Distinguished Senior Fellow in Political Leadership and Constitutional Governance
Laureate, the Samuel Adams-Jose Bonifacio Prize for 2010
Roberto Micheletti (b. 13 Aug. 1943) is a former President of Honduras (28 June 2009 – 27 January 2010). He succeeded to the Presidency as a result of the constitutional crisis arising from then President Manuel Zelaya's June 2009 attempt to illegally change the national Constitution. The Attorney General's office charged Manuel Zelaya with violations of the constitution, laws and court orders. The Honduran Supreme Court found that Zelaya was violating the Constitution and issued an arrest warrant ordering the Honduran military to detain Zelaya. The military arrested Manuel Zelaya and he was exiled rather than held to face criminal charges as the Attorney General of the Honduras had intended.
Zelaya had been leading the Honduras into the political and economic orbit of Castro's Cuba and Venezuela's Marxist dictator and ally of Iran, Hugo Chavez, a major player in international drug trafficking, and this bloc is considered by seasoned observers of Latin America to have been the force behind Zelaya's moves.
The National Congress voted unanimously to repudiate Zelaya's efforts to bypass the Constitution and voted to remove him from office. Vice President Elvin Ernesto Santos had resigned months before in December 2008 to prepare to run for President. Micheletti, then President of the National Congress and constitutionally next in line for the presidency, was sworn in as President of Honduras by the Congress, also unanimously, regardless of party affiliations.
Micheletti had served as President of the Congress from 25 January 2006 until 28 June 2009. He was elected to a seat in Honduras' National Congress in 1982 which he has held since then, except for a brief period when he ran Hondutel, Honduras' state-owned national telephone company. He is a member of the Liberal Party of Honduras, the same party as the exiled Zelaya.
As a youth in 1963, Micheletti was a member of the honor guard of President Ramón Villeda, who was toppled by the military; Micheletti himself was arrested and jailed on 3 October and jailed for 27 days. In 1973 he moved to the United States, living in Tampa, Florida, then in New Orleans, Louisiana, for two years before returning to Honduras in 1976. While living in the USA he finished high school and started his own business.
Micheletti exercised the powers of the President to crack down on air traffic bringing narcotics from Venezuela and elsewhere in South America into the United States and Canada, despite a stunning lack of cooperation from the Obama administration, the Clinton State Department and the American Ambassador. His term in office saw demonstrations for and against him. Domestically his government was supported by organizations such as Unión Cívica Democrática and opposed by the left wing "Resistance." International support for the Micheletti government was disturbingly scant, with left wing media such as the New York Times selectively reporting events with a pro-Marxist slant, even calling the constitutional actions of the Honduran Supreme Court, the National Congress, the Honduras' Attorney General and the arrest and enforced exile by Armed Forces "a coup d'état."
Officially, many international leaders condemned the ousting of President Zelaya, even calling for his reinstatement, though his term was nearly up. The Organization of American States (OAS) said it would not recognize any government other than that of Manuel Zelaya. The United States rejected the overthrow of Zelaya in statements by President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Lorenz. The European Union also condemned Zelaya's constitutional removal.
The Castor regime in Cuba demanded what they called the return of democracy in Honduras. Venezuela's Marxist strongman president, an ally of Cuba and Iran, Hugo Chávez, a backer of and co-conspirator with Zelaya reportedly threatened military action if Venezuela's embassy or ambassador were harmed. Micheletti's 25-year-old nephew Enzo Micheletti was abducted and found murdered in late October 2009. In an open letter to the Wall Street Journal published on 27 July 2009, Roberto Micheletti refuted American and international propaganda supporting the Zelaya-Chavez-Castro attempt to subvert the Honduran Constitution and make Honduras a puppet state of the Latin American Marxist bloc. He listed the Honduran government's reasons and legal justification for ousting Zelaya. He pointed out that Zelaya's removal from office was supported by the Supreme Court unanimously (15-0), an overwhelming majority of Congress, as well as the Honduras' Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the Administrative Law Tribunal, the independent Human Rights Ombudsman, the two major presidential candidates of the Liberal and National Parties and Honduras’ Catholic Cardinal.
Micheletti also refuted the claim of the left wing major American media and the Clinton-Obama State Department's that Zelaya's removal was not a "military coup" since the military was following orders given by a civilian Supreme Court and Zelaya was replaced with a civilian from the line of succession prescribed in the Constitution.
Tellingly, the (Hillary) Clinton-Obama State Department could not even resist the temptation even to recast the Honduran Supreme Court and the Congress's impeachment and removal of Zelaya into a wide-ranging politically incorrect holocaust from the point of view of feminists, ethnic minorities, homosexuals, transsexuals and transvestites. The US Embassy in the capitol, Tegucigalpa, stated that:
"The human rights climate deteriorated significantly following the coup (sic), especially with regard to respect for the rights of women, members of ethnic communities and sexual minorities and other vulnerable groups.
On March 11, 2010, the Hilary Clinton-led State Department released their annual report on Human Rights, in which they claimed:
"On June 28, the military forcibly removed and sent into exile President Jose Manuel Zelaya, and Congress President Roberto Micheletti Bain became the leader of a de facto regime. Until the June 28 coup d'état (sic), the country was a constitutional, multiparty democracy with a population of approximately eight million..." [and] "Although the coup was bloodless, subsequent related events resulted in the loss of life as well as limitations by the de facto regime on freedom of movement, association, expression, and assembly."
In January 2010 the Honduran Congress granted former President Micheletti the honorary title "Legislator for Life." For his defense of the Honduran people's right of self determination and constitutional government, he has also been named with former President of Colombia Alvaro Uribe as winner of the Samuel Adams-Jose Bonifacio Prize for 2010.