2009 Year in Review - Honduras

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
2009 Year in Review

Major World News Stories of 2009

Flag of Honduras

Flag of Honduras

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President Manuel Zelaya Ousted in a Coup

On June 28, 2009, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was deposed in a military coup. President Zelaya had faced vocal criticism for what was widely viewed as an attempt to extend presidential term limits by holding a constitutional referendum, which the Supreme Court had ruled was illegal. A group of countries, including the unlikely alliance of United States and Venezuela, signed a resolution condemning the actions of the Honduran military and demanding Zelaya's reinstatement. The U.S. suspended military and non-humanitarian aid to Honduras after the coup.

Roberto Micheletti, with the backing of the Honduran Congress, courts, and army, was named interim president. Micheletti threatened Zelaya with arrest if he returned to the country. Zelaya did in fact attempt to return on July 5, but he found a closed runway and well-armed Honduran troops on the ground waiting for him. In September, Zelaya secretly returned to Honduras, taking refuge in the Brazilian embassy.

In Honduras, reaction to the coup was divided, with many business and political figures calling it a legal response to Zelaya's plans to rewrite the Constitution. Zelaya also found support among the laborers and the poor, who called the coup an illegal action against the president and took to the streets in protest. On the other hand, the middle and upper classes feared that Zelaya would emulate Venezuela's populist president, Hugo Chavez, and institute socialist policies. Years of rampant corruption, military rule, and natural disasters have left Honduras one of the poorest and least developed nations in Central America.

U.S.-Brokered Deal Falls Apart

The U.S. brokered an agreement between Zelaya and Micheletti in late October that would have allowed Zelaya to complete the three months in his term upon congressional approval, established a government of national unity and a truth commission, and required Zelaya to abandon the referendum on constitutional reform. The accord, however, fell apart within days.

In the November presidential election, conservative Porfirio Lobo prevailed over Elvin Santos by 16 points. However, the UN, the European Union, and the Organization of American States said they will not recognize the results of the election. Days after the election, Congress voted against allowing Zelaya to return to office to serve out the remaining weeks of his term before Lobo's January 2010 inauguration, further complicating the political crisis.

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