{"code":"26300","sect":"Central America","sect_slug":"central-america","hits":"1278","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202207\/centroamerica\/26300","link_edit":"","name":"Former President Manuel Zelaya Is Back on Stage in Honduras","slug":"former-president-manuel-zelaya-is-back-on-stage-in-honduras","info":"Honduras, in Brief: A main question mark about Xiomara Castro\u2019s presidency has been dispelled as her husband, former head of state \u201cMel\u201d Zelaya, an alleged narco-collaborator deposed in 2009, cements himself as the administration\u2019s strongman. To fill in the family photo, one of their sons is a presidential advisor and a nephew is defense secretary, while their daughter, named after the president, is honing her political career in Congress. Subscribe to our newsletter","mtag":"Newsletter","noun":{"html":"\u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/rgressier'\u003E Roman Gressier\u003C\/span\u003E","data":{"roman-gressier":{"sort":"rgressier","slug":"roman-gressier","path":"roman_gressier","name":"Roman Gressier","edge":"0","init":"0"}}},"view":"1278","pict":{"cms-image-000037792-jpg":{"feat":"1","sort":"37792","name":"cms-image-000037792.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037792.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037792.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000037792-jpg","text":"<p><em>Honduran ex-president Manuel Zelaya (right) lifts the presidential sash at the Jan. 27 inauguration of Xiomara Castro (center). Vice President Salvador Nasralla (left) looks on. Photo published by Castro Administration.<\/em><\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cem\u003EHonduran ex-president Manuel Zelaya (right) lifts the presidential sash at the Jan. 27 inauguration of Xiomara Castro (center). Vice President Salvador Nasralla (left) looks on. Photo published by Castro Administration.\u003C\/em\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E"}},"pict_main__sort":37792,"date":{"live":"2022\/07\/29"},"data_post_dateLive_YY":"2022","data_post_dateLive_MM":"07","data_post_dateLive_DD":"29","text":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ETwo weeks ago the son of \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202207\/centroamerica\/26261\/The-Animal-Farm.htm\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Eformer President Pepe Lobo\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E, Omar Said Lobo, was gunned down outside a Tegucigalpa nightclub. An official in President Xiomara Castro\u2019s administration sprang into action, \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.swissinfo.ch\/spa\/honduras-justicia_piden-cambiar-c%C3%A1rcel-por-arresto-domiciliario-para-ex-primera-dama-hondure%C3%B1a\/47769082\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Efiling a motion to commute\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E the ex-president\u2019s wife\u2019s March prison sentence for embezzlement to house arrest, purportedly for her protection.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAdvisory minister for political prisoners Pedro Joaqu\u00edn Amador listed himself in the petition as party to the case, which he is not. Even more jarring was his assertion that he \u003Cstrong\u003Easked for permission from Manuel \u201cMel\u201d Zelaya\u003C\/strong\u003E, former head of state and husband to President Xiomara Castro. \u201cGo ahead, help her,\u201d \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/twitter.com\/manuelzr\/status\/1550514414704525318?s=20&t=DK0vHB2p6lR9datoF1neEQ\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Eresponded Zelaya\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWhat say did Zelaya really have in the matter?\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ECastro is the \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202111\/centroamerica\/25873\/Honduras-Pivots-Left-in-Bid-to-Rebuild-Country.htm\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Efirst woman and first leftist\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E to win the presidency in Honduras. Her victory last November also marked the return to the Presidential Palace of her husband, deposed in a 2009 military coup and founder and leader of Libre, Castro\u2019s party.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EZelaya, formally a presidential advisor, has become a power broker in the administration. \u201cDozens of people enter the Jos\u00e9 Cecilio del Valle Palace every day hoping to meet with Mel,\u201d \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/contracorriente.red\/en\/2022\/05\/27\/the-zelaya-clan-returns-to-power-in-honduras\/\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Ewrite ContraCorriente\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E\u2019s Leonardo Aguilar and Jennifer \u00c1vila. \u201cSome come in hopes of getting a letter of recommendation from Mel for a government job.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EZelaya says Castro approves his every move, and has even called those questioning his prominence \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/hch.tv\/2022\/07\/09\/mel-zelaya-los-golpistas-quisieran-que-yo-no-le-ayudara-a-xiomara-para-buscar-como-reventarla\/\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Egolpistas\u003C\/span\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003E, or coup-mongers\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E, but he appears alongside Castro or stands in for her at state events, an omnipresence blurring the lines between state and party.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=3000&ImageHeight=1385&ImageId=37792\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Honduran ex-president Manuel Zelaya (right) lifts the presidential sash at the Jan. 27 inauguration of Xiomara Castro (center). Vice President Salvador Nasralla (left) looks on. Photo published by Castro Administration.\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003EHonduran ex-president Manuel Zelaya (right) lifts the presidential sash at the Jan. 27 inauguration of Xiomara Castro (center). Vice President Salvador Nasralla (left) looks on. Photo published by Castro Administration.\u003Cdiv class=\"photographer text_italic rule--ss_l tint-text--idle\"\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EHis limelight underscores the heavily male-dominated nature of the country\u2019s political class. It\u2019s also true that Castro built her political career in the wake of Zelaya\u2019s deposal. The post-coup protest movement and her husband\u2019s new party propelled her presidential bids in 2013, 2017, and 2021, despite lacking prior elected experience.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIt\u2019s no secret that Zelaya \u003Cstrong\u003Ewields more influence than Vice President Salvador Nasralla\u003C\/strong\u003E, a\u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202110\/centroamerica\/25791\/Game-Changing-Electoral-Alliance-in-Honduras.htm\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003E former critic\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E of the Zelaya administration who pacted an \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202110\/centroamerica\/25791\/Game-Changing-Electoral-Alliance-in-Honduras.htm\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Euncomfortable last-moment alliance\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E with Castro to defeat the National Party.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ENasralla and the administration are now openly feuding. After Castro strongly condemned the U.S. State Department\u2019s \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202207\/centroamerica\/26278\/US-Shows-Its-Teeth-on-Engel-List.htm\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Esanctioning of officials close to Zelaya\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E last week, Nasralla retweeted one observer\u2019s thoughts: \u201cThat\u2019s a novel concept, building sovereignty and the rule of law by protecting the corrupt and handing out impunity.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"font-size: medium;\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EA Family Affair\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe First Gentleman\u2019s appearances stir questions about Castro\u2019s anti-corruption bona fides given Zelaya\u2019s alleged past ties to drug traffickers. In the same Brooklyn trial that implicated Juan Orlando Hern\u00e1ndez and Pepe Lobo, the head of the Los Cachiros \u003Cstrong\u003Edrug cartel also accused Zelaya of taking bribes in 2006\u003C\/strong\u003E, during his first year in office.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EHe\u2019s unlikely to face an investigation, due to a law approved in March by Congress giving immunity from prosecution to officials from his three-year government. Libre insists that the law was approved to end political persecution stemming from the coup.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIt appears the United States is not pleased with the amnesty law. Last week the State Department \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202207\/centroamerica\/26278\/US-Shows-Its-Teeth-on-Engel-List.htm\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Ecanceled the visa of an advisor to Castro\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E and former top official who in 2014 admitted to embezzling $2 million in public funds to organize a referendum for Zelaya\u2019s reelection. The official bunkered down in Nicaragua for seven years to avoid prosecution.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAlso sanctioned were two top Libre legislators and three more Zelaya officials.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EThe Castro administration \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/twitter.com\/elfaroenglish\/status\/1549929336836349957?s=20&t=AvCD-w0TsDX8D2VvZUpCvg\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Ecalled the Engel List\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E \u003Cstrong\u003E\u201cpolitically motivated and interventionist.\u201d\u003C\/strong\u003E Castro\u2019s press secretariat issued an \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/twitter.com\/gobprensaHN\/status\/1550618940434423809?s=20&t=RikelkUspn4w7xkB2y8Nhg\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Eofficial press release\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E in which Zelaya extensively condemned the list with the bizarre disclaimer that his words did not represent \u201cthe official voice of the state.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIt may seem baffling that just days later, on Tuesday, Honduras hosted DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. The next day, Castro announced that \u003Cstrong\u003Eshe has hired the D.C. lobbying services of Hugo Llorens, U.S. Ambassador to Honduras\u003C\/strong\u003E in 2009 who, \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.wikileaks.elfaro.net\/es\/201105\/notas\/4247\/\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Eper WikiLeaks cables published by El Faro in 2011\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E, unsuccessfully worked to avoid and revert the coup against Zelaya.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe olive branch may have something to do with the Honduran Chamber of Commerce. On Wednesday the president of the business association reiterated its \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/twitter.com\/efacusse\/status\/1552258560351952898?s=20&t=DK0vHB2p6lR9datoF1neEQ\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Esupport for Castro\u2019s government\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E but called for \u201cmore coherence\u201d in U.S. relations.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ECastro and Zelaya have \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/contracorriente.red\/en\/2022\/05\/27\/the-zelaya-clan-returns-to-power-in-honduras\/\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Ebrought their family with them to power\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E. One of their sons is presidential advisor and a nephew is defense secretary. Another child, President Castro\u2019s heir apparent, is named Xiomara Zelaya Castro, or \u201cLa Pichu,\u201d now a member of the Honduran Congress. A movement within Libre even wanted her to run for president in 2021. She\u2019s 37.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EShould she run next time around, she likely has Mel\u2019s support. \u201cShe has more of a right to do so than [party leader] Carlos Eduardo [Reina] and Xiomara herself,\u201d \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/proceso.hn\/mel-zelaya-asevera-que-su-hija-la-pichu-tiene-mas-derecho-a-ser-candidata-presidencial-de-libre\/\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003EZelaya told the press in 2019\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E. \u201cShe was my spokesperson when she was 17.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cem\u003ECorrection: A previous version of this newsletter stated that Honduras' current minister of defense, Jos\u00e9 Manuel Zelaya, is the son of Manuel Zelaya and Xiomara Castro. He is the nephew.\u003C\/em\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E"}