Hondurans in South Florida show support for Zelaya's ouster

The Miami HeraldJune 29, 2009 

MIAMI — Phone cards were the top-selling item Sunday afternoon at Olanchito Mini-Market, a Honduran store along Southwest Eighth Street in Little Havana. It seemed everyone was trying to call Honduras after a political shakeup that many locals felt was a long time coming.

"The military is supposed to protect the country and that's what they did today," said Maria Portillo, a 62-year-old standing behind the counter. "The way the president was acting has just not been correct. This is a country that does not want to be Communist."

The television in the supply room behind her blasted Spanish-language television, where commentators parsed through details about the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya, the democratically elected president who many local Hondurans thought became too chummy with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

Locals thought Zelaya's threats to rewrite the Constitution to allow him to run again was the final straw. The president, now exiled in Costa Rica, said he was still in pajamas when soldiers burst into his Tegucigalpa palace early Sunday morning, firing gunshots and forcing him onto a plane that flew him to Costa Rica.

Most of Portillo's family is still in Honduras and she said she has become increasingly disenchanted with the lack of progress there. Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.

"There is so much poverty and so much needed to be done with the schools and hospitals," Portillo said. "There are schools without bathrooms. But instead, the president was wasting his time and trying to make our country like Venezuela. I don't want there to be any bloodshed, but we can not have a president that was inclined to be a Communist."

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