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Manuel Zelaya Timeline

The Rise and Fall of the President of Honduras


Manuel Zelaya Timeline

Manuel Zelaya

Alex Wong / Getty Images

Manuel Zelaya (1952-) was President of Honduras from his election in 2006 to his removal by Congress and the Honduran Armed Forces in 2009. His semi-legal removal caused a great controversy around the world and particularly in Latin America. Many nations, including the United States, protested his ouster and demanded his reinstatement. Honduran officials, however, stuck to their claim that he had been legally removed. He returned to Honduras in secret to try and regain his office, but the interim government was able to stall international efforts until new elections could take place. Here are the key dates:

  • 2005: Manuel Zelaya, former Congressman and Minister of Investment, runs for the Presidency of Honduras as the Liberal Party Candidate. He runs on a law-and-order platform, pledging to battle rampant crime plaguing the country.
  • November 27, 2005: Zelaya is elected President of Honduras after votes cast in a very close election need to be carefully counted for a whole week. It is not until December 5 that his opponent, Porfirio Lobo Sosa, concedes the election.
  • January 27, 2006: Zelaya inaugurated.
  • August 25, 2008: Zelaya joins Honduras to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, a union of leftist-led countries directed by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.
  • Early 2009: Zelaya sets June 28, 2009 as the date for a national referendum to change the Constitution of Honduras. Many suspect he is trying to follow in the footsteps of Latin American leaders such as Rafael Correa of Ecuador and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua who changed their constitutions to allow them to run for re-election.
  • June 24, 2009: Zelaya fires Army Chief of Staff for refusing to distribute ballots.
  • June 25, 2009: Supreme Court orders Army Chief of Staff reinstated. Zelaya and supporters storm an army base to get the ballots.
  • June 28, 2009: On the date of the referendum, Zelaya is rousted out of bed in the morning by soldiers and sent to Costa Rica on a military transport. The Congress claims it has a letter of resignation from Zelaya and names Roberto Micheletti interim President. The referendum does not take place.
  • June 29: US President Barack Obama condemns the removal of Zelaya.
  • July 4: the Organization of American States (OAS) holds an emergency meeting, suspends Honduras.
  • July 5: Zelaya attempts to fly back to Honduras, but his plane is prevented from landing.
  • July 9: Oscar Arias, Nobel-winning President of Costa Rica and an international statesman of great prestige, gets involved. Over the course of more than a week, he attempts and fails to negotiate an agreement.
  • July 25: At a rally on the Honduras-Nicaragua border, Zelaya goes a few steps back into Honduras to the cheers of his supporters, but quickly retreats to Nicaraguan soil. He repeats the gesture the next day.
  • September 21: Zelaya sneaks back onto Honduras and holes up at the Brazilian Embassy. The interim government threatens to arrest him if he leaves.
  • September 27: Interim government shuts opposition TV stations and imposes a curfew.
  • October 9: A poll taken of Hondurans yields a somewhat contradictory result: although 60% disapprove of the coup, less than half want Zelaya reinstated.
  • October 29: A team of US diplomats gets both sides to agree to a deal: the Honduran Congress will vote on Zelaya's reinstatement and both sides will contribute members to a "unity" government to rule until after the November elections.
  • November 6: Zelaya declares the deal "dead" after Micheletti creates the unity government without him: Micheletti counters that he had no choice under the terms of the agreement as Zelaya had sent him no names. Congress stalls the vote, asking the Supreme Court for a legal recommendation on Zelaya's reinstatement.
  • November 17: Congress decides to postpone the vote until after the scheduled November 29 elections.
  • November 24: Interim President Roberto Micheletti steps down temporarily (until December 2) in a bid to help legitimize the November 29 elections.
  • November 25: in a non-binding opinion, the Supreme Court suggests that Congress not reinstate Zelaya, as there are criminal charges pending against him.
  • November 29: Conservative Party Candidate Porfirio Lobo wins the Presidential election in a landslide. Countries such as the USA, Colombia, Peru and Costa Rica affirm or promise to affirm the elections, while nations including Venezuela and Brazil do not.
  • December 2: Congress finally meets, votes 111-14 against reinstating Zelaya, who had already said he would not accept if reinstated as it might "validate" his removal from power.
  • January 27, 2010: New President Porfirio Lobo takes office. Zelaya finally leaves the Brazilian Embassy for the Dominican Republic. El Salvador recognizes the new government.
  • January 28: The new Honduran Government reveals that months of bickering and suspended foreign aid have left the nation bankrupt.

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