WikiLeaked

Reflections on Manuel Zelaya

Former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was ousted from office in June 2009 following a coup orchestrated by the Honduran Supreme Court and military. Zelaya’s removal earned the ire of leaders ranging from Barack Obama to Fidel Castro. However, a new WikiLeaked cable written in May 2008 suggests that some U.S. diplomats might not have been ...

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was ousted from office in June 2009 following a coup orchestrated by the Honduran Supreme Court and military. Zelaya’s removal earned the ire of leaders ranging from Barack Obama to Fidel Castro. However, a new WikiLeaked cable written in May 2008 suggests that some U.S. diplomats might not have been too distraught to see Zelaya go.

The document, signed by the U.S. ambassador to Honduras, Charles Ford, slams Zelaya as "almost a caricature of the land-owner ‘caudillo’" whose goal as president was to "enrich himself and his family while leaving a public legacy as a martyr who tried to do good but was thwarted at every turn by powerful, unnamed interests."

In addition to the personality profile of Zelaya as a "rebellious teenager," the cable notes that Zelaya has close ties to international organized crime figures, which explains his unwillingness to crack down on drug trafficking in Honduras. "I am unable to brief Zelaya on sensitive law enforcement and counter-narcotics actions due my concern that this would put the lives of U.S. officials in jeopardy," the cable explains.

David Kenner is the Middle East editor at Foreign Policy. He is based in Beirut, Lebanon, and has been with FP since 2009 (a long time, he knows). He worked for FP previously in Cairo, where he covered the early days of the Arab Spring, and before that in Washington. He has attended Georgetown University and the American University of Beirut and has reported from Libya, Egypt, Gaza, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq. @davidkenner

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