WMR has learned from knowledgeable sources inside Honduras that on July 5, as the Venezuelan plane carrying ousted President Manuel Zelaya and United Nations General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann to Honduras circled Tegucigalpa International Airport, the Honduran Air Force, with the knowledge of U.S. military personnel at the Soto Cano/Palmerola airbase in Honduras and the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Miami, launched two planes to shoot down the aircraft. The Honduran air force planes were launched from the American base.
The Honduran Air Force commander who ordered the planes to shoot down the Venezuelan aircraft is General Luis Javier Prince Suazo, who is a graduate, along with General Romeo Orlando Vasquez Velasquez, the armed forces commander, of the infamous School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia. An emissary of Vasquez Velasquez visited SOUTHCOM headquarters in Miami just days before the coup to coordinate U.S. military involvement with the coup.
Bolivian President Evo Morales recently stated in Montevideo, the Uruguay capital, "I have first-hand information that the empire, through the US Southern Command, made the coup d'etat in Honduras." Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said in La Paz, the Bolivian capital, "it [the Honduran coup] was orchestrated by the State Department, you can bet your head on that . . . I believe Obama was not informed of the conspiracy; it was all the workings of the State Department." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently gave a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations. In the audience was John Negroponte, the former Deputy Secretary of State under George W. Bush and the U.S. ambassador in Honduras during the reign of U.S.-sponsored death squads. Negroponte has a number of financial and political interests in Honduras and he is close to some of the major Honduran junta members and chief supporters.
In addition to shooting down Zelaya's aircraft, the Honduran fighters also had orders to shoot down two other planes that planned to land at Tegucigalpa International after Zelaya's plane touched down. One of the two planes was carrying Presidents Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, and Fernando Lugo of Paraguay. The other plane was carrying Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza from Washington, DC. Zelaya and the other presidents and international organization leaders were forced to land in neighboring El Salvador after Honduran troops parked trucks on the runway as Zelaya's plane circled the airport and opened fire on pro-Zelaya crowds waiting to welcome the president back to Honduras.
The two Honduran fighters also reportedly followed Zelaya's aircraft into El Salvadorean airspace before breaking off pursuit.
Contrary to international news reports, WMR has learned from eyewitnesses to the shooting at the airport that four people were killed and some 30 were wounded by Honduran military gunfire. One of those killed was a 8-year old indigenous native boy. In addition, a 20-year old man was killed, along with two other men in their mid-20s. Eyewitnesses to the massacre report that a CNN crew witnessed the dead boy and young men at a Red Cross facility but declined to film the scene.
Honduran soldiers shot out the tires of buses bringing people from the countryside into the capital to participate in anti-coup demonstrations.
WMR has also learned from Honduran sources that U.S. ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens closely coordinated his activities with the coup leaders. Llorens' car was seen by the public traveling between the U.S. embassy and the government buildings where the coup leaders were consolidating their hold on power. Llorens, a Cuban-born U.S. citizen, was reportedly heavily involved in the 2002 coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez while serving in the National Security Council at the White House.
On the eve of the airport protest, Channel 11 News in Tegucigalpa was bombed by pro-junta forces. On board Zelaya's plane was a news crew from Telesur television.
It is also reported to WMR that the Archbishop of Tegucigalpa and to Catholic bishops supported the coup against Zelaya with the active involvement of Pope Benedict XVI in Vatican City. Archbishop Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga stated: "We must support [junta leader Roberto] Micheletti and the rule of law and the Constitution." The prelate added, "the opposition are communists and socialists." The Catholic Church in San Pedro Sula was so supportive of the coup, the pro-Zelaya forces refer to it as "the Church of the Coup." However, Catholic priests and nuns are almost united in opposition to the coup. Many told parishioners, "We are with the people and opposed to the coup."
Congressman Cesar Ham, the presidential candidate of the progressive Democratic Unification (UD) Party, was originally reported to have been shot and killed by Honduran troops. However, he recently turned up in Nicaragua after fleeing Honduras. WMR has learned from Honduran sources that Honduran troops were aided in locating anti-coup leaders by CIA agents in the country. On the day that Zelaya planned to return to Honduras by plane, CIA agents began questioning Americans in the country who were supporting Zelaya. CIA agents wanted to know where the Americans were staying in Honduras. In addition, WMR learned that the CIA helped Honduran intelligence track down Venezuelan and Nicaraguan journalists. The Honduran security forces had orders to kill the journalists.
WMR has also learned that support for Zelaya is strong among the Honduran police and the lower ranks of the Honduran military. There have been a number of cases where police and military personnel have refused to carry out their orders and aided opponents of the coup. Support for Zelaya is particularly strong in San Pedro Sula, Honduras's second largest city, and along the border with El Salvador. WMR has learned that the El Salvadorean Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front government is providing quiet assistance to Zelaya supporters along the border.
These are videos taken of anti-junta demonstrations by American Neil Brandvold who went to Honduras to support the Honduran people against the coup.
Anti-junta demonstration in Tegucigalpa [photo by Brandvold]
In what may be shallow hope, a number of pro-Zelaya supporters have said, "We have faith that Obama will help us." Based on the Obama administration's support for the coup and junta, those hopes now appear all but dashed.