Zelaya puts words in Nike’s mouth

In an interview with Der Spiegel over the weekend, ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya suggested that he had gained the support of a number of sportswear companies who manufacture their products in Honduras: SPIEGEL: Do you see an opportunity for dialogue with the new regime? Zelaya: International pressure would have to be increased for that ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
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582720_090803_zelaya2.jpg
Ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya addresses supporters at a shelter in Ocotal, Nicaragua, on August 1, 2009. Zelaya has threatened the interim government of Honduras with widespread violence if he is not restored to power. AFP PHOTO/Alfredo Estrella (Photo credit should read ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

In an interview with Der Spiegel over the weekend, ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya suggested that he had gained the support of a number of sportswear companies who manufacture their products in Honduras:

SPIEGEL: Do you see an opportunity for dialogue with the new regime?

In an interview with Der Spiegel over the weekend, ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya suggested that he had gained the support of a number of sportswear companies who manufacture their products in Honduras:

SPIEGEL: Do you see an opportunity for dialogue with the new regime?

Zelaya: International pressure would have to be increased for that to happen. It affected the coup leaders when Washington suspended their diplomatic visas, and the sanctions are also taking effect. In many ports, goods coming from Honduras are no longer being unloaded. The German firm Adidas, along with Nike and clothing manufacturer Gap, have announced that they will cancel orders from Honduran factories unless democracy is restored. [Emphasis mine.]

Zelaya seems to be embellishing to say the least. He is likely referring to a letter the companies wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week urging her to seek a negotiated compromise to the crisis in Honduras. Here’s an excerpt:

While we do not and will not support or endorse the position of any party in this internal dispute, we feel it is necessary in this case to join with the President of the United States, the governments of countries throughout the Americas, the Organization of American States, the UN General Assembly and the European Union in calling for the restoration of democracy in Honduras.

The letter doesn’t say anything about canceling orders. And while the organizations mentioned in the above paragraph all support Zelaya’s reinstatement, it’s hardly a ringing endorsement for his position. 

I called Nike’s media relations department today and spokesperson Kate Meyers denied that there were any plans to cancel orders:

We have no plans to alter our supply orders from Honduras, whatsoever. One of the aims of the letter is to support workers’ rights and civil liberties. Canceling our orders wouldn’t be the way to go about that. 

LA Times’ blogger Catherine Lyons has some useful background on why the apparel companies are getting involved with the situation in the first place. 

ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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