Returning Zelaya claims global plot to oust him was hatched in 2009

OAS meets on Wednesday to determine whether to welcome back Honduras

The Organization of American States (OAS) will meet on Wednesday to discuss whether to allow Honduras to rejoin the regional group given that ousted ex-President Manuel Zelaya has been allowed to return.

Following two years in exile, the former leftist leader was given a hero's welcome on Sunday with thousands of Hondurans coming out to greet him as he arrived from the Dominican Republic where he had been living. At a news conference afterwards, Zelaya claimed the coup that ousted him in 2009 was "an international conspiracy" that should be investigated.

Last week, Honduran President Porfirio Lobo reached an agreement with Zelaya, paving the way for his return after signing the so-called Cartagena Accord, which was brokered by the governments of Colombia and Venezuela. The deal is supposed to be the last major hurdle for the tiny Central American nation to rejoin the OAS, from which it was kicked out after the coup.

But many human rights organizations believe Zelaya's return isn't enough. They are demanding that Honduras investigate what they say are around 4,000 cases of violations of fundamental rights that occurred during and after the coup. Among those reported are crackdowns on protestors, politically motivated killings, the purging of the judiciary and press censorship.

Viviana Krsticevic, director of the Washington-based Center for Justice and International Law, believes the OAS should press Honduras more to investigate the violations as it would with any other country.

"We believe that Honduras should return to the OAS but the yardstick to measure whether the conditions are ripe should not be different," Krsticevic said in a phone interview with EL PAÍS on Tuesday, adding she feared the situation would get worse if there wasn't any accountability.

Zelaya is also pressing for an investigation into who was behind his ouster. He told reporters that the then-head of the joint chiefs of staff, General Romeo Vásquez, told him that the people who planned his overthrow also wanted to kill him.

"He told me, 'Some day you will understand what happened. I can't tell you, but the people who planned it talked about having you killed during the assault on your house, but the armed forces were totally opposed to your assassination'," Zelaya said. "The question is, who are they?"

Zelaya was awoken on the morning of June 28, 2009 by armed soldiers and taken to a nearby airport, where he was put on a plane to Costa Rica. The ouster was the turning point after months of political tension over Zelaya's plans to change the Constitution to allow him to run indefinitely. Congress and the Supreme Court had both rejected his proposals.

Lobo was elected in January 2010 after de facto President Roberto Micheletti stepped down.

Zelaya announced that he is ready to assume the leadership of a leftist alliance known as the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP). Part of the Cartagena deal called for official recognition for FNRP. But the nation's oligarchs continue to see Zelaya as a threat who wants to forge a dangerous alliance with Cuba and Venezuela. A poll taken by the conservative El Heraldo daily showed that 50 percent of Hondurans believe the political crisis will worsen with Zelaya's return.

However, Zelaya isn't proposing to become a candidate in the 2013 race; he wants his wife Xiomara Castro to run for office. The former first lady dominated the political scene when she led marches following Zelaya's ouster. "Before the coup, I always believed that after his term was over [January 2010], I would go back home and continue to raise my family. That is what I thought and wanted, but I have spoken to my children and I have told them all that has changed," she said in a AFP interview.

Ex-President Manuel Zelaya gets a hero's welcome on his return from exile.
Ex-President Manuel Zelaya gets a hero's welcome on his return from exile.AP (EDUARDO VERDUGO)
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