Just days after reestablishing diplomatic ties with Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez is accusing the U.S. of staging a coup in Honduras as President Obama expressed concern over President Manuel Zelaya’s arrest.
Zelaya was arrested and forced into exile on Sunday after pressing ahead with a constitutional referendum that would have allowed for his re-election. The referendum had been judged illegal by Honduras’ highest court and was opposed widely through political and military circles. Zelaya had fired the chief of the country’s armed forces, Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, when he refused to help with the referendum.
Soldiers took away Zelaya, still in his pajamas, from the presidential palace Sunday morning and put him on a plane to San Jose, Costa Rica, where he planned to seek political asylum.
Chavez, who succeeded on his second try to push a similar referendum that allows his indefinite re-election, lashed out at the U.S. and Obama in Caracas, alleging “the Yankee empire had a lot to do” with the “coup d’etat” against his fellow leftist leader.