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Roberto Micheletti Bain (born 13 August 1943) became the Interim de facto President of Hondurasmarker in the 2009 Honduran constitutional crisis on 28 June 2009. The Honduran military was ordered by the Supreme Court to arrest former president Manuel Zelaya for violating the Honduran constitution. Micheletti was sworn in as president by the National Congressmarker a few hours after Zelaya was arrested and sent to exile by the Honduran military. Until this date Micheletti was the President of its National Congress. A deputy in Congress since 1982, Micheletti is a member of the Liberal Party of Honduras.

Family background

Born in El Progresomarker, Yoro Departmentmarker, Micheletti was the eighth of nine siblings (6 boys, 3 girls).Micheletti's father was Umberto Micheletti who immigrated from the Bergamomarker province of Lombardy, Italymarker. His mother was Donatella Bain, also born in El Progreso.

He is married to Siomara Girón. The couple have three children.

Political career

In 1963, Micheletti was a member of the honor guard of President Ramón Villeda, who was toppled by the military; Micheletti was arrested on 3 October and jailed for 27 days. In 1973-76 he moved to the United Statesmarker, living in Tampa, Floridamarker, then in New Orleansmarker, Louisianamarker, for two years before returning to Honduras.While living in the USA he finished high school and started his own business.

Deputy

Micheletti won a Congressional seat in 1982 which he has held since then, although he did at one time leave to run Hondutel, Honduras' state-owned national telephone company.

In 1985 Micheletti was part of a group of deputies signing a motion calling for the National Congress to reseat itself as a National Constituent Assembly. According to the opposition, the proposal was aimed at enabling then-President Roberto Suazo to run for re-election in the 1985 Honduras presidential election. Ultimately the proposal was dropped when Efrain Bu Giron called General Walter López Reyes about it.

He has twice sought his party's nomination to run for President, both times failing to win the nomination of his Liberal Party, in 2008 to former Vice President Elvin Ernesto Santos, who won the Liberal nomination for the November 2009 Presidential election.

President of the National Congress

Micheletti presided the National Congress of Hondurasmarker from January 2006 until 28 June 2009. Although in the same Liberal Party of Honduras as Manuel Zelaya, there had been conflict between the two politicians before the 2009 Honduran constitutional crisis.

Presidency of Honduras

After a resignation letter from President Manuel Zelaya was read to the National Congress of Hondurasmarker, which Zelaya later denied writing, Zelaya was dismissed as president, by a show of hands in the National Congress, on 28 June 2009. The same morning, the military arrested President Zelaya and forced him into exile by flying him to Costa Rica.

The Honduran constitution mandated that the head of Congress, Roberto Micheletti, act as the provisional head of state since Vice President Elvin Ernesto Santos had resigned in December 2008 to run for President. Micheletti’s term will end 27 January 2010.

With demonstrations forand against Micheletti, international support for the Micheletti government remains scant. No foreign governments have recognized him as the president of Honduras; 192 countries from the U.N. and all countries from the OAS (Organization of American Statesmarker) demanded to immediately re-instate Zelaya to finish his term without any conditions.

The government has restricted domestic and foreign media, including the Venezuelan press. Demonstrations in support of the return of Manuel Zelaya have been suppressed by the police and army. Several protesters have been killed, jailed and injured, according to a preliminary human rights report.

Micheletti appointed Nelson Willy Mejía, a former member of the death squad Intelligence Battalion 3-16 and School of the Americas graduate and instructor as Director-General of Immigration. On 31 July 2009, Zelaya claimed that Micheletti's security advisor, Billy Joya, who had also been a member of Battalion 3-16, was leading Battalion 3-16 reorganised under a different name. Zelaya stated, "With a different name, [Battalion 3-16 is] already operating. The crimes being committed is torture to create fear among the population, and that's being directed by Mr. Joya." Billy Joya and six other former Battalion 3-16 members had played important roles in Zelaya's administration, including Alvaro Romero as a minister (Secretary of Security). Former Battalion 3-16 member Napoleón Nassar, who was already high Commissioner of Police for the north-west region under Zelaya,, retained this status under Micheletti, and also became one of the Secretary of Security's spokespeople for communicating with protestors.

Official reactions from many international leaders condemned the ouster of President Zelaya, many of them calling for his reinstatement.The Organization of American Statesmarker (OAS) says it will not recognize any government other than that of Manuel Zelaya.The United Statesmarker rejected the overthrow of Zelaya in statements by President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens.The European Union has also condemned the ouster of Zelaya.Cuban president Raúl Castro asked for the return of democracy in Honduras..Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez stated that he has put his nation's armed forces on alert, and vowed to take military action if Venezuela's embassy or envoy to Honduras were harmed.

New elections are planned for 29 November 2009. Micheletti's government stated on 2 July 2009 that it is willing to hold this year's presidential election early. Costa Rican President Óscar Arias was acting as a mediator between the coup leaders and President Manuel Zelaya to find a political solution and re-installment of the constitutional climax before Zelaya's removal. He presented a seven point agreement, which calls for the return of Zelaya as President – a condition deemed unacceptable to the interim government.Zelaya's representatives accepted the Arias proposal "in principle" but Micheletti's representatives balked at the key point of Zelaya returning to power in Honduras.

In an open letter to the Wall Street Journal published 27 July 2009, Roberto Micheletti listed the Honduran government's reasons and justification for Zelaya’s ouster. In it, Micheletti claimed Zelaya's removal from office was supported by the Supreme Court (15-0), an overwhelming majority of Congress, the 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’s Catholic Cardinal. Micheletti also stated that this was no "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.

In an opinion poll held across Honduras during 23–29 August 2009 by COIMER & OP, a majority (56%) of respondents held unfavorable opinions against Micheletti, while 17% held a neutral opinion and 16% of respondents had a positive opinion of him.

References

  1. Honduras' interim President Roberto Micheletti gestures during a news conference in Tegucigalpa Monday.Honduran authorities on Sunday lifted a curfew ...
  2. "Pugilato en el Congreso", Diario La Tribuna, 25 October, 1985, page 16, scanned image stored here: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_WSwSFw8QNd0/Sl0GtEQDkpI/AAAAAAAAAgk/Zmmi3QkKV7w/s1600-h/Micheletti.jpg





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