Sunday, June 28, 2009

Honduran Military Coup Ousts President

The popular dive destination of Honduras is in the midst of a military coup, as soldiers ousted the democratically elected president of the Central American country this weekend.

The first military takeover of a Central American government in 16 years drew widespread condemnation from governments in Latin America and the world — including the U.S. — and [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez vowed to overthrow the country's apparent new leader.

President Manuel Zelaya was awakened Sunday by gunfire and detained while still in his pajamas, hours before a constitutional referendum many saw as an attempt by him to stay in power beyond the one-term limit. An air force plane flew him into forced exile in Costa Rica as armored military vehicles with machine guns rolled through the streets of the Honduran capital and soldiers seized the national palace.
"I want to return to my country," Zelaya said in Costa Rica. "I am president of Honduras."

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The US State Department has since issued a bulletin concerning travel to and from Honduras.

Due to the current unstable political and security situation in Honduras, the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa recommends that American citizens defer all non-essential travel to Honduras until further notice.

The Embassy advises American citizens residing in and visiting Honduras to remain in their homes or hotels for June 28, 2009, unless their travel is of a life or death nature, or a regularly-scheduled departure from Honduras, and to restrict travel to necessary trips only on June 29, 2009. There have been media reports of a possible curfew, but no such curfew has been announced. If such a curfew is announced by officials, the Embassy strongly recommends American citizens abide by it.

The U.S. Embassy has advised its staff to remain in their residences for June 28, 2009, and to restrict travel to necessary trips only on June 29, 2009.

As of 1700 local (1900 EST), there are reports of a demonstration at the Presidential palace, and streets in the vicinity of many government offices are blocked by police or military. In general, the streets of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula are quiet. Reports from the rest of the country indicate that calm is prevailing.

Honduras’ borders remain open, and the airports remain open for regularly scheduled flights. Continental Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Airlines continue to operate flights as usual, though this is subject to change; TACA has cancelled its flights for June 28. Those traveling with Continental Airlines may wish to call (504) 220-0999 (Tegucigalpa), (504) 557-4141 (San Pedro Sula), or 1-800-231-0856 (United States). Those traveling with American Airlines may wish to call (504) 216-4800 (Honduras) or 1-800-433-7300 (United States). Those traveling with Delta Airlines may wish to call 1-800-791-9000 (United States and Central America) or (504) 550-1616 (San Pedro Sula).

The Embassy again strongly recommends that U.S. citizens avoid large gatherings and do not try to pass roadblocks if they encounter them. U.S. citizens should monitor the situation via media sources, including TV and radio when possible, and via the internet.

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