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U.S. suspends military activities with Honduras; UN demands Zelaya’s reinstatement

By Dialogo
July 01, 2009

The 600 American soldiers, sailors and airmen based at Soto Cano Air Base are staying on the base and not conducting exercises with the Honduran military, a spokesperson for the United States Southern Command, in Miami said. “No one is allowed off base except for emergency situations,” Robert Appin, deputy director for public information and outreach at Southern Command said. “All travel is restricted.” Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, located about 50 miles north of Tegucigalpa, capital city of Honduras, is home to a U.S. contingent known as JTF-Bravo, which supports joint military exercises, enhances regional security initiatives and coordinates humanitarian relief efforts. U.S. Army Col. Richard A. Juergens, commander of Soto Cano, ordered the air base closed following President Manuel Zelaya’s ouster. The last off-base operation was June 26 when U.S. servicemembers concluded a medical readiness exercise, Appin said. Zelaya was removed from his home by Honduran military forces on Sunday under the direction of the Honduran Congress. News reports said the military ouster came in response to Zelaya’s attempts to extend his presidential tenure beyond the four-year term limit outlined in the Honduran constitution. Honduran Congress has named Roberto Micheletti, head of the legislative branch, as Zelaya’s successor. “I have not become president of the Republic by a coup d’état, but rather by an absolutely legal process of the kind laid out in our laws,” he said. Honduran courts have ruled the actions of the Congress legal. However, the Zelaya’s removal has sparked debate throughout the international community. In a statement yesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama expressed concern at reports of the Honduran military detaining and expelling Zelaya from the country. “I am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Honduras regarding the detention and expulsion of President Mel Zelaya,” President Obama said. “As the Organization of American States did on Friday, I call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Zelaya arrived in New York on Tuesday to address the UN General Assembly, which demanded by acclamation his "immediate and unconditional" reinstatement. _Information from the U.S. Department of Defense, EFE and AFP was used to develop this report. _
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