TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — A Honduran official says the United States has taken away the diplomatic and tourist visas of 16 interim government officials.
Presidential spokeswoman Marcia de Villeda says Washington revoked the visas of 14 Supreme Court judges, the foreign relations secretary and the country’s attorney general.
De Villeda told reporters Saturday the visas were revoked Friday.
Honduran interim President Roberto Micheletti said earlier Saturday that his U.S. diplomatic and tourist visas had been revoked in response to the June 28 coup.
Micheletti said he had anticipated the action and called it “a sign of the pressure that the U.S. government is exerting on our country” to restore ousted leader Manuel Zelaya.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — Honduras’ de facto president said Saturday that the United States has revoked his visas to pressure the Central American country to reinstate ousted leader Manuel Zelaya, exiled in a June 28 coup.
Roberto Micheletti said losing his diplomatic and tourist visas would not weaken his resolve against Zelaya’s return.
Honduran interim Information Minister Rene Zepeda told The Associated Press that the government expects the U.S. to revoke the visas of at least 1,000 more public officials “in the coming days.”
U.S. State Department spokesman Darby Holladay could not confirm whether Micheletti’s visas were revoked. Last week the U.S. cut off millions of dollars in aid to the Honduran government in response to Micheletti’s refusal to accept a mediated accord that would return Zelaya to power with limited authority until elections set for November.
“This is a sign of the pressure that the United States is exerting on our country,” Micheletti said Saturday on Radio station HRN.
He said the move “changes nothing because I am not willing to take back what has happened in Honduras.”
There was no immediate reaction from Zelaya, who is currently in Nicaragua.
The San Jose accord was brokered by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in helping end Central America’s civil wars.
Washington recently revoked the U.S. visas of some of Micheletti’s Honduran allies and supporters. The U.S. also has stopped issuing most visas at its embassy in Tegucigalpa.
Micheletti said the other officials lost only their diplomatic visas, while he also had his tourist visa revoked.
“I’m OK because I expected the decision and I accept it with dignity … and without the least bit of resentment or anger at the United States because it is that country’s right,” he said.
However, Micheletti complained that the letter he received from the State Department addressed him as president of Congress, his position prior to Zelaya’s ouster, and not president of Honduras.
“It doesn’t even say ‘Mr. president of the republic’ or anything,” he said.
Micheletti reiterated that “the United States has always been a friend of Honduras and will continue being one forever, in spite of the actions it has taken.”
The eliminated U.S. aid includes more than $31 million in non-humanitarian assistance to Honduras, including $11 million remaining in a more than a $200 million, five-year assistance program run by the Millennium Challenge Corporation.