"Friendship Ends Where Duty Begins": An Interview with Honduran Coup General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez
First published in CounterPunch, 25 November 2009
When I arrived last week at the headquarters of the joint chiefs of staff of the Honduran military in Comayagüela—twin city of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras—I was informed that General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez had been delayed in a meeting at the presidential palace with coup president Roberto Micheletti, who according to Vásquez’ aide-de-camp could “not be rushed.” The general, head of the armed forces that had carried out the June 28 coup against President Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, was said to be finalizing security preparations for the scheduled electoral process of November 29; the infeasibility of rushing Micheletti was meanwhile suggested by the fact that after 5 months he had still not come up with a way of legitimizing the elections.
I had started to suspect over the past few weeks that the Honduran military had adopted the delaying tactics of their political counterparts when my communications with the aide-de-camp, Colonel Wilfredo García Rodríguez, for the purpose of procuring an interview with Vásquez had begun to consist of García answering the phone and promptly hanging up.
A Time magazine article of 24 October entitled “Honduran Tourism: Selling Against a Coup” explains that the post-coup decrease in foreign visitors to Honduras has led the de facto regime of Roberto Micheletti to promote internal tourism:
Working with resorts and hotels on Roatán Island, a popular Caribbean dive spot off Honduras’ northern coast, the de facto tourism board is promoting special two-for-one vacation deals. Many Hondurans have taken the bait, flocking to the white sands of Roatán and filling hotel rooms that were once occupied by U.S. and European travelers. Hondurans who support the de facto regime, such as tour operator Vilma Sauceda of Rema Tours, says the fact that Hondurans are ‘traveling like crazy’ is a sign of support for the Micheletti government.”