras in May, 2011. Zelaya's wife, Xiomara Castro (Iris Xiomara Castro de Zelaya), 1959–, led protests calling for Zelaya's restoration to office after his ouster. In the 2013 presidential election she was the newly formed Libre party's candidate and placed second; she accused the government of the stealing the election.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Honduran History: Biographies


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